Cassia grandis, one of several species called Pink Shower Tree, and known as Carao in Spanish, is a flowering plant in the family Fabaceae, native to the Neotropics. It is known worldwide to be an amazing natural anemia treatment. It has a slightly sweet taste (due to the natural sugar content) and is quite tasty. It is known by older generations here to be a folk remedy for low iron or sickle cell anemia. Stories have surfaced of bodybuilders taking Carao in conjunction with other supplements that have enabled them to reach new personal levels in training and to break previous growth records. The pungent honey found abundantly in Carao pods is sometimes mixed with milk and used as refreshment. Cassia grandis is a large tree with a dense, umbrella-shaped canopy and smooth pale gray bark. The leaves are large and each of them is composed of about 16 pairs of leaflets. The leaflets have two-toned coloration with green above and maroon below. During the tree short leafless period, between March and April, the tree produces abundant flowers in long axillary racemes.
Their display pastel shades of pink and orange, covering the entire crown, since the name Pink Shower. Each flower has five large, lavender sepals and five rounded, peach colored petals, three large stamens and a long, curved pistil. The petals are not uniform in shape and the uppermost petal has a yellow patch in the end. Carao flowers are pollinated by insects. Its fruits, however, appear to have no native dispersing agent. The pods persist in the trees and on the ground until they rot, and are never transported far from the parent tree. Fruits are produce from the long pistils as they begin to expand. First, they are visible as green strings dangling below foliage, than as they reach full size and begin to mature, they turn brown and start drying, becoming woody. Each fruit is about 40cm long and cylindrical in shape. Inside they have compartments with papery walls containing flattened, round, tan-colored seeds and large quantities of thick, strong smelling and dark colored honey-like substance with an unpleasant smell. The fruits persist on the tree all year.
The pungent honey-like substance found abundantly in the pods is sometimes mixed with milk and consumed as refreshment. It is said to have medicinal properties and, among other things, to help fight anemia and add iron to the blood. A liquid antiseptic can be obtained from the roots and leaves, while the flowers are used in many household remedies. The fruit is similar in many ways to carob, except that the carao tree only grows in Central America and Hawaii. Carao is similar to the both carob fruit and sugar cane molasses in its taste and its anti-anemic properties.
Most people associate the Cassia name with yellow blossoms. But, Cassias are among 30 different species, which can bloom yellow, pink or red. The javanica species is a pink bloomer that can reach a mature height of 50 feet. Carao seeds and compartments are oriented at right angles to the main longitudinal axis of the pod – (i.e. transversely). This design, along with the large, curved pistil of the flower, are unique and identifying characteristics of the large (pantropically distributed) Cassia genus. A liquid antiseptic can be obtained from Carao roots and leaves, while its flowers are used in other household remedies (Witsberger, 1982). Carao is widely planted as an ornamental tree. C. grandis has been introduced into Malesian area for ornamental purposes. The genus Cassia is reported to consist of over 500 species of herbs, shrubs and trees which occur throughout the tropics, but are most abundant in the dry open forests of tropical America.
They are reported to be found in both the eastern and western hemispheres and contain some of the most beautiful flowering trees and shrubs, cultivated in gardens and on roadsides. C. javanica is reported to be indigenous to Java and Sumatra, and is also widely distributed in the Philippines. Now here is a nice story about a small businesswoman who bottles Carao syrup in Costa Rica, amusingly titled “Don’t let the smell fool you”
Source: worldagroforestrycentre.org / bloodhealth.net
2 1/4 cup organic whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 sticks of unsalted butter
1 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla powder
equivalent of 2 eggs from egg replacer
1 cup carob chips
1 cup dried cherries
1 cup toffee chips
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl whisk together the flour and baking soda. Set aside. In another bowl, beat together the butter and the sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed, until light and fluffy. Mix in the salt, vanilla and egg replacer. Add flour mixture in 3-4 batches. Mix until just combined. Stir in the carob chips, cherries and toffee chips.
Drop heaping tablespoon-size balls of dough 2 inches apart in a cookie sheet lined with a silplat or unbleached parchment paper. Bake until golden around the edges. about 10 -12 minutes. Remove from oven and let them cool on the baking sheet. After a few minutes, transfer warm cookies to a cooling rack to cool completely. Store cookies in the fridge for up to 1 week in a tightly sealed container. But don’t worry, they will not last long. They are eaten best with a tall cold glass of milk.