Plants With Benefits, featured in the New York Times, written by Helen Yoest “As I was writing about the avocado to learn more about its benefits–health, flavor, texture, and ingredients for many well-known dishes–I also read where it was an aphrodisiac. This made me curious. I wondered what was it about the plant that classified it as an aphrodisiac. I know this familiar fruit so well. Most do. Stacked on the shelves at the grocery store, one variety with smooth skin the other with a bumpy surface. What was it about this plant; was it the shape? I then cut into one. Was it the pit or the indent on the other side where half the seed once sat? I was baffled.
What I learned set me off on a journey to explore many more plants with benefits, and how they made aphrodisiac history.
So what was it about the avocado? Avocados were cultivated in central Mexico almost ten thousand years ago by the early Mayans. These ancient civilizations practiced their version of the Doctrine of Signatures, or the idea that an object’s appearance indicated its use. The Aztecs dubbed the avocado tree ahuacatl (pronounced ah-hoo-ah-cattle), which literately translates to “testicle”– probably due to the fruit’s tendency to grow and hang in pairs. Since most of us don’t live in the tropical climates needed to grow avocados, we’re not likely to see them as nature intended – and thus reap the added benefit of the power of suggestion, The avocado’s aphrodisiac reputation was so widely known (and feared) by the Aztecs that parents kept their virgin daughters indoors during the harvest of the “fertility fruit.” In 1672, when King Charles II of England’s personal physician encountered avocados in Jamaica, he wrote “It nourisheth and strengtheneth the body… procuring lust exceedingly.”
Lust aside, the avocado – with its lovely taste and texture – is a popular fruit commonly used in many culinary dishes.” Helen Yoest of Gardening With Confidence
The other 6 include: Paradise In Plain Sight: Lessons from A Zen Garden, written by Karen Maezin Miller
Helen Yoest is a curious gardener – curious about plants, soil, design, and how others use these to create their gardens at home. She is also curious about what plants do for us today in the here and now, but also about their history and lore. Plants have a colorful past. As an award winning freelance writer and garden stylist, Helen has traveled the world visiting public and private gardens so she can step into the dream that was once just an imagination. Her work has appeared in Country Gardens, Better Homes and Gardens, Martha Stewart Living, Carolina Gardener, and many others, including her work as the national gardening expert forAnswers.com. Helen is also the author of Plants With Benefits: An Uninhibited Guide to the Aphrodisiac Herbs, Fruits, Flowers, & Veggies in Your Garden (2014, St. Lynn’s Press) and Gardening with Confidence, 50 Ways to Add Style for Personal Creativity (2012, GWC Press). Helen curates garden art, serves on the board of the JC Raulston Arboretum, is past Regional Representative of the Garden Conservancy Open Days tour and opens her garden annually, and is an honorary member of Pi Alpha Xi, the national honor society for floriculture, landscape horticulture and ornamental horticulture. Helen lives in Raleigh, N.C., tending to her half-acre wildlife habitat, her husband, and their three beautiful children. Visit Helen at her popular blog, Gardening With Confidence and at Plants with Benefits. Find Helen on Facebook, too.