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Monthly Archives: January 2012

The Money Tree

The money tree is a beautiful plant that can be grown indoors or outdoors.  It’s very hearty and adaptable to different conditions, and can be easily grown with minimal care.  The only real requirements are good drainage, good sunlight, and organic fertilizer.  It is known for growing 5-leaf stems in abundance, and is most commonly sold with a braided trunk.

The money tree is classified in the Malvaceae family, the subfamily Bombaciodeae, and is called Pachira Aquatica.  Other common names for this plant, besides Money Tree, are Malabar Chestnut, Saba Nut, Guiana Chestnut, and Provision Tree.  It has an interesting past!

This plant is considered to be a native of Central and South America, where it grows in swamps and is cultivated for its nuts, which are edible.  In tropical conditions, it produces flowers with long narrow petals, which peel back and expose orange stamens.  It can grow to over 60 feet high.  The money tree I grow indoors and have had for several years, is 3 feet high (with a braided trunk) and has never produced flowers or nuts – but then, Colorado is not exactly tropical, so I think it’s doing pretty well!

In the West we have an old saying – “Money doesn’t grow on trees.”  Well, it used to.  Although in modern times this tree is considered native to Central and South America, it is thought its roots (ha!) go back to the China’s Han Dynasty (206BCE – 220CE), where it’s nuts were actually used as currency.

So it’s not surprising there’s an old Chinese belief the money tree is holy and can bring good fortune to its owner.  There is an old story about a poor man, who prayed for money.  Finding this very strange tree, which he saw as an omen that things were about to change for him, he took the tree home and sold the seeds, or nuts, making a lot of money.

Pic of money tree with braided trunkThe first money trees with a braided trunk, are thought to have come from Taiwan, and were quickly appreciated in Japan and East Asia, where they are considered very auspicious, indeed.  For the home decorator practicing Feng Shui, placing a money tree in the southeastern sector (prosperity and wealth) of the home is said to enhance one’s financial prospects.

Being such a hearty and low maintenance plant, the money tree will thrive indoors, if we just remember a few simple things:

  • Provide good drainage for the plant.  I use a ceramic pot, with a hole, a bottom layer of small rocks, and regular potting soil.  If you want to get fancy, mix a little sand into the first layer of soil.
  • Keep the plant well watered, but not too much.  It will tell you if it needs more water, by curling up it’s leaves, and drooping a little.
  • Provide good sunlight, but be sure not to put the plant in continual, direct sunlight in the summer.   Partial shade is best during this time of the year.  It’s leaves will quickly turn brown, if it has too much sun.
  • Apply organic fertilizer 3-4 times per year.  I just add additional potting soil, with fertilizer, to the top of my ceramic pot.  The fertilizer seeps down and reaches the plant through normal watering.

Then, just sit back and enjoy this intriguing plant, with it’s flourishing green canopy of leaves.  And, even if it doesn’t make you nuts, may it bring you great fortune! — MamaChill

Getting the Kinks Out

Recently my doctor diagnosed a problem I’ve been having with my shoulder and arm as tendonitis. The problem was a result of a rather brutal massage I received a couple of months before. Yeah, I know. Massages are supposed to be relaxing and feel good. But this one didn’t. I remember thinking, as I lay on the massage table, that the guy giving me my massage must have been mad at something or someone! I also remember wondering “Now, why would I think that? I don’t even know this guy.” The doctor gave me a prescription for a muscle relaxer (which made my speech slur, so I stopped taking it), with instructions about very mild exercise, resting of my joint and muscles, and ultimately coming back to see him if the problem persisted. It did – and I didn’t. Not yet, anyway.

My fear, having had surgery for something else in the past couple of years, was that if I returned to the doctor he’d refer me to a surgeon who would want to give me a brand new stainless steel shoulder or something! Surely there should be another alternative that I could try before going that route, if need be.

I decided to try a chiropractor for the first time in my life. It was a little scary for me, because I heard stories from friends about bones cracking and weird machines, and I sure didn’t want to experience that! Additionally, I was skeptical about whether it even really worked. But, nonetheless, I thought that I’d give it a try. It sounded a lot better than the alternative. Read More

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