Category Archives: Herbs & Plants

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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Cicuta virosa

Botanical Name : Cicuta virosa
Family: Apiaceae
Genus:     Cicuta
Species: C. virosa
Kingdom: PlantaeScan Settings
Order:     Apiales

Synonym: Cowbane.

Common Name :Water Hemlock, Cowbane or Northern Water Hemlock

Habitat :  Cicuta virosa is native to northern and central Europe, northern Asia and northwestern North America.It grows in wet meadows, along streambanks and other wet and marshy areas.

Description:
Cicuta virosa is a perennial herbaceous plant which grows up to 1–2 m tall. The stems are smooth, branching, swollen at the base, purple-striped, and hollow except for partitions at the junction of the leaves and stem. In cross section the stems have one flat side and the other sides are rounded. The leaves are alternate, tripinnate, only coarsely toothed, unlike the ferny, lacy leaves found in many other members of the family Apiaceae. The flowers are small, white and clustered in umbrella shaped inflorescences typical of the family. The many flowered umbellets have unequal pedicels that range from 5 to 11 cm long during fruiting. An oily, yellow liquid oozes from cuts to the stems and roots. This liquid has a rank smell resembling that of parsnips or carrots. The plant may be mistaken for parsnip due to its clusters of white tuberous roots.

click & see the pictures

TheCicuta virosa or  Water Hemlock may be distinguished from the true Hemlock as follows: (i) The pinnae of the leaves are larger and lanceshaped; (ii) the umbel of the flowers is denser and more compact; (iii) the stem is not spotted like the true Hemlock; (iv) the odour of the plant resembles that of smallage or parsley.

Both plants are poisonous; but while the root of the Water Hemlock is acrid and powerfully poisonous in its fresh state, though it loses its virulent qualities when dried, that of the true Hemlock possesses little or no active power.

The Water Hemlock produces tetanic convulsions, and is fatal to cattle. In April, 1857, two farmer’s sons were found lying paralysed and speechless close to a ditch where they had been working. Assistance was soon rendered, but they shortly expired. A quantity of the Water Hemlock grew in the ditch, where they had been employed. A piece of the root was subsequently found with the marks of teeth in it, near to where the men lay, and another piece of the same root was discovered in the pocket of one of them.

Medicinal Uses:
Parts Used: Root

The root is analgesic, antispasmodic, emetic, galactofuge and sedative. The whole plant is highly toxic and is not used in herbal medicine. A homeopathic remedy has been made from this plant in the past. It was used in the treatment of epilepsy, meningitis and other ailments affecting the brain

Known Hazards: The plant contains cicutoxin, which disrupts the workings of the central nervous system. In humans, cicutoxin rapidly produces symptoms of nausea, emesis and abdominal pain, typically within 60 minutes of ingestion. Poisoning can lead to tremors and seizures. A single bite of the root (which has the highest concentration of cicutoxin) can be sufficient to cause death. In animals the toxic dose and the lethal dose are nearly the same. One gram of water hemlock per kilogram of weight will kill a sheep and 230 grams is sufficient to kill a horse. Due to the rapid onset of symptoms, treatment is usually unsuccessful.

Resources:

http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/h/hemwat19.html

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Cicuta+virosa

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

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Conium maculatum

Botanical Name : Conium maculatum
Family: Apiaceae
Subfamily: Apioideae
Genus:     Conium
Kingdom: Plantae
Order:     Apiales

Synonyms: Herb Bennet. Spotted Corobane. Musquash Root. Beaver Poison. Poison Hemlock. Poison Parsley. Spotted Hemlock. Kex. Kecksies.

Common Names :Hemlock. In English “Poison hemlock” and the Irish “Devil’s Bread” or “Devil’s Porridge”, there are also Poison Parsley, Spotted Corobane, and Spotted Hemlock. The seeds are sometimes called Kecksies or Kex.

Habitat:Conium maculatum is native in temperate regions of Europe, West Asia, as well as North Africa. It has been introduced and naturalised in many other areas, including Asia, North America, Australia, and New Zealand.It has been introduced into North and South America. It is often found on poorly drained soils, particularly near streams, ditches, and other surface water. It also appears on roadsides, edges of cultivated fields, and waste areas. It is considered an Invasive species in twelve U.S. states, including California.

Description:
Conium maculatum  is a herbaceous biennial plant that grows between 1.5–2.5 metres (5–8 ft) tall, with a smooth green hollow stem, usually spotted or streaked with red or purple on the lower half of the stem. All parts of the plant are hairless (glabrous). The leaves are 2-4-pinnate, finely divided and lacy, overall triangular in shape, up to 50 centimetres (20 in) long and 40 centimetres (16 in) broad. t of parsnips.

click & see the pictures

The leaves are numerous, those of the first year and the lower ones very large, even reaching 2 feet in length, alternate, longstalked, tripinnate (divided along the midrib into opposite pairs of leaflets and these again divided and subdivided in similar manner). The upper leaves are much smaller, nearly stalkless, with the short footstalk dilated and stem-clasping, often opposite or three together, more oblong in outline, dipinnate or pinnate, quite smooth, uniform dull green, segments toothed, each tooth being tipped with a minute, sharp white point.

The flowers are small, white, clustered in umbels up to 10–15 centimetres (4–6 in) across.  When crushed, the leaves and root emit a rank, unpleasant odour often compared to that. The umbels are rather small, 1 1/4 to 2 inches broad, numerous, terminal, on rather short flower stalks, with 12 to 16 rays to the umbel. At the base of the main umbel there are 4 to 8 lance-shaped, deflexed bracts; at the base of the small umbels there are three or four spreading bractlets. The flowers are small, their petals white with an inflexed point, the stamens a little longer than the petals, with white anthers.

The fruit is small, about 1/8 inch long broad, ridged, compressed laterally and smooth. Both flowers and fruit bear a resemblance to caraway, but the prominent crenate (wavy) ridges and absence of vittae (oil cells between the ridges) are important characters for distinguishing this fruit from others of the same natural order of plants.

The entire plant has a bitter taste and possesses a disagreeable mousy odour, which is especially noticeable when bruised. When dry, the odour is still disagreeable, but not so pronounced as in the fresh plant. The seeds or fruits have very marked odour or taste, but when rubbed with a solution of potassium bi-oxide, the same disagreeable mouse-like odour is produced.

Medicinal Uses:

Parts Used: Leaves, fruit, seeds.

Constituents:By far the most important constituent of hemlock leaves is the alkaloid Coniine, of which they may contain, when collected at the proper time, as much as 2.77 per cent the average being 1.65 per cent. When pure, Coniine is a volatile, colourless, oily liquid, strongly alkaline, with poisonous properties and having a bitter taste and a disagreeable, penetrating, mouse-like odour.

There are also present the alkaloids, Methyl-coniine, Conhydrine, Pseudoconhydrine, Ethyl piperidine, mucilage, a fixed oil and 12 per cent of ash.

Hemlock fruits have essentially the same active constituents, but yield a greater portion of Coniine than the leaves.

As a medicine, Conium is sedative and antispasmodic, and in sufficient doses acts as a paralyser to the centres of motion. In its action it is, therefore, directly antagonistic to that of Strychnine, and hence it has been recommended as an antidote to Strychnine poisoning, and in other poisons of the same class, and in tetanus, hydrophobia, etc. (In mediaeval days, Hemlock mixed with betony and fennel seed was considered a cure for the bite of a mad dog.)

On account of its peculiar sedative action on the motor centres, Hemlock juice (Succus conii) is prescribed as a remedy in cases of undue nervous motor excitability, such as teething in children, epilepsy from dentition. cramp, in the early stages of paralysis agitans, in spasms of the larynx and gullet, in acute mania, etc. As an inhalation it is said to relieve cough in bronchitis, whooping-cough, asthma, etc.

The drug has to be administered with care, as narcotic poisoning may result from internal use, and overdoses produce paralysis. In poisonous doses it produces complete paralysis with loss of speech, the respiratory function is at first depressed and ultimately ceases altogether and death results from asphyxia. The mind remains unaffected to the last. In the account of the death of Socrates, reference is made to loss of sensation as one of the prominent symptoms of his poisoning, but the dominant action is on the motor system. It is placed in Table II of the Poison Schedule.

Hemlock was formerly believed to exercise an alterative effect in scrofulous disorders. Both the Greek and Arabian physicians were in the practice of using it for the cure of indolent tumours, swellings and pains of the joints, as well as for affections of the skin. Among the moderns Baron Storch was the first to call the attention of medical men to its use, both externally and internally, for the cure of cancerous and other ulcers, and in the form of a poultice or ointment it has been found a very valuable application to relieve pain in these cases.

In the case of poisoning by Hemlock, the antidotes are tannic acid, stimulants and coffee, emetics of zinc, or mustard and castor oil, and, if necessary, artificial respiration. It is essential to keep up the temperature of the body.

Like many other poisonous plants, when cut and dried, Hemlock loses much of its poisonous properties, which are volatile and easily dissipated. Cooking destroys it.

Its disagreeable odour has prevented its fatal use as a vegetable in the raw state.

Larks and quails are said to eat Hemlock with impunity, but their flesh becomes so impregnated with the poison that they are poisonous as food. Thrushes eat the fruits with impunity, but ducks have been poisoned by them.

Coles’ Art of Simpling:
‘If Asses chance to feed much upon Hemlock, they will fall so fast asleep that they will seeme to be dead, in so much that some thinking them to be dead indeed have flayed off their skins, yet after the Hemlock had done operating they have stirred and wakened out of their sleep, to the griefe and amazement of the owners.’

Known Hazards:
The poisonous property occurs in all parts of the plant, though it is stated to be less strong in the root. Poisoning has occurred from eating the leaves for parsley, the roots for parsnips and the seeds in mistake for anise seeds. Many children, too, have suffered by using whistles made from the hollow stems of the Hemlock, which should be extirpated from meadows and pastures since many domestic animals have been killed by eating it, though goats are said to eat it with impunity.

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/hemloc18.html

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

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Hawthorn

Botanical Name :: Crataegus oxyacantha
Family : Rosaceae
Common Name :Hawthorn

Vernacular names: Eng:Hawthorn,May thom,May blossom
Hindi :Vanasaangli.
Local Name :Pandaakh

 Synonyms:  May. Mayblossom. Quick. Thorn. Whitethorn. Haw. Hazels. Gazels. Halves. Hagthorn. Ladies’ Meat. Bread and Che ese Tree.
(French) L’épine noble
(German) Hagedorn

Habitat:Hawthorn is available in Europe, North Africa, Western Asia

Description:
Hawthorn is a small to midium sized deciduous tree 5 to 15mtr. tall, grows as a hedge plant in Europe but found mostly in temperate regions North America ,Western Asia, India, China and northern Africa.Its flowers are umbrella shaped and clustered white or pink,leaves are glossy green toothed and the berries are bright shiny red. The white coloured flowers are borne in flat-topped  inflorescences termed corymbs  or globular in inflorescences termed umbels and usually contains 5 petals,5 and 18 stamens and have a rancid oder. the fruits are known as pomes, although the seeds and their bony ndocarps are termed pyrenes. The calyx is present. The throns are small with sharp tipped branches that arise either from other branches or from the trunk, and are typically 1-3 cm long.Hawthorn bark or stem has hardwood ,smooth and ash-grey.
CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES..>.....(1)...(2).

Medicinal Uses:

Part Used: Berries, young stems, leaves and flowers.

Plant Constituents of Hawthorn

Contains:
___________

*Amines
*Amyddalin
*Bioflavonoids
*Coumarin (an anti-coagulant)
*Crataegin (alkaloid contained in the bark)
*Glycosides
*Tannins
*Triterpenoid saponins

Action :
_________

*anti-arrhythmic effects (heart)
*anticoagulant [an agent that prevents the formation of clots in a liquid, as in blood]
*antispasmodic [an agent that relieves or checks spasms or cramps]
*antioxidants [contributing to the oxidation of free radicals which are believed to contribute to premature aging and dementia] that help increase the flow of blood and oxygen to the heart

*astringent [an agent that contracts organic tissue, reducing secretions or discharges]
*cardiac [an agent that stimulates or otherwise affects the heart]
*cardiotonic [an agent that has a tonic effect on the heart]
*diuretic [an agent that secretes or expels urine]
*hypotensive [an agent that lowers blood pressure]
*sedative [a soothing agent that reduces nervousness, distress or irritation]
*tonic [an agent that strengthens or invigorates organs or the entire organism]
*vasodilator [an agent that widens the blood vessels, thus lowering blood pressure]

Hawthorn is a good preventative herb for people with a family history of

*angina pectoris
*arteriosclerosis
*hardening of the arteries
*heart attacks
*high or low blood pressure
*valvular insufficiency
*inflammation of the heart muscle
*irregular pulse

Hawthorn is used for:

Blood Conditions

*inflammation of the blood vessels
*strengthens the walls of blood vessels
*varicose veins

Brain and Nervous System Conditions

*enhances poor memory by improving circulation of blood within the head and increasing the amount of oxygen to the brain, when combined with Ginkgo Biloba
*increases blood flow to the brain

Cardiovascular Conditions

*angina, a disease marked by intense chest pain
*arteriosclerosis
*cardiac curative
*enhances the strength of the heart’s contractions
*heart failure and debility
*heart muscle weakened by age
*helps prevent irregular heartbeats called arrhythmias, which can lead to heart attacks
*helps protect the heart against oxygen deprivation by inhibiting free radical formation which is beneficial in maintaining healthy heart vessels and promoting overall heart health
*improves blood supply to the heart
*improves circulation and increases tolerance for physical exertion
*increases blood flow to the heart and brain
*increases metabolism in the heart muscle
*lowers blood pressure (with extended use)
*lowers cholesterol and the amount of plaque in arteries
*myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle)
*nervous heart problems
*normalizes blood pressure by regulating the action of the heart, not only lowering high blood pressure but also raising blood pressure that is low
*normalizes cardiovascular functions
*normalizes heart action
*palpitations
*rapid heart beat
*reduces blood pressure and stress to the heart muscle
*relaxes and dilates the arteries
*restorative after a heart attack
*stabilizes and strengthens the heartbeat
*strengthens a heart muscle weakened by age
*supports the heart
*weak heart, combined with Rosemary and Rue

Hawthorn Berries are used for:

*congestive heart failure and circulatory disorders
*increasing coronary blood flow
*mild cardiac insufficiency

Gastrointestinal Conditions

*digestive problems, combined with Cactus grandiflorus

Genitourinary Conditions

*helps rid the body of excess salt and water thus supporting weight-loss and weight control programs
*urinary tract infections, combined with Agrimony, Thyme and Golden Rod

Respiratory Tract Conditions

*sore throat

Other Uses:

*an excellent liquor made from Hawthorn berries and brandy
*repels bees and is only pollinated by flies

Hawthorn is best-used long term as the active constituents do not produce rapid results. Benefits develop slowly having a direct effect on the heart itself, especially in cases of heart damage and heart problems associated with liver disease. It is gentle and safe for long-term use with no toxic side effects.

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.globalherbalsupplies.com/herb_information/hawthorn.htm

http://www.apjtb.com/zz/2012s2/129.pdf

http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/h/hawtho09.html

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