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  • Author or Editor: S. J. Kays x
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Centella asiatica, the Asiatic pennywort, is an herbaceous perennial indigenous to the southeastern United States. In some Asian countries, it is valued as an important vegetable and is widely cultivated. In addition, it is considered an important medicinal herb due primarily to the pentacyclic phytochemical, asiaticoside, which effectively treats a variety of skin diseases. Information on the botany, photochemistry, medicinal, nutritional value, and cultivation of the crop is reviewed. This species may warrant preliminary field and consumer acceptance tests as a speciality vegetable in the United States.

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Respiratory rate was measured and vital heat calculated for 18 specialty vegetables {arugula or roquette [Eruca sativa Miller], banana flower bud [Musa ×paradisiaca L. var. paradisiaca], bitter gourd [Momordica charantia L.], cassava [Manihot esculanta Crantz], chayote [Sechium edule (Jacq.) Swartz], Chinese chive [Allium tuberosum Rottler ex Sprengel], Chinese water chestnut [Eleocharis dulcis (Burm. f.) Trin. ex Henschel], drumstick [Moringa oleifera Lam.], giant or elephant garlic [Allium scorodoprasm L.], guar [Cyamopsis tetragonoloba (L.) Taub.], hyacinth bean [Lablab purpurus (L.) Sweet.], Jerusalem artichoke [Helianthus tuberosus L.], jicama [Pachyrhizus erosus (L.) Urban], methi [Trigonella foenum-graecum L.], salsify [Tragopogon porrifolius L.], tindora [Coccinia grandis (L.) Voigt], tomatillo [Physalis ixocarpa Brot. ex Hornem.], and tumeric [Curcuma longa L.]} at 0, 5, 10, and 20 °C. Respiration rates increased more or less exponentially with increasing storage temperature in all the vegetables tested, CO2 varying from 28 to 302 mg·kg−1·h−1 at 20 °C for tumeric and drumstick, respectively. At 0 °C, the same products had the lowest and highest respiration rates of the products measured (i.e., CO2 at 4.5 and 28 mg·kg-1·h−1, respectively). Among the vegetables tested, above-ground plant parts such as leaves, fruit, and flowers generally had higher respiration rates than subterrancan storage organs such as roots, corms, and tubers. Vital heat produced ranged from 49 J·kg-1·h-1 for tumeric at 0 °C to 3272 J·kg-1·h-1 for drumstick at 20 °C.

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