Devil’s tongue in church yard

National, Normal

A PECULIAR flower prompted a bemused Anna Toite from the Port Moresby suburb of Gerehu to call in to The National office yesterday.
Toite said the extraordinary flower sprouted from a fern-like plant which had never flowered since it was planted near the Gerehu PNG Bible church yard 10 years ago.
She said church members were frightened by the strange-looking flower and told her to destroy it but she decided to bring it to The National, believing that climate change would be part of the cause to the formation of the mysterious flower.
Those who resided at Gerehu near where the flower grew speculated that it was an omen from Mother Nature.
Toite said her church elder said he had never seen that plant bear a flower before and it was the first of its kind he had witnessed.
“The flower drew attention from curious bystanders at the bus stops and in the bus as well” she said.
What Toite and her friends did not know was that the plant is known as Devil’s Tongue, a foul-smelling somewhat fleshy tropical plant of Southeast Asia cultivated for its edible corns or in the greenhouse for its large leaves and showy dark red spathe surrounding a large spadix.
It is important in Japanese and Korean cooking, the tubers yield a starch that is solidified into a gel called konnyaku (yam cake). Noodles called shirataki are made from this. Yam cake is also commonly added to Korean hot-pot dishes.
But beware! Recent reports out of Japan in 2008 said that 15 people had died from pieces of jelly made from Devil’s Tongue.
Devil’s Tongue jelly, known as konjac candy and konjac fruit jelly, has also caused fatalities in North America and Europe, causing it to be banned.
Konjac jelly, unlike regular jelly, does not melt naturally in the mouth.
Chewing is needed to break the jelly down, making bite sized products dangerous when swallowed whole.
Since then, some Devil’s Tongue jelly products on the market have been increased in size.
They cannot  be swallowed in one piece and have appropriate warning labels.