Monthly Archives: May 2010

Foxglove Tree (Paulownia tomentosa )

Botanical Name :Paulownia tomentosa
Family : Scrophulariaceae
Genus : Paulownia
Synonyms: Bignonia tomentosa – Thunb.,,Paulownia imperialis – Siebold.&Zucc.,Paulownia recurva – Rehder.
Common Name : Empress Tree, Princess Tree or Foxglove Tree; pao tong  in Chinese; kiri  in Japanese.
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Lamiales
Species: P. tomentosa

Habitat
: Native to central and western China, but invasive in the US  E. Asia – China.  Woods, 1300 – 2000 metres in W. China. Woodland Garden; Canopy; Secondary;


Description:

It is a decidious Tree.  It grows to 10-25 m tall, with large heart-shaped to five-lobed leaves 15-40 cm across, arranged in opposite pairs on the stem. On young growth, the leaves may be in whorls of three and be much bigger than the leaves on more mature growth . The characteristic large size of the young growth is exploited by gardeners: by pollarding the tree and ensuring there is vigorous new growth every year, massive leaves are produced (up to 60cm across). These are popular in the modern style of gardening which uses large-foliaged and “architectural” plants.

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The flowers are produced before the leaves in early spring, on panicles 10-30 cm long, with a tubular purple corolla 4-6 cm long resembling a foxglove flower. The fruit is a dry egg-shaped capsule 3-4 cm long, containing numerous tiny seeds. The seeds are winged and disperse by wind and water. Pollarded trees do not produce flowers, as these only form on mature wood.

Paulownia tomentosa can survive wildfire because the roots can regenerate new, very fast-growing stems. It is tolerant of pollution and it is not fussy about soil type. For this reason it functions ecologically as a pioneer plant. Its nitrogen-rich leaves provide good fodder and its roots prevent soil erosion. Eventually, Paulownia is succeeded by taller trees that shade it. It cannot thrive in the shade of other trees.

In China, an old custom is to plant an Empress Tree when a baby girl is born. The fast-growing tree matures when she does. When she is eligible for marriage the tree is cut down and carved into wooden articles for her dowry. Carving the wood of Paulownia is an art form in Japan and China. In legend, it is said that the Phoenix will only land on the Empress Tree and only when a good ruler is in power. Several Asian string instruments are made from P. tomentosa, including the Japanese koto and Korean gayageum zithers.

It is hardy to zone 5 and is frost tender. It is in flower in May, and the seeds ripen from September to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs)The plant is self-fertile.
The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and requires well-drained soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It requires moist soil. It can tolerate atmospheric pollution.

Cultivation
Requires a deep moderately fertile moisture retentive but well-drained soil in a sunny sheltered position. Plants are tolerant of atmospheric pollution. A very ornamental and fast growing plant. The flower buds are formed in autumn and can be excited into premature growth during mild winter weather, this growth is then more susceptible to frost damage. The flower buds are hardy to about -15°c when dormant. Plants, and especially seedlings less than 2 years old, are frost tender when young. They do not flower reliably in maritime zones, this is probably due to insufficient warmth and dryness in the summer. Branches tend to be brittle . The flowers have a delicate sweet fragrance. Trees can be coppiced annually, they will then produce very vigorous growth with leaves up to 1 metre wide. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus.

Propagation
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. Sow stored seed in late winter in a greenhouse at 15 – 20°c. The seed requires light for germination. Fair to good germination. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 5 – 8cm with a heel, July/August in a frame. Overwinter in a cold frame for its first year and plant out in late spring. Root cuttings 4cm long in December. Good percentage

Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Flowers; Leaves.

Leaves – cooked. An emergency food, used when all else fails. Flowers. Eaten with miso.

Medicinal  Actions & Uses
Astringent; Skin; Vermifuge; Warts.

A decoction of the leaves is used to wash foul ulcers and is also said to promote the growth of hair and prevent graying. The leaves are also poulticed onto bruises. The leaf juice is used in the treatment of warts. The flowers are used in the treatment of skin ailments. A tincture of the inner bark is used in the treatment of fevers and delirium. It is astringent and vermifuge.

Other Uses
Charcoal; Wood.

Wood – not attacked by insects. Used for making boxes, clogs, furniture, musical instruments etc. Good for posts and beams in construction[46, 61, 151, 178]. A source of charcoal.

The soft, lightweight seeds were commonly used as a packing material by Chinese porcelain exporters in the 19th century, before the development of polystyrene packaging. Packing cases would often leak or burst open in transit and scatter the seeds along rail tracks. This, together with seeds released by specimens deliberately planted for ornament, has allowed the species to become an invasive weed tree in areas where the climate is suitable for its growth, notably Japan and the eastern United States.

Scented Plants
Flowers: Fresh
The flowers have a delicate sweet fragrance.

Known Hazards:     The plant contains some potentially toxic compounds.

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider


Resources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paulownia_tomentosa

http://www.pfaf.org/database/plants.php?Paulownia+tomentosa

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Overcoming Oedema

Swollen feet — medically called  oedema — can make life miserable. Shoes and slippers don’t fit — they are tight and uncomfortable and sometimes impossible to put on. The feet feel like dead weights, and walking becomes a Herculean task. It is much easier to simply sit. But inactivity makes the swelling worse, and the sufferer is caught in a vicious cycle of swelling-inactivity-more swelling.

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The fluid that accumulates and causes oedema leaks from tiny blood vessels called capillaries. This can occur as a result of increased pressure, damage to the vessels or a fall in the protein concentration of the blood. As soon as the body senses that the capillaries are leaking, compensatory mechanisms come into play and fluid is retained in the body by the kidney. The amount of fluid circulating in the body therefore increases. This, in turn, causes the capillaries to leak more. This fluid from the capillaries leaks into the surrounding tissue, causing the swelling. At least five litres of fluid need to be retained before actual swelling appears.

Feet swell before any other part of the body. This is because the hydrostatic pressure on the blood vessels of the lower limbs are, by virtue of gravity, one metre more than the pressure on the face. Also, when we sit and stand, our feet are at a lower level than the heart and this aggravates the problem.

To demonstrate oedema, press firmly with your forefinger and maintain the pressure for 10 seconds. A persistent dimple like depression indicates the presence of oedema.

However, swollen feet do not always indicate disease. Overweight individuals may develop some amount of swelling at the end of a stationery day. (Fat is fluid at body temperature). This can be normal. The swelling can extend up to the knees.

Salt also causes fluid retention. If you consume a lot of salty snacks and pickles, the kidney is not able to handle the sodium overload and fluid is retained.

Women are more prone to develop oedema than men. The female hormones oestrogen and progesterone cause fluid retention. Women tend to “swell up” during the pre-menstrual period, pregnancy and if they are on hormones, either as oral contraceptive pills or as part of hormone replacement therapy (HRT). This can extend to the hands, making finger rings tight. The face may also appear puffy. This type of oedema disappears spontaneously in a few days once menstruation occurs, the baby is born or the hormones discontinued.

Oedema can be a side effect of prescribed medication like nifedepine, amlodepin and other anti-hypertensives. Medicines for pain belonging to the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) group can also cause fluid retention. Some like diclofenac may damage the kidneys. If you develop swelling while on medication, consult your doctor.

At times, oedema can be the first sign of a serious underlying medical condition. If the heart is unable to pump blood efficiently, blood can accumulate in the capillaries of the legs, ankles and feet, causing oedema.

The liver regulates the protein content of the blood. It is also responsible for adjusting the hormones and chemicals that regulate the fluid content of the body. The organ can become damaged as a result of alcoholism, hepatitis B infection or other diseases. This injury results in scar formation and is called cirrhosis. Fluid can then accumulate in the legs and abdomen. But two of the causal factors can be prevented — don’t drink excessively and take your hepatitis B immunisations.

Damaged kidneys cannot excrete excess fluid. The oedema then occurs typically around the legs and eyes. Kidney damage can occur for a variety of reasons. Preventable causes are uncontrolled, neglected diabetes and hypertension.

The veins in the leg may be damaged or weak. Sometimes the valves in these veins — which prevent back flow of blood — may be inefficient. Chronic venous insufficiency and varicose veins can result in swelling.

Excess fluid from tissues is cleared by the lymphatic system. These drain into lymph nodes and eventually into the large veins. Infections like filaria can damage the lymphatic system. The nodes can be infiltrated by cancerous deposits. The nodes may have been removed or damaged during surgery. All this can result in swelling. Usually this is present in any one limb and not symmetrically on both sides of the body.

Always keep in mind:-
• Oedema can be treated if the causal factor is removed

• Reduce weight if the BMI (body mass index or weight divided by height in metre squared ) is more than 23

• Walk, jog or swim for 40 minutes a day

• Try to move the legs every half hour during the day

• Do not add extra salt to food and avoid salty snacks

• Keep the feet elevated

• Use elastocrepe bandages or compression stockings on affected limbs

• Do not consume NSAIDs unnecessarily

• Seek medical advice immediately for filaria

• Use diurectics to get rid of fluid only if prescribed by a doctor

• Control diabetes and hypertension.

Source: The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

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Exercise Protects Against Stress Induced Cell Aging

Exercise can buffer the effects of stress-induced cell aging, according to new research that revealed actual benefits of physical activity at the cellular level.

The scientists learned that vigorous physical activity as brief as 42 minutes over a 3-day period, similar to federally recommended levels, can protect individuals from the effects of stress by reducing its impact on telomere length. Telomeres (pronounced TEEL-oh-meres) are tiny pieces of DNA that promote genetic stability and act as protective sheaths by keeping chromosomes from unraveling, much like plastic tips at the ends of shoelaces.

A growing body of research suggests that short telomeres are linked to a range of health problems, including coronary heart disease and diabetes, as well as early death.

“Telomere length is increasingly considered a biological marker of the accumulated wear and tear of living, integrating genetic influences, lifestyle behaviors, and stress,” said Elissa Epel, who is one of the lead investigators. “Even a moderate amount of vigorous exercise appears to provide a critical amount of protection for the telomeres.”

The findings build on previous research documenting that chronic psychological stress takes a significant toll on the human body by impacting the length of telomeres in immune cells. While the exact mechanisms have remained elusive, a research study in 2004 found that the ramifications of stress stretch deep into our cells, affecting telomeres, which are believed to play a key role in cellular aging, and possibly disease development.

The findings also build on previous studies showing that exercise is linked to longer telomeres, but this is the first study to show that exercise — acting as a “stress-buffer” – can prevent the shortening of telomeres due to stress.

Research on telomeres, and the enzyme that makes them, was pioneered by three Americans, including molecular biologist Elizabeth Blackburn who co-discovered the telomerase enzyme in 1985. The scientists received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2009.

“We are at the tip of the iceberg in our understanding of which lifestyle factors affect telomere maintenance, and how,” noted Blackburn.

In the study, 62 post-menopausal women – many of whom were caring for spouses or parents with dementia — reported at the end of each day over three days the number of minutes of vigorous physical activity in which they had engaged. Vigorous activity in the study was defined as “increased heart rate and/or sweating.” They also reported separately their perceptions of life stress that they had experienced during the prior month. Their blood’s immune cells were examined for telomere length.

Results support the discovery six years earlier in premenopausal women that psychological stress has a detrimental effect on immune cell longevity, as it relates to shorter telomeres. The new study showed, however, that when participants were divided into groups – an inactive group, and an active group (i.e., they met federal recommendations for 75 minutes of weekly physical activity) – only the inactive high stress group had shorter telomeres. The active high stress group did not have shorter telomeres. In other words, stress predicted shorter telomeres in the sedentary group, but not in the active group.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests 75 minutes of vigorous activity a week for adults, or 150 minutes of moderate activity in addition to weight-bearing exercises. For children and adolescents, recommended levels are 90 minutes per day. For this sample of older women, it appears that the CDC-recommended level of vigorous exercise for adults may be enough to buffer the effects of stress on telomeres. However, the researchers say, this finding needs to be replicated with larger samples.

“At this point, we have replicated previous findings showing a link between life stress and the dynamics of how cells age,” said lead author Eli Puterman. “Yet we have extended those findings to show that, in fact, there are things we can do about it. If we maintain the levels of physical activity recommended, at least those put forth by the CDC, we can prevent the unyielding damage that psychological stress may have on our body.”

“Our findings also reveal that those who reported more stress were less likely to exercise over the course of the study,” he said.”While this finding may be discouraging, it offers a great opportunity to direct research to specifically examine these vulnerable stressed individuals to find ways to engage them in greater physical activity.”

The researchers are now embarking on another research project in which participants will learn their own telomere length. The scientists will test whether discovering one’s personal telomere length will motivate people to make lifestyle changes such as exercising more, reducing stress and eating less processed red meat, all factors that have been linked to telomere length.

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*Joint Pain
*Fitness is Critical to Staying Mentally Sharp as We Age

*Study Suggests Running More Beneficial for Building Stronger Bones
*Physical Fitness Increases Brain Size in Elderly

Source:
Elements4Health

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Pistachio Nuts Significantly Lower Cholesterol Levels

A study has found that a diet containing nuts, including pistachios, significantly lowered total and LDL-cholesterol levels, in addition to triglycerides. The 600 subject, 25 clinical trial study, conducted in seven counties, is the most comprehensive study of its kind and further substantiates the evidence that nuts can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

The report, authored by Dr. Joan Sabaté, set out to quantify the cholesterol-reducing benefits of various nuts, such as pistachios, by analyzing previously published human clinical trials.

The authors reviewed the results of 25 human clinical trials published from 1992 through 2007. The analysis included data from 583 men and women, aged 19 to 86 years old. Among the studies, nut consumption ranged from less than one ounce to 4.75 ounces per day. The average daily intake for the meta-analysis was 67 grams per day or 2.4 ounces.

The results found that when 67 grams of nuts were consumed, triglycerides were reduced by 10.2 percent among those with high triglyceride levels at the onset of the study; and total and LDL-cholesterol were lowered by 5.1 percent and 7.4 percent, respectively. Individuals with higher baseline LDL-cholesterol levels also experienced a greater reduction in total and LDL-cholesterol levels compared to those with normal baseline LDL levels. Subjects following a typical Western-diet also experienced a greater reduction in total and LDL-cholesterol levels (-7.4 percent and – 9.6 percent, respectively) compared to a low-fat (-4.1 percent and -6.0 percent, respectively) or a Mediterranean diet (-4.1 percent and -6.0 percent, respectively).

Another important finding was that greater cholesterol lowering benefits were seen in individuals with a lower BMI compared to those with a higher BMI. Additionally, cholesterol levels were reduced in a dose-dependent result, with benefits seen in as low as a one-ounce serving per day; the greatest benefits were seen when 20 percent of calories were consumed daily from nuts. For the typical 2,000-calorie diet, 20 percent equals 400 calories of nuts or 2.4 ounces (about 120) pistachios.

“Enjoying a handful or two of in-shell pistachios may provide significant heart health benefits,” said Martin Yadrick, immediate past-president of the American Dietetic Association. “They are known to also improve blood vessel function, blood sugar control, act as potent antioxidant and offer weight management benefits, all of which are important for improving heart health.”

With more than 30 different vitamins, minerals and beneficial phytonutrients, in-shell pistachios are a nutrient-rich snack. In fact, pistachios provide more potassium and phytosterols than any other nut and are the only nut to contain the carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin. They also have one of the highest antioxidant capacities of all nuts.

Source:Elements4Health

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Biota(Thuja orientalis)

Botanical Name : Thuja orientalis
Family: Cupressaceae
Genus: Platycladus
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pinophyta
Class: Pinopsida
Order: Pinales
Species: P. orientalis
Synonyms:   Biota orientalis – (L.)Endl., Platycladus orientalis – (L.)Franco.,  Platycladus stricta – Spach.
Common Names : Platycladus orientalis, also known as Chinese Arborvitae or Biota.

Habitat : . It is native to northwestern China and widely naturalised elsewhere in Asia east to Korea and Japan, south to northern India, and west to northern Iran.  E. Asia – W. China, N. Korea. A small wild population is also found in N.E. Iran.  Steep dry rocky valley slopes .Woodland Garden; Canopy; Hedge;

Description:
It is a small, slow-growing tree, to 15-20 m tall and 0.5 m trunk diameter (exceptionally to 30 m tall and 2 m diameter in very old trees). The foliage forms in flat sprays with scale-like leaves 2-4 mm long. The cones are 15-25 mm long, green ripening brown in about 8 months from pollination, and have 6-12 thick scales arranged in opposite pairs. The seeds are 4-6 mm long, with no wing.

Click to see the pictures..>..…...(1)…………………….(2)

Although generally accepted as only member of its genus, it has been suggested that the closely related species Microbiota decussata could be included in Platycladus, but this is not widely followed. Other fairly close relatives are the genera Juniperus and Cupressus, both of these genera being graft-compatible with Platycladus. In older texts, Platycladus was often included in Thuja, but it is only distantly related to that genus. Differences from Thuja include its distinct cones, wingless seeds, and its almost scentless foliage.

It is hardy to zone 6. It is in leaf all year, and the seeds ripen from September to October. The flowers are monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and are pollinated by Wind.
The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and requires well-drained soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline soil. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought. It can tolerate atmospheric pollution


Cultivation

Prefers a moist loamy soil . Grows best on dry freely draining sites, often alkaline in reaction. Does well over old building rubble. Tolerant of dry dusty sites and of atmospheric pollution in towns. Prefers a sunny sheltered position. Easily transplanted. There are many named varieties selected for their ornamental value. Produces seed freely in cultivation. A slow growing tree, it does not really thrive in Britain, especially in the western part of the country. The best specimens are to be found in towns or cities such as Oxford and very sharply drained soils in gardens. Plants cannot regenerate from old wood. Pruning is not normally necessary for this species, any pruning that is carried out should be done with care. Plants are susceptible to attacks by honey fungus. Plants are monoecious, male catkins being produced at the tips of branches and female cones at the base.

Propagation
Seed – best sown when ripe in the autumn in a cold frame. Stored seed germinates best if given a short cold stratification. It can then be sown in a cold frame in late winter. Plants make very little growth in their first year. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. If there is sufficient seed it is worthwhile trying a sowing in an outdoor seed bed in April. Grow the plants on for at least two years before planting them out in the winter. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 5 – 8cm with a heel, July/August in a shaded frame. Forms roots by the end of September but should be overwintered in a frame. Cuttings of almost ripe wood, 5 – 10cm with a heel, September in a cold frame. Forms roots in the following summer. Plant out in autumn or spring.

Cultivars

There are some named forms for this species, but these have been developed for their ornamental value and not for their other uses. Unless you particularly require the special characteristics of any of these cultivars, we would generally recommend that you grow the natural species for its useful properties. We have, therefore, not listed the cultivars in this database.


Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Seed.

Seed – after removing the bitterness. No more details are given, but the bitterness in seeds is usually removed either by leaching them in water or by thoroughly cooking them.

Medicinal  Actions & Uses :

Antiasthmatic; Antibacterial; Antipyretic; Antitussive; Aperient; Astringent; Diuretic; Emmenagogue; Emollient; Expectorant; Haemostatic; Lenitive; Parasiticide; Sedative; Skin; Stomachic.

This plant is commonly used in Chinese herbalism, where it is considered to be one of the 50 fundamental herbs. Both the leaves and the seeds contain an essential oil consisting of borneol, bornyl acetate, thujone, camphor and sesquiterpenes. The leaves also contain rhodoxanthin, amentoflavone, quercetin, myricetin, carotene, xanthophyll and ascorbic acid. The leaves are antibacterial, antipyretic, antitussive, astringent, diuretic, emmenagogue, emollient, expectorant, febrifuge, haemostatic, refrigerant and stomachic. Their use is said to improve the growth of hair. They are used internally in the treatment of coughs, haemorrhages, excessive menstruation, bronchitis, asthma, skin infections, mumps, bacterial dysentery, arthritic pain and premature baldness. The leaves are harvested for use as required and can be used fresh or dried. This remedy should not be prescribed to pregnant women. The seed is aperient, lenitive and sedative.   It is used internally in the treatment of palpitations, insomnia, nervous disorders and constipation in the elderly. The root bark is used in the treatment of burns and scalds. The stems are used in the treatment of coughs, colds, dysentery, rheumatism and parasitic skin diseases.

Other Uses
Dye; Hedge; Wood.

Tolerant of regular trimming, though not into old wood, it can be grown as a dense hedge. A yellow dye is obtained from the young branches. Wood – durable in the soil, moderately hard, close grained, rather coarse grained, light, soft, brittle. Used for construction, cabinet making, cooperage.

It is very widely used as an ornamental tree, both in its homeland, where it is associated with long life and vitality, and very widely elsewhere in temperate climates. The wood is used in Buddhist temples, both for construction work, and chipped, for incense burning.

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider

Resources:

http://www.pfaf.org/database/plants.php?Thuja+oriental

Thuja-orientalis

Thuja-orientalis (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

is

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platycladus

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Platycladus_orientalis

Known Hazards:   The leaves are toxic if eaten. The plant can also cause skin allergies in sensitive people.

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Alpine Bistort(Polygonum viviparum)

Botanical Name : Polygonum viviparum
Family : Polygonaceae
Genus : Polygonum
Synonyms : Bistorta vivipara – (L.)S.F.Gray. Polygonum viviparum, Persicaria vivipara.
Comon Name ;     Alpine Bistort,
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Caryophyllales
Species: P. viviparum

Habitat : It is common all over the high Arctic and northern regions of Europe, including Britain, Asia and America.It stretches further south in high mountainous areas like the Alps, Carpathians, Pyrenees, Caucasus and the Tibetan Plateau. Mountain grassland and wet rocks.Meadow; Cultivated Beds;

Description:
It is Perennial  and grows to 5-15 cm tall with a thick rootstock. The basal leaves are longish-elliptical with long stalks; upper ones are linear and stalkless. The flowers are white or pink in the upper part of the spike; lower ones are replaced by bulbils. Flowers rarely produce viable seeds and reproduction is normally by the bulbils. Very often a small leaf develops when the bulbil is still attached to the mother plant. The bulbils are rich in starch and are a preferred food for Ptarmigan and Reindeer; they are also occasionally used by Arctic people.
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Alpine Bistort grows in many different plant communities, very often in abundance.

As with many other alpine plants, Alpine Bistort is slow growing, with an individual leaf or inflorescence taking 3-4 years to reach maturity from the time it is formed

It is hardy to zone 3. It is in flower from June to August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.
The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires moist soil.

Cultivation
Succeeds in an ordinary garden soil but prefers a moisture retentive not too fertile soil in sun or part shade. Repays generous treatment. Plants seem to be immune to the predations of rabbits. Plants do not often produce viable seed, reproducing by means of bulbils formed on the lower portion of the flowering stem.

Propagation

Seed – sow spring in a cold frame. Germination is usually free and easy. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer if they have reached sufficient size. If not, overwinter them in a cold frame and plant them out the following spring after the last expected frosts. Division in spring or autumn. Very easy, larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is better to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a cold frame until they are well established before planting them out in late spring or early summer.

Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Leaves; Root; Seed.

Leaves – raw or cooked. They have a pleasant tart taste when cooked. Seed – raw or cooked. The seed is not often produced and even when it is, it is rather small and fiddly to utilize. It is rich in starch. It is pickled in Nepal. Root – raw or cooked. Starchy and pleasant but rather small. Sweet, nutty and wholesome. They taste best when roasted. Bulbils from lower part of flowering stem – raw.

Medicinal Actions & Use
s
Astringent; Styptic.

The root is astringent and styptic. It is used in the treatment of abscesses, as a gargle to treat sore throats and spongy gums, and as a lotion for ulcers.

Known Hazards: Although no specific mention has been made for this species, there have been reports that some members of this genus can cause photosensitivity in susceptible people. Many species also contain oxalic acid (the distinctive lemony flavour of sorrel) – whilst not toxic this substance can bind up other minerals making them unavailable to the body and leading to mineral deficiency. Having said that, a number of common foods such as sorrel and rhubarb contain oxalic acid and the leaves of most members of this genus are nutritious and beneficial to eat in moderate quantities. Cooking the leaves will reduce their content of oxalic acid. People with a tendency to rheumatism, arthritis, gout, kidney stones or hyperacidity should take especial caution if including this plant in their diet since it can aggravate their condition.

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider


Resources:

http://www.pfaf.org/database/plants.php?Polygonum+viviparum

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polygonum_viviparum

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Polygonum_viviparum.jpg

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Link Between Vitamin D Insufficiency and Asthma Severity

In a study of more than 600 Costa Rican children, serum levels of vitamin D were inversely linked to several indicators of allergy and asthma severity, including hospitalizations for asthma, use of inhaled steroids and total IgE levels, providing evidence for a link between vitamin D insufficiency and asthma severity.

While previous in vitro studies have suggested that vitamin D may affect how airway cells respond to treatment with inhaled steroids, this is the first in vivo study of vitamin D and disease severity in children with asthma.

The researchers recruited 616 children with asthma living in the Central Valley of Costa Rica, a country known to have a high prevalence of asthma. Each child was assessed for allergic markers, including both allergen-specific and general sensitivity tests, and assessed for lung function and circulating vitamin D levels. Children whose forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) exceeded 65 percent of the predicted value were also tested for airway reactivity.

They found that children with lower vitamin D levels were significantly more likely to have been hospitalized for asthma in the previous year, tended to have airways with increased hyperactivity and were likely to have used more inhaled corticosteroids, all signifying higher asthma severity. These children were also significantly more likely to have several markers of allergy, including dust-mite sensitivity.

“To our knowledge this is the first study to demonstrate an inverse association between circulating levels of vitamin D and markers of asthma severity and allergy,” wrote Juan Celedón and Augusto Litonjua, study authors. “While it is difficult to establish causation in a cross-sectional study such as this, the results were robust even after controlling for markers of baseline asthma severity.”

“This study suggests that there may be added health benefits to vitamin D supplementation” said Dr. Celedón. Current recommendations for optimal vitamin D levels geared toward preserving bone health, such as preventing rickets in children and osteoporosis in adults.

“This study also provides epidemiological support for a growing body of in vitro evidence that vitamin D insufficiency may worsen asthma severity, and we suspect that giving vitamin D supplements to asthma patients who are deficient may help with their asthma control” wrote Drs. Celedón and Litonjua, noting that a clinical trial should be the next step in this research. “Whether vitamin D supplementation can prevent the development of asthma in very young children is a separate question, which will be answered by clinical trials that are getting under way,” he said.

A complication is that vitamin D, unlike most other nutrients, is primarily synthesized in the body rather than consumed. Because about 90 percent of circulating vitamin D is produced by the body in response to sun exposure, deficiency is often related to behavioral issues rather than an inadequate dietary intake. Increased time spent indoors, increased use of sunscreen and sun-protective clothing all lead to decreased levels of vitamin D.

Obtaining sufficient vitamin D from natural food sources alone can be difficult. In some people, dietary supplements might be required to meet the daily need for vitamin D.

“Ultimately, it is only by investigating the effects of vitamin D in doses at, and above, those currently recommended that decisions can be made on the optimal intake of vitamin D and the possible prevention and treatment of asthma,” wrote Graham Devereux, M.D., of the Department of Environmental and Occupational Medicine at the University of Aberdeen.

Source:Elements4Health

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Hard Fern (Blechnum spicant)

Botanical Name :Blechnum spicant
Family : Blechnaceae
Genus : Blechnum
Synonyms :        Lomaria spicant – (L.)Desv.
Common Names:   Deer fern or Hard fern
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pteridophyta
Class: Pteridopsida
Order: Athyriales
Species: B. spicant

Habitat : It is native to Europe and western North America.  Grows most of Europe, including Britain, N. Africa, Japan, Western N. America.  Woods, heaths, moors, mountain grassland and on rocks, to 1200 metres.  Woodland Garden; Dappled Shade; Shady Edge; Deep Shade; Ground Cover;

Description:
An evergreen Fern growing to 0.3m by 0.3m at a slow rate.  Like some other Blechnum it has two types of leaves. The sterile leaves have flat, wavy-margined leaflets 5 to 8 millimeters wide, while the fertile leaves have much narrower leaflets, each with two thick rows of sori on the underside.
It is hardy to zone 5. It is in leaf all year, and the seeds ripen from June to August.

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Deer fern fronds are dimorphic.  Sterile leaves are evergreen and are  spreading or appressed to the ground.  They are usually 4 to 16 inches (10-40 cm) long.  Fertile leaves are fewer in number, deciduous, and  much longer than the sterile leaves.  Sporangia are confluent and  parallel to the midrib.  Deer fern has woody rhizomes

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, requires well-drained soil and can grow in heavy clay soil. The plant prefers acid and neutral soils and can grow in very acid soil. It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires moist soil.

Cultivation
A calcifuge plant, it prefers a moist shady nook in the rock garden or a position in open woodland in a moist soil. Succeeds in quite dense tree shade if the soil is moist. Prefers a moist position and a northerly aspect but succeeds in sun and in clay soils. A polymorphic and very ornamental species, there are several named varieties. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer.

Propagation
Spores – best sown as soon as they are ripe on the surface of a humus-rich sterilized soil. Keep the compost moist, preferably by putting a plastic bag over the pot. Pot on small clumps of plantlets as soon as they are large enough to handle and keep humid until they are well established. Overwinter for the first year in a greenhouse and plant outside in late spring or early summer. Division in spring or autumn. Larger divisions can be planted straight into their permanent positions whilst smaller clumps are best potted up and kept in a cold frame until they are growing away well.

Cultivars
There are some named forms for this species, but these have been developed for their ornamental value and not for their other uses. Unless you particularly require the special characteristics of any of these cultivars, we would generally recommend that you grow the natural species for its useful properties. We have, therefore, not listed the cultivars in this database.

Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Leaves; Root.

Root – cooked. An emergency food, used when all else fails. Young shoots (often called croziers) – cooked. The young tender stems can be peeled and the centre portion eaten. An emergency food, it is only used when all else fails. It is also chewed to alleviate thirst on long journeys.

Medicinal Actions &  Uses
Astringent; Cancer; Skin; Stomachic.

The leaflets have been chewed in the treatment of internal cancer, lung disorders and stomach problems. The fronds are used externally as a medicine for skin sores. A decoction of the root has been used in the treatment of diarrhoea.

Other Uses
Ground cover.

A good ground cover plant. Relatively slow growing but succeeding in the dense shade of trees.


Known Hazards
:  Although it is  found that no reports of toxicity for this species, a number of ferns contain carcinogens so some caution is advisable. Many ferns also contain thiaminase, an enzyme that robs the body of its vitamin B complex. In small quantities this enzyme will do no harm to people eating an adequate diet that is rich in vitamin B, though large quantities can cause severe health problems. The enzyme is destroyed by heat or thorough drying, so cooking the plant will remove the thiaminase.

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider


Resources:

http://www.pfaf.org/database/plants.php?Blechnum+spicant

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blechnum_spicant

http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/fern/blespi/all.html

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Agaricus blazei mushroom

Botanical Name :Agaricus blazei
Family: Agaricaceae
Genus: Agaricus
Kingdom: Fungi
Subkingdom: Dikarya
Phylum: Basidiomycota
Subphylum: Agaricomycotina
Class: Agaricomycetes
Order: Agaricales
Species: A. subrufescens
Common  Names: Agaricus Blazei Murill Mushroom, Almond mushroom, or Himematsutake, (Japan) Cogumelo do Sol (Brazil)

Habitat :Agaricus subrufescens forms fruitbodies singly or in clusters in leaf litter in rich soil, often in domestic habitats. It was originally described from the northeastern United States, but has been found growing in California, Hawaii, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Israel, Taiwan, and Brazil.

Agaricus subrufescens Peck was cultivated first in the late 1800s in eastern North America. The type consists partly of cultivated material and partly of field-collected specimens. Once a popular market mushroom, the species faded from commerce in the early 20th century. More recently, a mushroom species growing wild in Brazil has been introduced into cultivation in Brazil, Japan and elsewhere. This Brazilian mushroom has been referred to by various names, most commonly as A. blazei Murrill (sensu Heinemann) and most recently as A. brasiliensis Wasser et al.

Description:

Mushroom is generally described as having small to large fruit bodies with white, yellow or brown pileus; free lamellae that are pallid or pinkish when young, later becoming chocolate-brown; and also dark-brown, smooth basidiospores.

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The cap is initially hemispherical, later becoming convex, with a diameter of 5 to 18 centimetres (2.0 to 7.1 in). The cap surface is covered with silk-like fibers, although in maturity it develops small scales (squamulose). The color of the cap may range from white to grayish or dull reddish-brown; the cap margin typically splits with age. The flesh of A. subrufescens is white, and has the taste of “green nuts”, with the odor of almonds.The gills are not attached to the stalk (free), narrow, and crowded closely together. They start out whitish in color, then later pinkish and finally black-brown as the spores mature. Spores are ellipsoid, smooth, dark-purplish brown when viewed microscopically, with dimensions of 6–7.5 by 4–5 µm. The stipe is 6 to 15 centimetres (2.4 to 5.9 in) by 1 to 1.5 centimetres (0.39 to 0.59 in) thick, and bulbous at the base. Initially solid, the stipe becomes hollow with age; it is cottony (floccose) to scaly towards the base. The annulus is abundant and double-layered; it is bent downwards towards the stem, smooth and whitish on the upper side, and covered with cottony scales on the lower side.


Cultivation:
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First, the correct compost must be prepared. Then the compost is  pasteurize and sterilize  to make sure that the compost is not contaminated with other fungi, insects and bacteria. Once the compost has been prepared correctly,  then inoculate the compost with agaricus blazei murill mushroom hyphae. Then the compost material with the fully developed agaricus blazei murill mushroom mycelia is placed on open land that has ample sunlight. A layer of sterilized and treated soil is used to cover the mushroom bed. Once in place, the agaricus blazei murill mushroom receives plenty of water to keep the soil and compost layers moist. Without sufficient moisture, ABM (agaricus blazei murill mushroom) will not fruit. Once the agaricus blazei murill mushroom is ready to harvest,  harvest the ABM (agaricus blazei murill mushroom) as quick as possible since agaricus blazei murill mushroom starts to spoil very rapidly. The ABM (agaricus blazei murill mushroom) is rinsed and cut into halves and readied for drying. Drying is done through a slow drying process at temperatures of 40º Celsius to about 43º Celsius. It is very important to dry the agaricus blazei murill mushroom slowly so that the ABM does not cook or become shocked.

Edible uses:
Agaricus subrufescens is a choice edible, with a somewhat sweet taste and fragrance of almonds. The almond smell of the mushroom is mostly due to the presence of benzaldehyde, benzyl alcohol, benzonitrile, and methyl benzoate.
You may click to see ->Agaricus Blazei Murill Mushroom Recipes

Commercial uses:
Due to the fact Agaricus subrufescens contains a high level of beta glucans, compounds known for stimulating the immune system, the fungus is used in oncological therapy in Japan and Brazil. In addition to beta-glucans, the mushroom’s effect on the immune system is believed to be due to other polysaccharides such as alpha-glucans. In Japan, Agaricus subrufescens is sold under the brand names Sen-Sei-Ro Gold, and ABMK, and is used by an estimated 500,000 people In Japan, Agaricus subrufescens is also the most popular complementary and alternative medicine used by cancer patients. Although Agaricus subrufescens is cultivated in the United States, the largest exporters are China and Brazil. It has been noted in a scientific review of A. subrufescens research, that the range of quality in A. subrufescens cultivation can affect the mushroom’s ability to impact cells of the immune system.

Recently, Watanabe et al. published a report in the Biological & Pharmaceutical Bulletin on a novel hybrid of A. subrufescens called Basidiomycetes-X (BDM-X) and a US patent  was issued on a novel hybrid of the A. subrufescens edible mushroom which was cross-bred (hybridized) with another medicinal mushroom resulting in a new hybrid claimed to possess 10 to 3000 times the potency of similar but unpatented mushrooms.

Medicinal Actions & Uses:
This mushroom is also well known as a medicinal mushroom, for its purported medicinal properties, due to research which indicates it may stimulate the immune system. A. blazei has been used in complementary and alternative medicine to treat many immune disorders and is being studied as a treatment for cancer. It was traditionally used to treat many common diseases like cardiovascular disease, hepatitis, high blood cholesterol, diabetes, and skin .

Many researchers have studied Agaricus subrufescens, as well as other medicinal mushrooms for close to 50 years, due to laboratory tests which show they may stimulate immune system cells and the production of immune system cytokines. This research  is often based on animal or cellular models. Research conducted on the mushroom’s ability to impact the human immune system or human diseases is “beneficial”.

Immune system
Cellular and animal research has shown that Agaricus subrufescens may stimulate immune system cells and the production cytokines, like interferons and interleukins (reviewed by G. Hetland).

Direct anti-viral properties

Agaricus subrufescens mushrooms are known to have anti-viral properties in cell culture. The ability of Agaricus subrufescens to inhibit viruses in the human body has not been studied. Other mushrooms are also known to have anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal activity in cell culture.

Other possible effects
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Besides evidence Agaricus subrufescens may up-regulate the immune system, additional research suggests the mushroom has a beneficial effect on cholesterol, inhibiting pathogenic factors, and inhibiting angiogenesis.

ABM has been shown to have a beneficial effect on various ailments:

Cancer
: Studies on the agaricus blazei murill mushrooms have shown that the mushroom may be helpful in various types of cancer. As with other therapies, this is a natural therapy and you should consult a doctor or seek medical advise.

Diabetes:
Studies have shown that agaricus blazei mushrooms may help to reduce blood glucose levels .
Hepatitis: Studies have shown that ABM may be helpful in certain cases of Hepatitis
Studies have shown that ABM may also help to reduce high blood pressure and cholesterol.

Limited clinical and animal research suggests, Agaricus subrufescens consumption may lower blood glucose levels and improve insulin resistance.

You may click to see:-

Beta-glucan
List of Agaricus species
Medicinal mushrooms

Taxonomy

Agaricus subrufescens was first described by the American botanist Charles Horton Peck in 1893. During the late 19th and early 20th century, it was cultivated for the table in the eastern United States. It was discovered again in Brazil during the 1970s, and misidentified as Agaricus blazei Murrill, a species originally described from Florida. It was soon marketed for its purported medicinal properties under various names, including ABM (for Agaricus blazei Murill), Cogumelo do Sol (mushroom of the sun), Cogumelo de Deus (mushroom of God), Cogumelo de Vida (mushroom of life), Himematsutake, Royal Sun Agaricus, Mandelpilz, and Almond Mushroom.

In 2002, Didukh and Wasser correctly rejected the name A. blazei for this species, but unfortunately called the Brazilian fungus A. brasiliensis,[3] a name that had already been used for a different species, Agaricus brasiliensis Fr. (1830). Richard Kerrigan undertook genetic and interfertility testing on several fungal strains   and showed that samples of the Brazilian strains called A. blazei and A. brasiliensis were genetically similar to, and interfertile with, North American populations of Agaricus subrufescens. These tests also found European samples called A. rufotegulis to be of the same species. Because A. subrufescens is the oldest name, it has taxonomical priority.

Note that Agaricus blazei Murrill is a perfectly valid name, but for a completely different mushroom. Agaricus silvaticus Schaeff. is also a perfectly valid name for a common, north temperate, woodland mushroom. Neither is a synonym of Agaricus subrufescens.

You may click to see:-Agaricus Mushroom extract supplement health benefit and side effects, dosage and review

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider
Resources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agaricus_subrufescens

http://www.anniesremedy.com/herb_detail443.php

http://www.americannutrition.com/store/Agaricus_Blazei_Murill_Mushroom.html?gclid=CI7dpvWL8aECFV195Qod_l0Lmg

http://www.agaricusfarm.com/our-agaricus-blazei-murill-s/27.htm

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Trumpet Creeper (Campsis grandiflora)

Botanical Name : Campsis grandiflora
Family : Bignoniaceae
Genus : Campsis
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Lamiales
Species: C. grandiflora

Synonyms : Bignonia chinensis – Lam.,Bignonia grandiflora – Thunb.,Campsis adrepens – Lour.,Campsis chinensis – Voss.,Tecoma grandiflora – (Thunb.)Loisel.
Common Name : Chinese Trumpet Vine
Habitat :   A native of East Asia, China and Japan  . Climbs into trees and grows on rocks.
Woodland Garden; Ground Cover;

Description:
It is a fast growing, deciduous creeper with large, orange, trumpet-shaped flowers in summer. It can grow to a height of 9 meters. It is less hardy than its relative Campsis  radicans.The dark green leaves have serrated edges.Chinese trumpet  creeper is a showcase drop-dead,absolutely gorgeous vine, the perfectplant for that special full sun spot. Positioned so the backdrop is a dark  evergreen, the plant literally erupts  into a carpet of three-inch reddishorange  flowers tinged with yellow and salmon hues. On a post, this bright  petunia-on-a-stick will shock and awe  the most jaded of gardeners. At the  SFA Mast Arboretum, flowering rolls in  on a surge in early summer. The show lasts a month, and then the vine  casually throws a few flowers off and  on for the rest of the year, depending  on plant health.

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Leaves are decidious, 8-12 in (20-30 cm) long, serrated, green to dark-green, pinnate, with 7-9 lanceolate and oval leaflets.
Flowers appear in summer. They are trumpet shaped, orange or red and grouped in terminal clusters of 6-12 flowers. Each flower is about 4-6 in (10-15 cm) long.
Fruits are flattened pods that contain numerous winged seeds.

Campsis grandiflora prefers well drained sandy soil and a position with full sun and support to climb. The dark green leaves have serrated edges.

It is hardy to zone 7 and is frost tender. It is in leaf from June to October, in flower from August to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs)
The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and requires well-drained soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It requires moist soil. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.

Cultivation :
Succeeds in a good well-drained loam and a very sunny position  or light shade. Tolerates moderately alkaline or moderately acid soils.  Dormant plants are hardy to about -10°c, though they require a sunny sheltered wall or hot summers if they are to flower well. The fresh young growth in spring is often damaged by late frosts. Plants can take some years to settle down before they start to flower. They climb by means of aerial roots but need to be supported. Another report says that this species does not produce aerial roots. Plants can be pruned like grapes (Vitis spp.) and any pruning is best done in the spring.  The sub-species C. grandiflora thunbergii tolerates saline winds. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus.

Propagation:
Seed – sow spring in a greenhouse at 10°c. Two months stratification at 5°c assists germination. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of almost ripe wood, 7 – 10cm long, July/August in a frame. Slow to root but a fair percentage. Root cuttings 5cm long in December. Fair to good percentage. Division of suckers in the dormant season. Layering in winter. Plants often self-layer

Medicinal  Actions & Uses
Blood tonic; Carminative; Diuretic; Febrifuge; Women’s complaints.

The flowers and the whole plant are blood tonic, carminative, depurative diuretic and febrifuge. They are used in the treatment of women’s complaints. A decoction of the flowers is used to correct menstrual disorders, rheumatoid pains, traumatic injuries, difficult urination, pruritis and oozing dermaphytoses.

Other Uses:
Ground cover.

Plants can be allowed to scramble on the ground and will form an effective ground cover, rooting at intervals along the branches. They should be planted about 2.5 metres apart each way.

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider

Resources:

http://www.pfaf.org/database/plants.php?Campsis+grandiflora

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Campsis_grandiflora

http://ag.sfasu.edu/UserFiles/File/PLANTS/Campsis%20grandiflora.pdf

http://coolexotics.com/plant-521-campsis-grandiflora.html

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Campsis_grandiflora

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