New BLE topic "Poisonous Nature", with a special Christmas highlight: European Mistletoe (Viscum album)

It is Friday, time for the Spice of the week, but we have something special for you today. We would like to introduce a new BLE topic describing various poisonous species from different parts of the world – Poisonous Nature.
BLE - Poisonous Nature

You can find more than 30 species belonging to different groups, which you may not have had any idea could be poisonous. More species will be added regularly in the future, and we will inform you about each of them. The images and illustrations link to their variable sources: BHL, EOL or Europeana (including content from the OpenUp! project). This new topic also includes more than 90 books describing the species in more detail.
Mistletoe in crown of tree - EOL.

Here is the first highlight from Poisonous Nature, one of the symbols of Christmas, which brings fortune and blessing to your homes – European Mistletoe (Viscum album). Did you know that mistletoe contains the poison lectin, which strengthens the body's immune reaction against cancer and even slows tumor growth?
European Mistletoe - Viscum album - BHL.

Mistletoe is an angiosperm, living as a hemi-parasite on other plants. It uses its special root-like organs (haustoria) to steal nutrients, water and minerals from its host. As opposed to true parasites, it also uses photosynthesis to create its own organic substances. There is only one species of mistletoe in Europe: European or Common Mistletoe (Viscum album). It can grow on deciduous or coniferous trees, dependent on the subspecies. The poisonous qualities of mistletoe have not been conclusively proven; only larger quantities are known to cause diarrhea and stomachaches. Only in nursing infants can poisoning have more severe consequences.
European Mistletoe - Viscum album - image is under CC-BY-SA, from The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh -  OpenUp! content on Europena.

You can find more about the mistletoe on BLE PoisonousNature. We wish you great Christmas Holidays and of course, stay tuned!!

Spice of the week: Coriander

Our “Spice of the Week” is coriander, one of the oldest cultivated plants and most popular spices in the world!

Like several spices that we’ve featured so far, coriander was a significant spice in ancient times. Sugar-coated coriander seeds were used as a remedy for stomach aches, digestive problems and intestinal parasites It has been discovered in pyramids, where they were part of the entourage that accompanied the pharaohs to the afterlife. The Greeks and Romans used it to spice wine and make several medicines.

But of course, it’s an integral part of today’s cuisine as well. Discover more trivia and a nice recipe on the Biodiversity Library Exhibition!

Sofrito – meat with gravy
300 g thinly sliced pork
1 tablespoon oil
200 g onion
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
2 large peppers
1 chili pepper
150 g boiled marbled smoked meat
300 g tomatoes
½ teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons coriander leaves or ½ teaspoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon parsley

Braise meat in oil, add onion, garlic, peppers and smoked meat, all finely chopped. Then add sliced tomatoes, spices and salt. Simmer for thirty minutes. Serve with rice or pasta.

Spice of the Week: Cassia

After a while, we are back with new spice of the week. Cassia is made from the flowers of the Cinnamomum aromaticum – and it’s related to the better known spice cinnamon.

Cassia is one of the world’s oldest known spices – cassia buds were mentioned in a herbarium from 2700 BC and in the bible. It is said that this was one of the spices that Moses was supposed to consecrate the tabernacle with.

It’s also one of the most important traditional Chinese medicines, and in Russia and Germany, it is used to flavor chocolate. Care for some chocolate pork chops with cassia? Then check out the Spice in the BLE!

As additional recipe we are giving you - Hot pot
2 kg chickens separated into 8 pieces
2 l water
2 teaspoons salt
1,5 kg fatty pork cut into cubes
2 onions
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 hot chili peppers (or more)
5 cm piece of Cassia buds
4 cloves
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon cider vinegar

Cook all ingredients in a pot until tender. Bone chicken, return to pot and serve potatoes as a side dish. It is an Indian food for ten or more people. In the original recipe, cassava juice is also added.

That is all for now, but next week we will be here again with new spice of the week and also with new topic "Poisonous Nature". Stay tuned.