Monthly Archives: August 2012

Acer circinatum

Botanical Name ; Acer circinatum
Family: Sapindaceae
Genus: Acer
Species: A. circinatum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Sapindales

Common Name :Vine Maple

Habitat :Acer circinatum is native to  western N. America – British Columbia to California.It grows in forests, along banks of streams and in rich alluvial soils of bottomlands up to 1200 metres

Description:
Acer circinatum is a deciduous Tree. It is most commonly grows as a large shrub growing to around 5-8 m tall, but it will occasionally form a small to medium-sized tree, exceptionally to 18 m tall. The shoots are slender and hairless. It typically grows in the understory below much taller forest trees, but can sometimes be found in open ground, and occurs at altitudes from sea level up to 1,500 m.

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The leaves are opposite, and palmately lobed with 7-11 lobes, almost circular in outline, 3-14 cm long and broad, and thinly hairy on the underside; the lobes are pointed and with coarsely toothed margins. The leaves turn bright yellow to orange-red in fall. The flowers are small, 6–9 mm diameter, with a dark red calyx and five short greenish-yellow petals; they are produced in open corymbs of 4-20 together in spring. The fruit is a two-seeded samara, each seed 8-10 mm diameter, with a spreading wing 2–4 cm long.

Vine Maple trees can bend over easily. Sometimes, this can cause the top of the tree to grow into the ground and send out a new root system, creating a natural arch.

It is occasionally cultivated outside its native range as an ornamental tree, from Juneau, Alaska   and Ottawa, Ontario  to Huntsville, Alabama, and also in northwestern Europe.

Cultivation:   
Of easy cultivation, it succeeds in most good soils, preferring a good moist well-drained soil on the acid side. Prefers a sunny position but tolerates some shade. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Plants are hardy to about -20°c. Chlorosis can sometimes develop as a result of iron deficiency when the plants are grown in alkaline soils, but in general maples are not fussy as to soil pH. A very ornamental tree, a number of varieties are in cultivation. The branches tend to coil around other trees in much the same way as vines. (A strange report because vines do not coil but climb by means of tendrils formed in the leaf axils.) The tree sends out long slender arching branches in the wild. These form roots when they touch the ground and the plant thereby forms large impenetrable thickets often several hectares in extent. Most maples are bad companion plants, inhibiting the growth of nearby plants.

Propagation:          
Seed is usually of good quality when produced in gardens. It is best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame, it usually germinates in the following spring. Pre-soak stored seed for 24 hours and then stratify for 2 – 4 months at 1 – 8°c. It can be slow or very poor to germinate, especially if it has been dried. The seed can be harvested ‘green’ (when it has fully developed but before it has dried and produced any germination inhibitors) and sown immediately. It should germinate in late winter. If the seed is harvested too soon it will produce very weak plants or no plants at all. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on until they are 20cm or more tall before planting them out in their permanent positions. This tree often self-layers and can be propagated by this means. Cuttings of young shoots in June or July. The cuttings should have 2 – 3 pairs of leaves, plus one pair of buds at the base. Remove a very thin slice of bark at the base of the cutting, rooting is improved if a rooting hormone is used. The rooted cuttings must show new growth during the summer before being potted up otherwise they are unlikely to survive the winter. Cultivars of this species can be grafted onto A. palmatum, which makes a better rootstock than this species.

Edible Uses:   
Edible Parts: Sap.
Edible Uses: Sweetener.

The sap contains a certain amount of sugar and can either be used as a drink, or can be concentrated into a syrup by boiling off the water. The syrup is used as a sweetener on many foods. The concentration of sugar is considerably lower than in the sugar maples (A. saccharum). The tree trunk is tapped in the early spring, the sap flowing better on warm sunny days following a frost. The best sap production comes from cold-winter areas with continental climates.

Medicinal Uses:
Astringent.

The wood was burnt to charcoal and mixed with water and brown sugar then used in the treatment of dysentery and polio.
Coastal Aboriginal peoples have boiled the bark of the roots to make a tea for colds

Other Uses  :
Basketry;  Fuel;  Paint;  Preservative;  Wood.

The leaves are packed around apples, rootcrops etc to help preserve them. The young shoots are quite pliable and are used in basket making. Straight shoots can be used to make open-work baskets. A charcoal made from the wood can be mixed with oil and used as a black paint. Wood – hard, heavy, durable, close-grained, strong according to some reports, but not strong according to others. Too small to be commercially important, the wood is used for cart shafts, tool handles, small boxes etc. One report says that the wood is quite pliable and was used for making bows, snowshoe frames etc, whilst young saplings could be used as swings for baby cradles. The wood is almost impossible to burn when green and has served as a cauldron hook over the fire.

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/Acer_circinatum
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Acer+circinatum
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_LMN.htm
http://www.nsci.plu.edu/~jmain/Herbarium/images/acer_circinatum_habitat.jpg

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Trigger finger

Alternative Name : Stenosing tenosynovitis, trigger thumb, or trigger digit,

Definition:
Trigger finger is a common disorder of later adulthood characterized by catching, snapping or locking of the involved finger flexor tendon, associated with dysfunction and pain. A disparity in size between the flexor tendon and the surrounding retinacular pulley system, most commonly at the level of the first annular (A1) pulley, results in difficulty flexing or extending the finger and the “triggering” phenomenon. The label of trigger finger is used because when the finger unlocks, it pops back suddenly, as if releasing a trigger on a gun.
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One of your fingers or your thumb gets stuck in a bent position and then straightens with a snap — like a trigger being pulled and released. If trigger finger is severe, the finger may become locked in a bent position.

Often painful, trigger finger is caused by a narrowing of the sheath that surrounds the tendon in the affected finger. People whose work or hobbies require repetitive gripping actions are more susceptible. Trigger finger is also more common in women and in anyone with diabetes.

Symptoms:
Signs and symptoms of trigger finger may get progressed from mild to severe and include:

*Finger stiffness, particularly in the morning

*A popping or clicking sensation as you move your finger

*Tenderness or a bump (nodule) at the base of the affected finger

*Finger catching or locking in a bent position, which suddenly pops straight

*Finger locked in a bent position, which you are unable to straighten

Trigger finger more commonly occurs in your dominant hand, and most often affects your thumb or your middle or ring finger. More than one finger may be affected at a time, and both hands might be involved. Triggering is usually more pronounced in the morning, while firmly grasping an object or when straightening your finger.

Trigger finger is not the same as Dupuytren’s contracture — a condition that causes thickening and shortening of the connective tissue in the palm of the hand — though it may occur in conjunction with this disorder.

Causes:
The cause of trigger finger is a narrowing of the sheath that surrounds the tendon in the affected finger. Tendons are fibrous cords that attach muscle to bone. Each tendon is surrounded by a protective sheath — which, in turn, is lined with a substance called tenosynovium. The tenosynovium releases lubricating fluid that allows the tendon to glide smoothly within its protective sheath as you bend and straighten your finger — like a cord through a lubricated pipe.

But if the tenosynovium becomes inflamed frequently or for long periods, the space within the tendon sheath can become narrow and constricting. The tendon can’t glide through the sheath easily, at times catching the finger in a bent position before popping straight. With each catch, the tendon itself becomes more irritated and inflamed, worsening the problem. With prolonged inflammation, scarring and thickening (fibrosis) can occur and bumps (nodules) can form.

More than one potential causes have been described but the etiology remains idiopathic. It has also been called stenosing tenosynovitis (specifically digital tenovaginitis stenosans), but this may be a misnomer, as inflammation is not a predominant feature.

It has been speculated that repetitive forceful use of a digit leads to narrowing of the fibrous digital sheath in which it runs, but there is little scientific data to support this theory. The relationship of trigger finger to work activities is debatable and scientific evidence for and against hand use as a cause exist.

Risk Factors:
Risk Factors  developing trigger finger include:

Repeated gripping. If one routinely grips an item — such as a power tool or musical instrument — for extended periods of time, one may be more prone to developing a trigger finger.

Certain health problems. One is also at greater risk if he or she has certain medical conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, hypothyroidism, amyloidosis and certain infections, such as tuberculosis.Your sex. Trigger finger is more common in women.

Diagnosis:
Diagnosis is made almost exclusively by history and physical examination alone. More than one finger may be affected at a time, though it usually affects the thumb, middle, or ring finger. The triggering is usually more pronounced in the morning, or while gripping an object firmly.

Treatment:
Injection of the tendon sheath with a corticosteroid is effective over weeks to months in more than half of patients.

 

When corticosteroid injection fails, the problem is predictably resolved by a relatively simple surgical procedure (usually outpatient, under local anesthesia). The surgeon will cut the sheath that is restricting the tendon.

One recent study in the Journal of Hand Surgery suggests that the most cost-effective treatment is two trials of corticosteroid injection, followed by open release of the first annular pulley.  Choosing surgery immediately is the most expensive option and is often not necessary for resolution of symptoms.  More recently, a randomized controlled trial comparing corticosteroid injection with needle release and open release of the A1 pulley reported that only 57% of patients responded to corticosteroid injection (defined as being free of triggering symptoms for greater than 6 months). This is compared to a percutaneous needle release (100% success rate) and open release (100% success rate).  This is somewhat consistent with the most recent Cochrane Systematic Review of corticosteroid injection for trigger finger which found only 2 pseudo-randomized controlled trials for a total pooled success rate of only 37%.  However, this systematic review has not been updated since 2009.

There is a theoretical greater risk of nerve damage associated with the percutaneous needle release as the technique is performed without seeing the A1 pulley.

Investigative treatment options with limited scientific support include: non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs; occupational or physical therapy; steroid iontophoresis treatment; splinting; therapeutic ultrasound, phonophoresis (ultrasound with an anti-inflammatory dexamethasone cream); and Acupuncture.

Prognosis:
The natural history of disease for trigger finger remains uncertain.

There is some evidence that idiopathic trigger finger behaves differently in people with diabetes.

Recurrent triggering is unusual after successful injection and rare after successful surgery.

While difficulty extending the proximal interphalangeal joint may persist for months, it benefits from exercises to stretch the finger straighter.

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trigger_finger
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/trigger-finger/DS00155
http://assets.sbnation.com/imported_assets/71765/trigger_finger_2.jpg
http://www.trigger-finger.com/
http://www.drmomeni.com/hand/trigger.html

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Schinziophyton rautanenii

Botanical Name : Schinziophyton rautanenii
Family: Euphorbiaceae
Subfamily: Crotonoideae
Tribe: Ricinodendreae
Genus: Schinziophyton
Hutch. ex Radcl.-Sm.
Species: S. rautanenii
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Malpighiales

Common Names:Mongongo nut, Feather weight tree, Manketti Tree

Habitat :The Schinziophyton rautanenii is distributed widely throughout southern Africa. There are several distinct belts of distribution, the largest of which reaches from northern Namibia into northern Botswana, south-western Zambia and western Zimbabwe. Another belt is found in eastern Malawi, and yet another in eastern Mozambique.

The manketti tree prefers hot and dry climates with low amounts of rain. It also prefers to grow in wooded hills and sand dunes.

Its habitat is dotted with trees and does not receive enough rain to be considered a prairie. The countries that lie in this biome are Mauritania, Guinea, Liberia, Ethiopia, Sudan, Chad, Mali, Niger and Uganda.

Description:
Schinziophyton rautanenii is a deciduous  tree.It  has a large, straight trunk with stubby and contorted branches and a large spreading crown. It has an upright manner of growth and is about 49 to 66 feet (15 to 20) meters tall. The leaves are a distinctive hand shape and are compound. The leaflet is a wide lance to an egg shape. They are composed of seven leaflets that are carried on hairy stalks that are up to 6 inches (15 cm) in length. The leaves are about 6 inches (15 cm) long and both sides are dark green in color. They are covered in fine hairs and are arranged alternately on branches.

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The flowers are somewhat oval in shape, and are about 1 1/4 inch (3.5 cm) long, 3/4 inch (2.5 cm) wide, and are about 1/2 inch (10 mm) in diameter. They flower in early summer. The whitish flowers are carried in slender loose spays.

Leaves alternate, digitately compound, consisting of 5-7 leathery segments usually hairless below and with grey wooly hairs above. There are usually 1 or 2 black glands on the upper side of each leaf-stalk.

Flowers whitish or yellow, dioecious, in loose rusty sprays. Male flowers in long rusty sprays, female shorter in length.

Fruit ovoid, waxy and brown in colour; weighing 7-10 g with a thick leathery skin, fleshy, dry, spongy pulp 2-5 mm thick, shell tough 3-7 mm thick.

Seeds 1 or 2 in the fruit.

The taproot on the  tree goes down until it reaches water. In this case, it is long because it is located in the savanna. The lateral root is very small.

Edible Uses:
So popular are the fruit and nuts of the mongongo tree that they have even been described as a “staple diet” in some areas, most notably amongst the San bushmen of northern Botswana and Namibia. Archaeological evidence has shown that they have been consumed amongst San communities for over 7,000 years. Their popularity stems in part from their flavour, and in part from the fact that they store well, and remain edible for much of the year.

The fruit is edible and can be eaten fresh, dried or cooked and have a pleasant taste likened to that of plums. The fruit retains its flavour even when dry.

Dry fruits are first steamed to soften the skins. After peeling, the fruits are then cooked in water until the maroon-coloured flesh separates from the hard inner nuts. The pulp is eaten, and the nuts are saved to be roasted later. Alternatively, nuts are collected from elephant dung; the hard nut survives intact through the digestive process and the elephant does the hard work of collecting the nuts. During roasting of the nuts, direct contact with the fire is avoided, using sand to distribute the heat evenly. Once dry, the outer shell cracks easily, revealing the nut, encased within a soft, inner shell. The nuts are either eaten straight, or pounded as ingredients in other dishes.

. The fruit is normally skinned after steaming in a pot with little water, then boiled in fresh water to separate the nuts. The fruit is used in making aromatic soups and sweet porridge, they can be dried and consumed as sweetmeats. During roasting direct contact of seeds with the fire coals is avoided by roasting in a sand heap. Fruit carbohydrate content is between 65-77%, fibre 2.5-3%, crude protein 6-9% and Ca levels are 85-100 mg/ 100 g. In the abscence of moisture fruits can remain edible for up to 8 months if left on ground where they fall.

The fruit pulp is fermented to give a refreshing potent beer, distilled for alcohol.

Nutritional value:-
Per 100 grams shelled nuts:

*57 g fat:
*44% polyunsaturated
*17% saturated
*18% monounsaturated
*24 g protein
*193 mg calcium
*527 mg magnesium
*4 mg zinc
*2.8 mg copper
*565 mg vitamin E (and tocopherol)

Medicinal Uses:
The roots are used as a remedy for stomach pains and diarrhea, the nuts tied around the ankles are said to relieve leg pains.

Other Uses:
The oil from the nuts has also been traditionally used as a body rub in the dry winter months, to clean and moisten the skin, while the hard, outer nut-shells are popular as divining “bones”. The wood, being both strong and light, makes excellent fishing floats, toys, insulating material and drawing boards. More recently, it has been used to make dart-boards and packing cases.

The plant has potential use in desert encroachment prevention and sand dune stabilization. Its hardiness makes it ideal for arid land reclamation.
Erosion control: S. rautanenii roots protect sandy soils from wind and water erosion.

Fruit enjoyed by both cattle and game. Fruit pulp and the seed meal which is very rich in protein was fed to cattle up to 1962, however this feed is suspected to cause a discolouration of beef. Elephants feed on the bark.

Truncheon-cuttings used for fencing around homes in southern Angola.  In some places the tree is highly held culturally and venerable.

Offers shade in hot areas e.g. in the Kalahari desert.


 

Known Hazards: :  Toxicological results suggest a tenous link between oil use and goitre.

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/Mongongo
http://www.blueplanetbiomes.org/manketti.htm
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_LMN.htm

http://worldagroforestry.org/treedb2/speciesprofile.php?Spid=17950

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Brunfelsia uniflora

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Botanical Name : Brunfelsia uniflora
Family: Solanaceae
Genus: Brunfelsia
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Solanales

Common Name: Manaca

Habitat : Brunfelsia uniflora  is native to
•SOUTHERN AMERICA :-
Caribbean: Trinidad and Tobago – Trinidad
Northern South America: Guyana; Venezuela – Bolivar, Carabobo, Guarico, Nueva Esparta
Brazil: Brazil – Bahia, Ceara, Espirito Santo, Goias, Minas Gerais, Pernambuco, Rio Grande do Norte, Rio de Janeiro, Roraima, Sao Paulo
Western South America: Bolivia – Cochabamba, Santa Cruz
Southern South America: Argentina – Jujuy, Salta

Typical habitat is light woodland and thickets.

Description:
Brunfelsia uniflora is a neotropical shrubs and small trees.The leaves are alternate and simple, with shapes generally elliptic to ovate. The flowers are large and tubular, with five broad petals.  Species in cultivation include Brunfelsia americana (“lady of the night”) and Brunfelsia pauciflora. Linnaeus named the genus for early German herbalist Otto Brunfels (1488–1534). The cultivated plant is commonly called “yesterday, today, and tomorrow” due to its color changes

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Medicinal Uses:
Brunfelsia uniflora is  used by native healers both medicinally and as hallucinogens.  Internally used as an alterative, and of the greatest value for the treatment of arthritis.  It eases pain and restores mobility quickly. In Peru, indigenous peoples apply a decoction of leaves externally for arthritis and rheumatism; they also employ a root decoction for chills. The root of manacá is said to stimulate the lymphatic system. It has long been used for syphilis, earning the name vegetable mercury. Though the aerial parts of the plant have active compounds, the root has been used primarily.

Two of the constituents,  manaceine and manacine are thought to be responsible for stimulating the lymphatic system, while aesculetin has demonstrated analgesic, antihepatotoxic, antimutagenic, and anti-inflammatory activities in laboratory tests.

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/Brunfelsia
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_LMN.htm
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Brunfelsia_uniflora

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Physalis alkekengi franchetii

Botanical Name :Physalis alkekengi franchetii
Family: Solanaceae
Genus: Physalis
Species: P. alkekengi
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Solanales

Synonyms : P. latifolia.

Common Name:Bladder cherry, Chinese lantern, Japanese lantern, or Winter cherry;

Habitat :It is native from southern Europe east across southern Asia to Japan.Grows in cultivated ground and vineyards

Description:
It is an herbaceous perennial plant growing to 40–60 cm tall, with spirally arranged leaves 6–12 cm long and 4–9 cm broad. The flowers are white, with a five-lobed corolla 10–15 mm across, with an inflated basal calyx which matures into the papery orange fruit covering, 4–5 cm long and broad.

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It is hardy to zone 6 and is not frost tender. It is in flower in July. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.

Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

Cultivation:
Succeeds in any well-drained soil in full sun or light shade . The fully dormant plant is hardy in most of Britain, though the young growth in spring can be damaged by late frosts. A very ornamental plant    though it can be invasive . This sub-species, which is sometimes treated as a separate species, is a more vigorous form of P. alkekengi with larger fruits[200]. Slugs are very fond of the new growth in spring and can destroy even quite large clumps.

Propagation:
Seed – sow March/April in a greenhouse only just covering the seed. Germination usually takes place quickly and freely. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots of fairly rich soil when they are large enough to handle and plant them out in early summer. Diurnal temperature fluctuations assist germination. Division in spring. 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. Basal cuttings in early summer. Harvest the shoots with plenty of underground stem when they are about 8 – 10cm above the ground. Pot them up into individual pots and keep them in light shade in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the summer.

Edible Uses:

Fruit – raw or cooked. The plant conveniently wraps up each fruit in its own ‘paper bag’ (botanically, the calyx) to protect it from pests and the elements. This calyx is toxic and should not be eaten[34, 65]. Rich in vitamins, with twice the vitamin C of lemons, but not much taste. We have found them to be bitter and rather unpleasant. Young leaves – cooked. Caution is advised, the leaves are almost certainly poisonous, at least when raw.

Medicinal Uses:
Aperient;  Diuretic;  ExpectorantFebrifuge.

The plant has a long history of herbal use, and an interesting chemistry, but it is seldom used in modern practice. The whole plant is antiphlogistic, antipyretic, antitussive and expectorant. An overdose of the plant is said to easily precipitate an abortion. The fruit is aperient, strongly diuretic and lithontripic. It is used internally in the treatment of gravel, suppression of urine etc and is highly recommended in fevers and in gout. The fruit is harvested when fully ripe and can be used fresh, juiced or dried. The calyx should be removed. The leaves and stems are febrifuge and slightly tonic. They are used in the treatment of the malaise that follows malaria, and for weak or anaemic people[4]. The fresh leaves have been used externally in the treatment of skin inflammations. The seed is used to promote early labour. A homeopathic remedy is made from the fruit. It is used in the treatment of kidney and bladder disorders.

Other Uses  
Plants spread rapidly by their roots and can be grown as a ground cover. They are best spaced about 1 metre apart each way.

In Japan, its seeds are used as part of the Bon Festival as offerings to guide the souls of the deceased. There is also an annual market dedicated to the flower  which occurs  every year on July 9th and 10th.
Known Hazards  : All parts of the plant, except the ripe fruit, are poisonous

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/Physalis_alkekengi
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Physalis+alkekengi+franchetii

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