More Info About Broussonetia luzonica (Himababao, Alukon)

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

What Are Health Benefits of Baeg /Alokon /Himbabao?

Summer time again. The leaves of himbabao tree are almost gone and the worm-like flowers are numerous.

Himbabao have plenty of leaves like mango trees but cannot provide enough shade. Staying under the tree during hot days is not comfortable. Majority of sunlight is passing through.

Tree bark is smooth and the trunk have few large branches. This properties make it hard for a novice climber (like me) to get on top and harvest some for veggies. However, my big brother is a good climber. He was able to get on top easily.

Himbabao is a delectable vegetable. It become slimy when cook and give the soup a thicker body. It is good as stand alone dish or mixed with other favorites. Recipe in this site is bulanglang na himbabao, patani and sitaw.

himbabao dish

Other terms for this veggie is alucon, alakon, alokon and baeg. The scientific name is Broussonetia luzonica.

I am wondering what could be the possible benefits of himbabao. I have found two so far. This is not a well studied tree so finding information is hard.

The Benefits:

1) Himbabao trees grow in wild. Seeds are carried by wind or other flying creatures.There are two trees in my father’s farm. Both of them are grown wild. This vegetable is free from any chemical pesticides. Attempting to spray it with insecticides is insanity.

2) According to Bucaio Blog, it is rich in vitamins A, B and C, and contains calcium, phosphorus, potassium and iron.

Do you know other benefits of himbabao? Please share it!

Bulanglang na Himbabao, Patani and Sitaw

Bulanglang. One of the simplest recipe but I always find it hard to do. Sinigang requires right amount of vinegar or other sour ingredients (sampalok, green mango, santol and kamias) and the taste will be good. Too little souring ingredient may suffice cause it can always be added later. Too much might be inedible.

Sauteed vegetable needs more onions. I always use a minimum of three medium bulb and a long sauteing over a very low heat.  Some folks do a very fast saute over a high flame  and adding only one onion. Not a nice idea for me.

Sinigang and ginisa always work for me but I can barely get a good tasting bulanglang. This requires a right balance of onions, tomato and ginger.

This is my wife’s bulanglang recipe. Hope you like it!

Ingredients:

1 cup sitaw, cut about 2 inches long
1 cup himbabao, tough leaves, stalks and flowers removed
1 cup lima beans (patani), pods removed
1 onion, medium, sliced
1 ginger, about the size of thumb, big slices
2 ripe tomatoes, sliced
2 cups water

Procedure:

1) Bring water to boil.
2) Drop all the ingredients and continue boiling for 10 to 15 minutes.
3) Salt maybe added.
4) You may adjust ingredients according to your taste preference. Other vegetables of choice can be added.

The resulting dish has a very mild flavor. Not salty and not sour. I cannot exactly define how it taste but it is really good. I recommend not to add salt. Too much of it will hurt your kidney.

Its now time to eat. She never eats tutong na kanin so I am always in-charge. Its the thing the make me handsome (joke).

bulanglang na himbabao with rice