Plant Information customized to the ECHO Asia Seed Bank. These seeds are available from the Asia Seed Bank only for shipment within Asia.
Please go to The ECHO Asia Seed Bank for more information on ordering.
60 Issues in this Publication (Showing issues 249 - 239)
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General description and special characteristics – Jack bean is an annual legume. It is bushy (vines less than 1 meter (3 ft.) long), having a deep root system that makes it drought-tolerant. It produces large leaves and smooth pods (up to 30 cm/12 in. long) that yield large, smooth white seeds.
Variety – Chiang Dao
General description and special characteristics – Sword bean is known chiefly as a cultivated species and may have been derived by selection from Canavalia virosa, a wild species occurring principally in Africa. It is cultivated widely in South and Southeast Asia, especially in India, Sri Lanka, and Burma. Sword bean is a minor vegetable, now spread throughout the humid tropics, but grown chiefly for local consumption.
Variety – Mae Jo: a prolific local variety. Can grow up to 2 m (6 ft). Primarily used as a green manure/cover crop.
General description and special characteristics – Capsicum frutescens is a perennial growing to 1 m (3ft 3in) by 0.6 m(2ft). The flowers are hermaphroditic (have both male and female organs). It’s believed to have been cultivated in Bolivia and Meso-America as early as the 16th century. This many-branched, shrubby perennial herb produces more fruit and requires less water and fertilizer than the sweet varieties. C. frutescens bears fruit that point upward and include varieties such as the Tabasco pepper, the Thai Bird Pepper “Prik Khi-nu,” and the Barbados “Wirri-wirri” peppers. Capsicum frutescens, which is much more pungent than Capsicum annuum, is used in tabasco sauce, and other red chili pepper sauces/pastes. Sweet bell peppers, paprika, jalapenos, pimento, and other red pepper products come from Capsicum annuum.
- Karen: Hot red peppers, 2-4 cm (0.8-1.6 in) in length
- Hawaiian: Milder peppers, 4-6 cm (1.6-2.4 in) in length
- Tiny hot: Very hot, very small peppers, 2-3 cm (0.8-1.2 in) in length
General description and special characteristics – One of the oldest cultivated legumes on record, chickpea is a key ingredient in such well-known Asian and Middle-Eastern foods as humus, falafel, and Burmese (Shan) tofu. Chickpea is grown in tropical, sub-tropical and temperate regions. Two types of chickpea are recognized: desi (colored, small seeded, angular, and fibrous) and kabuli (beige, large-seeded, and ramshead shaped, with lower fiber content). The kabuli is grown in temperate regions, while the desi is grown in the semi-arid tropics (Muehlbauer and Singh, 1987; Malhotra et al., 1987).
- Burma red: Produces small, rough-coated, red-brown seed (Desi type); approximately 3.5 months to first seed harvest.
- Burma round: Produces large, round, smooth, light-brown seed (Kabuli type); approximately 4.5 months to first harvest.
General description and special characteristics – Sometimes called the spinach tree, chaya is a fast-growing perennial shrub native to Mexico that produces large, dark green leaves. Relatively new to Asia, the young leaves and thick succulent stems of chaya are a good source of protein, calcium, phosphorous, iron, vitamins A and C as well as niacin, riboflavin and thiamine. Raw chaya leaves are toxic, because they contain a cyanide-producing glucoside. Cooking chaya in boiling water for at least ten minutes inactivates the toxic compounds.
Variety – ECHO
General description and special characteristics – Ivy gourd is a perennial vine with white, star shaped flowers and cucumber-like fruit which is green when immature and bright red when ripe. It is naturalized or native in Southeast Asia and East Africa, but is listed as an invasive weed in Saipan, Guam, Fiji, Hawaii, Solomon Islands, Tongatapu Island and Western Australia.
Variety – Local Thai variety
General description and special characteristics – Job’s tears is an annual, erect grass, 1-2 m tall, with maize-like brace roots that grow from the lower nodes. The grass is monoecious, having separate male and female flowers on different parts of the plant. The female flowers produce yellow, purple or brown seeds; often tear-shaped (hence the name). Soft-shelled varieties are eaten (Coix lacryma-jobi var. ma-yuen) and hard-shelled varieties (Coix lacryma-jobi var. stenocarpa and var. monilifer) are often used as ornamental beads (FAO, 1995).
Variety – Mekong mix
General description and special characteristics – Annual semi-hardy herb up to 1-2 m tall with bright orange or yellow flowers.
Variety – Thung Khang Tong, a local Thai variety
General description and special characteristics – Sunn hemp is an erect, Photo: ECHO Asia staff annual legume with rapid, vigorous growth, bright yellow flowers, and plump, pubescent seed pods. The plant generally grows unbranched from the ground to approximately 60 cm (2 ft.) up the stem. Above this height, stalks will begin to branch out if not too tightly crowded. When grown in dense stands, as for a green manure/cover crop (gm/cc), sunn hemp will have a single, spindly stem that can reach 3 m (10 ft.) in height. With vigorous lateral roots and a long taproot that can exploit subterranean water sources, sunn hemp does demonstrate some drought resistance.
Variety – Chiang Mai
General description and special characteristics – The cucumber is an annual herbaceous plant trailing or climbing from 1.5 – 4.5 m (5 to 15 ft.) by means of simple tendrils. “The stems are angled; the leaves are cordate with 3-5 lobes, and are rough” (Herklots 1972).
- Burmese: Small variety about 6 cm in length and round in shape. Good for pickling or fermenting.
- Khmer: From Cambodia. Approximately 30 days from seed to flowering. Large fruit averaging 30 x 7 cm (12-2.75 in.) in size; eaten raw or in soups. Can also be pickled. Pests include the white moth.
- Lampang: Local to Northern Thailand; often planted with highland rice. Over 20 cm in length. Light green in color.
- Sikkim: Unique outside texture, speckled and brown similar to a cantalope. Heritage variety from the USA.