Monthly Archives: February 2012

Crescentia cujete

Botanical Name : Crescentia cujete
Family: Bignoniaceae
Genus: Crescentia
Species: C. cujete
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Lamiales

Common Name : Calabash Tree,It is also known as Ayale (English), Calabacero (Spain), Totumo (Panama and Venezuela), Cujete (Spain, Philippines), Miracle Fruit (Philippines).

Habitat :Tropical America – Colombia north through Central America to Mexico and most of the Caribbean.The plant grows on coastal scrub, dry lowlands in clearings. Roadsides, old pastures, thickets and woodland margins at elevations from sea level to 420 metres in Jamaica.

Crescentia cujete is naturalized in India.

Crescentia cujete is a small tree growing to a height of 4 to 5 meters with arching branches and close-set clusters of leaves. Leaves are alternate, often fascicled at the nodes, oblanceolate, 5 – 17 cm long, glossy at the upper surface, blunt at the tip and narrowed at the base. Flowers develop from the buds that grow from the main trunk, yellowish and sometimes veined with purple, with a slightly foetid odor, occuring singly or in pairs at the leaf axils, stalked and about 6 cm long, and opens in the evening. The fruit is short-stemmed, rounded, oval or oblong, green or purplish, 15 to 20 cm in diameter.

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Usuable parts: Fruits,bark & leaves

Edible Uses:
The young fruit is occasionally pickled.Considered the equal of pickled walnuts. The seed can be eaten when cooked. It is also used to make a beverage. A syrup and a popular confection called ‘carabobo’ is made from the seed. To make the syrup, the seeds are ground finely, mixed with sugar and a little water then boiled.

The roasted seeds, combined with roasted wheat, are used as an aromatic and flavourful coffee substitute.

The leaves are sometimes cooked in soups.

Properties and constituents:
* Phytochemical studies of the fresh fruit pulp reports the presence of crescentic acid, tartaric acid, citric, and tannic acids, two resins and a coloring matter than resembles indigo.
* Studies yielded tartaric acid, cianhidric acid, citric acid, crescentic acid, tannins, beta-sitosterol, estigmasterol, alpha and beta amirina, estearic acid, palmitic acid.
* Study yielded flavonoids quercetin, apigenin with antiinflammatory, antihemorrahgic and anti-platelet aggregation activities.
* Fruit considered aperient, laxative, expectorant.
* Considered anthelmintic, analgesic, antiinflammatory, febrifuge, laxative.
* Phytochemical study of the fruit yielded eight new compounds, along with four known compounds, acanthoside D, ß-D-glucopransoyl benzoate, (R)-1-0-ß-glucopyranosyl-1,3-octanediol.

Medicinal Uses:
Uses include the seed as an abortive and the roasted fruit pulp was eaten to force menses, birth, and afterbirth.  Consequently, it is best not to consume this plant while pregnant.  The pulp was also used as a purgative and in Barbados for abortions when boiled with leaves of Swietenia spp. and Petiveria alliacea. The mixture, however, causes nausea, diarrhea and poisoning. Dried bark shows in vitro antibacterial activity against Bacillus subtilis, Psuedomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcos aureus and Escherichia coli.  In Suriname’s traditional medicine, the fruit pulp is used for respiratory problems (asthma).

* In India, used as a pectoral, the poulticed pulp applied to the chest.
* In the West Indies, syrup prepared from the pulp used for dysentery and as pectoral.
* In Rio de Janeiro, the alcoholic extract of the not-quite ripe fruit used to relieve constipation
* For erysipelas, the fresh pulp is boiled in water to form a black paste, mixed and boiled with vinegar, spread on linen for dermatologic application.
* The bark is used for mucoid diarrhea.
* Fruit pulp used as laxative and expectorant.
* In the Antilles and Western Africa, fruit pulp macerated in water is considered depurative, cooling and febrifuge, and applied to burns and headaches.
* In West Africa, fruit roasted in ashes is purgative and diuretic.
* In Sumatra, bark decoction used to clean wounds and pounded leaves used as poultice for headaches.
* Internally, leaves used as diuretic.
* In the Antilles, fresh tops and leaves are ground and used as topicals for wounds and as cicatrizant.
* In Venezuela, decoction of bark used for diarrhea. Also, used to treat hematomas and tumors.
* In Costa Rica, used as purgative.
* In Cote-d’Ivoire, used for hypertension because of its diuretic effect.
* In Columbia, used for respiratory afflictions.
* In Vietnam, used as expectorant, antitussive, laxative and stomachic.
* In Haiti, the fruit of Crescentia cujete is part of the herbal mixtures reported in its traditional medicine. In the province of Camaguey in Cuba, is considered a panacea.
* In Panama, where it is called totumo, the fruit is used for diarrhea and stomachaches. Also for respiratory ailments, bronchitis, cough, colds, toothaches. headaches, menstrual irregularities; as laxative, antiinflammatory, febrifuge. The leaves are used for hypertension.
* In some countries, the dried shell of the fruit is used to make bowls and fruit containers, decorated with paintings or carvings.
* Used in making maracas or musical rattle..
* In Brazil, the fibrous lining of the fruit is sometimes used as a substitute for cigarette paper.
* A favorite perch for orchids.

* Phytochemicals:
(1) Previous studies have yielded naphthoquinones and iridoid glucosides. The fruits yielded 15 new compounds, 3 iridoid glucosides, five iridoids, 3 2,4-pentanediol glycosides, along with known compounds.

(2) Study fruit constituents yielded 16 iridoids and iridoid glucosides,

* Nutritive and Anti-Nutritive Composition of Calabash Fruit: Pulp was found to have high mineral concentrations; sodium, highest; calcium, lowest, with high values of thiamine and found to be free from HCN toxicity and suggests useful contributions to human health and nutrition.

* Bioactive Furanonaphthoquinones : Study isolated new and known bioactive compounds showing selective activity toward DNA-repair-deficient yeast mutants.

* Antibacterial: In a study of extracts against E. coli and S. aureus, Crescentia cujete showed activity against S. aureus.

* Snake Venom Neutralizing Effect: In a study of t5 plant extracts used by traditional healers in Colombia for snakebites, 31 had moderate to high neutralizing ability against the hemorrhagic effect of Bothrops atrox venom. C cujete (unripe fruits) was one of 19 that showed moderate neutralization.

* Antidiabetic: In a non experimental validation for antidiabetic activity, study yields cyanhidric acid believed to stimulate insulin release.

Other Uses:
The plant produces subglobose hard-shelled fruits about 15 – 30cm long. Local people constrict the growth of these fruits by tying strings around them and, by so doing, fashion them into a variety of shapes. These can then be used as rattles, bowls, cups, containers etc, in much the same way as bottle gourds are used.
The most general use of the shells is for making drinking vessels, but the larger ones serve to store all sorts of articles. Sections of the oblong forms are much used in place of spoons. Many of the jicaras, as the cups made from the shells are called, are handsomely decorated in colours or by incised designs. The hard, smooth shells polish well and are finely carved for ritual use in some parts of Africa.

The wood is light brown or yellowish brown, with fine veining of darker colour, without distinctive taste or odour; moderately hard and heavy, tough and strong, coarse-textured, fairly easy to work, takes a smooth finish; but is probably not durable. It is used for ox yokes, tool handles, and vehicle parts. and is sometimes used in construction.

Thick crooked limbs often are used in Guatemala for making saddle trees.
The wood has been used from Colonial times to the present to make stirrups – some of those of the colonial period are beautifully carved and are real objects of art. The wood is easy to carve when still green but when thoroughly seasoned is ‘like iron’ and some have perhaps been in use for ‘hundreds’ of years.
The wood is also used for fuel

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.



Bidens tripartite

Botanical Name : Bidens tripartite
Family: Asteraceae
Genus: Bidens
Species: B. tripartita
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asterales

Synonyms: Beggar`s Ticks, Trifid Bur-Marigold

Common Names :Three-lobe Beggarticks, Three-part Beggarticks, Leafy-bracted Beggarticks or Trifid Bur-marigold,

Habitat:Bidens tripartite is native to large parts of the Northern hemisphere, including Europe, the Indian subcontinent, North America, temperate east Asia, and slightly into northern Africa. It has naturalized in other areas.  Thickets of the weed occur on moist alluvial soils along river shores. Prefers fertile, friable, and sandy ground inclined to flooding. Seeds sprout from a depth of less than 3-4 cm. The minimal temperature for germination is +8-10°C; optimum is +24-30°C.

Bidens tripartite is an annual late spring weed plant 15-100 cm in height. Stalk erect, usually branched, with opposite branches, glabrous or sparsely pubescent. Leaves dark green, opposite, dentate, tripartite, with larger apical lobe, narrowing base in short winged leafstalk. Sometimes leaves are undivided (on small weakened individuals especially). Heads single or multiple at the end of branches, erect, as wide as they are long or nearly equal in length (6-15 mm). Perianth has double row. External leaflets of perianth (5 to 8) are green, oblong or elongate-linear, covered with short spicules at the edges, as long as or 2-3 times longer than the diameter of the head. Internal leaflets of envelope are shorter, brown-yellow, oval. Bracts wide-linear, as long as flowers. All flowers are tubular, yellow-brown. Hemicarps bladelike, compressed, 5-8 mm in length, 2-3 mm in width, with marginal setae and two or, less often, 3-4 apical spines. Blossoms in July-September. The maximal fertility is 12 thousand seeds. Seeds undergo a dormant period, germinating after 3 months. Spinules of hemicarps readily attach to human clothes, seed sacks, and animal wool, thus spreading within environment. Seeds sprout non-simultaneously.

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Succeeds in any moderately fertile damp to wet soil in full sun. The flowering heads smell like rosin or cedar when they are burnt. The seed coats have reflexed prickles which allow them to adhere to clothing, animal fur etc. When growing on the edge a pond, these seeds have been known to kill goldfish by adhering to their gills.

Seed – sow in situ during early spring and only just cover the seed. So long as the soil does not dry out, the seed usually germinates in 2 – 3 weeks at 15°c
Edible Uses: …..Young leaves – cooked

Medicinal Uses:
Valuable astringent used for hemorrhage wherever it occurs including uterine hemorrhage and conditions producing blood in the urine.  It may be used for fevers and water retention when this is due to a problem in the kidneys. Used to relieve disorders of the respiratory system.   The astringency helps counteract peptic ulceration, diarrhea, and ulcerative tract ailments.  Externally in Russia used for alopecia.  Often combined with comfrey, agrimony, calamus or ginger when treating digestive tract ailments.
Other Uses:
Dye; Repellent.

Yields a black dye. The part of the plant that is used is not specified. The burning herb repels insects and flies. The flowers yield a yellow dye of indifferent quality when alum is used as a mordant.

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.


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Ipomoea nil

Botanical Name : Ipomoea nil
Family: Convolvulaceae
Genus: Ipomoea
Species: I. nil
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Solanales

Synonyms: Pharbitis nil – (L.)Choisy.

Common Names :Picotee morning glory, Ivy morning glory, and Japanese morning glory.Aguinaldo azul claro.

Habitat :Blue Morning Glory is native to most of the tropical world, and has been introduced widely.Grows in thickets on mountain slopes, waysides, fields and hedges from sea level to 1600 metres in China.

Ipomoea nil  is an annual Vines and Climbers, growing to 5m at a fast rate. Stems twining, pubescent, 0.5-2 m; leaves ovate to almost round, 3-lobed, or almost entire, slim, 5-15 cm, lobes ovate, acuminate or pointed, base heart-shaped; peduncles with 1-5 flowers; pedicels short; sepals 1.5-2.5 cm, linear with wider base, pubescent; corolla blue, 3-4 cm, limb 4-5 cm wide; ovary 3-locular, capsule globose, 8-12 mm, seeds pubescent.


It is hardy to zone 9 and is frost tender. It is in flower from July 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.

Requires a fertile well-drained loam in a sunny position. The plant is not frost hardy, but can be grown outdoors as a tender annual in temperate zones. A very ornamental plant, there are several named varieties. Closely related to I. purpurea.

Pre-soak the seed for 12 hours in warm water, or scarify the seed, and sow in individual pots in a greenhouse in early spring. The seed usually germinates in 1 – 3 weeks at 22°c. Plants are extremely resentful of root disturbance, even when they are quite small, and should be potted up almost as soon as they germinate. Grow them on fast in the greenhouse and plant them out into their permanent positions after the last expected frosts. Consider giving them some protection such as a cloche until they are growing away actively.

Medicinal Uses:
Anthelmintic; Antifungal; Antispasmodic; Antitumor; Diuretic; Hallucinogenic; Laxative; Parasiticide.

The seed is anthelmintic, anticholinergic, antifungal, antispasmodic, antitumour, diuretic and laxative. It is used in the treatment of oedema, oliguria, ascariasis and constipation. The seed is also used as a contraceptive in Korea. The seed is used in the treatment of edema, oliguria, ascariasis and constipation.  The seed contains small quantities of the hallucinogen LSD. This has been used medicinally in the treatment of various mental disorders.   Therapeutic benefits are somewhat enhanced when used in combination with costus and ginger.  Simply add 1-2 grams of each to the above decoction. The pounded plant is used as a hair wash to rid the hair of lice.

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.


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Sisyrinchium angustifolium

Botanical Name : Sisyrinchium angustifolium
Family: Iridaceae
Subfamily: Iridoideae
Tribe: Sisyrinchieae
Genus: Sisyrinchium
Species: S. angustifolium
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asparagales

Synonyms: Sisyrinchium graminoides – Bicknell.,Sisyrinchium montanum – Greene.

Common Names :Stout blue-eyed grass or Blue-eyed grass

Habitat :Sisyrinchium angustifolium is  native to Western Ireland. South-eastern N. America. Naturalized in Britain.  It occurs  in sandy woods in Texas. Naturalised in Britain where it grows in marshy meadows and on lake shores.

Sisyrinchium angustifolium is a herbaceous perennial plant .It grows in a clump around 1-2 ft (30-60 cm) across and about the same height. The leaves are linear, up to 20 in (50 cm) long, often grow in the shape of a fan, and look a lot like grass leaves. They are evergreen in mild climates. The flowers have six bluish purple “petals” with yellow centers. (Actually the “petals” consist of three sepals and three true petals, but they all look pretty much alike.) The flowers are about three-quarters of an inch (1.9 cm) across, and stand erect above the leaves on slender grasslike flattened stalks. Individually, they are short lived, but the succession of flowers can last several weeks in spring and early summer.

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It is hardy to zone 4 to 9 . It is in flower from July to August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs)

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.

Prefers a moist but well-drained humus-rich loamy soil and a position in full sun, though it will tolerate part-day shade. gives a hardiness rating of zone 3 to this plant (tolerating winter temperatures down to about -40°c) but then says that the plant will need the protection of a cold greenhouse in areas where the temperature falls much below freezing. Plants will often self-sow when growing in a suitable position.

Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a greenhouse in the autumn, though it can also be sown in the spring. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant out in late spring, after the last expected frosts. Division in early spring.

Edible Uses:
Leaves – cooked. They are mixed with other greens.

Medicinal Uses:
The root is astringent. An infusion is used to treat diarrhoea in adults and children. The leaves are eaten as a cooked green to regulate the bowels. An infusion of the plant has been used to treat stomach complaints and stomach worms.

Other Uses:
*Important nectar source for pollinators
*Provides good cover for small wildlife
*Cardinals, song sparrows, house finches and other songbirds eat the seed.
*Bright blue flowers with gold centers are good cut flowers
*Deer resistant plant that thrives in full sun

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.


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Cnicus benedictus

Botanical Name : Cnicus benedictus
Family : Asteraceae – Aster family
Genus : Cnicus L. – cnicus
Species: Cnicus benedictus L. – blessed thistle
Kingdom : Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division : Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Subclass: Asteridae
Order: Asterales

Common Names ;Blessed Thistle,St. Blessed thistle, Holy thistle or Spotted thistle

Habitat :Cnicus benedictus is  native to the Mediterranean region, from Portugal north to southern France and east to Iran,S. Europe to W. Asia. An infrequent casual in Britain. Dry sunny places in arable, stony and waste ground.  It is known in other parts of the world, including parts of North America, as an introduced species and often a noxious weed.

Cnicus benedictus is an annual plant growing to 60 cm tall, with leathery, hairy leaves up to 30 cm long and 8 cm broad, with small spines on the margins. The flowers are yellow, produced in a dense flowerhead (capitulum) 3-4 cm diameter, surrounded by numerous spiny basal bracts.

The related genus Notobasis is included in Cnicus by some botanists; it differs in slender, much spinier leaves, and purple flowers.


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It is hardy to zone 8. It is in flower from May to September, and the seeds ripen from Jul to October. 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 and requires well-drained soil.The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils..It cannot grow in the shade.It requires dry or moist soil.

Cultivation :
Easily grown in ordinary garden soil. Prefers a dry soil and a sunny position. Grows best in a well manured soil. A very ornamental plant, it is often cultivated in Europe as a medicinal herb and for its oil yielding seed.

Seed – sow in situ in the spring or early autumn. The seed usually germinates in 2 – 6 weeks at 10°c

Medicinal Uses:
Astringent;  Bitter;  Cholagogue;  Contraceptive;  Diaphoretic;  Diuretic;  Emetic;  Emmenagogue;  Galactogogue;  Homeopathy;  Stimulant;
Stomachic;  Tonic;  VD.
Blessed thistle has been used as a treatment for liver disorders, as well as menstrual problems.  It seems to detoxify the liver.  In many European countries blessed thistle tablets are prescribed along with acetaminophen or aspirin to counterbalance the potential liver damage these drugs can cause. Many women take blessed thistle to regulate their periods.  It seems to stimulate the appetite and many herbalists prescribe it to their anorexic patients.  It is often combined with other herbs that are beneficial to the liver, such as milk thistle, artichoke or red clover.  The leaves are considered one of the best herbs for increasing mother’s milk.  Blessed thistle is antibiotic, destroying staph and other infections, although it has not proved very effective against harmful intestinal bacteria.  Externally used as a healing balm for wounds and ulcers.  Combines well with turtlehead and cola for anorexia and with meadowsweet, agrimony and cinquefoil for diarrhea.

Other Uses:

A good quality oil is obtained from the seed. It has been used in emergencies when other oils were not available.

Known Hazards :  May cause allergic reaction if sensitive to the Asteraceae/Compositae family. Possible eye irritation. Excess of 5g per cup of tea may cause stomach irritation and vomiting. Possible cross-reactivity with mugwort and echinacea (also bitter weed, blanket flower, chrysanthemum, colt’s foot, dandelion and marigold. Increases stomach acid secretion so caution needed with gastric ulcers and heartburn. Possible increase in bleeding – care needed with anticoagulants or blood thining agents

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.


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