Lolium temulentum

Botanical Name: Lolium temulentum
Family: Poaceae
Genus: Lolium
Species: L. temulentum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Poales

Synonyms:
XWALK: Lolium temulentum var. leptochaeton
ICPN: Lolium temulentum ssp. temulentum

Common Names:Darnel or Cockle

Habitat:It has a global distribution.

Description:
Lolium temulentum, a monocot, is an annual herb. The plant stem can grow up to 1 meter tall,

Spikes many-flowered, distichous, sessile, contrary to the rachis. Flowers beardless at the base. Glumes 2, nearly equal, herbaceous, lanceolate, channelled, awnless; the lower or inner ones very often deficient in the lateral spikelets. Paleae 2, herbaceous; the lower concave, awnless, or awned below the point; the upper bicarinate. Stamens 3. Ovary smooth; styles 2, very short, inserted below the point; stigmas feathery, with long, simple, finely-toothed, transparent hairs; scales 2, fleshy, smooth, acute, entire or two-lobed. Caryopsis smooth, adhering to the upper paleae (Kunth).

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Darnel usually grows in the same production zones as wheat and is considered a weed. The similarity between these two plants is so extensive that in some regions cockle is referred to as false wheat. It bears a close resemblance to wheat until the ear appears. The ears on the real wheat are so heavy that it makes the entire plant droop downward, but L. temulentum, whose ears are light, stands up straight. The wheat will also appear brown when ripe, whereas the darnel is black. When the Lolium matures, the spikelets turn edge ways to the rachis where the wheat spikelets remain as they grew previously.

The darnel can be infected by an endophytic fungus of the genus Neotyphodium, and the endophyte-produced, insecticidal loline alkaloids were first isolated from this plant. It parasitizes wheat fields. The French word for darnel is “ivraie” (from Latin ebriacus, ‘intoxicated’), which expresses that weed’s characteristic of making one feel poisoned with drunkenness, and can cause death. This characteristic is also alluded to in the scientific name (Latin temulentus = drunk).

Chemical Characteristics:
According to Ruspini , the presence of grains of Lolium temulentum in wheat-flour may be detected by digesting the suspected farina in rectified spirit. If the Lolium be present, the spirit immediately acquires a characteristic green tint, which gradually deepens; and the taste of the tincture is astringent, and so disagreeable that it may even excite vomiting. By evaporation it yields a green resin. But I have not succeeded in obtaining these results. By digesting bruised and coarsely powdered grains of Lolium temulentum in rectified spirit, the liquid had acquired in forty eight hours a pale yellow colour and scarcely any flavour, and yielded, by spontaneous evaporation, a minute portion of yellowish residue with a saline taste.

Medicinal Uses:
This grass was used medicinally by the ancient Greeks and Romans, though it is somewhat remarkable that it is mentioned neither by Hippocrates nor Celsus.

Darnel has been recently employed in headache, in rheumatic meningitis, and in sciatica. Fantoni used it with success in the case of a widow who, at the climacteric period, was affected with giddiness, headache, and epistaxis, which had resisted various other remedies. In a case of violent rheumatic meningitis, very great benefit was obtained by its use.

Occasionally used in folk medicine to treat headache, rheumatism, and sciatica.  It is occasionally used externally in cases of skin eruption and tumorous growth.  It is sometimes used by doctors to treat dizziness, insomnia, blood congestion, and stomach problems. It may also be used for skin problems like herpes, scurf, and sores.

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.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_DE.htm
http://www.henriettesherbal.com/eclectic/pereira/lolium.html
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=LOTE2&photoID=lote2_001_avd.tif
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lolium_temulentum

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