Frisky foods: Plants that can liven up your libido

Forget about 50 shades of gray.

Try 50 shapes of green.

Stir up the lust with … vegetables?

That’s right. Eating plants just might improve performance between the sheets.

Long before the little blue pill, people turned to the garden for a libido booster.

This is where lore and science intertwine in some compromising positions. As wacky as it sounds, people can get turned on by the shape, according to a new garden book.

We’re talking celery, avocados, bananas and asparagus.

“If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck, then it quacks,” said Helen Yoest, author of “Plants with Benefits. An Uninhibited Guide to the Aphrodisiac Herbs, Fruits, Flowers &Veggies in Your Garden.”

It’s a garden manual for the bedroom, complete with photos, recipes and growing tips.

The 58-year-old North Carolina plant expert never imagined she’d write the Kama Sutra of botany.

“I’m just a gardener and a garden writer,” Yoest said in a phone interview.

Now, she dishes on penile blood flow as nonchalantly as she does composting.

Yoest, the married mother of three school-age children, set out to write a book about the benefits of plants on senses such as sight and smell.

“It was very innocent,” she maintains.

Well, that is until she did an Internet search for avocados. Holy, guacamole! Was she surprised by the results.

The creamy, pear-shaped fruit had a few secrets.

“The Aztecs dubbed it the testicle tree, because they hang in pairs,” Yoest said. “It was so feared during harvest they would lock up their virgin daughters for fear they would get excited about the avocados hanging in the tree.”

Consider that next time you find yourself wandering through the neatly stocked Safeway produce aisles.

Even boring old celery has a sultry past.

“Casanova ate celery every day,” Yoest said. “That was the reason for his libido.”

Asparagus, she said, does the trick for both genders. Those shoots that poke straight out of the ground are loaded with folic acid. Might as well be called frolic acid.

In 19th century France, bridegrooms were served three courses of the sexy spears at their prenuptial dinners.

Some garden-variety enhancers aren’t much to look at.

From it’s limp, leafy texture, you’d hardly know that arugula might have aroused Caligula.

“Back in the Roman days, it was nicknamed the rocket,” Yoest said.

And they weren’t talking salad.

From ginseng to horny goat weed, herbs have long been regarded a love potion.

Sequim might be the erotic capital of the world. According to Yoest, lavender is the ultimate titillater.

“Anything with lavender,” she said. “Spray it on the sheets.”

The purple flower has a colorful history.

“When Cleopatra was getting ready to conquer the world, lavender was the last thing she put on in her way out the door,” she said. Julius Caesar and Mark Anthony were putty.

“There was a study done by the Smell and Taste Treatment Foundation in Chicago about penile blood flow. The scent of lavender increased blood flow by 40 percent,” Yoest said.

By comparison, she said the aroma of cheese pizza produced a mere 5 percent increase while hot buttered popcorn had a 9 percent spike.

Try it at home.

Sure, all this might sound like a bunch of bunk.

Yoest is the first to admit it’s in the mind as much as the matter. To make her aphrodisiac list, a plant had to have at least one of four qualities: Suggestive by shape. Stir brain chemistry. Mimic human hormones. Promote health and vigor.

Nobody denies chocolate’s romantic properties.

“Some people are sexually fulfilled after eating chocolate,” she said.

Add almonds, a trigger for female desire and, well, let’s just say that Almond Joy is aptly named.

Stock up

Ten things to put in a garden sex tool kit:

Bananas

Almonds

Lavender

Avocados

Celery

Asparagus

Fennel

Cocoa

Cucumbers

Cayenne pepper

Andrea Brown; 425-339-3443; abrown@heraldnet.com.

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