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Uses and Importance of Leaves to Man
The leaf is the primary part of a plant that serves as the kitchen or let say the food-making organ of plants in the process of photosynthesis. And at the same time the storage of food and water. It is also one of the structural supports of plants.
Leaves plays a vital function in plant processes like transpiration and guttation which is the process of removing excess water through the help of sunlight. It is also the part of the plant where respiration takes place. Respiration is the process of obtaining oxygen and energy in the environment. .
Leaves are an extension of the plant’s stem. It varies shapes and sizes; it can be flat, blade-like with either round/oval, feathery shapes. Most of the leaves of trees like hardwoods are broad and large while some are needle-like shapes like in conifers plants.
Their colors come from the green pigment called chlorophyll but in some cases there are additional pigments that cause their color to change like purple in cabbage. Some are affected by season and temperature like for example, leaves tend to polarize and become yellow in the autumn. These plants that change their lives-color are called deciduous while another which does not change its leaf color is called evergreens.
1. Source of Food
We all know that one of the main purpose and use of leaves to man is food. Vegetable -- the most common use of leaves and a few of the leafy vegetables lavishly grows in the Philippines are:
- Cabbage, petchay ( Brassica Integrifolia )
- Kamote or sweet potato ( Ipomoea Batatas),
- Kangkong or swamp cabbage (Ipomoea Aquatica )
- Malunggay (Moringa Oleifera)
- Saluyot ( Corchorus Olitorius)
- Alugbati ( Basella Rubra)
Some are often use as spices and beverages like:
- Tea leaves
2. Source of Fiber – One of the common products is the leaf sheaths of abaca which are made to become Musa Textiles and Manila hemp. The leaves of maguey (Agave cantula) are made into sisal beverage.
3. Source of Drugs – Leaves are also a good source of medical products such as cocaine from coca shrub which is used by dentists for anesthetic purposes. It is also a source of Nicotine from tobacco leaves. Even the leaves of eucalyptus and belladonna also yield drugs. But it is important that they used these drugs, according to doctor’s prescription for these drugs affect certain body function
Although the people are rural areas buy medicine from dangerous whenever doctors recommend such many of them use their own hometown medications. Our country is rich in plants which have medicinal value. For instance,
- Acapulco leaves are crushed and applied on areas of the skin which are attacked by ringworms (Buni in the dialect).
- Banana leaves are boiled and liquid is given to patients suffering from kidney ailments.
- Guava leaves are boiled and the liquid is used for washing wounds.
- Mayana (Coleus) leaves are gently pounded not crushed and applied to swollen bumps.
Leafy Green Vegetables
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Some Economic Uses of Leaves
1. The leaves of Carnauba palm which yield carnauba wax; are used for the production candles and polishes
2. The leaves of indigo produce a deep blue dye
3. The leaves of geranium, citronella, bay, peppermint and parsley yield aromatic oils for perfume, soaps, spices and flavorings.
4. Nipa leaves are made into thatches or roofing materials in rural areas
5. Buri and pandan leaves are made into hats, bags, and mats
6. Isis leaves are used for scrubbing wooden surfaces at home, something like a two-in-one sandpaper and detergent.
References; Science and Technology by Lilia M. Rabago Ph. D , Crescensia C. Joaquin Ph.D, Catherine B. Lagunzad , PH. D, Encarta