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 :Crescentia cujete is naturalized in India.

Description:
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

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).

Folkloric:
* 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.
Others
* 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.

Studies:
* 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.

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/Crescentia_cujete

http://www.stuartxchange.org/Cujete.html

http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_C.htm

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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.

Description:
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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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.

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/Bidens_tripartita

http://www.agroatlas.ru/en/content/weeds/Bidens_tripartita/

http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_AB.htm

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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.

Description:
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.

Cultivation:
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.

Propagation:
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.

Resources:

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

http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_AB.htm

http://digedibles.com/database/plants.php?Ipomoea+nil

http://www.cybertruffle.org.uk/vinales/eng/ipomoea_nil.htm

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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.

Description:
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.

click to see the pictures
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.

Cultivation:
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.

Propagation:
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.

Resources:

http://digedibles.com/database/plants.php?Sisyrinchium+angustifolium

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

http://www.abnativeplants.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=plants.plantdetail&plant_id=56

http://www.floridata.com/ref/s/sisy_ang.cfm

http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/gardens-gardening/your-garden/plant-finder/plant-details/kc/i870/sisyrinchium-angustifolium.aspx

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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.

Description:
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.

Propagation:
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:
Oil.

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.

Resources:

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Cnicus+benedictus

http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=CNBE

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

http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_AB.htm

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Acacia melanoxylon

Botanical Name : Acacia melanoxylon
Family: Fabaceae
Genus: Acacia
Species: A. melanoxylon
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Fabales

Common Names : Australian Blackwood (The species is also known as Sally Wattle, Lightwood, Hickory, Mudgerabah, Tasmanian Blackwood or Black Wattle)

Habitat :Acacia melanoxylon is  native in eastern AustraliaNew South Wales, Tasmania, Victoria. Locally naturalized in S.W. Europe. Grows in wet forests on good soils up to the montane zone. Usually an under-storey tree in Eucalyptus forests.

Description:
Acacia melanoxylon is an evergreen .Trees often 10–20 m tall and 0.5 m dbh, but varies from small shrubs to one of the largest acacias in Australia, attaining heights up to 40 m and diameters of 1–1.5 m on lowlands in northwestern Tasmania, and in southern Victoria. In open situations the smaller and medium-sized  Blackwood trees are freely branched from near ground level, but the largest plants have  welldeveloped  trunk which is usually fairly cylindrical but may be shortly buttressed or flanged at the base.

You may click to see the pictures of Acacia melanoxylon


Crowns dense. May spread by root suckers. Juvenile bipinnate leaves often persist on young plants. Bark hard, rough, longitudinally furrowed and scaly, brownish grey to very dark grey. This description is adapted from Doran & Turnbull (1997).

It is hardy to zone 8. It is in leaf 12-Jan It is in flower in April. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs)It can fix Nitrogen.

The plant prefers light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and requires well-drained soil.The plant prefers acid and neutral soils..It cannot grow in the shade.It requires dry or moist soil.

Cultivation:
Prefers a sandy loam and a very sunny position. Prefers a deep moist soil. Succeeds in a hot dry position. Succeeds in any good garden soil that is not excessively limey. Most members of this genus become chlorotic on limey soils. This is one of the hardier members of the genus, tolerating temperatures down to about -10°c. It succeeds outdoors in Britain from Dorset westwards, also in south-western Scotland and in Ireland. However, even in the mildest areas of the country it is liable to be cut back to the ground in excessively cold winters though it can resprout from the base. It is planted for timber in south-west Europe. This species produces both phyllodes (basically a flattened stem that looks and acts like a leaf) and true leaves. The roots are very vigorous and extensive – they often produce suckers and can damage the foundations of buildings. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby.

Propagation:
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a sunny position in a warm greenhouse. Stored seed should be scarified, pre-soaked for 12 hours in warm water and then sown in a warm greenhouse in March. The seed germinates in 3 – 4 weeks at 25°c. As soon as the seedlings are large enough to handle, prick them out into individual pots and grow them on in a sunny position in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts, and consider giving them some protection from the cold for their first winter outdoors. Cuttings of half-ripe wood with a heel, July/August in individual pots in a frame. Overwinter in a greenhouse for the first winter and plant out in their permanent positions in late spring or early summer. Fair percentage.

Edible Uses: Flowers – cooked. Rich in pollen, they are often used in fritters. The flowers have a penetrating scent.

Medicinal Uses:

Antirheumatic. :Bathe in a bark infusion for rheumatism.

Other Uses :
A yellow dye is obtained from the flowers. A green dye is obtained from the seed pods. The extensive root system of this plant helps to prevent soil erosion. The bark is rich in tannin.

Acacia melanoxylon wood is valued for its highly decorative timber which may be used as a cabinet timber, for musical instruments or in boatbuilding.(Wood is hard, dark, close grained, high quality, takes a high polish.)

The tree’s twigs and its bark are used to poison fish as a way of fishing.

Plain and Figured Australian Blackwood is used in musical instrument making (in particular guitars, drums, Hawaiian ukuleles, violin bows and organ pipes), and in recent years has become increasingly valued as a substitute for koa wood.

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/Acacia_melanoxylon

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Acacia+melanoxylon

http://www.cuyamaca.net/oh170/characteristic%20pages/acacia%20melanoxylon.asp

http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_AB.htm

http://www.worldwidewattle.com/infogallery/utilisation/acaciasearch/pdf/melanoxylon.pdf

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Prunus spinosa

Botanical Name : Prunus spinosa
Family: Rosaceae
Genus: Prunus
Subgenus: Prunus
Section: Prunus
Species: P. spinosa
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Rosales

Common Names :Blackthorn or Sloe

Habitat : Prunus spinosa is  native to Europe, including Britain, from Scandanavia south and east to the Mediterranean, Siberia and Iran,  western Asia, and locally in northwest Africa. It is also locally naturalised in New Zealand and eastern North America.

It grows in Hedgerows and woods, usually in sunny positions, on all soils except acid peats

The expression “sloe-eyed” for a person with dark eyes comes from the fruit, and is first attested in A. J. Wilson’s 1867 novel Vashti

Description:
Prunus spinosa is a deciduous large shrub or small tree growing to 5 m tall, with blackish bark and dense, stiff, spiny branches. The leaves are oval, 2–4.5 cm long and 1.2–2 cm broad, with a serrated margin. The flowers are 1.5 cm diameter, with five creamy-white petals; they are produced shortly before the leaves in early spring, and are hermaphroditic and insect-pollinated. The fruit, called a “sloe”, is a drupe 10–12 millimetres (0.39–0.47 in) in diameter, black with a purple-blue waxy bloom, ripening in autumn, and harvested — traditionally, at least in the UK, in October or November after the first frosts. Sloes are thin-fleshed, with a very strongly astringent flavour when fresh.

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It is hardy to zone 4. It is in flower from March to April, and the seeds ripen in October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects. It is noted for attracting wildlife.

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 moist soil. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.

Prunus spinosa is frequently confused with the related P. cerasifera (cherry plum), particularly in early spring when the latter starts flowering somewhat earlier than P. spinosa. They can be distinguished by flower colour, creamy white in P. spinosa, pure white in P. cerasifera. They can also be distinguished in winter by the more shrubby habit with stiffer, wider-angled branches of P. spinosa; in summer by the relatively narrower leaves of P. spinosa, more than twice as long as broad; and in autumn by the colour of the fruit skin — purplish-black in P. spinosa and yellow or red in P. cerasifera.

Prunus spinosa has a tetraploid (2n=4x=32) set of chromosomes

Cultivation:
Requires a well-drained moisture retentive soil. Succeeds in all soils except very acid peats. Succeeds in light shade but fruits better in a sunny position. Thrives in a loamy soil, doing well on limestone. Prefers some chalk in the soil but apt to become chlorotic if too much is present. Thrives on chalk according to another report. Plants are very resistant to maritime exposure. An important food plant for the caterpillars of several species of butterfly, especially the larvae of the brown and black hairstreak butterflies. A good bee plant. Plants are shallow-rooted and of a suckering habit, they can form dense impenetrable thickets which are ideal for nesting birds, especially nightingales. Flowers are often damaged by late frosts. Plants regenerate quickly after cutting or after fast moving forest fires, producing suckers from below ground level. This species is notably resistant to honey fungus.

Propagation:
Seed – requires 2 – 3 months cold stratification and is best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe[200]. Sow stored seed in a cold frame as early in the year as possible. Protect the seed from mice etc. The seed can be rather slow, sometimes taking 18 months to germinate. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle. Grow them on in a greenhouse or cold frame for their first winter and plant them out in late spring or early summer of the following year. Cuttings of half-ripe wood with a heel, July/August in a frame. Softwood cuttings from strongly growing plants in spring to early summer in a frame. Layering in spring. Division of suckers during the dormant season. They can be planted out direct into their permanent positions.

Edible Uses:
Edible Parts: Flowers; Fruit; Seed.

Edible Uses: Tea.

Fruit – raw or cooked. Exceedingly astringent, it is normally cooked but once the fruit has been frosted it loses some of its astringency and some people find they can enjoy it raw. The fruit is more usually used in jellies, syrups, conserves etc and as a flavouring for sloe gin and other liqueurs. Some fruits that we ate in December were fairly pleasant raw[K]. In France the unripe fruit is pickled like an olive. The fruit is about 15mm in diameter and contains one large seed. Seed – raw or cooked. Do not eat the seed if it is too bitter – see the notes above on toxicity. The leaves are used as a tea substitute. The dried fruits can be added to herbal teas. The flowers are edible and can be crystallised or sugared.

Medicinal Uses:

Aperient; Astringent; Depurative; Diaphoretic; Diuretic; Febrifuge; Laxative; Stomachic.

The flowers, bark, leaves and fruits are aperient, astringent, depurative, diaphoretic, diuretic, febrifuge, laxative and stomachic. An infusion of the flowers is used in the treatment of diarrhoea (especially for children), bladder and kidney disorders, stomach weakness et. Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, all members of the genus contain amygdalin and prunasin, substances which break down in water to form hydrocyanic acid (cyanide or prussic acid). In small amounts this exceedingly poisonous compound stimulates respiration, improves digestion and gives a sense of well-being.

The syrup from sloes is an astringent medicine and used to stem nose-bleeding.  It is massaged into the gums causing firmness and so preventing the teeth from becoming loose.  And rubbed onto the teeth, it can remove tartar and improve their whiteness, giving them a sparkle.  An infusion of the leave in warm water and used as a mouthwash has much the same effect.  A tea from the flowers serves as a purgative.  It is also recommended for stomach complaints and to stimulate the urinary and intestinal processes.  It is also used to clean the skin and remove blemishes.  The stone-free fruit is used to make jam to aid the functions of the stomach and stop diarrhea.  The crushed fruit (with stones) is used as a base for vaginal rinses and to arrest brewing.  A decoction from the bark is used to reduce fever.   Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, all members of the genus contain amygdalin and prunasin, substances which break down in water to form hydrocyanic acid (cyanide or prussic acid). In small amounts this exceedingly poisonous compound stimulates respiration, improves digestion and gives a sense of well-being.

Other Uses:
Cosmetic; Dye; Hedge; Ink; Pioneer; Tannin; Wood.

The bark is a good source of tannin. It is used to make an ink. The juice of unripe fruits is used as a laundry mark, it is almost indelible. The pulped ripe fruit is used cosmetically in making astringent face-masks. A green dye can be obtained from the leaves. A dark grey to green dye can be obtained from the fruit. The bark, boiled in an alkali, produces a yellow dye. The sloe is very resistant to maritime exposure and also suckers freely. It can be used as a hedge in exposed maritime positions. The hedge is stock-proof if it is well maintained, though it is rather bare in the winter and, unless the hedge is rather wide, it is not a very good shelter at this time. Because of its suckering habit, the plant is a natural pioneer species, invading cultivated fields and creating conditions conducive to the regeneration of woodland. Wood – very hard. Used for turnery, the teeth of rakes etc. Suitable branches are used for making walking sticks and are highly valued for this purpose because of their twisted and interesting shapes.

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Known Hazards:  Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, it belongs to a genus where most, if not all members of the genus produce hydrogen cyanide, a poison that gives almonds their characteristic flavour. This toxin is found mainly in the leaves and seed and is readily detected by its bitter taste. It is usually present in too small a quantity to do any harm but any very bitter seed or fruit should not be eaten. In small quantities, hydrogen cyanide has been shown to stimulate respiration and improve digestion, it is also claimed to be of benefit in the treatment of cancer. In excess, however, it can cause respiratory failure and even death.

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://digedibles.com/database/plants.php?Prunus+spinosa

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

http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fichier:Prunus_spinosa_heavy_with_sloes.jpg

http://www.floralimages.co.uk/page.php?taxon=prunus_spinosa,8

http://www.types-of-flowers.org/blackthorn.html

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Medicago lupulina

Botanical Name : Medicago lupulina
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Faboideae
Tribe: Trifolieae
Genus: Medicago
Species: M. lupulina
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Fabales

Common Names ;Black Hay, Black Nonsuch, Blackweed

Habitat ;Medicago lupulina can be seen through the old world: all of Europe, a great part of Asia, including China, Korea and Taiwan, as well as the Indian sub-continent, North Africa, the islands of the Atlantic (the Canaries, Madeira) and throughout the United States, including Hawaii

It grows in grassy places and roadsides, often occurring as a garden weed on acid and calcareous soils

Description:
Medicago lupulina is an annual or bi-annual plant, sometimes long-lived thanks to adventitious buds on the roots. The plant measures from 15 to 60 cm in height, with fine stems often lying flat at the beginning of growth and later erecting. The nodes bear three leaves, carried by a long petiole and have oval leaflets, partially toothed towards the tip. This species has very small yellow flowers are grouped in tight bunches. The fruit is a pod that does not open upon maturation, of a little arched form and bearing a single seed.

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It is hardy to zone 5 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from April to August, and the seeds ripen from July to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, Lepidoptera (Moths & Butterflies). The plant is self-fertile. It can fix Nitrogen. It is noted for attracting wildlife.

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.

Cultivation:
Dislikes acid soils. (This conflicts with the notes on its habitat above.) Dislikes shade. A good food plant for many caterpillars. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby.

Propagation:
Pre-soak the seed for 12 hours in warm water and then sow in spring in situ. The seed can also be sown in situ in autumn. Green manure crops can be sown in situ from early spring until early autumn. (the later sowings are for an over-wintering crop)

Edible Uses:
Edible Parts: Leaves; Seed.

Leaves – cooked. Used as a potherb. A nutritional analysis is available. Seed – cooked. Parched and eaten or ground into a powder. The seed is said to contain trypsin inhibitors. These can interfere with certain enzymes that help in the digestion of proteins, but are normally destroyed if the seed is sprouted first.

Chemical Constituents:
Figures in grams (g) or miligrams (mg) per 100g of food.

*Leaves (Dry weight)
*0 Calories per 100g
*Water: 0%
*Protein: 23.3g; Fat: 3.3g; Carbohydrate: 0g; Fibre: 24.7g; Ash: 10.3g;
*Minerals – Calcium: 1330mg; Phosphorus: 300mg; Iron: 0mg; Magnesium: 450mg; Sodium: 0mg; Potassium: 2280mg; Zinc: 0mg;
*Vitamins – A: 0mg; Thiamine (B1): 0mg; Riboflavin (B2): 0mg; Niacin: 0mg; B6: 0mg; C: 0mg;

Medicinal Uses:
Antibacterial; Lenitive.

Aqueous extracts of the plant have antibacterial properties against micro-organisms. The plant is lenitive.The plant has agents that are capable of easing pain or discomfort.  Legume isoflavones seem to be estrogenic and are believed by some NCI scientists to prevent cancer.

Other Uses:
Green manure.

A good green manure plant, it is fairly deep rooted, has good resistance to ‘Clover rot’ but it is not very fast growing. It can be undersown with cereals, succeeding even in a wet season.

Medicago lupulina is sometimes used as a fodder plant. While being of good value, it isn’t a very productive fodder. It is sometimes used in the composition of artificial meadows, especially when implanted in dry lands. It is a common sight in natural pastures. It is also one of the flowers that can be used to create honey.

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/Medicago_lupulina

http://digedibles.com/database/plants.php?Medicago+lupulina

http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_AB.htm

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Robinia pseudoacacia

Botanical Name : Robinia pseudoacacia
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Faboideae
Tribe: Robinieae
Genus: Robinia
Species: R. pseudoacacia
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Fabales

Common Name : Black Locust

Habitat : Robinia pseudoacacia is native to the southeastern United States, but has been widely planted and naturalized elsewhere in temperate North America, Europe, Southern Africa  and Asia and is considered an invasive species in some areas. A less frequently used common name is False Acacia, which is a literal translation of the specific epithet. It was introduced into Britain in 1636.It grows in woods and thickets, especially in deep well-drained calcareous soils

Description;
A decidious Tree growing to 25m by 15m at a fast rate.With a trunk up to 0.8 m diameter (exceptionally up to 52 m tall and 1.6 m diameter in very old trees), with thick, deeply furrowed blackish bark. The leaves are 10–25 cm long, pinnate with 9–19 oval leaflets, 2–5 cm long and 1.5–3 cm broad. Each leaf usually has a pair of short thorns at the base, 1–2 mm long or absent on adult crown shoots, up to 2 cm long on vigorous young plants. The intensely fragrant (reminiscent of orange blossoms) flowers are white, borne in pendulous racemes 8–20 cm long, and are considered edible (dipped in batter; deep-fried). The fruit is a legume 5–10 cm long, containing 4–10 seeds.

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It is hardy to zone 3. It is in flower in June, and the seeds ripen from November to March. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees. It can fix Nitrogen. It is noted for attracting wildlife.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, requires well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It requires dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought. It can tolerate atmospheric pollution.

 

Cultivation :
Succeeds in any well-drained soil, preferring one that is not too rich. Succeeds in dry barren sites, tolerating drought and atmospheric pollution[60, 200]. Succeeds in a hot dry position. The plant is reported to tolerate an annual precipitation in the range of 61 to 191cm, an annual temperature in the range of 7.6 to 20.3°C and a pH of 6.0 to 7.0. A fast-growing tree for the first 30 years of its life, it can begin to flower when only 6 years old, though 10 – 12 years is more normal. The flowers are a rich source of nectar and are very fragrant  with a vanilla-like scent. The branches are brittle and very liable to wind damage. When plants are grown in rich soils they produce coarse and rank growth which is even more liable to wind damage. The plants sucker freely and often form dense thickets, the suckers have vicious thorns. There are some named varieties selected for their ornamental value, some of these are thornless. Any pruning should be done in late summer in order to reduce the risk of bleeding. The leaves are rich in tannin and other substances which inhibit the growth of other plants. A very greedy tree, tending to impoverish the soil. (Although a legume, I believe it does not fix atmospheric nitrogen) A very good bee plant . This species is notably resistant to honey fungus.

Propagation :
Seed – pre-soak for 48 hours in warm water and sow the seed in late winter in a cold frame. A short stratification improves germination rates and time. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in the following summer. Other reports say that the seed can be sown in an outdoor seedbed in spring. The seed stores for over 10 years. Suckers taken during the dormant season.

Edible Uses:
Edible Parts: Flowers; Seed; Seedpod.

Edible Uses: Condiment; Drink; Oil.

Seed – cooked. Oily. They are boiled and used like peas. After boiling the seeds lose their acid taste. The seed is about 4mm long and is produced in pods up to 10cm long that contain 4 – 8 seeds. A nutritional analysis is available. Young seedpods – cooked. The pods contain a sweetish pulp that is safe to eat and is relished by small children. (This report is quite probably mistaken, having been confused with the honey locust, Gleditsia spp.) A strong, narcotic and intoxicating drink is made from the skin of the fruit. Piperonal is extracted from the plant, it is used as a vanilla substitute. No further details. All the above entries should be treated with some caution, see the notes at the top of the page regarding toxicity. Flowers – cooked. A fragrant aroma, they are used in making jams and pancakes. They can also be made into a pleasant drink

Chemical Constituents:
Figures in grams (g) or miligrams (mg) per 100g of food.

*Seed (Dry weight) : 0 Calories per 100g
*Water: 0%
*Protein: 21g; Fat: 3g; Carbohydrate: 0g; Fibre: 28g; Ash: 6.8g;
*Minerals – Calcium: 1400mg; Phosphorus: 0.3mg; Iron: 0mg; Magnesium: 0mg; Sodium: 0mg; Potassium: 0mg; Zinc: 0mg;
*Vitamins – A: 0mg; Thiamine (B1): 0mg; Riboflavin (B2): 0mg; Niacin: 0mg; B6: 0mg; C: 0mg;

Medicinal Uses:
Antispasmodic; Antiviral; Aromatic; Cancer; Cholagogue; Diuretic; Emetic; Emollient; Febrifuge; Laxative; Narcotic; Purgative; Tonic.

Febrifuge. The flowers are antispasmodic, aromatic, diuretic, emollient and laxative. They are cooked and eaten for the treatment of eye ailments. The flower is said to contain the antitumor compound benzoaldehyde. The inner bark and the root bark are emetic, purgative and tonic. The root bark has been chewed to induce vomiting, or held in the mouth to allay toothache[222, 257], though it is rarely if ever prescribed as a therapeutic agent in Britain. The fruit is narcotic. This probably refers to the seedpod. The leaves are cholagogue and emetic. The leaf juice inhibits viruses

Other Uses:
Dye; Essential; Fibre; Fuel; Soil stabilization; Wood.

A drying oil is obtained from the seed. An essential oil is obtained from the flowers. Highly valued, it is used in perfumery. A yellow dye is obtained from the bark. Robinetin is a strong dyestuff yielding with different mordants different shades similar to those obtained with fisetin, quercetin, and myricetin; with aluminum mordant, it dyes cotton to a brown-orange shade. The bark contains tannin, but not in sufficient quantity for utilization. On a 10% moisture basis, the bark contains 7.2% tannin and the heartwood of young trees 5.7%. The bark is used to make paper and is a substitute for silk and wool. Trees sucker freely, especially if coppiced, and they can be used for stabilizing banks etc. Wood – close-grained, exceedingly hard, heavy, very strong, resists shock and is very durable in contact with the soil. It weighs 45lb per cubic foot and is used in shipbuilding and for making fence posts, treenails, floors etc. A very good fuel, but it should be used with caution because it flares up and projects sparks. The wood of Robinia pseudoacacia var. rectissima, the so called ‘Long Island‘ or ‘Shipmast’ locust, has a greater resistance to decay and wood borers, outlasting other locust posts and stakes by 50 – 100%.

Scented Plants


Flowers: Fresh
The flowers are very fragrant with a vanilla-like scent

 

Known Hazards: All parts of the plant (except the flowers) and especially the bark, should be considered to be toxic. The toxins are destroyed by heat

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://digedibles.com/database/plants.php?Robinia+pseudoacacia

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

http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fichier:Robinia_pseudoacacia_fruits.jpg

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Cardamine amara

Botanical Name : Cardamine amara
Family: Brassicaceae
Genus: Cardamine
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Brassicales

Common Name ;Bitter Cress

Habitat ;Cardamine amara is native to  Most of Europe, including Britain, north to 64° N., east to the Balkans and W. Asia.
Grows  by springs, in fens and on streamsides, preferring a peaty soil. Often found in trickling water. Often the dominant ground flora in alder woods with moving damp water.

Description:
Cardamine amara is a  perennial herb  growing to 0.6m. The leaves can have different forms, going from minute to medium-sized. They can be pinnate or bipinnate. They are basal and cauline (growing on the upper part of the stem), with narrow tips. They are rosulate (forming a rosette). The blade margins can be entire, serrate or dentate. The stem internodes lack firmness.
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The radially symmetrical flowers grow in a racemose many-flowered inflorescence or in corymbs. The white, pink or purple flowers are minute to medium-sized. The petals are longer than the sepals. The fertile flowers are hermaphroditic.

The fruits are long, thin dehiscent pods with many (20-100) seeds. In some regions this plant is considered a nuisance; one author observes, “Weeding this little pest is decidedly unsatisfying, for when its fully ripe pods are touched, they split open and shoot out their seeds, thus spitefully sowing another crop.”

It is hardy to zone 5 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from April to June, and the seeds ripen from May to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, flies, beetles, Lepidoptera (Moths & Butterflies). The plant is self-fertile.

Cultivation :Easily grown in most moist soils. Prefers a moist humus rich soil in shade or semi-shade. Plants are hardy to at least -20°c. An invasive plant spreading freely by self-sowing, it is best suited to the wild garden. A polymorphic species.

Propagation: Seed – sow outdoors in situ in a shady position in April.

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.

Edible Uses:
Edible Parts: Leaves.

Leaves – raw. A hot cress-like flavour, nice in small quantities in a salad and available all year round in most years. A somewhat bitter flavour.

Medicinal Uses
Antiscorbutic; Diuretic; Stimulant.Used medicinally since early times as a stomachic

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/Cardamine

http://digedibles.com/database/plants.php?Cardamine+amara

http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_AB.htm

http://luirig.altervista.org/schedeit/ae/cardamine_amara.htm

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