Category Archives: Herbs & Plants

Hydrangea arborescens

Botanical NameHydrangea arborescens
Family: Hydrangeaceae
Genus:     Hydrangea
Species: H. arborescens
Kingdom: Plantae
Order:     Cornales

Synonyms: Wild Hydrangea. Seven Barks. Hydrangea vulgaris. Common Hydrangea.

Common Names : Hydrangea, Smooth hydrangea, sevenbark

Habitat: Hydrangea arborescens is widely distributed across the eastern United States—from southern New York to the panhandle of Florida, west to eastern Oklahoma and southeastern Kansas. It is mainly found in moist soils under a hardwood forest canopy and is often common along woodland road banks and streams. It is common in the Delaware River Valley and in the Appalachian Mountains.

Description:
Hydrangea arborescens is a decidious Shrub growing to 3m by 2m.The inflorescence of the plant is a corymb. The showy, sterile flowers are usually absent or if present they are usually less than 1 cm in diameter. Flowering occurs May to July.  The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees. It is noted for attracting wildlife. Fruit is a ribbed brown capsule about 2 mm long; many are produced.
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The leaves of smooth hydrangea are large (8 to 18 cm long), opposite, serrated, ovate, and deciduous. The lower leaf surface is glabrous or with inconspicuous fine hairs, appearing green; trichomes of the lower surface are restricted to the midrib and major veins.

The stem bark has a peculiar tendency to peel off in several successive thin layers with different colors, hence the common name “sevenbark”.

Hydrangea arborescens can spread rapidly by stolons to form colonies.It is hardy to zone 3 and is frost tender.

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 acid soil. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires moist soil.

Cultivation:
Tolerates most soils, thriving in a well-drained loamy soil, but resenting dryness at the roots. Requires partial shade. Does well on very acid soils with a pH around 4.5. In frosty areas it is best to site the plant in a position shaded from the early morning sun. A good bee plant. The flowers are sweetly scented. Plants are best left unpruned. Another report says that the previous year’s flowering shoots should be cut back in early spring. This species is notably susceptible to honey fungus.

Propagation:
Seed – surface sow in a greenhouse in spring. Cover the pot with paper until the seed germinates. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least 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, 8cm long, July/August in a frame. Overwinter in a greenhouse and plant out in late spring. Thick growths make the best cuttings, but these should be placed in individual pots. Good percentage. Cuttings of mature wood in late autumn in a frame. Mound layering in spring. Takes 12 months. Division of suckers in late winter. They can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. Leaf-bud cuttings of the current seasons growth in a frame.

Edible Uses:

Edible Parts: Stem.

The peeled branches and twigs have been used to make a tea. The new growth of young twigs has been peeled, boiled thoroughly then fried and eaten.

Medicinal Uses:

Parts Used:  Dried rhizome, roots.

Constituents:The root has been found to contain two resins, gum, sugar, starch, albumen, soda, lime potassa, magnesia, sulphuric and phosphoric acids, a protosalt of iron, and a glucoside, Hydrangin. No tannin has been found, but a fixed oil and a volatile oil have been obtained. From the alcoholic extract of the flowers of H. hortensia, two crystalline substances were isolated, Hydragenol and Hydrangeaic acid.

Anthelmintic; Cathartic; Diaphoretic; Diuretic; Sialagogue; Tonic

Hydrangea arborescens was used by the North American Indians as a remedy for kidney and bladder stones and is still used for these purposes in modern herbalism. It is considered to both encourage the expulsion of stones and to help dissolve those that remain. The roots are anthelmintic, cathartic, diaphoretic, diuretic, emetic and tonic. They are used in the treatment of kidney stones, mucous irritations of the bladder, cystitis, nephritis, enlarged prostate and bronchial afflictions. Excessive doses can cause dizziness and bronchial congestion. The fresh roots are very succulent and can be easily cut, when dry they become very tough and resistant. They are harvested in the autumn and it is best to cut them into short sections before drying them. The scraped bark is used as a poultice on wounds, burns, sore muscles, sprains etc. The bark is chewed in the treatment of stomach and heart ailments. The leaves are cathartic, diuretic, sialagogue and tonic.

Other Uses:
This attractive native shrub is often cultivated for ornamental use. ‘Annabelle’ is the best known cultivar of this species; it is one of the most cold hardy of the hydrangeas. The cultivar ‘Grandiflora’ has flowers that resemble snowballs, similar to Viburnum plicatum.

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?Hydrangea+arborescens

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

http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/h/hydran45.html

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Chaulmoogra

Botanical Name :Taraktogenos kurzii
Family: Achariaceae
Genus:     Hydnocarpus
Species: H. kurzii
Kingdom: Plantae
Order:     Malpighiales

Synonyms:Hydnocarpus kurzii

Common Names:  Chaulmugra. Chaulmogra.

Bengali/Vernacular Name: Chaulmugra, Chalmoogra; Dulmugri (Sylhet).

Tribal Name: Balgach (Chakma); Taun Paun (Mogh).

Habitat : Chaulmoogra is indigenous to the tropical climatic regions in Malaysia and it also has its origin in the Indian sub-continent.

Description :
A medium-sized evergreen tree, 12-15 m high. This tree bears brown, velvety, spherical fruits and asymmetrical seeds having a gray hue. Chaulmoogra seeds are angled, but have rounded ends. It may be mentioned here that chaulmoogra oil can be obtained from an associated species called Tarak-togenos kurzii.
Leaves thinly coriaceous, entire, 18-25 cm long, lanceolate or oblong-lanceolate. Flowers in axillary cymes; petals 8, in 2-rows, broadly ovate, ciliate. Fruit, size of an orange, towny-velvety.
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Medicinal Uses:
Part Used: The oil from the seeds
Chemical Constituents:
Seeds yield a fixed oil, called chaulmoogra oil, which contains glycerides of cyclopentenyl fatty acids like hydnocarpic acid (48%), chaulmoogric acid (27%), gorlic acid (23%), oleic acid (12%) and palmitic acid (6%). Bark contains a large amount of tannins (Ghani, 2003).

Employed internally and externally in the treatment of skin diseases, scrofula, rheumatism, eczema, also in leprosy, as a counterirritant for bruises, sprains, etc., and sometimes applied to open wounds and sores. Also used in veterinary practice. Dose of oil, 5 or 10 to 60 minims. Gynocardia Ointment, I.C.A.

Known Hazards:
People using chaulmoogra or its preparations ought to be aware of the side effects this herb may cause. For instance, one may experience stomach irritation following the administration of chaulmoogra oil in the form of an injection into the skin. In fact, taking subcutaneous injections may also result in accumulation of calcium. Here is a word of caution – women should not take this herb during pregnancy or while they are breast feeding. In addition, people enduring leprosy should never self inject chaulmoogra oil, but always take the help of a professional and expert practitioner.

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/Taraktogenos_kurzii

http://www.mpbd.info/plants/hydnocarpus-kurzii.php

http://www.herbs2000.com/herbs/herbs_chaulmoogra.htm

http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/c/chaulm51.html

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Psoralea corylifolia

Botanical Name :Psoralea corylifolia
Family: Fabaceae
Genus:     Psoralea
Species: P. corylifolia
Kingdom: Plantae
Order:     Fabales

Synonyms : Cyamopsis psoralioides

Common Names:Bavchi, Babchi, Bakuchi, Babchi Seeds, Bavachi, Bavanchalu, Bavanchi Bavchi, Bhavanchi-vittulu, Bawachi, Bhavaj, Bobawachi, Bogi-vittulu, Hakuchi, Kantaka, Karpokarishi, Karu-bogi, Krishnaphala, Latakasturi, Somaraji, Sugandha kantak, Vabkuchi, Vakuchi, Fountain Bush, Scurfy Pea, Bu Gu Zhi.

Habitat :Psoralea corylifolia is available in many parts of Asia from Iran to China, Africa and the Middle East.It grows in Warm valleys, in Guizhou, Sichuan and Yunnan Provinces, China.

Description:
Psoralea corylifolia is an annual, erect shrub or small tree, which grows up to 4 m high, with blue, lilac and white, pea-shaped flowers. The leaves are compound and are composed of several pairs of leaflets and a terminal one. The leaflets are 50 mm long and 3 mm wide and are aromatic when crushed. The pea-flowers are borne at the ends of the branches or in the axils of the upper leaves. It is in flower from Jul to August, and the seeds ripen from Sep to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.It can fix Nitrogen.

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Cultivation:     
We have very little information for this species and do not know if it will be hardy in Britain, though judging by its native range it should succeed outdoors at least in the milder parts of the country. The following notes are based on the general needs of the genus. Succeeds in an ordinary garden soil[1]. Requires a well-drained soil in a sunny position. Plants are very intolerant of root disturbance, they are best planted out into their permanent positions whilst still small. 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 24 hours in warm water and then sow in early to mid spring in a greenhouse. Either sow the seed in individual pots or pot up the young seedlings as soon as possible in order to avoid root disturbance. Grow them on in the pots until planting out in their final positions. It is usually impossible to transplant this species without fatal damage to the root. Division in spring. With great care since the plant resents root disturbance. It is virtually impossible to divide this species successfully.

Edible Uses:  Seed are eaten.
Medicinal Uses:
Part Used : Seeds, Roots And Fruits.

Chemical constituents: Psoralea Corylifolia extract contains a number of chemical compounds including flavonoids (neobavaisoflavone, isobavachalcone, bavachalcone, bavachinin, bavachin, corylin, corylifol, corylifolin and 6-prenylnaringenin), coumarins (psoralidin, psoralen, isopsoralen and angelicin) and meroterpenes (bakuchiol and 3-hydroxybakuchiol).

Very high concentrations genistein have been found in the leaves of  this plant.

Psoralea Corylifolia is valued in Chinese herbal medicine as a tonic remedy and is used to improve general vitality. It is also of value in the treatment of skin disorders, including vitiligo. Some caution should be employed when applying the herb externally. The one-seeded fruits are highly regarded as an aphrodisiac and tonic to the genital organs. The seed is anthelmintic, antibacterial, aphrodisiac, astringent, cardiac, cytotoxic, deobstruent, diaphoretic, diuretic, stimulant, stomachic and tonic. It is used in the treatment of febrile diseases, premature ejaculation, impotence, lower back pains, frequent urination, incontinence, bed wetting etc. The seed and fruit contain psoralen. The root is used for treating dental caries. The plant yields a useful medicinal oleoresin, it treats kidney disorders, impotence, lumbago. It is also used externally to treat various skin ailments including leprosy, leucoderma and hair loss. The antibacterial action of the fruit inhibits the growth of Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

This is an herb used to tonify the kidneys, particularly kidney yang and essence. It is used for helping the healing of bone fractures, for lower back and knee pain, impotence, bed wetting, hair loss, and vitiligo

Known Hazards :    Although no specific mention of toxicity for this species has been found, at least some members of this genus contain furanocoumarins, these substances can cause photosensitivity in some people.

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/Psoralea_corylifolia

http://www.agrisources.com/herbs/babchiseeds.html

http://www.motherherbs.com/psoralea-corylifolia.html

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Psoralea+corylifolia

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Grape Hyacinth

Botanical Name : Muscari racemosum
Family: Asparagaceae
Subfamily: Scilloideae
Genus: Muscari
Species: M. racemosum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asparagales

Synonym: Starch Hyacinth.Muscari atlanticum – Boiss.&Reut.
Muscari racemosum – Lam.&DC.

Common Name :Grape Hyacinth

Habitat :Grape Hyacinth is native to   Mediterranean region, north to Britain, Belgium, Germany and S. Russia.It grows on Dry grassland in sandy soils

Description:
Grape Hyacinth  is a perennial bulbous and a robust plant, with large bulbs which have thick fleshy roots. Each bulb produces several greyish-green leaves. Flowers are borne in a spike or raceme. Individual flowers are 7–9 mm long, grey-white when fully open, sometimes with a bluish tone; they have a distinct scent of musk. This is the species from which the genus gets its name (Muscari is from the Greek muschos, meaning musk).
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It is hardy to zone 4 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from April to May, and the seeds ripen from July to August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects. The plant is self-fertile. 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 dry or moist soil.

Cultivation:
Prefers a rich open well-drained soil and a sunny position. Easily grown in any well-drained soil. Grows very well in short grass, increasing freely and it can become invasive. A very variable plant. The flowers secrete lots of nectar and are a valuable bee plant in the spring. The flowers are said to have a smell like wet starch whilst another report says that they are deliciously plum-scented.

Propagation:
Seed – best sown as soon as ripe in a greenhouse. The seed can also be sown in early spring in a greenhouse. A good proportion of the seed usually germinates within 2 – 3 months. Sow the seed thinly so that the seedlings can be left undisturbed in the pot for their first year of growth. Give them an occasional liquid feed in the growing season to ensure they do not become nutrient deficient. When the plants become dormant in late summer, pot up the small bulbs placing 2 – 3 bulbs in each pot. Grow them on for another one or two years in the greenhouse before planting them out when they are dormant in late summer. Division of offsets in July/August after the leaves die down. It can be done every other year if a quick increase is required[1]. Larger bulbs can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, but it is best to pot up the smaller bulbs and grow them on in a cold frame for a year before planting them out when they are dormant in late summer.

Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Flowers; Root.

Bulb are sometimes  cooked  and eaten.

Medicinal Uses:
The American species Muscari comosum (Mill.) (Feather Hyacinth), or Purse Tassel, has been used, as well as other species of Muscari, for its diuretic and stimulant properties. Comisic acid has been extracted from the bulb, and apparently acts like Saponin.

The innumerable varieties of Garden Hyacinth are derived from an Eastern plant, Hyacinthus orientalis.

Known Hazards:
The bulb is poisonous. It contains a substance called comisic acid, which is said to act like saponin. Although poisonous, saponins are poorly absorbed by the human body and so most pass through without harm. Saponins are quite bitter and can be found in many common foods such as some beans. They can be removed by carefully leaching the seed or flour in running water. Thorough cooking, and perhaps changing the cooking water once, will also normally remove most of them. However, it is not advisable to eat large quantities of food that contain saponins. Saponins are much more toxic to some creatures, such as fish, and hunting tribes have traditionally put large quantities of them in streams, lakes etc in order to stupefy or kill the fish.

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?Muscari+neglectum

http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/h/hyagra42.html

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

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Houndstongue

Botanical Name : Cynoglossum officinale
Kingdom: Plantae
Family: Boraginaceae
Genus:     Cynoglossum
Species: C. officinale

Synonyms: Lindefolia spectabilis. Dog’s Tongue.

Common Names :Houndstongue, Houndstooth, Dog’s tongue, Gypsy flower, and Rats and mice.
The name houndstongue comes from the belief that it could ward off dog attacks if a leaf was worn in the shoe.

Habitat : Hound’s Tongue  is  found in most parts of Europe and east to Asia,  North America where it was accidentally introduced.It grows in dry grassy areas and the edges of woods, often near the sea, on sand, gravel, chalk or limestone soils.

Description:
Hound’s Tongue is a rough, bristly perennial,stout and herbaceous  plant, grows 1 1/2 to 3 feet tall.(It can be either annual or biennial too) with reddish-purple flowers blooming between May and September. and terminal (the end of the stem).The stem, hairy and leafy, 1 to 2 feet high, branched above, arises from amidst large, narrow, radical, stalked leaves.
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It forms a rosette (a disk of foliage) the first year (leaves near the ground in a circle with no visible stem).  The heavy, tongued shaped leaves alternate up the stem and are about 4 to 12 inches long.  The leaves are hairy and rough and feel like a dog’s tongue, and that’s how it acquired it’s name.    The seed pods are distinctive 1/3 of an inch across and covered with barbs that enable them to stick to hairs, clothing etc., which is how they spread.

Cultivation:
Prefers sandy, gravelly and basic soils. Grows well in an ordinary well-drained soil. Succeeds in full sun or partial shade. The flowers are an absolute magnet for bees. The plant smells of mice.

Propagation:
Seed – sow in situ in early summer. The seed can be sown in spring or autumn, a period of cold stratification improves germination.

Edible Uses:  Young leaves are eaten raw or cooked. A disagreeable odour and taste.

Medicinal Uses:
Analgesic; Antihaemorrhoidal; Antispasmodic; Astringent; Cancer; Digestive; Emollient; Narcotic.

Hound’s tongue has a long history of use as a medicinal herb, though it is rarely used in modern herbalism. The leaves contain allantoin, a highly effective agent that speeds up the healing process in the body. Caution should be applied, however, since narcotic effects result from large doses taken internally and the plant is potentially carcinogenic (though it has also been used in the treatment of cancer). The leaves and roots are analgesic, antihaemorrhoidal, antispasmodic, astringent, digestive, emollient and slightly narcotic. The plant contains the alkaloids cynoglossine and consolidin, which are used medicinally to relieve pain. They depress the central nervous system and are also potentially carcinogenic. The plant has been used internally in the treatment of coughs and diarrhoea, though it is now mainly used externally as a poultice on piles, wounds, minor injuries, bites and ulcers. The root is harvested at the end of spring of the plants second year. Another report says that it is best harvested in the autumn and dried for later use. The leaves and flowering shoots are harvested as the plant comes into flower and are dried for later use. The plant has a wide antitumour reputation for cancers of various types. A homeopathic remedy is made from the roots. It is very effective in the treatment of insomnia.

Other Uses:
Scented Plants
Leaves: Crushed
The plant smells of mice.

Known Hazards: Houndstongue contains alkaloids that can cause cancer when the plant is consumed in large quantities. The plant is also said to be slightly poisonous, there are no reported cases of human poisoning but there are some cases of cattle being poisoned. The plant has a disagreeable odour and taste so is seldom eaten by animals. Contact with the plant can cause dermatitis in sensitive people.

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.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/h/houndt40.html

http://digedibles.com/database/plants.php?Cynoglossum+officinale

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

http://mtwow.org/houndstongue.html

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Solanum carolinense

Botanical Name: Solanum carolinense
Kingdom: Plantae
Order:     Solanales
Family: Solanaceae
Genus:     Solanum
Species: S. carolinense

Synonyms:
Solanum pumilum (as described by Michel Félix Dunal) was considered a variety hirsutum of the Carolina Horsenettle by D’Arcy and A. Gray. Several other varieties and forms of S. carolinense are not considered taxonomically distinct nowadays:

*Solanum carolinense f. albiflorum (Kuntze) Benke
*Solanum carolinense var. albiflorum Kuntze
*Solanum carolinense var. floridanum (Dunal) Chapm.
*Solanum carolinense var. pohlianum Dunal

Finally, there are some other junior synonyms used for this plant:

*Solanum floridanum Raf.
*Solanum floridanum Shuttlew. ex Dunal (non Raf.: preoccupied)
*Solanum godfreyi Shinners
*Solanum pleei Dunal

Common names: Horsenettle, Radical weed, Sand brier or Briar, Bull nettle, Tread-softly, Apple of Sodom, Devil’s tomato and Wild tomato.”Horsenettle” is also written “horse nettle” or “horse-nettle”, though USDA publications usually use the one-word form. Though there are other horsenettle nightshades, S. carolinense is the species most commonly called “the horsenettle”.

Habitat:Solanum carolinense is native to the southeastern United States that has spread widely throughout North America.  This weed is a hardy, coarse perennial, found growing in waste sandy ground as far west as Iowa and south to Florida. These plants can be found growing in pastures, roadsides, railroad margins, and in disturbed areas and waste ground. They grow to about 1 m tall, but are typically shorter, existing as sub  shrubs. They prefer sandy or loamy soils.

Description:
Solanum carolinense, Carolina horsenettle is not a true nettle, but a member of the Solanaceae, or nightshade family. It is a perennial herbaceous plant.
Leaves are alternate, elliptic-oblong to oval, 2.5 to 4.5 inches long, and each is irregularly lobed or coarsely toothed. Both surfaces are covered with fine hairs. Leaves smell like potatoes when crushed. The flowers have five petals and are usually white or purple with yellow centers, though there is a blue variant that resembles the tomato flower. The fruits also resemble tomatoes. The immature fruit is dark green with light green stripes, turning yellow and wrinkled as it matures. Each fruit contains around 60 seeds. It flowers throughout the summer, from April to October. The plant grows to 3 feet tall, is perennial, and spreads by both seeds and underground rhizome. Stems of older plants are woody.
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Cultivation: Succeeds in most soils.

Propagation: Seed – sow early spring in a warm greenhouse. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out after the last expected frosts.

Medicinal Uses:

Parts Used:  Air-dried ripe berries & root.

Constituents:  Probably Solanine and Solanidine and an organic acid.

The berries and the root are anodyne, antispasmodic, aphrodisiac and diuretic. They have been used in the treatment of epilepsy. They have been recommended in the treatment of asthma, bronchitis and other convulsive disorders. The berries should be harvested when fully ripe and carefully air-dried. An infusion of the seeds has been gargled as a treatment for sore throats and drunk in the treatment of goitre. A tea made from the wilted leaves has been gargled in the treatment of sore throats and the tea has been drunk in the treatment of worms. A poultice made from the leaves has been applied to poison ivy rash.

Known Hazards : All parts of the plant are poisonous to varying degrees due to the presence of solanine which is a toxic alkaloid and one of the plant’s natural defenses. While ingesting any part of the plant can cause fever, headache, scratchy throat, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, ingesting the fruit can cause abdominal pain, circulatory and respiratory depression, or even death. Fatalities have been reported with children.

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.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/h/hornet37.html

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

http://digedibles.com/database/plants.php?Solanum+carolinense

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Black Horehound

Botanical Name : Ballota nigra
Family: Lamiaceae
Genus: Ballota
Species: B. nigra
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Lamiales

Synonyms: Marrubium nigrum. Black Stinking Horehound.

Common Names :Black Horehound

Habitat :Black Horehound  is native to the Mediterranean region and to central Asia, and it can be found throughout Europe and the Eastern United States.It is a nitrophilous plant; it grows in ruins, fallows and hedges, up to 1300 m. It prefers loose, calcareous (alkaline) soils. It tolerates temperatures as low as -5°/-10 °C

Description:
Black Horehound is a perennial herb of the family Lamiaceae.   It can grow up to 3 feet in height.

It has herbaceous ascending stems, wooden and branched at bottom, covered by down folded hairs. The plant has a taproot system.

The leaves are opposite and decussate, and range from oval-lanceolate to heart-shaped, with crenate or dentate border. Leaves, dark green and usually pubescent, measure 3–8 cm per 2–6 cm, and have 1–3 cm petiole. Upper face is wrinkled, with a net-like vein pattern.

It blooms from May to August.It has a very strong smell, and can be recognised by its clusters of hairy, reddish-purple flowers.Flowers are organized in verticillasters, subspherical to about one-sided, with 15 to 30 flowers. Each verticillaster consist of two condensed dichasial cymes at axils of normal leaves.
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Flower has an actinomorphic calyx (length 9–10 mm, width 7 mm), made up by five sepals fused together in a tube with five teeths; and a labiate corolla of 12–13 mm, ranging from pink to pale purple to withish. The corolla consist of a tube of about 6 mm and two lips; the upper one slightly concave (like a hood) and externally hairy; the lower one glabrous, with two minor lateral lobes and a major central bifid lobe. There are four didynamous stamens, running parallel under the upper lip, with glabrous filaments and yellow anthers. Ovary is superior, with a single white style and a 2-parted stigma.

Below the calyx there are five filiform bracts, 8 mm long.

Each fertilized flower produces a tetrad of black nutlets, cylindrical to ovoid, 2 mm long, partially or fully covered by the calyx. The basal end is flat and attached to the receptacle, while the top end is rounded or pointed.

Cultivation:
Prefers a well-drained soil in full sun or partial shade. Avoids acid soils in the wild but tolerates a pH down to 5 in cultivation. This species is not hardy in the colder areas of the country, it tolerates temperatures down to between -5 and -10°c. This species is widely grown in herb gardens, but little employed because of its strong flavour. Its essential oil is used to adulterate the oil of white horehound (Marrubium vulgare). The leaves emit a most unpleasant smell when bruised, somewhat like stale perspiration. Plants can self-sow freely when well-sited. There is at least one named variety selected for its ornamental value. The whole plant has an offensive odour.

Propagation:
Seed – sow spring or autumn in a greenhouse. The seed usually germinates in 3 – 6 weeks at 15°c. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant them out into their permanent positions in the summer or following autumn. Division in spring. Larger divisions can be planted straight into their permanent positions whilst smaller clumps are best potted up and kept in a cold frame until they are growing

Medicinal Uses:
Part Used: The whole Herb.

Chemical Constituents :Black horehound contains diterpenoids like marrubiin, ballonigrin, ballotinone, ballotenol and 7-acetoxymarrubiin. Also, it contains phenylpropanoids that have shown to be antioxidants.

Antispasmodic, stimulant and  vermifuge.

Black horehound has a long history of herbal use, though is not widely employed in modern herbalism because of its unpleasant flavour. Nonetheless, it does have a range of medicinal virtues, being especially effective in its action as an antiemetic. In the past it was often used for treating problems connected with the respiratory system, convulsions, low spirits and the menopause, but present-day authorities differ over whether it was effective in these applications. The whole plant is antiemetic, antispasmodic, expectorant, stimulant and vermifuge. It is taken internally in the treatment of nervous dyspepsia, travelling sickness, morning sickness in pregnancy, arthritis, gout, menstrual disorders and bronchial complaints. The plant is harvested as it comes into flower and is dried for later use. It should not be stored for longer than a year. The fresh herb is sometimes used to make a syrup.

Other Uses:
Scented plant

Leaves: Crushed
The leaves emit a most unpleasant smell when bruised, somewhat like stale perspiration.
away well.

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.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/h/horbla34.html

http://digedibles.com/database/plants.php?Ballota+nigra

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

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Honeysuckle

Botanical Name : Lonicera Periclymenum /Lonicera capri
Family: Caprifoliaceae
Genus:     Lonicera
Species: L. periclymenum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order:     Dipsacales

Synonyms: Dutch Honeysuckle. Goats’ Leaf.
(French) Chèvre-feuille.
(German) Geisblatt.
(Italian) Capri-foglio.

Common names : Honeysuckle, common honeysuckle, European honeysuckle or woodbin

Habitat : It is found as far north as southern Norway and Sweden. In the UK it is one of two native honeysuckles, the other being Lonicera xylosteum. It is often found in woodland or in hedgerows or scrubland.It grows in Woods, hedgerows, scrub and shady places, avoiding calcareous s

Description:
Lonicera periclymenum is a deciduous Climber growing to 4.5 m (14ft 9in) or more in height, it is a vigorous evergreen twining climber.  The tubular, two-lipped flowers are creamy white or yellowish and very sweet smelling (especially during the night). The plant is usually pollinated by moths or long-tongued bees and develops bright red berries.

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It is hardy to zone 4 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from Jun to August, and the seeds ripen from Jul to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, lepidoptera, self.The plant is self-fertile.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.

Cultivation:  
Succeeds in most soils from acid to base-rich[186]. Prefers its roots in the shade with its shoots climbing up into the sun. Plants succeed even in quite deep shade. Established plants are fairly drought tolerant. Plants are hardy to about -20°c[184]. A very ornamental plant, there are a number of named varieties. The flowers are very fragrant, especially in the evening when it attracts pollinating moths. New leaves often start to open in January with well-grown leaves in April. The leaves fall in November[186]. Twining plants, they can bind themselves so tightly round young trees that they can prevent the trunk from being able to expand[186]. A very good moth and butterfly plant, it is also an important food for many caterpillars including the larvae of the rare white admiral butterfly. The dense growth of the plant offers good nesting possibilities for birds.

Propagation: 
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. Stored seed requires 2 months cold stratification and should be sown as soon as possible 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, 7 – 10cm with or without a heel, July/August in a frame. Good percentage. Cuttings of mature wood of the current season’s growth, 15 – 20cm with or without a heel, November in a cold frame. Good percentage. Layering in autumn.

Edible Uses:  Children (of all ages) suck the base of the flowers to extract the swweet nectar.

Medivinal Uses:
Parts Used:  Flowers, seeds, leaves.

The plant has expectorant and laxative properties. A syrup made from the flowers has been used in the treatment of respiratory diseases whilst a decoction of the leaves is considered beneficial in treating diseases of the liver and spleen. It is used as a mouthwash for ulcers and is considered to be a good ingredient in gargles. The flowers are antispasmodic, astringent, diuretic, expectorant, febrifuge and sudorific. The fruit is emetic and cathartic. The herbage is used as a cutaneous and mucous tonic and as a vulnerary. It is also diaphoretic. The leaves are laxative and slightly astringent. The seed is diuretic. The bark is anticatarrhal, depurative, diuretic and sudorific.

Other Uses
A climbing plant, it can be allowed to scramble on the ground where it makes a good ground cover. Plants should be spaced about 1.2 metres apart each way[

Known Hazards:  Poisonous in large doses. It only has a very mild action.

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/Lonicera_periclymenum

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Lonicera+periclymenum

http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/h/honeys31.html

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Sea Holly

Botanical Name :  Eryngium campestre /Eryngium maritinum
Family: Apiaceae
Genus: Eryngium
Species: E. campestre
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Apiales

Synonyms: Eryngo. Sea Hulver. Sea Holme.

Common Names:Sea Holly,Field eryngo
(French): Panicaut.
(German): Krausdistel

Habitat :Sea Holly grows Mainly in Central and southern Europe, north to Germany and Holland. Rare in the British Isles. It abounds on most of our sandy seashores(Dry grassy areas near the coast) and is very plentiful on the East Coast, also on the sands of Mounts Bay, Cornwall, but is rare in Scotland. CLICK & SEE

Description:
Sea Holly  is a hairless, thorny perennial plant. The stems, 6 to 12 inches high, thick and solid, are branched at the summit. The radical leaves are on stalks, 2 to 7 inches long, the blades cut into three broad divisions at the apex, coarsely toothed, the teeth ending in spines and undulated.They  are tough and stiff, whitish-green. The basal leaves are long-stalked, pinnate and spiny. The leafs of this plant are mined by the gall fly which is called Euleia heraclei. The margin of the leaf is thickened and cartilaginous. The lower stem-leaves are shortly stalked, resembling the radical ones, but the upper ones are sessile and half embracing the stem, which terminates in a shortly-stalked head, below which it gives off two or three spreading branches, all from one point, which is surrounded by a whorl of three leaves, spreading like the rays of the sun.
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The heads of flowers appear in July and are at first round, afterwards egg-shaped, 3/4 to 1 inch across, the flowers stalkless, whitish-blue, 1/8 inch across. The calyx tube is thickly covered with soft, cartilaginous bristles; the calyx teeth end in a spine.

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The plant is intensely glaucous tinged with blue towards the top, especially on the flowerheads and the leaves immediately below them.

Cultivation:
Requires a well-drained soil and a sunny position. Prefers a light sandy soil but tolerates most soil types including lime and poor gravels. The plant has deep and wide-ranging roots, it can spread freely in the garden and become difficult to eradicate. Plants should be put in their final position whilst small since they resent root disturbance. The plant is often used in dried flower arrangements since it retains its colour for a long time.

Propagation:   
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in early autumn on the surface of a well-drained compost in a cold frame. The seed can also be sown in spring. It usually germinates in 5 – 90 days at 20°c. 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. Division in early spring or autumn. Take care since the plant resents root disturbance. Root cuttings in autumn or winter.

Edible Uses:
Young shoots are cooked as an asparagus substitute. Root – cooked and Used as a vegetable or candied and used as a sweetmeat. Easily digested

Medicinal Uses:
Part Used: The root, dug in autumn, from plants at least two years old.

The root is antispasmodic, aromatic, diaphoretic, diuretic, expectorant, galactofuge and stimulant. It should be harvested in the autumn from plants that are at least 2 years old. The root promotes free expectoration and is very useful in the treatment of debility attendant on coughs of chronic standing in the advanced stages of pulmonary consumption. Drunk freely it is used to treat whooping cough, diseases of the liver and kidneys and skin complaints.

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/Eryngium_campestre

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Eryngium+campestre

http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/h/holsea29.html

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Holly

Botanical Name : Ilex aquifolium
Family: Aquifoliaceae
Genus:     Ilex
Species: I. aquifolium
Kingdom: Plantae
Order:     Aquifoliales

Synonyms: Hulver Bush. Holm. Hulm. Holme Chase. Holy Tree. Christ’s Thorn.

Common Names :Holly, Common holly, English holly, European holly, or occasionally Christmas holly

Habitat: The Holly is a native of most of the central and southern parts of Europe. It grows very slowly: when planted among trees which are not more rapid in growth than itself, it is sometimes drawn up to a height of 50 feet, but more frequently its greatest height in this country is 30 to 40 feet, and it rarely exceeds 2 feet in diameter. In Italy and in the woods of France, especially in Brittany, it attains a much larger size than is common in these islands.

Description:
Holly is an evergreen tree growing to 10–25 m tall with a woody stem as large as 40–80 cm, rarely 1 m or more, in diameter The leaves are 5–12 cm long and 2–6 cm broad; they are evergreen, lasting about five years, and are dark green on the upper surface and lighter on the underside, oval, leathery, shiny, and about 5 to 9 cm long. In the young and in the lower limbs of mature trees, the leaves have three to five sharp spines on each side, pointing alternately upward and downward, while leaves of the upper branches in mature trees lack spines.
CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES.>……….(1)..…(2).
The flowers are white, four-lobed, and pollinated by bees. Holly is dioecious, meaning that there are male plants and female plants. The sex cannot be determined until the plants begin flowering, usually between 4 and 12 years of age. In male specimens, the flowers are yellowish and appear in axillary groups. In the female, flowers are isolated or in groups of three and are small and white or slightly pink, and consist of four petals and four sepals partially fused at the base.

The fruit is a red drupe, about 6–10 mm in diameter, a bright red or bright yellow, which matures around October or November; at this time they are very bitter due to the ilicin content and so are rarely eaten until late winter after frost has made them softer and more palatable. They are eaten by rodents, birds and larger herbivores. Each fruit contains 3 to 4 seeds which do not germinate until the second or third spring. The fruit only appears on female plants, which require male plants nearby to fertilise them.

It has been stated by M. J. Pierre, that the young stems are gathered in Morbihan by the peasants, and made use of as a cattle-food from the end of November until April, with great success. The stems are dried, and having been bruised are given as food to cows three times daily. They are found to be very wholesome and productive of good milk, and the butter made from it is excellent.

It is also well known to rabbit-breeders that a Holly-stick placed in a hutch for the rabbits to gnaw, will act as a tonic, and restore their appetite.

The wood of Holly is hard, compact and of a remarkable even substance throughout. Except towards the centre of very old trees, it is beautifully white, and being susceptible of a very high polish, is much prized for ornamental ware, being extensively used for inlaying, as in the so-called Tunbridge ware. The evenness of its grain makes it very valuable to the turner. When freshly cut, it is of a slightly greenish hue, but soon becomes perfectly white, and its hardness makes it superior to any other white wood. As it is very retentive of its sap and warps in consequence, it requires to be well dried and seasoned before being used. It is often stained blue, green, red or black; when of the latter colour, its principal use is as a substitute for ebony, as in the handles of metal teapots. Mathematical instruments are made of it, also the blocks for calico printing, and it has been employed in wood engraving as a substitute for boxwood, to which, however, it is inferior. The wood of the silver-striped variety is said to be whiter than that of the common kind.

A straight Holly-stick is much prized for the stocks of light driving whips, also for walking-sticks.

The common Holly is the badge of the Drummonds.

Edible Uses:
“The leaves of Holly have been employed in the Black Forest as a substitute for tea”

Cultivation:
The Holly will grow in almost any soil, provided it is not too wet, but attains the largest size in rich, sandy or gravelly loam, where there is good drainage, and a moderate amount of moisture at the roots, for in very dry localities it is usually stunted in its growth, but it will live in almost any earth not saturated with stagnant water. The most favourable situation seems to be a thin scattered wood of Oaks, in the intervals of which it grows up at once. It is rarely injured by even the most severe winters.

Holly is raised from seeds, which do not germinate until the second year, hence the berries are generally buried in a heap of earth for a year previously to being sown. The young plants are transplanted when about a foot or 18 inches high, autumn being the best time for the process. If intended for a hedge, the soil around should be previously well trenched and moderately manured if necessary. Holly exhausts the soil around it to a greater extent than most deciduous trees. At least two years will be needed to recover the check given by transplanting. Although always a slow grower, Holly grows more quickly after the first four or five years.

The cultivated varieties of Holly are very numerous: of these one is distinguished by the unusual colour of its berries, which are yellow. Other forms are characterized by the variegated foliage, or by the presence of a larger or smaller number of prickles than ordinary.

In winter the garden and shrubbery are much indebted to the more showy varieties for the double contrast afforded by their leaves and berries. They are propagated by grafting on four- or five-year-old plants of the common sort and by cuttings.

The best time to cut down Holly is early in the spring, before the sap rises. A sloping cut is preferable to a straight one, as moisture is thus prevented from remaining on the cut portion, and as an additional precaution the wound should be covered with a coating of tar. The side growths should be left, as they will help to draw up the sap.

Medicinal Uses:

-Parts Used: Leaves, berries, bark.
Holly is rarely used medicinally, but is diuretic, relieves fevers, and has a laxative action.Ilex aquifolium also contains saponins, theobromine (a xanthine), ilicin, caffeine, caffeic acid, and a yellow pigment, ilexanthin.

Holly leaves were formerly used as a diaphoretic and an infusion of them was given in catarrh, pleurisy and smallpox. They have also been used in intermittent fevers and rheumatism for their febrifugal and tonic properties, and powdered, or taken in infusion or decoction, have been employed with success where Cinchona has failed, their virtue being said to depend on a bitter principle, an alkaloid named Ilicin. The juice of the fresh leaves has been employed with advantage in jaundice.

The berries possess totally different qualities to the leaves, being violently emetic and purgative, a very few occasioning excessive vomiting soon after they are swallowed, though thrushes and blackbirds eat them with impunity. They have been employed in dropsy; also, in powder, as an astringent to check bleeding.

Other uses:
Many hundreds of hybrids and cultivars have been developed for garden use, among them the very popular “Highclere holly”, Ilex × altaclerensis (I. aquifolium × I. perado) and the “blue holly”, Ilex × meserveae (I. aquifolium × I. rugosa). Hollies are often used for hedges; the spiny leaves make them difficult to penetrate, and they take well to pruning and shaping.

Between the thirteenth and eighteenth centuries, before the introduction of turnips, Ilex aquifolium was cultivated for use as winter fodder for cattle and sheep. Less spiny varieties of holly were preferred, and in practice the leaves growing near the top of the tree have far fewer spines making them more suitable for fodder.

Ilex aquifolium was once among the traditional woods for Great Highland bagpipes before tastes turned to imported dense tropical woods such as cocuswood, ebony, and African blackwood.

Known Hazards:
Holly berries contain alkaloids, caffeine, and theobromine and are generally regarded as toxic to humans, though their poisonous properties are overstated and fatalities almost unknown. Accidental consumption may occur by children or pets attracted to the bright red berries. The berries are emetic. This is described as being due to the drug ilicin, though caffeine and theobromine found throughout the plant are much more toxic, generally, to dogs and cats

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.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/h/holly-28.html

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

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