BUCKWHEAT – a gift of the earth
The buckwheat genus includes three species
(two annual, spring and one perennial):
- Japanese buckwheat – mostly grown in South America
- Tartary buckwheat – in contrast to the previous ones – a perennial plant which is a subshrub, endemically growing on Sakhalin.
Characteristics Common for buckwheat and Tartare buckwheat.
Habit: bare stalk, cylindrical, green, reddening from the moment of flowering, branching off only to the inflorescence. Height: from 15 to 60 cm (tetraploids up to 100). In Tartare buckwheat the stalk remains green for the entire vegetation period.
Leaves: alternate, petiolar, triangular cordate to saggitate, the stipules grown together into a tubular sheath.
Flowers: with eight stamina and one three-style pistil. Perianth: white, through pink to red, with five petals. Tartare buckwheat has white flowers with a celadon shade. Flowers, whole plant and fruit are fragrant. Allogamous. The most important pollinators are bees and flies. Melliferous plant, yielding from 60 to 100 kg crops from a hectare.
Fruit: a triangular nut with simple, acute edges. In Tartare buckwheat the edges are wavy bent.
in the world, most buckwheat is grown in the countries of the former Soviet Union (in particular in the former Central-Asian republics), China and the United States and Canada, where it is mostly treated as fodder plant. The main growing region in Poland is located near Janów Lubelski.
Buckwheat began to be grown around 2,000 b.c. in the mountain regions of the southern India (currently a part of Pakistan). Cultivation went from there to China, Korea and Japan, simultaneously spreading in Middle Asia. The Huns already knew buckwheat groats but, being nomads, they did not introduce its cultivation to Europe. In Middle Europe buckwheat was already known in the Neolithic Age. In the 13th-14th age its cultivation spread to the west of Europe.
Buckwheat herb (obtained during flowering) Herba Fagopyri esculenti.
flavonoids: mostly rutin (vitamin P) up to 5% of the contents (it used to be its main source, used as a medicine dilating blood vessels), quercitin, hyperoside. Also organic acids: gallic acid, caffeic acid, protocatechuic acid and chlorogenic acid.
The waste from “grain” processing (hull and dust) are a valuable addition to fodder. Chaff and straw are in their nutritional value similar to spring cereals, however, it cannot be applied to feed white animals, in which it causes buckwheat rash (buckwheat grain contains naphtodiantrone, a factor which results in allergy to light (fagopyrismus). Dry buckwheat haulm, when burnt, produce large amounts of smoke, which is used in fruit farming to smoke flowering orchards in the period of spring slight frosts.
Buckwheat grain contains from 10 to 16% of protein, depending on the cultivation zone (the warmer it is, the more protein buckwheat contains), they are more valuable than cereal proteins and with their value and digestibility, are close to pod plants.
Buckwheat is used home as a material for buckwheat groats and cracovian-style buckwheat groats production, in India it is treated as bread crop, in China and Japanese it is a basic flour or an addition for pasta production. An essential melliferous plant, which means plants with colourful and fragrant flowers, flowering profusely for a long time, which give bees materials for honey production – nectar and pollen. Research conducted by Oddział Pszczelnictwa Instytutu Sadownictwa i Kwiaciarstwa z Oddziałem w Puławach (Apiculture Division at the Research Institute of Pomology and Floriculture with a branch in Puławy) has shown that if weather is favourable, from 1 hectare of a field of flowering buckwheat 140 to 220 kg of honey can be obtained.
Polish buckwheat (buckwheat) is an annual plant growing up to 60-80 cm. It has a simple, bare stalk, branching off at the top, often coloured red. Leaves are saggitate – cordiate with long petioles, flowers are fragrant, white or pink, gathered in apices growing from leave edges. Fruit: a tripyramidous, dark brown nut of the length of 5-6 mm, with acute edges and smooth sides.
Essential for a correct functioning of human organism. In fact, buckwheat seeds contain large amounts of raw fibre (up to 20% of dry matter) and tannins, which decrease protein digestibility and assimilability, however, together with external nut covers, they are removed in the process of groats production. Buckwheat seeds distinguish among plant raw materials with a large amount of gluten-free protein with such a well-balanced amino-acid composition, that its biological value determined in animals is higher than the value of protein in wheat, barley, fish meal or even pork meat, and it is similar to the biological value of model protein ( 81 , 4 % ) which is egg white.
Buckwheat seed protein is also characterized by a high content of lysine, approximately twice as high as the protein of cereal crops, high content of sulphur aminoacids (methionine, cysteine), leucine and phenylalanine. Deficiency of these aminoacids limits the nutritional value of grain crops and leguminous plants.
In numerous kinds of research it has been found that buckwheat nuts constitute a source of vitamins B (B1 – thiamine, B2 – riboflavine, B6 – pyridoxine), choline, pantothenic acid and vitamins P and PP (which prevent capillary breaking, improve calcium assimilation, regulate microcapillary permeability) and tocopherol which is also called the vitamin of youth (vitamin E).
Buckwheat groats also contains flavonoid compounds, rutin and isovitexin. They have the function of antioxidants, i.e. substances preventing the occurrence of civilization diseases (atherosclerosis with its consequences, ischaemic heart disease and myocardial infarction, neoplasms, allergies). The summary value of these compounds fluctuates between 19.0 mg / 100 g of light groats produced manually, to 4.0 g / 100 g in very dark groats. The process of “burning” results in approx. 4-fold decreasing flavonoid contents! As the consumers, by knowing this dependence and buying manually produced buckwheat groats, we can determine what gets to shop shelves!
Buckwheat is a valuable plant grown more and more often by farmers in highland regions. The above ground buckwheat parts in the flowering stage constitute a raw material for pharmaceutical industry to produce rutin. This is a flavonoid compound. It is used to treat diseases caused by disturbances in capillary permeability, in post-operative treatment of scars and petechiae. Rutin is used as a cover in the case of X-rays.
Therapeutic action of green parts of buckwheat is known in health care. It turns out that buckwheat leave and flower infusions and consumption of buckwheat groats enable the excretion of radioactive elements from the organism.
In Russian traditional medicine fresh buckwheat leaves are applied to ulcers, furuncles and wounds which won’t heal. Ground dried leaves serve as a powder against chafes and warm buckwheat compresses are applied to skin diseases.
At the same time, in Chinese medicine buckwheat herb infusions are used to decrease the sugar and cholesterol level in blood.
What remains after buckwheat grain is processed into groats is fruit coat, the so-called buckwheat hull. This hull constitutes approximately 25% to 36% of the whole buckwheat nut and it contains a celulose-xylogen complex, with a relatively big contribution of tannins. The main application of buckwheat hull is prophylaxis and treatment of bedsores, but this is not its only function…
- Dorota Dietrych -Szóstak, PhD -„Chemical composition and nutritional value of buckwheat”
- Marian Jager – „Buckwheat as an alternative plant”
- Anna Procyk – „Buckwheat and millet – valuable functional and therapeutic plants and their growing” Internet Encyclopaedia Wikipedia