The scientific name of Himbabao is Broussonetia luzonica. Thanks to FNRI Menu Guide Calendar of 2012. I learned its scientific name. It is now easier to find more information about it.
Full scientific name is Broussonetia luzonica (Blanco) Bur. Though it may still vary on different sources.
The edible part, the flower with few leaves is known as Birch Flower, an English marketing term for the catkins (a cylindrical spike-like inflorescence). Commonly used in the cuisine of northeastern Luzon. The flower is not in any way related to the birch tree.
Luzonica ? Sounds like Luzon, the largest among Philippine island groups. I couldn’t find any literature telling that its name was derived from the island’s name. My wild guess is it was derived from…
It is known as himbabao, alukon, alokon, alakon and baeg in the Philippines and bohulilambaji and ragantulu in Indonesia. Marinduque province call it Salugim
It is a member of the Moraceae family, the Mulberries. This large shrub is closely related to the Paper Mulberry, the bark fibers of which are used to make Japanese Washi paper and tissue. While it grows all over the Philippines the male inflorescences and tender young leaves are only much used in the northeast Luzon. Also a common non-native in Hawaii, but it is unknown if anyone uses it for food there. [Anyone from Hawaii? Please confirm this!]
Several pictures of the species are posted under Plants of Hawaii category in starrenvironmental.com. Suggestive that alukon plant is indeed popular in the country.
Researchers of the University of the Philippines have successfully did plant re-growing by tissue culture method. Proving that indirect method can be used for its propagation. Research abstract described himbabao as Philippine endemic forest tree whose current conservation status is that of depleted ecologically in the wild. It bears edible staminate flowers consumed as vegetable by village residents wherever it occurs.
A study by Labay, P.M. of Marinduque State University (MSC) revealed the phytochemical components of himbabao. Phytochemicals in plant extract are: Alkaloid, flavonoid, unsaturated sterol & triterpene, steroid glycoside, cyanogenic glycoside, tannin & phenol.
It is one of the featured native vegetables at nestle ph web. Mulberry / Broussonetia luzonica (alukon) is another edible flower that’s popular among Ilocanos, the alukon or himbabao is also a dinengdeng ingredient. This snakelike blossom becomes “gooey” like okra when cooked to vegetable stews like pinakbet.
sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7