Cow’s Tongue Plant Care: How To Grow A Prickly Pear Cow’s Tongue
The Cow’s Tongue Plant (Pistacia millefolium) is a small shrub or tree native to tropical Asia. Its name comes from the fact that it resembles a cow tongue.
It grows up to 15 feet tall and produces white flowers with pink centers. The leaves are usually green but they may turn yellowish brown during their fall color change. The fruit is a soft, fleshy seed pod that looks like a tiny pear.
It is considered one of the most poisonous plants in the world due to its toxic alkaloids. These alkaloids cause hallucinations, muscle spasms and seizures when ingested.
They are extremely dangerous if swallowed whole because they are very hard to break down in your digestive system. Most commonly these seeds are eaten raw or cooked into curries or stews. However, some people use them in teas.
Cow’s Tongue Plant Benefits
Cows’ tongues are known to have many health benefits. One of the best things about cows’ tongues is that they contain high amounts of vitamin C which helps prevent cancer and other skin problems.
Vitamin B1 can reduce inflammation and help fight off infections such as colds and flu. Calcium aids in bone growth and prevents osteoporosis. Vitamin A is a good antioxidant that prevents the signs of aging.
Cow’s Tongue Plant Problems
Cow’s tongue plants are very common weeds in warm, subtropical areas. They grow in full sun and need well-drained soil.
They cannot tolerate frost so they are not grown in colder climates and only used as an annual. The leaves have a bitter taste and should be eaten in moderation because they can cause nausea and vomiting when eaten in excess.
Cow’s Tongue Plant Growing
The cow’s tongue plant prefers well-drained soil and full sun. It can be grown from seed but it is easy to start by cuttings a few inches long.
Cuttings should be made in spring or summer and placed into a well-draining potting soil. They should be placed in a warm, sunny location until they begin to grow. They prefer daytime temperatures between 75 and 90 F. (24-32 C.) They should be watered frequently until they are well established. Once they are growing, only water them during dry spells. The leaves and seeds of the cow’s tongue plant can be used in cooking.
Cow’s Tongue Plant Pests
Cow’s tongue plants have few pest problems. They sometimes suffer damage by caterpillars or grasshoppers.
They can also suffer leaf damage from some diseases.
Cow’s Tongue Plant Varieties
There are no known varieties of this plant.
Cow’s Tongue Plant Harvesting And Storage
The fruits of the cow’s tongue plant can be harvested anytime after they turn red. They should be picked, cleaned and stored in a cool, dry location for later use.
They can be used in cooking and baking.
Cow’s Tongue Plant Flavour And Uses
The fruit of the cow’s tongue has a very strong tart taste. It is used in cooking and baking to add a tart flavor and lemony taste.
It is often used to make lemon curd. The plant should not be consumed in large quantities due to its high level of toxicity. Medicinal preparations made from the plant have been known to cause hallucinations.
Cow’s Tongue Plant Seeds
The seeds of the cow’s tongue plant are poisonous and should not be ingested.
Sources & references used in this article:
Opuntia engelmannii (prickly pear cactus) by A Lusweti, E Wabuyele, P Ssegawa… – … (prickly pear cactus), 2011 – cabdirect.org
Prickly pear cactus and pastoralism in southwest Madagascar by JC Kaufmann – Ethnology, 2004 – JSTOR
Prickly pear cactus: a Texas rangeland enigma. by CW Hanselka, JC Paschal – Rangelands Archives, 1991 – journals.uair.arizona.edu
As food by I Israel – snst-hu.lzu.edu.cn
The non-modern constitution of famines in Madagascar’s spiny forests:“water-food” plants, cattle and Mahafale landscape praxis by JC Kaufmann – Environmental Sciences, 2008 – Taylor & Francis
Plains Prickly Pear Cactus Control by WR Taylor, TD Whitson – 1999 – wyomingextension.org