Lactuca sativa

Botanical Name: Lactuca sativa
Family: Asteraceae
Genus: Lactuca
Species: L. sativa
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asterales

Synonyms:
* Lactuca scariola var. sativa (Moris)
*L. scariola var. integrata (Gren. and Godr.)
*L. scariola var. integrifolia (G.Beck)

Common Names: Lettuce, Garden lettuce

Habitat: Lactuca sativa is native to mediterranean Regions to Siberia. It grows well in cultivated bed.
Description:
Lactuca sativa is a annual/perennial herb growing to 0.9 m (3ft) by 0.3 m (1ft in). Lettuce types include romaine, butter head, iceberg, and loose leaf. All are at their best if grown quickly.

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It is not frost tender. It is in flower from Jul to August. Flowers are not showy and the seeds ripen from Aug to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Flies, self.The plant is self-fertile.

Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.
Cultivation:
Prefers a light sandy loam. Succeeds in most well-drained, humus-rich soils but dislikes acid conditions. Plants strongly dislike dry conditions, quickly running to seed in such a situation. Early and late sowings are best in a sunny position, but summer crops are best given a position with some shade in order to slow down the plants tendency to go to seed and to prevent the leaves becoming bitter. The garden lettuce is widely cultivated in many parts of the world for its edible leaves and is probably the most commonly grown salad plant. There are many named varieties capable of providing fresh leaves throughout the year if winter protection is given in temperate areas. Over the centuries a number of more or less distinct forms have arisen in cultivation. These forms have been classified as follows. They are treated separately in more detail:- L. sativa angustana. L.H.Bailey. is the Celtuce. The leaves of this form are not of such good quality as the other lettuces and the plant is grown more for its thick central stem which is used in the same ways as celery. L. sativa capitata. L. is the heading lettuce, it forms a heart in a similar way to cabbages. Examples of this include the Iceberg and Butterhead lettuces. L. sativa crispa. L. is the curled or leaf lettuce. This does not form a central heart but produces a loose rosette of basal leaves. It can be harvested on a cut and come again basis. L. sativa longifolia Lam. is the cos lettuce. This has longer, thinner leaves and a more erect habit, it does not form a compact heart. Lettuces are quite a problematic crop to grow. They require quite a lot of attention to protect them from pests such as slugs, aphids and birds. If the weather is hot and dry the plants tend to run very quickly to seed, developing a bitter flavour as they do so. In wet weather they are likely to develop fungal diseases. In addition, the seed needs to be sown at regular intervals of 2- 3 weeks during the growing season in order to provide a regular supply of leaves. Lettuces make a good companion plant for strawberries, carrots, radishes and onions. They also grow well with cucumbers, cabbages and beetroot.

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Propagation:
Seed – sow a small quantity of seed in situ every 2 or 3 weeks from March (with protection in cooler areas) to June and make another sowing in August/September for a winter/spring crop. Only just cover the seed. Germination is usually rapid and good, thin the plants if necessary, these thinnings can be transplanted to produce a slightly later crop (but they will need to be well watered in dry weather). More certain winter crops can be obtained by sowing in a frame in September/October and again in January/February.
Edible Uses:
Leaves – raw or cooked. A mild slightly sweet flavour with a crisp texture, lettuce is a very commonly used salad leaf and can also be cooked as a potherb or be added to soups etc. A nutritional analysis is available. Seed – sprouted and used in salads or sandwiches. An edible oil is obtained from the seed. The seed is very small, extraction of the oil on any scale would not be very feasible.

Constituents:

Leaves (Fresh) :-

*0 Calories per 100g
*Water : 92.9%
*Protein: 2.1g; Fat: 0g; Carbohydrate: 3g; Fibre: 0.5g; Ash: 1.2g;
*Minerals – Calcium: 26mg; Phosphorus: 30mg; Iron: 0.7mg; Magnesium: 10mg; Sodium: 3mg; Potassium: 208mg; Zinc: 0mg;
*Vitamins – A: 2200mg; Thiamine (B1): 0mg; Riboflavin (B2): 0mg; Niacin: 0.4mg; B6: 0mg; C: 15mg;
Medicinal Uses:
The whole plant is rich in a milky sap that flows freely from any wounds. This hardens and dries when in contact with the air[4]. The sap contains ‘lactucarium’, which is used in medicine for its anodyne, antispasmodic, digestive, diuretic, hypnotic, narcotic and sedative properties. Lactucarium has the effects of a feeble opium, but without its tendency to cause digestive upsets, nor is it addictive. It is taken internally in the treatment of insomnia, anxiety, neuroses, hyperactivity in children, dry coughs, whooping cough, rheumatic pain etc[238]. Concentrations of lactucarium are low in young plants and most concentrated when the plant comes into flower. It is collected commercially by cutting the heads of the plants and scraping the juice into china vessels several times a day until the plant is exhausted. The cultivated lettuce does not contain as much lactucarium as the wild species, most being produced when the plant is in flower. An infusion of the fresh or dried flowering plant can also be used[9]. The plant should be used with caution, and never without the supervision of a skilled practitioner. Even normal doses can cause drowsiness whilst excess causes restlessness and overdoses can cause death through cardiac paralysis. Some physicians believe that any effects of this medicine are caused by the mind of the patient rather than by the medicine. The sap has also been applied externally in the treatment of warts. The seed is anodyne and galactogogue. Lettuce has acquired a folk reputation as an anaphrodisiac, anodyne, carminative, diuretic, emollient, febrifuge, hypoglycaemic, hypnotic, narcotic, parasiticide and sedative.

Other Uses : The sap of flowering plants that is used as parasiticide. The seed is said to be used to make hair grow on scar tissue.

Known Hazards: The mature plant is known to be mildly toxic.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lettuce
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Lactuca+sativa
http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=a679

Avena ludoviciana

Botanical Name: Avena ludoviciana
Family: Poaceae
Genus: Avena
Species:A. sterilis
Kingdom:Plantae
Order: Poales

Synonyms: Avena ludoviciana Durieu; Avena sterilis

Common Names: Animated oat, Sterile oat, Wild oat, Wild red oat, Winter wild oat
Common name in Hindi : Jangli Jai

Habitat :Avena ludoviciana is native to Europe – Mediterranean, to S.W. Asia. An introduced weed in Britain. It grows on dry wasteland, cultivated ground and meadows, especially on heavier soils. A spreading weed in the Mediterranean where it is becoming a pest.

Description:
Avena ludoviciana is an upright annual weed. It has long broad leaves having bright green colour. During early stage its plants resemble with wheat and cultivated oat, but at mature stage this weed is taller than wheat (120cm).

Roots: Fibrous root system.
Leaves: The leaves are linear and alternate, blade 60cm long and 0.5 to 1.5cm wide; ligule membranous; sheath on lower leaves.
Inflorescence:Panicles are composed of green spikelets and each spikelet has 2 to 5 pedicelled brownish green flowers; disarticulation above the glumes; glumes equal, two-toothed at the apex; awn twisted, about 3 to 8cm long, upper parts bent sharply at right angles to the twisted parts.
Seeds:Seeds are brown and black covered with black hairs.

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It is not frost tender. It is in flower from Jun to July, and the seeds ripen from Aug to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Wind.
Biology :
Annual plant, it reproduces by seeds. The first seed on the panicle had almost no dormancy and, thereafter, the seeds of the second, third and fourth positions germinated in turn. Seeds from the third and fourth positions did not germinate until the second and third years after sowing.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in heavy clay soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.
Cultivation:
Succeeds in any moderately fertile soil in full sun. Prefers a poor dry soil. This species is a weed of cultivated land, its seeds are somewhat smaller than the cultivated oats and the yields are rather lower. Oats are in general easily grown plants but, especially when grown on a small scale, the seed is often completely eaten out by birds. Some sort of netting seems to be the best answer on a garden scale.

Propagation:
Seed – sow in situ in early spring or in the autumn. Only just cover the seed. Germination should take place within 2 weeks.

Edible Uses:
Seed – cooked. The seed ripens in the latter half of summer and, when harvested and dried, can store for several years. It has a floury texture and a mild, somewhat creamy flavour. It can be used as a staple food crop in either savoury or sweet dishes. The seed can be cooked whole, though it is more commonly ground into a flour and used as a cereal in all the ways that oats are used, especially as a porridge but also to make biscuits, sourdough bread etc. The seed can also be sprouted and eaten raw or cooked in salads, stews etc. The roasted seed is a coffee substitute.

Medicinal Uses: It is highly fibrous food, which is very good for constipation & some other forms of stomac disesses for regular bowel cleaning.
Other Uses:
Fibre; Mulch; Paper; Thatching.

The straw has a wide range of uses such as for bio-mass, fibre, mulch, paper-making and thatching. Some caution is advised in its use as a mulch since oat straw can infest strawberries with stem and bulb eelworm.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avena_sterilis
http://idao.cirad.fr/content/oscar/especes/a/avest/avest.html
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Avena+ludoviciana

Zanthoxylum clava-herculis

Botanical Name: Zanthoxylum clava-herculis
Family: Rutaceae
Genus: Zanthoxylum
Species: Z. clava-herculis
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Sapindales

Synonyms: Zanthoxylum carolinianum. Zanthoxylum catesbianum. Zanthoxylum clavatum.

Common Names: Hercules Club. Prickly Ash – Southern, Hercules’ club, Southern Prickly Ash, Pepperwood, or Southern prickly ash

Habitat :Zanthoxylum clava-herculis is native to South-eastern N. America – Virginia to Florida, west to Texas and Arkansas. It is usually found as scattered trees near the coast in light sandy soils, often on bluffs of islands, river banks or dunes. Best growth is from plants in most rich soils with good drainage.
Description:
Zanthoxylum clava-herculis is a deciduous small Shrub or tree, growing to 3 m (9ft 10in) at a medium rate.It is in leaf 1-Mar It is in flower from May to June, and the seeds ripen from Sep to October. The leaves are alternate, very tardily deciduous or evergreen, pinnately compound, 7-9 narrowly elliptical to lanceolate leaflets, leaflets with round-pointed teeth, waxy-shiny above, light green below, 5-8 inches overall, rachis may bear spines. The flowers are dioecious; in terminal many-branched racemes, individual flowers tiny and yellow-green, with 5 petals, appearing in early spring.
(Individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required)The plant is not self-fertile.Fruits are follicles produced in clusters, individual fruits enclosed in a brown husk that splits open at maturity to reveal a shiny red-brown to black seed.

Twigs are Stout, green changing brown-green, bearing sharp scattered single spines, leaf scars shield-shaped, terminal buds rounded and green to brown. The bark is very unique, gray-brown and smooth, with large spine-tipped corky-pyramidal projections, losing spines with age.

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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:
Landscape Uses:Border, Massing. Prefers a good deep well-drained moisture retentive soil in full sun or semi-shade. Plants are hardy to at least -15°c. The leaves are often persistent until the following spring when the new leaves are produced. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required. Flowers are formed on the old wood. Special Features:North American native, Attracts butterflies, Inconspicuous flowers or blooms.

Propagation:
Seed – best sown in a greenhouse as soon as it is ripe in the autumn. Stored seed may requires up to 3 months cold stratification, though scarification may also help. Sow stored seed in a cold frame as early in the year as possible. Germination should take place in late spring, though it might take another 12 months. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in a cold frame for their first winter. Plant them out in early summer. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame. Root cuttings, 3cm long, planted horizontally in pots in a greenhouse. Good percentage. Suckers, removed in late winter and planted into their permanent positions.

Edible Uses:
The following report is for Zanthoxylum americanum, it is probably also applicable to this species. Seed – used as a condiment. A pepper substitute. The fruit is rather small, about 4 – 5m in diameter, but is produced in dense clusters which makes harvesting easy. Each fruit contains a single seed.
Medicinal Uses:
Zanthoxylum clava-herculis is quite widely used in herbal medicine, it has the same properties as Z. americanum, but is said to be more active. All parts of the plant, but especially the bark and roots, contain the aromatic bitter oil xanthoxylin. This has a number of applications in medicine. The fruit has a similar medicinal action to the bark. The bark and roots are irritant, odontalgic and antirheumatic. Along with the fruit they are diaphoretic, stimulant and a useful tonic in debilitated conditions of the stomach and digestive organs. They produce arterial excitement and are of use in the treatment of fevers, ague, poor circulation etc. The fruits are considered more active than the bark, they are also antispasmodic, carminative, diuretic and antirheumatic. The pulverized root and bark are used to ease the pain of toothache. One report says that it is very efficacious, but the sensation of the acrid bark is fully as unpleasant as the toothache. Chewing the bark induces copious salivation. Rubbing the fruit against the skin, especially on the lips or in the mouth, produces a temporary loss of sensation. A tea or tincture of the bark has been used in the treatment of rheumatism, dyspepsia, dysentery, heart and kidney troubles etc. A tea made from the inner bark has been used to treat itchy skin.

Other Uses: Wood – light, soft, weak and close-grained. It weighs 31lb per cubic foot. Too small for commercial use

Known Hazards: Absorption of gut iron reduced. sun sensitivity, bruising and bleeding. May interfere with cardiac glycoside therapy. May interfere with blood clotting drugs.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zanthoxylum_clava-herculis
http://dendro.cnre.vt.edu/dendrology/syllabus/factsheet.cfm?ID=649
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Zanthoxylum+clava-herculis

Betula pubescens

Botanical Name: Betula pubescens
Family: Betulaceae
Genus: Betula
Subgenus: Betula
Species: B. pubescens
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Fagales

Synonyms: Betula alba var. pubescens, Betula alba subsp. pubescens

Common Names: Downy birch, Moor birch, White birch, European white birch or Hairy birch

Habitat:Betula pubescens is native to Most of Europe, including Britain, east to W. Siberia and central Asia. It grows on open woodland and heaths, usually on acid soils, from sea level to 830 metres.

Description:
Betula pubescens is a deciduous tree growing to 10 to 20 m (33 to 66 ft) tall (rarely to 27 m), with a slender crown and a trunk up to 70 cm (28 in) (exceptionally 1 m) diameter, with smooth but dull grey-white bark finely marked with dark horizontal lenticels. The shoots are grey-brown and finely downy. The leaves are ovate-acute, 2 to 5 cm (0.8 to 2.0 in) long and 1.5 to 4.5 cm (0.6 to 1.8 in) broad, with a finely serrated margin. The flowers are wind-pollinated catkins, produced in early spring before the leaves. The fruit is a pendulous, cylindrical aggregate 1 to 4 cm (0.4 to 1.6 in) long and 5 to 7 mm (0.2 to 0.3 in) wide which disintegrates at maturity, releasing the individual seeds; these are 2 mm (0.08 in) long with two small wings along the side……CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay and nutritionally poor soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry moist or wet soil. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.

Cultivation:
Succeeds in a well-drained light loamy soil in a sunny position. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Tolerates a wet position, succeeding in poorly drained soils. Fairly wind tolerant. Prefers an acid soil. A very ornamental tree and fast growing, capable of growing 1 metre a year but it is short-lived. It is one of the first trees to colonize open land and it creates a suitable environment for other woodland trees to follow. These trees eventually shade out the birch trees. Trees take about 15 years from seed to produce their own seed. Although closely related, it does not usually hybridize with B. pendula. It hybridizes freely with B. pendula according to another report. A superb tree for encouraging wildlife, it has over 200 associated insect species. A good plant to grow near the compost heap, aiding the fermentation process. It is also a good companion plant, its root activity working to improve the soil. Trees are notably susceptible to honey fungus.

Propagation:
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a light position in a cold frame. Only just cover the seed and place the pot in a sunny position. Spring sown seed should be surface sown in a sunny position in a cold frame. If the germination is poor, raising the temperature by covering the seed with glass can help. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a cold frame for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. If you have sufficient seed, it can be sown in an outdoor seedbed, either as soon as it is ripe or in the early spring – do not cover the spring sown seed. Grow the plants on in the seedbed for 2 years before planting them out into their permanent positions in the winter.
Edible Uses:
Inner bark – cooked or dried, ground into a powder then used with cereals for making bread etc. Inner bark is generally only seen as a famine food, used when other forms of starch are not available or are in short supply. Sap – raw or cooked. A sweet flavour. Harvested in early spring, before the leaves unfurl, by tapping the trunk. The flow is best on sunny days following a heavy frost. The sap is often concentrated into a sugar by boiling off the water. Between 4 and 7 litres can be drawn off a mature tree in a day and this will not kill the tree so long as the tap hole is filled up afterwards. However, prolonged or heavy tapping will kill the tree. A beer can be fermented from the sap. An old English recipe for the beer is as follows:- “To every Gallon of Birch-water put a quart of Honey, well stirr’d together; then boil it almost an hour with a few Cloves, and a little Limon-peel, keeping it well scumm’d. When it is sufficiently boil’d, and become cold, add to it three or four Spoonfuls of good Ale to make it work…and when the Test begins to settle, bottle it up . . . it is gentle, and very harmless in operation within the body, and exceedingly sharpens the Appetite, being drunk ante pastum.”. Young leaves – raw or cooked. Young catkins. A tea is made from the leaves and another tea is made from the essential oil in the inner bark.
Medicinal Uses:

Anti-inflammatory, cholagogue, diaphoretic. The bark is diuretic and laxative. The inner bark is bitter and astringent, it is used in treating intermittent fevers. An oil obtained from the inner bark is astringent and is used in the treatment of various skin afflictions, especially eczema and psoriasis. The bark is usually obtained from trees that have been felled for timber and can be distilled at any time of the year. The buds are balsamic. The young shoots and leaves secrete a resinous substance which has acid properties, when combined with alkalis it is a tonic laxative. The leaves are anticholesterolemic and diuretic. They also contain phytosides, which are effective germicides. An infusion of the leaves is used in the treatment of gout, dropsy and rheumatism, and is recommended as a reliable solvent of kidney stones. The young leaves and leaf buds are harvested in the spring and dried for later use. A decoction of the leaves and bark is used for bathing skin eruptions. The vernal sap is diuretic. The boiled and powdered wood has been applied to chafed skin. Moxa is made from the yellow fungous excrescences of the wood, which sometimes swell out of the fissures. The German Commission E Monographs, a therapeutic guide to herbal medicine, approve Betula species for infections of the urinary tract, kidney and bladder stones, rheumatism.

Other Uses:
Adhesive; Besom; Charcoal; Compost; Dye; Essential; Fibre; Fungicide; Miscellany; Paper; Pioneer; Polish; Repellent; Tannin; Thatching; Waterproofing; Wood.

The bark is used to make drinking vessels, canoe skins, roofing tiles etc. It is waterproof, durable, tough and resinous. Only the outer bark is removed, this does not kill the tree. It is most easily removed in late spring to early summer. The bark was pressed flat and stored until the following spring. When required for making canoes it would be heated over a fire to make it pliable for shaping to the canoe frame. A pioneer species, it readily invades old fields, cleared or burnt-over land and creates conditions suitable for other woodland trees to become established. Since it is relatively short-lived and intolerant of shade, it is eventually out-competed by these trees. A tar-oil is obtained from the white bark in spring. It has fungicidal properties and is also used as an insect repellent. It makes a good shoe polish. Another report says that an essential oil is obtained from the bark and this, called ‘Russian Leather’ has been used as a perfume. A glue is made from the sap. Cordage can be made from the fibres of the inner bark. This inner bark can also be separated into thin layers and used as a substitute for oiled paper. A decoction of the inner bark is used to preserve cordage, it is rich in tannin. The bark contains up to 16% tannin. A brown dye is obtained from the inner bark. An oil similar to Wintergreen oil (obtained from Gaultheria procumbens) is obtained from the inner bark. It is used medicinally and also makes a refreshing tea. The young branches are very flexible and are used to make whisks, besoms etc. They are also used in thatching and to make wattles. The leaves are a good addition to the compost heap, improving fermentation. A black paint is obtained from the soot of the plant[61]. A high quality charcoal is obtained from the bark. It is used by artists, painters etc. Wood – soft, light, durable. It is used for a wide range of purposes including furniture, tool handles, carving, toys etc. It is a source of charcoal that is used by artists and is also pulped and used for making paper.

Known Hazards: The aromatic and aliphatic hydrocarbons in birch tar are irritating to the skin. Do not use in patients with oedema or with poor kidney or heart functions.

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

Resourcs:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betula_pubescens
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Betula+pubescens

Betula populifolia

Botanical Name: Betula populifolia
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Fagales
Family: Betulaceae
Genus: Betula
Subgenus: Betula
Species: B. populifolia

Synonyms: Betula acuminata, Betula cuspidata Schrad. ex Regel

Common Name: Gray Birch

Habitat: Betula populifolia is native to Eastern N. America – Quebec to Virginia and west to Indiana. It is found on the margins of swamps and ponds, it also commonly grows in dry sandy or gravelly barren soils, growing well in poor almost sterile soils.

Description:
Betula populifolia is a deciduous Tree growing quickly to 20 to 30 feet tall and 15 inch trunk diameter, with an irregular open crown of slender branches. The tree often has multiple trunks branching off of an old stump. The leaves are 5-7.5 cm long by 4–6 cm wide, alternately arranged, ovate, and tapering to an elongated tip. They are dark green and glabrous above and paler below, with a coarsely serrated margin. The bark is chalky to grayish white with black triangular patches where branch meets trunk. It is most easily confused for the paper birch (Betula papyrifera) by means of its bark; it is smooth and thin but does not readily exfoliate like paper birch does.It is in flower in April, and the seeds ripen in September. Bloom Color is brown. It’s form is Pyramidal, Upright or erect. The flowers are wind-pollinated catkins 5–8 cm long, the male catkins pendulous and the female catkins erect. The fruit, maturing in autumn, is composed of many tiny winged seeds packed between the catkin bracts.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in heavy clay and nutritionally poor soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil. The plant is not wind tolerant.

CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES
Cultivation:
Landscape Uses:Firewood, Specimen. Succeeds in a well-drained loamy soil in a sunny position. Tolerates most soils doing well on poor ones and on heavy clays. A fast growing tree, though it rarely lives longer than 50 years. It is a pioneer species of abandoned fields, burnt-over lands, cleared woodlands etc. A fairly wind-tolerant plant, but it is shallow-rooted and older trees are often uprooted by winds and heavy snow in the wild. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus, especially with B. papyrifera. A good plant to grow near the compost heap, aiding the fermentation process. Trees are notably susceptible to honey fungus. Special Features: North American native, Naturalizing, Inconspicuous flowers or blooms.

Propagation:
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a light position in a cold frame. Only just cover the seed and place the pot in a sunny position. Spring sown seed should be surface sown in a sunny position in a cold frame. If the germination is poor, raising the temperature by covering the seed with glass can help. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a cold frame for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. If you have sufficient seed, it can be sown in an outdoor seedbed, either as soon as it is ripe or in the early spring – do not cover the spring sown seed. Grow the plants on in the seedbed for 2 years before planting them out into their permanent positions in the winter.
Edible Uses:
Inner bark – cooked or dried and ground into a meal. The meal can be used as a thickener in soups etc, or be added to flour when making bread, biscuits etc. Inner bark is generally only seen as a famine food, used when other forms of starch are not available or are in short supply. Sap – sweet. Harvested in early spring, before the leaves unfurl, by tapping the trunk. The flow is best on warm days that follow frosty nights. The sap is drunk as a sweet beverage or it can be fermented to make birch beer or vinegar. An old English recipe for the beer is as follows:- “To every Gallon of Birch-water put a quart of Honey, well stirr’d together; then boil it almost an hour with a few Cloves, and a little Limon-peel, keeping it well scumm’d. When it is sufficiently boil’d, and become cold, add to it three or four Spoonfuls of good Ale to make it work…and when the Test begins to settle, bottle it up . . . it is gentle, and very harmless in operation within the body, and exceedingly sharpens the Appetite, being drunk ante pastum.”.
Medicinal Uses:
The bark is astringent. a decoction has been used to treat bleeding piles. Scrapings of the inner bark have been used to treat swellings in infected cuts. The German Commission E Monographs, a therapeutic guide to herbal medicine, approve Betula species for infections of the urinary tract, kidney and bladder stones, rheumatism .

Other Uses:
Charcoal; Pioneer; Wood.
A pioneer species, readily invading old fields, burnt-over or cleared land and providing suitable conditions for other woodland trees to become established. It is an excellent crop for very poor soils, where it grows rapidly and affords protection to the seedlings of more valuable and slower-growing trees. Since this species is short-lived and not very shade tolerant, it is eventually out-competed by these other trees. Wood – close-grained, soft, light, weak, not durable. It weighs 36lb per cubic foot. Unimportant commercially, the wood is used locally for making clothes pegs, spools, pulp, charcoal and quite commonly as a fuel.
Known Hazards: The aromatic and aliphatic hydrocarbons in birch tar are irritating to the skin. Do not use in patients with oedema or with poor kidney or heart functions.

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

Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betula_populifolia
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Betula+populifolia

Alnus nitida

 

Botanical Name: Alnus nitida
Family: Betulaceae
Genus: Alnus
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Fagales

Synonyms : Clethropsis nitida.

Habitat :Alnus nitida is native to E. Asia – Himalayas. It grows by rivers and streams, 600 – 1200 metres, occasionally to 2700 metres.

Description:
Alnus nitida is a deciduous Tree growing 20 m or more tall. Young shoots pubescent, becoming glabrescent when old. Leaves ovate to elliptic-ovate, 5-15 cm x 3-9 cm, acute or acuminate, remotely serrate to sub-serrate, pubescent to pilose, often villous at the angles of the veins on the under surface, base cuneate to rounded; petiole 1-4 cm long, glabrous to pubescent. Male flowers in catkins, up to 19 cm long; peduncle 5-6.5 mm long; bract c. 1.2 mm long, more or less ovate, bracteoles smaller, suborbiculate. Tepals oblong-obovate to spathulate, c. l mm long, apex and margin minutely toothed. Anthers c. 1 mm long, filament slightly shorter than the tepals, scarcely forked. Female flowers in erect ‘woody cones’, 3-3.5 cm x c. 1.2 cm; bract broadly ovate, bracteoles suborbiculate. Styles 2, linear. Fruiting scale 5-lobed, 5-6 mm long, apex obliquely truncate. Nut 2.5-4 mm long, fringed by the narrow and more or less leathery wings.

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It is in flower in September. The flowers are monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and are pollinated by Wind.It can fix Nitrogen.

Suitable for: medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay and nutritionally poor soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry moist or wet soil.
Cultivation:
Prefers a heavy soil and a damp situation. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Tolerates drier soils than most members of this genus. Succeeds in very infertile sites. Trees probably tolerate temperatures down to between -5 and -10°c and so will not succeed outdoors in the colder areas of the country. A very ornamental tree. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil micro-organisms, these form nodules on the roots of the plants 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 in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe and only just covered. Spring sown seed should also germinate successfully so long as it is not covered. The seed should germinate in the spring as the weather warms up. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots. If growth is sufficient, it is possible to plant them out into their permanent positions in the summer, otherwise keep them in pots outdoors and plant them out in the spring. If you have sufficient quantity of seed, it can be sown thinly in an outdoor seed bed in the spring. The seedlings can either be planted out into their permanent positions in the autumn/winter, or they can be allowed to grow on in the seed bed for a further season before planting them. Cuttings of mature wood, taken as soon as the leaves fall in autumn, outdoors in sandy soil.

Medicinal Uses: A decoction of the bark is applied externally to treat swellings and body pains.

Other Uses: Tannin is obtained from the bark, it is used in dyeing. Wood – soft, even grained, hard to cut. Used for construction and furniture

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

Resources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alder
http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=5&taxon_id=242420274
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Alnus+nitida

 

Alnus rubra

Botanical Name : Alnus rubra
Family: Betulaceae
Genus: Alnus
Subgenus: Alnus
Species: A. rubra
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Fagales

Synonyms :Alnus oregona.

Common Names : Red Alder, Oregon Alder

Habitat :Alnus rubra is native to Western N. America – Alaska to California. It grows on moist rich soils in woods, usually below 600 metres and within 50 km of the coast.

Description:
Alnus rubra is the largest species of deciduous alder tree in North America and one of the largest in the world, reaching heights of 20 to 30 m (66 to 98 ft). The official tallest red alder (1979) stands 32 m (105 ft) tall in Clatsop County, Oregon (USA). The name derives from the bright rusty red color that develops in bruised or scraped bark. The bark is mottled, ashy-gray and smooth, often draped with moss. The leaves are ovate, 7 to 15 centimetres (2.8 to 5.9 in) long, with bluntly serrated edges and a distinct point at the end; the leaf margin is revolute, the very edge being curled under, a diagnostic character which distinguishes it from all other alders. The leaves turn yellow in the autumn before falling. The male flowers are dangling reddish catkins 10 to 15 cm (3.9 to 5.9 in) long in early spring, and female flowers are erect catkins which develop into small, woody, superficially cone-like oval dry fruit 2 to 3 cm (0.79 to 1.18 in) long. The seeds develop between the woody bracts of the ‘cones’ they are shed in the autumn and winter
It is in flower in March, and the seeds ripen from Sep to October. The flowers are monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and are pollinated by Wind.It can fix Nitrogen.

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Suitable for: medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay and nutritionally poor soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist or wet soil. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.
Cultivation:
Prefers a heavy soil and a damp situation. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Tolerates very infertile sites. A very wind resistant tree with excellent establishment in severely exposed sites, it tolerates severe maritime exposure. The red alder is a very fast growing tree, even when planted in severe exposure, but it is short-lived, dying when 60 – 80 years old. Trees that are 5 years old from seed have reached 6 metres in height on a very exposed site in Cornwall, they are showing no signs of wind-shaping. This is an important pioneer tree, quickly invading logged or burnt over sites, and providing ideal conditions for other trees to become established. A very ornamental tree. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil micro-organisms, these form nodules on the roots of the plants 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. Red alder has been estimated to fix as much as 300 kg of nitrogen per hectare. Special Features: Attracts birds, North American native, Inconspicuous flowers or blooms.

Propagation:
Seed – best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe and only just covered. Spring sown seed should also germinate successfully so long as it is not covered. The seed should germinate in the spring as the weather warms up. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots. If growth is sufficient, it is possible to plant them out into their permanent positions in the summer, otherwise keep them in pots outdoors and plant them out in the spring. If you have sufficient quantity of seed, it can be sown thinly in an outdoor seed bed in the spring. The seedlings can either be planted out into their permanent positions in the autumn/winter, or they can be allowed to grow on in the seed bed for a further season before planting them. Cuttings of mature wood, taken as soon as the leaves fall in autumn, outdoors in sandy soil.
Edible Uses:
Catkins – raw or cooked. They are rich in protein but have a bitter flavour and are not very palatable. Inner bark – cooked, It must be dried since it is emetic when fresh. No more details are given but inner bark is often dried, ground into a powder and then used as a thickening in soups etc or mixed with cereals when making bread. Sap – raw. Harvested in late winter, the flow is best on a warm, sunny day that follows a cold frosty night. A sweet flavour, it was often used to sweeten other foods. Buds.
Medicinal Uses:
Red alder was widely employed medicinally by native North American Indians who mainly used the bark to treat a wide range of complaints. The plant is little used in modern herbalism. The bark is appetizer, astringent, cathartic, cytostatic, emetic, stomachic and tonic. The bark contains salicin, which probably decomposes into salicylic acid (closely related to aspirin) in the human body. This is used as an anodyne and febrifuge. An infusion of the bark has been used in the treatment of many complaints such as headaches, rheumatic pains, internal injuries and diarrhoea. Externally, a poultice of the bark has been applied to eczema, sores and aches. The sap is applied externally to cuts. The catkins and young cones are astringent and have been chewed in the treatment of diarrhoea.

Other Uses:
Charcoal; Dye; Fuel; Hedge; Pioneer; Shelterbelt; Soil stabilization; Tannin; Wood.

A fast-growing and very wind resistant tree, it is an excellent plant for providing rapidly produced shelterbelts. The trees extensive root system also makes it suitable for controlling erosion along the banks of rivers. This is an excellent pioneer species for re-establishing woodlands on disused farmland, difficult sites etc. Its fast rate of growth means that it quickly provides sheltered conditions to allow more permanent woodland trees to become established. In addition, bacteria on the roots fix atmospheric nitrogen – whilst this enables the tree to grow well in quite poor soils it also makes some of this nitrogen available to other plants growing nearby. Alder trees also have a heavy leaf canopy and when the leaves fall in the autumn they help to build up the humus content of the soil. Alder seedlings do not compete well in shady woodland conditions and so this species gradually dies out as the other trees become established. Tannin is obtained from the bark and the strobils. Both the roots and the young shoots have been used in making baskets. A red to brown dye is obtained from the bark. Wood – soft, brittle, not strong, light, close and straight-grained, very durable in water. An important lumber tree, it makes a good imitation mahogany and is used for cheap furniture etc. A good fuel, it does not spark so can be used in the open, it also makes a high grade charcoal.

Landscape Uses:Border, Erosion control,  Woodland garden.

Known Hazards : The freshly harvested inner bark is emetic but is alright once it has been dried.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alnus_rubra
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Alnus+rubra

Alnus rhombifolia

Botanical Name : Alnus rhombifolia
Family: Betulaceae
Genus: Alnus
Subgenus: Alnus
Species: A. rhombifolia
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Fagales

Common Names: White Alder

Habitat : Alnus rhombifolia is native to Western N. AmericaBritish Columbia to California. It is usually found in rocky or gravelly soils along the sides of streams, in canyon bottomlands and gulches, from near sea level to 2400 metres.

Description:
Alnus rhombifolia is a medium-sized deciduous tree growing to 15–25 metres (49–82 ft) (rarely to 35 metres (115 ft)) tall, with pale gray bark, smooth on young trees, becoming scaly on old trees. The leaves are alternate, rhombic to narrow elliptic, 4–10 centimetres (1.6–3.9 in) long and 2–5 centimetres (0.79–1.97 in) cm broad, with a finely serrated margin and a rounded to acute apex; they are thinly hairy below.

The flowers are produced in catkins. The male catkins are pendulous, slender,3–10 centimetres (1.2–3.9 in) long, yellowish, and produced in clusters of two to seven; pollination is in early spring, before the leaves emerge. The female catkins are ovoid, when mature in autumn 10–22 millimetres (0.39–0.87 in) long and 7–10 millimetres (0.28–0.39 in) broad, on a 1–10 millimetres (0.039–0.394 in) stem, superficially resembling a small conifer cone. The small winged seeds disperse through the winter, leaving the old woody, blackish ‘cones’ on the tree for up to a year after…..CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

The white alder is closely related to the red alder (Alnus rubra), differing in the leaf margins being flat, not curled under. Like other alders, it is able to fix nitrogen, and tolerates infertile soils.
Cultivation:
Prefers a heavy soil and a damp situation. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Tolerates very infertile sites. A fairly fast-growing but short-lived species, reaching its maximum size in 50 – 60 years. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil micro-organisms, these form nodules on the roots of the plants 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. Special Features:North American native, Wetlands plant, Inconspicuous flowers or blooms.

Propagation:
Seed – best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe and only just covered. Spring sown seed should also germinate successfully so long as it is not covered. The seed should germinate in the spring as the weather warms up. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots. If growth is sufficient, it is possible to plant them out into their permanent positions in the summer, otherwise keep them in pots outdoors and plant them out in the spring. If you have sufficient quantity of seed, it can be sown thinly in an outdoor seed bed in the spring. The seedlings can either be planted out into their permanent positions in the autumn/winter, or they can be allowed to grow on in the seed bed for a further season before planting them. Cuttings of mature wood, taken as soon as the leaves fall in autumn, outdoors in sandy soil.

Edible Uses:
Catkins – raw or cooked. A bitter flavour. Inner bark. No more information is given, but inner bark is often dried and can be used as a flavouring in soups or can be mixed with cereal flours when making bread etc.
Medicinal Uses:
The bark is astringent, diaphoretic, emetic, haemostatic, stomachic and tonic. A decoction of the dried bark is used in the treatment of diarrhoea, haemorrhages in consumption, stomach aches and to facilitate child birth. Externally it can be used as a wash for babies with skin diseases, nappy rash etc. A poultice of the wood is applied to burns. Some Plateau Indian tribes used white alder for female health treatment needs.

Other Uses:
Baby care; Basketry; Dye; Fuel; Tannin; Wood.

The bark and the strobils are a source of tannin. The roots have been used to make baskets. The inner bark can be dried, ground into a powder then mixed with flour and water for use as a dye. The colour is not specified. The fresh bark can be chewed and used as a red dye. Wood – light, soft, not strong, brittle, close and straight-grained, very durable in water. It is of limited value as a low-grade lumber, but is used principally for fuel.

Landscape Uses:Massing, Woodland garden.

Known Hazards: The freshly harvested inner bark is emetic but is alright once it has been dried.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alnus_rhombifolia
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Alnus+rhombifolia

Rhus typhina

Botanical Name : Rhus typhina
Family: Anacardiaceae
Genus: Rhus
Species: R. typhina
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Sapindales

Synonyms:Rhus hirta,Rhus viridiflora.

Common Names:Stag’s Horn Sumach, Velvet Sumac, Staghorn Sumac

Habitat :Rhus typhina is native to eastern North America. It is primarily found in southeastern Canada, the northeastern and midwestern United States and the Appalachian Mountains, but is widely cultivated as an ornamental throughout the temperate world.
Description:
Rhus typhina is a deciduous shrub or small tree growing to 5 m (16 ft) tall by 6 m (20 ft) broad. It has alternate, pinnately compound leaves 25–55 cm (10–22 in) long, each with 9–31 serrate leaflets 6–11 cm long. The leaf petioles and the stems are densely covered in rust-colored hairs. The velvety texture and the forking pattern of the branches, reminiscent of antlers, have led to the common name “stag’s horn sumach“.

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Staghorn sumac is dioecious, and large clumps can form with either male or female plants. The fruit is one of the most identifiable characteristics, forming dense clusters of small red drupes at the terminal end of the branches; the clusters are conic, 10–20 cm (4–8 in) long and 4–6 cm (2–2 in) broad at the base. The plant flowers from May to July and fruit ripens from June to September. The foliage turns to brilliant shades of red, orange and yellow in autumn (fall). The fruit has been known to last through winter and into spring.

Cultivation:
Landscape Uses:Border, Massing, Specimen. Succeeds in a well-drained fertile soil in full sun. Tolerates poor soils. Succeeds in dry soils and is drought resistant once it is established.  A fairly wind hardy plant, though the branches are brittle and can be broken off in very high winds. A very hardy plant, when fully dormant it can tolerate temperatures down to at least -25°c. However, the young growth in spring can be damaged by late frosts. A fast growing but short-lived tree, it can sucker freely, forming thickets and becoming quite anti-social when grown in small areas. Single-stem plants are short-lived in cultivation, but if the plants are coppiced regularly and allowed to form thickets, then they will live longer and also be more ornamental with larger leaves. Any coppicing is best carried out in early spring. A very ornamental plant, there are some named varieties. It is susceptible to coral spot fungus but is notably resistant to honey fungus. It transplants easily. This is a very good bee plant, the flowers producing an abundance of pollen and nectar. There is some doubt over the validity of this name and the earlier R. hirta. has been proposed as the correct name. However, it seems likely that R. typhina will be retained because it is so well known. This species is closely related to and hybridizes with R. glabra. Many of the species in this genus are highly toxic and can also cause severe irritation to the skin of some people, whilst other species such as this one are not poisonous. It is relatively simple to distinguish which is which, the poisonous species have axillary panicles and smooth fruits whilst non-poisonous species have compound terminal panicles and fruits covered with acid crimson hairs. The toxic species are sometimes separated into their own genus, Toxicodendron, by some botanists. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required. Special Features: Attracts birds, North American native, Attractive flowers or blooms.

Propagation:
Seed – best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe. Pre-soak the seed for 24 hours in hot water (starting at a temperature of 80 – 90c and allowing it to cool) prior to sowing in order to leach out any germination inhibitors. This soak water can be drunk and has a delicious lemon-flavour. The stored seed also needs hot water treatment and can be sown in early spring in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 10cm with a heel, July/August in a frame. Root cuttings 4cm long taken in December and potted up vertically in a greenhouse. Good percentage. Suckers in late autumn to winter.

Edible Uses:
Fruit – cooked. A very sour flavour, they are used in pies. The fruit is rather small and with very little flesh, but it is produced in quite large clusters and so is easily harvested. When soaked for 10 – 30 minutes in hot or cold water it makes a very refreshing lemonade-like drink (without any fizz of course). The mixture should not be boiled since this will release tannic acids and make the drink astringent.
Medicinal Uses:
Stag’s horn sumach was often employed medicinally by several native North American Indian tribes who valued it especially for its astringent qualities. It is little used in modern herbalism. Some caution is advised in the use of the leaves and stems of this plant, see the notes above on toxicity. The bark is antiseptic, astringent, galactogogue and tonic. An infusion is used in the treatment of diarrhoea, fevers, piles, general debility, uterine prolapse etc. An infusion is also said to greatly increase the milk flow of a nursing mother – small pieces of the wood were also eaten for this purpose. The inner bark is said to be a valuable remedy for piles. The roots are astringent, blood purifier, diuretic and emetic. An infusion of the roots, combined with purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) has been used in the treatment of venereal disease. A poultice of the roots has been used to treat boils. The leaves are astringent. They have been used in the treatment of asthma, diarrhoea and stomatosis. An infusion of the fruits has been used as a tonic to improve the appetite and as a treatment for diarrhoea. The berries are astringent and blood purifier. They were chewed as a remedy for bed-wetting. A tea made from the berries has been used to treat sore throats. The flowers are astringent and stomachic. An infusion has been used to treat stomach pains. The sap has been applied externally as a treatment of warts. Some caution is advised here since the sap can cause a rash on many people.

Other Uses:
The leaves are rich in tannin, up to 48% has been obtained in a controlled plantation. They can be collected as they fall in the autumn and used as a brown dye or as a mordant. The bark, especially the root bark, and the fruits are also very rich in tannin. A yellow dye can be obtained from the roots. An orange dye can be obtained from the inner bark and central pith of the stem, mixed with bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis). A black ink can be made by boiling the leaves and the fruit. An oil is extracted from the seeds. It attains a tallow-like consistency on standing and is used to make candles. These burn brilliantly, though they emit a pungent smoke. Pipes are made from the young shoots and are used for drawing the sap of sugar maples (Acer spp). They are also used as flutes. The plant has an extensive root system and is planted as a windbreak screen and to prevent soil erosion. Wood – soft, light, brittle, coarse grained. It weighs 27lb per cubic foot. Of no commercial value, though it is sometimes used as a rough construction wood or is employed in turning.

Known Hazards: There are some suggestions that the sap of this species can cause a skin rash in susceptible people, but this has not been substantiated. See also notes in ‘Cultivation’.

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

Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhus_typhina
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Rhus+typhina

Rhus toxicodendron

Botanical Name : Rhus toxicodendron
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Sapindales
Family: Anacardiaceae
Genus: Toxicodendron
Species: T. pubescens

Synonyms: Toxicodendron pubescens, Rhus pubescens (Mill.) Farw. R. quercifolia. Toxicodendron radicans. T. pubescens. P.Mill.

Common Names: Atlantic poison oak,Eastern Poison Oak

Habitat:
Rhus toxicodendron is native to South-eastern N. America – New Jersey to Delaware, south to Georgia, Alabama and Texas. It grows on dry barrens, pinelands and sands.
Description:
Rhus toxicodendron is a deciduous upright shrub that can grow to 1 m (3 ft) tall. Its leaves are 15 cm (6 in) long, alternate, with three leaflets on each. The leaflets are usually hairy and are variable in size and shape, but most often resemble white oak leaves; they usually turn yellow or orange in autumn. The fruit is small, round, and yellowish or greenish. It is not closely related to true oaks.

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It is not frost tender. It is in flower from May to June, and the seeds ripen from Sep to November. The flowers are dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required) and are pollinated by Bees.The plant is not self-fertile.

Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil.

Cultivation:
Succeeds in a well-drained fertile soil in full sun. Judging by the plants natural habitat, it should also succeed in poor acid soils and dry soils[K]. The young growth in spring can be damaged by late frosts. Plants have brittle branches and these can be broken off in strong winds. Plants are also susceptible to coral spot fungus. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus. This species is a small suckering shrub, it can spread freely in suitable conditions. There is some confusion over the correct name of this species. It is united with R. radicans (under that name) by some botanists whilst others split this species off into another genus, Toxicodendron, and unite it with R. radicans as Toxicodendron radicans. Many of the species in this genus, including this one, are highly toxic and can also cause severe irritation to the skin of some people, whilst other species are not poisonous. It is relatively simple to distinguish which is which, the poisonous species have axillary panicles and smooth fruits whilst non-poisonous species have compound terminal panicles and fruits covered with acid crimson hairs. The toxic species are sometimes separated into their own genus, Toxicodendron, by some botanists. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.

Propagation:
Seed – best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe. Pre-soak the seed for 24 hours in hot water (starting at a temperature of 80 – 90c and allowing it to cool) prior to sowing in order to leach out any germination inhibitors. The stored seed also needs hot water treatment and can be sown in early spring in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 10cm with a heel, July/August in a frame. Root cuttings 4cm long taken in December and potted up vertically in a greenhouse. Good percentage. Suckers in late autumn to winter

Edible Uses: Oil
Medicinal  Uses:
Poison oak has occasionally been used medicinally, though it is an extremely poisonous plant and great caution should be exercised. Any herbal use should only be undertaken under the supervision of a qualified practitioner. See also the notes above on toxicity. A fluid extract of the fresh leaves is irritant, narcotic, rubefacient and stimulant. It has been used with some success in the treatment of paralysis, obstinate herpatic eruptions, palsy and in various forms of chronic and obstinate eruptive diseases. A mash of the leaves has been used to treat ringworm. An external application has also been used in the treatment of herpes sores. A poultice of the plant has been used to treat infectious sores on the lips. The root has been used to make a poultice and salve in the treatment of chronic sores and swollen glands. A homeopathic remedy is made from the fresh leaves. These should be harvested of a night-time, during damp weather and before the plant flowers. This remedy has a wide range of applications and is one of the main treatments for mumps, it is also used in a wide range of skin disorders.

Other Uses:
The leaves are rich in tannin. They can be collected as they fall in the autumn and used as a brown dye or as a mordant. An oil is extracted from the seeds. It attains a tallow-like consistency on standing and is used to make candles. These burn brilliantly, though they emit a pungent smoke. The milky juice makes an excellent indelible marking ink for linen etc. It is also used as a varnish for boots and shoes.
Known Hazards: This plant contains toxic substances and skin contact with it can cause severe irritation to some people. The sap is extremely poisonous. The sap contains 3-N pentadecycatechnol. Many people are exceedingly sensitive to this, it causes a severe spreading dermatitis. The toxins only reach the skin if the plant tissues have been damaged, but even indirect contact can cause severe problems.

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

Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toxicodendron_pubescens
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Rhus+toxicodendron