Category Archives: Herbs & Plants

Arum dioscoridis

Botanical Name : Arum dioscoridis
Family: Araceae
Genus: Arum
Species: A. dioscoridis
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Alismatales

Synonyms : A. hygrophyllum. Boiss.

Habitat :Arum dioscoridis is native to forests in the east of the Mediterranean in southern Turkey, Cyprus, and the Middle East.It grows in hedges and rocky places, often on calcareous soils.
Arum dioscoridis is a perennial plant growing to 0.3 m (1ft) by 0.3 m (1ft in). It is not frost tender. In winter appear green, arrow-shaped leaves. In spring, the short-stalked inflorescence appears consisting of a black, rod-shaped spadix surrounded by a yellow-green, purple-mottled brown or even purple bract (spathe). The female flowers are located at the bottom of the spadix; above are the male flowers; and the top is a sterile area (appendix). The spadix emits a pungent smell that attracts flies as pollinators.


It is in leaf 7-Oct It is in flower in May. The flowers are monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and are pollinated by Flies.Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.
Prefers a humus rich soil and abundant water in the growing season. Grows well in woodland conditions. Succeeds in sun or shade. This species is not hardy in the colder areas of the country, it tolerates temperatures down to between -5 and -10°c. Because it comes into growth in the late autumn it is best grown by a warm wall or in a bulb frame A polymorphic species. The inflorescence is pollinated by flies and it smells of dung and carrion in order to attract the flies. It also has the remarkable ability to heat itself above the ambient air temperature to such a degree that it is quite noticeable to the touch. This probably protects the flowers from damage by frost, or allows it to penetrate frozen ground. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer.

Seed – best sown in a greenhouse or cold frame as soon as it is ripe. The seed usually germinates in 1 – 6 months at 15°c. Stored seed should be sown in the spring in a greenhouse and can be slow to germinate, sometimes taking a year or more. A period of cold stratification might help to speed up the process. Sow the seed thinly, and allow the seedlings to grow on without disturbance for their first year, giving occasional liquid feeds to ensure that they do not become mineral deficient. When the plants are dormant in the autumn, divide up the small corms, planting 2 – 3 in each pot, and grow them on in light shade in the greenhouse for a further year, planting out when dormant in the autumn. Division of the corms in summer after flowering. Larger corms can be planted out direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up the smaller corms and grow them on for a year in a cold frame before planting them out.

Edible Uses :
Edible Parts: Root…..Tuber – cooked and used as a vegetable. It must be thoroughly dried or cooked before being eaten, see the notes above on toxicity.
Medicinal Uses : Abortifacient….The root is abortifacient.
Other Uses:
The plant can be grown as an ornamental plant in rock gardens Mediterranean regions. In the Benelux, the plant can be grown indoors as a pot plant. The plant can be propagated by seeding.

Known Hazards: The plant contains calcium oxylate crystals. These cause an extremely unpleasant sensation similar to needles being stuck into the mouth and tongue if they are eaten, but they are easily neutralized by thoroughly drying or cooking the plant or by steeping it in water.

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


Amorphophallus rivieri

Botanical Name: Amorphophallus rivieri
Family: Araceae
Subfamily: Aroideaen f
Tribe: Thomsonieae
Genus: Amorphophallus
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Alismatales

Synonyms : Conophallus konjak.

Common Names: Devil’s Tongue, Umbrella Arum, Leopard Palm, Snake Palm

Habitat: Amorphophallus rivieri is native to E. Asia – Cochin China, East Indies. Loose leafy detritus in moist shady habitats. It grows in forest margins and thickets at elevations of 830-1200 metres in western Yunnan.

Amorphophallus rivieri is a tuberous herbaceous perennial plant growing to 0.8 m (2ft 7in) by 0.6 m (2ft). It is foul-smelling somewhat fleshy tropical plant of southeastern Asia cultivated for its edible corms or in the greenhouse for its large leaves and showy dark red spathe surrounding a large spadix.

It is frost tender. The flowers are monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and are pollinated by Flies.

Bloom Color: Pink. Main Bloom Time: Late spring. Form: Irregular or sprawling.


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

Landscape Uses:Border, Container. Requires shade and a rich soil in its native habitats, but it probably requires a position with at least moderate sun in Britain. This species is being increasingly cultivated for its edible tubers in Japan and Chin The plants are not winter hardy outdoors in Britain but are sometimes grown outdoors in this country as part of a sub-tropical bedding display. It is also said to make a good house plant. The tuber is harvested in the autumn after top growth has been cut back by frost and it must be kept quite dry and frost-free over winter. It is then potted up in a warm greenhouse in spring ready to be planted out after the last expected frosts. The tubers are planted 15cm deep. The plant has one enormous leaf and one spadix annually. It requires hand pollination in Britain. When ripe for pollination, the flowers have a foetid smell to attract carrion flies and midges. This smell disappears once the flower has been pollinated. Special Features:Attractive foliage, Edible, Fragrant flowers, Flowers have an unpleasant odor.

Seed – best sown in a pot in a warm greenhouse as soon as it is ripe and the pot sealed in a plastic bag to retain moisture. It usually germinates in 1 – 8 months at 24°c. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least a couple of years. Plant them out in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts, and give them some protection such as a cloche until they are growing away strongly. Division of offsets. These are rarely produced

Edible Uses:
Rhizome – cooked. The root must be thoroughly boiled or baked, it is acrid when raw. Very large, it can be up to 30cm in iameter. In Japan the large brown tubers are peeled, cooked and pounded to extract their starch, which is solidified with dissolved limestone into an edible gel called ‘Konnyaku’. Konnyaku is a type of flour valued for its use in many dietary products. The flour is valued for its ability to clean the digestive tract without being a laxative. A nutritional analysis is available. This root is very high in water and low in calories, so it is being promoted as a diet food in N. America.

Composition :
Figures in grams (g) or miligrams (mg) per 100g of food.
Leaves (Dry weight)

•308 Calories per 100g
•Water : 0%
•Protein: 3.8g; Fat: 0g; Carbohydrate: 88.5g; Fibre: 3.8g; Ash: 7.7g;
•Minerals – Calcium: 654mg; Phosphorus: 269mg; Iron: 11.5mg; Magnesium: 0mg; Sodium: 0mg; Potassium: 0mg; Zinc: 0mg;
•Vitamins – A: 0mg; Thiamine (B1): 0mg; Riboflavin (B2): 0mg; Niacin: 0mg; B6: 0mg; C: 0mg;

Medicinal Uses: The root is oxytoxic and sialagogue. It is used in the treatment of cancer. The flowers are febrifuge.

Other Uses : The plant has insecticidal properties.

Known Hazards: We have one report that this plant is very toxic raw, though no more details are given. It belongs to a family where most of the members contain calcium oxalate crystals. This substance is toxic fresh and, if eaten, makes the mouth, tongue and throat feel as if hundreds of small needles are digging in to them. However, calcium oxalate is easily broken down either by thoroughly cooking the plant or by fully drying it and, in either of these states, it is safe to eat the plant. People with a tendency to rheumatism, arthritis, gout, kidney stones and hyperacidity should take especial caution if including this plant in their diet.

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



Acer saccharum nigrum


Botanical Name: Acer saccharum nigrum
Family: Sapindaceae
Genus: Acer
Species: A. nigrum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Sapindales

Synonyms: A. nigrum. Michx.f.

Common Name: Black Maple

Habitat : Acer saccharum nigrum is native to Eastern N. America – Quebec to Alabama, west to South Dakota and Arkansas. It grows on rich calcareous or alluvial woods. Found in a variety of soil types, near streams, rivers and in rich woodlands, usually below 750 metres but up to 1650 metres in the south of its range.

Acer saccharum nigrum is a deciduous Tree growing to 25 m (82ft 0in) at a slow rate. Leaves are simple, opposite, often 4 inches or more long and fully as wide, from 3 to 5 shallow lobes with wide-spaced coarse teeth, dark green in color above, paler below; the clefts are rounded at the base. Leaf edge is smooth between the points. The leaf stalk (petiole) is typically greater in length than the leaf blade.


Twigs are slender, shining, and warmly brown, the color of maple sugar. The current year’s twig is identical to sugar maple, but the older sections of twigs often have a waxy coating that may peel in strips from the twig.

Winter buds are conical, sharp-pointed, and brown in color, the terminal buds much larger than the lateral buds.

Barks of young trees, dark gray in color, close, smooth, and firm, becoming furrowed into long irregular plates lifting along one edge.

It is in flower in April, and the seeds ripen in October. The flowers are monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant)

Bloom Color: Green. Main Bloom Time: Early spring, Late spring, Mid spring. Form: Oval, Rounded.
Fruit – maple keys (samaras), in short clusters, ripening in September. Samaras are paired with the seeds joining each other in a straight line, but the wings are separated by about 60 degrees.

Outstanding features – rounded cleft between lobes of leaves; leaf blade broad and lateral lobes often droop; sharp-pointed, brown buds; brown twig with waxy coating on older sections of the twig.

Landscape Uses:Specimen, Street tree. Of easy cultivation, it prefers a good moist well-drained soil but succeeds on most soils. Chlorosis can often develop as a result of iron deficiency when the plants are grown in alkaline soils, but in general maples are not fussy as to soil pH. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Trees need full light and a lot of space. Plants are hardy to about -45°c when fully dormant. This species is not a great success in Britain, though it does better than once thought. It grows well in Cornwall. Slow growing when young. Plants produce prodigious root growth but very little top growth in first year from seed. Trees grow rapidly for their first 25 years in the wild, but then slow down and only occasionally surviving for more than 200 years. A very ornamental tree but a bad companion plant, inhibiting the growth of nearby plants. This species is commercially exploited in America for its sap. Along with A. saccharum and the sub-species A. s. grandidentatum it is the major source of maple syrup. There are some named varieties. The sap can be tapped within 10 – 15 years from seed but it does not flow so well in areas with mild winters. Special Features:North American native, Inconspicuous flowers or blooms.

Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame, it usually germinates in the following spring. A lot of the seed is non-viable, it is best to cut a few open to see if there is an embryo. An average of 95% germination can be achieved from viable seed. Pre-soak stored seed for 24 hours and then stratify for 2 – 4 months at 1 – 8°c. It can be slow to germinate, sometimes taking two years. The seed can be harvested ‘green’ (when it has fully developed but before it has dried and produced any germination inhibitors) and sown immediately. It should germinate in late winter. If the seed is harvested too soon it will produce very weak plants or no plants at all. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on until they are 20cm or more tall before planting them out in their permanent positions. Layering, which takes about 12 months, is successful with most species in this genus. Cuttings of young shoots in June or July. The cuttings should have 2 – 3 pairs of leaves, plus one pair of buds at the base. Remove a very thin slice of bark at the base of the cutting, rooting is improved if a rooting hormone is used. The rooted cuttings must show new growth during the summer before being potted up otherwise they are unlikely to survive the winter.
Edible Uses:
Edible Parts: Inner bark; Sap; Seed.

The sap contains reasonable quantities of sugar and can be used as a drink or concentrated into a syrup by boiling off the water. The syrup is used as a sweetener on many foods. The sap can be harvested in late winter or early spring, the flow is best on a warm sunny day after a frost. Trees on southern slopes in sandy soils give the best yields. It is best to make a hole about 7cm deep and about 1.3 metres above the ground. Yields of 40 – 100 litres per tree can be obtained. The best sap production comes from cold-winter areas with continental climates. Seed – boiled then roasted. The seed is about 6mm long and is produced in small clusters. Inner bark – cooked. It is dried, ground into a powder and then used as a thickening in soups etc or mixed with cereals when making bread.

Medicinal Uses : A decoction of the inner bark has been used in the treatment of diarrhoea.

Other Uses:
Fuel; Preservative; Wood.

The leaves are packed around apples, rootcrops etc to help preserve them[18, 20]. Wood – close grained, tough, hard, heavy. Used for furniture, ship building, etc. It is a good fuel.

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


Helianthus petiolaris

Botanical Name: Helianthus petiolaris
Family: Asteraceae
Genus: Helianthus
Species: H. petiolaris
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asterales


*Helianthus couplandii B.Boivin
*Helianthus integrifolius Nutt.
*Helianthus patens Lehm.

Common Name : Prairie Sunflower , Lesser sunflower
Habitat : Helianthus petiolaris is native to Central to western N. America – Manitoba and Minnesota south to Arizona.
It grows on sandy soils. Dry prairies.
Helianthus petiolaris is an annual plant growing to 3 m (9ft 10in). While some references put the plant height at up to 6 feet. It can grow in clumps that make it look like a small bush, but it is not unusual to see single plants scattered around…CLICK &   SEE  THE PICTURESLIC

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: simple

Leaves are rather variable—they may be triangular, oval, or shaped like the head of a spear. All leaves have a rough texture and somewhat wavy edges; the color is a dull green, sometimes bluish-green. There are 2 prominent lower veins that run parallel to the main center vein. There may be a few shallow teeth along the edge, but leaves are mostly toothless. The leaf size is variable depending on the shape. Elongated spear-shapes may be up to 6 inches long and 1 inch wide. Triangular leaves are up to 3½ inches long and 2 inches wide. Leaf stalks are ¾ to 1½ inches long, longer towards the base of the plant, becoming shorter as leaves ascend the stem. Stems are typically branched, and have a rough texture.

Flower: Flower blooms between July to September. Flower is 1½ to 3 inches across, 12 to 25 yellow rays (petals) and a dark brown center disk ½ to 1 inch in diameter. A plant has 1 to several flowers, each at the end of a 1½ to 6 inch long stalk. The bracts are flat, wide at the base tapering to sharply pointed tips, with short.bristly hairs. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, flies.
Fruit: The center disk forms a head of ¼-inch brown seeds. Seeds lack a tuft of hairs but have 2 bristly scales at the tip.

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

Succeeds in most soils in a sunny position. Requires a rich soil. Dislikes shade. Grows well on dry soils. The young growth is extremely attractive to slugs, plants can be totally destroyed by them. This species hybridizes in the wild with H. annuus. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer or rabbits.

Seed – sow in mid spring in situ. An earlier start can be made by sowing 2 – 3 seeds per pot in a greenhouse in early spring. Use a fairly rich compost. Thin to the strongest seedling, give them an occasional liquid feed to make sure they do not become nutrient deficient and plant them out in late spring or early summer.

Edible Uses:
The seeds in the plant are edible and can be ground up into an oily meal or into a butter.

Medicinal Uses: The powdered leaves, either on their own or in an ointment, have been used as a dressing for sores and swellings.

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

Helianthus annuus

Botanical Name:Helianthus annuus
Family: Asteraceae
H. annuus

*Helianthus aridus Rydb.
*Helianthus erythrocarpus Bartl.
*Helianthus indicus L.
*Helianthus jaegeri Heiser
*Helianthus lenticularis Douglas
*Helianthus macrocarpus DC. & A.DC.
*Helianthus multiflorus Hook.
*Helianthus ovatus Lehm.
*Helianthus platycephalus Cass.
*Helianthus tubaeformis Nutt.

Common Names: Sunflower, Common sunflower

Habitat :Helianthus annuus is native to Western N. America. An occasional garden escape in Britain. It grows on open dry or moderately moist soils on the plains.
Helianthus annuus is an annual plant.  It has an erect rough-hairy stem, reaching typical heights of 3 metres (9.8 ft). The tallest sunflower on record achieved 9.17 metres (30.1 ft). Sunflower leaves are broad, coarsely toothed, rough and mostly alternate. What is often called the “flower” of the sunflower is actually a “flower head” or pseudanthium of numerous small individual five-petaled flowers (“florets”). The outer flowers, which resemble petals, are called ray flowers. Each “petal” consists of a ligule composed of fused petals of an asymmetrical ray flower. They are sexually sterile and may be yellow, red, orange, or other colors. The flowers in the center of the head are called disk flowers. These mature into fruit (sunflower “seeds”). The disk flowers are arranged spirally. Generally, each floret is oriented toward the next by approximately the golden angle, 137.5°, producing a pattern of interconnecting spirals, where the number of left spirals and the number of right spirals are successive Fibonacci numbers. Typically, there are 34 spirals in one direction and 55 in the other; however, in a very large sunflower head there could be 89 in one direction and 144 in the other. This pattern produces the most efficient packing of seeds mathematically possible within the flower head.. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, flies.The plant is not self-fertile. It is noted for attracting wildlife…….CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

Bloom Color: Orange, Red, Yellow. Main Bloom Time: Early fall, Late summer, Mid summer.

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

Landscape Uses:Border, Container, Foundation, Massing, Seashore, Specimen. An easily grown plant, it succeeds in most soils, including poor soils provided they are deep and well-drained, but it grows best in a deep rich soil. Plants are intolerant of acid or waterlogged conditions. Especially when grown for its edible seed, the plant prefers a sunny position though it also tolerates light shade. Requires a neutral or preferably calcareous soil. As sunflowers have highly efficient root systems, they can be grown in areas which are too dry for many other crops. Established plants are quite drought-resistant except during flowering. The sunflower tolerates an annual precipitation of 20 – 400cm, an average annual temperature in the range of 6 – 28°C and a pH in the range of 4.5 – 8.7. The young growth is extremely attractive to slugs, plants can be totally destroyed by them. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer or rabbits. The sunflower is a very ornamental plant that is widely grown in gardens and is also a major commercial crop for its edible seed and many other uses. It grows well in Britain, but it does not ripen its seed reliably in this country and so is not suitable for commercial cultivation at the present. It is the state flower of Kansas. Three distinct groups of sunflowers are cultivated:- Giant types grow from 1.8 – 4.2 metres tall with flower heads 30 – 50cm in diameter. The seeds are large, white or gray in colour, sometimes with black stripes, and are the best for culinary purposes, though the oil content is lower than for other types. ‘Grey Stripe’, ‘Hopi Black Dye’, ‘Mammoth Russian’ and ‘Sundak’ are examples of this type. Semi-dwarf types grow from 1.3 – 1.8 m tall, are early maturing and have heads 17 – 23 cm diameter. The seeds are smaller, black, gray or striped, the oil content is also higher. Examples include ‘Pole Star’ and ‘Jupiter’ Dwarf types grow from 0.6 – 1.4 m tall, are early maturing and have heads 14 – 16 cm in diameter.
The seeds are small but the oil content is the highest. Examples include ‘Advance’ and ‘Sunset’. Some forms are being bred for greater cold tolerance and should be more reliable in Britain. Plants tend to grow better in the south and south-west of England. Most forms require a four month frost-free growing season, though some Russian cultivars can mature a crop in 70 days. When plants are grown in cooler latitudes the seed contains higher proportions of polyunsaturated fatty oils. The plant has a strong taproot that can penetrate the soil to depth of 3 metres, it also has a large lateral spread of surface roots. Sunflowers grow badly with potatoes but they do well with cucumbers and corn. A very greedy and vigorous plant, it can inhibit the growth of nearby plants. Plants tend to impoverish the soil if they are grown too often in the same place. A good bee plant, providing large quantities of nectar. The flowers attract beneficial insects such as lacewings and parasitic wasps. These prey on various insect pests, especially aphis. Special Features:Attracts birds, Attractive foliage, North American native, Edible, Naturalizing, Wetlands plant, Attracts butterflies, Suitable for cut flowers, Suitable for dried flowers.

Propagation :
Seed – sow in mid spring in situ. An earlier start can be made by sowing 2 – 3 seeds per pot in a greenhouse in early spring. Use a fairly rich compost. Thin to the strongest seedling, give them an occasional liquid feed to make sure they do not become nutrient deficient and plant them out in late spring or early summer. Seed, harvested at 12% moisture content and stored, will retain its viability for several years

Edible Uses:
Seed – raw or cooked. A delicious nut-like flavour, but very fiddly to extract due to the small size of the seed. Commercially there are machines designed to do this. Rich in fats, the seed can be ground into a powder, made into sunflower butter or used to make seed yoghurt. When mixed with cereal flours, it makes a nutritious bread. Cultivars with up to 50% oil have been developed in Russia. The oil contains between 44 – 72% linoleic acid. The germinated seed is said to be best for seed yoghurt, it is blended with water and left to ferment. The sprouted seed can be eaten raw. A nutritional analysis of the seed is available. Young flower buds – steamed and served like globe artichokes. A mild and pleasant enough flavour, but rather fiddly. Average yields range from 900 – 1,575 kg/ha of seed, however yields of over 3,375 kg/ha have been reported. A high quality edible semi-drying oil is obtained from the seed. It is low in cholesterol, and is said to be equal in quality to olive oil. Used in salads, margarines, or in cooking. The roasted seed is a coffee and drinking chocolate substitute. Another report says the roasted hulls are used. The leaf petioles are boiled and mixed in with other foodstuffs.
Medicinal Uses:
A tea made from the leaves is astringent, diuretic and expectorant, it is used in the treatment of high fevers. The crushed leaves are used as a poultice on sores, swellings, snakebites and spider bites. The leaves are harvested as the plant comes into flower and are dried for later use. A tea made from the flowers is used in the treatment of malaria and lung ailments. The flowering head and seeds are febrifuge, nutritive and stomachic. The seed is also considered to be diuretic and expectorant. It has been used with success in the treatment of many pulmonary complaints. A decoction of the roots has been used as a warm wash on rheumatic aches and pains.
Powdered leaves of the prairie sunflower are said to work well with the healing of sores and swellings.

Other Uses:
Blotting paper; Dye; Fibre; Fuel; Green manure; Herbicide; Kindling; Microscope; Oil; Paper.

An edible semi-drying oil is obtained from the seed. Some varieties contain up to 45% oil. The oil is also used, often mixed with a drying oil such as linseed (Linum usitatissimum) to make soap, candles, varnishes, paint etc, as well as for lighting. The oil is said to be unrivalled as a lubricant. A blotting paper is made from the seed receptacles. A high quality writing paper is made from the inner stalk. The pith of the stems is one of the lightest substances known, having a specific gravity of 0.028. It has a wide range of applications, being used for purposes such as making life-saving appliances and slides for microscopes. The dried stems make an excellent fuel, the ash is rich in potassium. Both the dried stems and the empty seed receptacles are an excellent kindling. A fibre from the stem is used to make paper and a fine quality cloth. A yellow dye is obtained from the flowers. A purple-black dye is obtained from the seed of certain varieties that were grown by the Hopi Indians of S.W. North America. Sunflowers can be grown as a spring-sown green manure, they produce a good bulk of material. Root secretions from the plant can inhibit the growth of nearby plants[

Known Hazards: The growing plant can accumulate nitrates, especially when fed on artificial fertilizers. The pollen or plant extracts may cause allergic reactions.

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


Maranta arundinaceae

Botanical Name: Maranta arundinaceae
Family: Marantaceae
Genus: Maranta
Species: M. arundinacea
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Zingiberales


*Maranta indica Tussac
*Maranta minor Chantrier ex André
*Maranta ramosissima Wall.
*Maranta sylvatica Roscoe ex Sm.
*Maranta tessellata var. kegeljanii E.Morren
*Phrynium variegatum N.E.Br., nom. illeg.

Comon Names: Arrowroot, Maranta, West Indian arrowroot, Obedience plant, Bermuda arrowroot, Araru, Ararao or Hulankeeriya
Habitat: Maranta arundinacea is native to Mexico, Central America, the West Indies (Cuba, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, Trinidad, Lesser Antilles) and South America (Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Suriname, Guyana, French Guiana). It is widely cultivated in the many warm countries and is considered naturalized in Jamaica, Bahamas, Bermuda, the Netherlands Antilles, India, Sri Lanka, China (Guangdong, Guangxi, Hainan, Taiwan, Yunnan), Kazan Rett?, Mauritius, Réunion, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Florida, Cambodia, Indonesia and the Philippines.

The Caribbean island nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines is the world’s largest grower of arrowroot and producer of arrowroot flour. In Kerala , India, arrowroot, locally called bilathi koova, is cultivated to produce an easily digestible starch.

The arrowroot plant probably originated in the Amazon rainforest of north-western Brazil and neighboring countries. It grows best between temperatures of 23 °C (73 °F) and 29 °C (84 °F) with annual precipitation between 1,500 millimetres (59 in) and 2,000 millimetres (79 in). The dormant rhizomes can withstand temperatures as low as 5 °C (41 °F).

In the United States, arrowroot is cultivated as an outside plant only in southern Florida

Parts Used:  Fecula (starch) of the tuberous root.

Arrowroot is a perennial plant growing to a height of between .3 metres (12 in) and 1.5 metres (59 in). Its leaves are lanceolate. The edible part of the plant is the rhizome. Twin clusters of small white flowers bloom about 90 days after planting. The plant rarely produces seed and reproduction is typically by planting part of a rhizome with a bud. Rhizomes are ready for harvesting 10–12 months after planting as leaves of the plant begin to wilt and die. The rhizomes are fleshy, cylindical, and grow from 20 centimetres (7.9 in) to 45 centimetres (18 in) long.
Edible Uses:
Arrowroot was very popular in the Victorian era, and Napoleon supposedly said the reason for the British love of arrowroot was to support the commerce of their colonies. It can be consumed in the form of biscuits, puddings, jellies, cakes, hot sauces, and also with beef tea, milk or veal broth. Kudzu arrowroot (Pueraria lobata) is used in noodles in Korean and Vietnamese cuisine. In the Victorian era it was used, boiled with a little flavouring added, as an easily digestible food for children and people with dietary restrictions. With today’s greater understanding of its limited nutritional properties, it is no longer used in this way. In Burma, arrowroot tubers, which are called artarlut, are boiled or steamed and eaten with salt and oil.

Arrowroot makes clear, shimmering fruit gels and prevents ice crystals from forming in homemade ice cream. It can also be used as a thickener for acidic foods, such as Asian sweet and sour sauce. It is used in cooking to produce a clear, thickened sauce, such as a fruit sauce. It will not make the sauce go cloudy, like cornstarch, flour, or other starchy thickening agents would.

The lack of gluten in arrowroot flour makes it useful as a replacement for wheat flour in some baking uses. Like other pure starches, however, arrowroot is almost pure carbohydrates and devoid of protein, thus it does not provide a complete substitute for wheat flour for bread-making, which requires gluten.

Arrowroot thickens at a lower temperature than flour or cornstarch, is not weakened by acidic ingredients, has a more neutral taste, and is not affected by freezing. It does not mix well with dairy, forming a slimy mixture. It is recommended that arrowroot be mixed with a cool liquid before adding to a hot fluid. The mixture should be heated only until the mixture thickens and removed immediately to prevent the mixture from thinning. Overheating tends to break down arrowroot’s thickening property. Two teaspoons of arrowroot can be substituted for one tablespoon of cornstarch, or one teaspoon of arrowroot for one tablespoon of wheat flour.
An 1887 analysis of the root of the St. Vincent Arrowroot gave starch 27.17 per cent, fibre, fat, albumen, sugar, gum, ash, and 62.96 per cent water.

Of the starch was given: starch 83’70 per cent., fibre, fat, sugar, gum, ash and sand, and water 15.87 per cent.

The official granules, according to Pereira, are ‘rarely oblong, somewhat ovate-oblong, or irregularly convex, from 10 to 70 microns in diameter, with very fine lamellae, a circular hilium which is fissured in a linear or stellate manner.’

Medicinal Uses:
Arrowroot is chiefly valuable as an easily digested, nourishing diet for convalescents, especially in bowel complaints, as it has demulcent properties. In the proportion of a tablespoonful to a pint of water or milk, it should be prepared by being first made into a smooth paste with a little cold milk or water, and then carefully stirred while the boiling milk is added. Lemon-juice, sugar, wine, or aromatics may be added. If thick, it will cool into a jelly that usually suits weaning infants better than other farinaceous foods.

It is said that the mashed rhizomes are used for application to wounds from poisoned arrows, scorpion and black spider bites, and to arrest gangrene.

The freshly-expressed juice, mixed with water, is said to be a good antidote, taken internally, for vegetable poisons, such as Savanna.

Arrowroot has been used as an infant formula in place of breast milk or to help the baby adjust after weaning. A jelly made from arrowroot is often preferred by recently weaned infants to infant cereal or other farinaceous foods. Compared to other starches, arrowroot is believed to be the easiest to digest.

It is believed that the herb is an effective treatment against poisoned wounds, including scorpion stings, snake bites, and spider bites. Additionally, arrowroot has been used to treat gangrene.

Fresh arrowroot juice mixed with water, if drunk, is said to be an antidote to vegetable poisons.

The plant is used as an herbal remedy to alleviate nausea and to replenish nutrients lost through diarrhea and vomiting.

Used as a foot powder to combat excess moisture that may lead to athlete’s foot or other foot problems. Arrowroot does not have antifungal properties, so its use is restricted to moisture control alone.

Potential Side Effects of Arrowroot:

As with any herbal remedy, caution should be exercised when taking arrowroot. While a doctor should always be consulted before using herbal remedies, use special caution before giving it to children, pregnant or nursing mothers, or anyone with kidney or liver disease.

If considering arrowroot for an infant formula, consult the child’s pediatrician first and monitor closely for allergic reactions.

There are no known side effects linked to arrowroot, and it is not known to have any adverse interactions with drugs or chemicals in food.

When using the herb to alleviate diarrhea, it should not be taken with any other medication or supplement for diarrhea, as this may lead to constipation.

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

Arrowroot – Health Benefits and Side Effects

Arbutus arizonica

Botanical Name: Arbutus arizonica
Family: Ericaceae
Genus: Arbutus
Species: A. arizonica
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Ericales

Synonyms: Arbutus xalapensis var. arizonica Arbutus Gray 1886

Common Names: Arizona Maderone

Habitat :Arbutus arizonica is native to South-western N. America – S. Arizona to New Mexico. It grows on dry gravelly benches, 1800 – 2400 metres.

Arbutus arizonica is an evergreen tree that grows up to 45 ft (14 m) at a slow rate, and has pinkish-brown bark. The trunks of the tree are gray and checkered, and the branches are reddish with smooth bark. The leaves are lanceolate to elliptic, 1.5 to 3 inches long, 0.5 to 1 inches wide; blades light green, glossy above, pale green below, and smooth. The flowers are urn-shaped, white, and clustered at the branch tips from April to September.The fruit is an orange-red berry. The fruits are edible by humans and used by some indigenous peoples.

It is in leaf 12-Jan It is in flower in May, and the seeds ripen from Oct to November. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.The plant is self-fertile.

Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil.

Requires a lime-free nutrient-rich well-drained moisture-retentive soil in sun or semi-shade and shelter from cold drying winds, especially when young. Succeeds in dry soils. Plants are hardy to about -15°c. A slow-growing tree.

Seed – best surface sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe. Stored seed should be soaked for 5 – 6 days in warm water and then surface sown in a shady position in a greenhouse. Do not allow the compost to become dry. 6 weeks cold stratification helps. The seed usually germinates well in 2 – 3 months at 20°c. Seedlings are prone to damp off, they are best transplanted to individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle and should be kept well ventilated. Grow them on in a greenhouse for their first winter and then plant out in late spring after the last expected frosts. Basal cuttings in late winter. Cuttings of mature wood of the current season’s growth, November/December in a frame. Poor percentage. Layering of young wood – can take 2 years.
Edible Uses: ....Fruit – raw. The fruit is about 8mm in diameter with a thin sweetish flesh.
Medicinal Uses:….The bitter principles in the bark and leaves can be used as an astringent.

Other Uses:
Charcoal; Wood.

Wood – heavy, soft, close-grained, brittle. It produces a fine grade of charcoal

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

Anemone pulsatilla

Botanical Name: Anemone pulsatilla
Family: Ranunculaceae
Genus: Pulsatilla
Species: P. vulgaris
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Ranunculales

Synonyms: Pasque Flower. Wind Flower. Meadow Anemone. Passe Flower. Easter Flower.

Common Name: Pasque Flower

Habitat : Anemone pulsatilla is found not in woods, but in open situations. It grows wild in the dry soils of almost every Central and Northern country of Europe, but in England is rather a local plant, abounding on high chalk downs and limestone pastures, mostly in Yorkshire, Berkshire, Oxford and Suffolk, but seldom found in other situations and other districts in this country.

Anemone pulsatilla is an herbaceous perennial plant. It develops upright rhizomes, which function as food-storage organs. Its leaves and stems are long, soft, silver-grey and hairy. It grows to 15–30 cm high and when it is fruit-bearing up to 40 cm. The roots go deep into the soil (to 1 m). The finely-dissected leaves are arranged in a rosette and appear with the bell-shaped flower in early spring. The purple flowers are followed by distinctive silky seed-heads which can persist on the plant for many months.

The flower is ‘cloaked in myth’; one legend has it that Pasque flowers sprang up in places that had been soaked by the blood of Romans or Danes because they often appear on old barrows and boundary banks.


The whole plant, especially the bases of the foot-stalks, is covered with silky hairs. It is odourless, but possesses at first a very acrid taste, which is less conspicuous in the dried herb and gradually diminishes on keeping. The majority of the leaves develop after the flowers; they are two to three times deeply three-parted or pinnately cleft to the base, in long, linear, acute segments.

The juice of the purple sepals gives a green stain to paper and linen, but it is not permanent. It has been used to colour the Paschal eggs in some countries, whence it has been supposed the English name of the plant is derived. Gerard, however, expressly informs us that he himself was ‘moved to name’ this the Pasque Flower, or Easter Flower, because of the time of its appearance, it being in bloom from April to June. The specific name, pulsatilla, from pulsc, I beat, is given in allusion to its downy seeds being beaten about by the wind.

Part used Medicinally:
The drug Pulsatilla, which is of highly valuable modern curative use as a herbal simple, is obtained not only from the whole herb of A. pulsatilla, but also from A. pratensis, the Meadow Anemone, which is closely allied to the Pasque Flower, differing chiefly in having smaller flowers with deeper purple sepals, inflexed at the top. It grows in Denmark, Germany and Italy, but not in England. It is recommended for certain diseases of the eye, like Pulsatilla, and is used in homoeopathy, but has been considered somewhat dangerous. The whole plant has a strong acrid taste, but is eaten by both sheep and goats, though cows and horses will not touch it. The leaves when bruised and applied to the skin raise blisters. A. patens, var. Nutalliana is also used for the same purpose as A. pulsatilla.

In each case, the whole herb is collected, soon after flowering, and should be carefully preserved when dried; it deteriorates if kept longer than one year.

The fresh plant yields by distillation with water an acrid, oily principle, with a burning, peppery taste, Oil of Anemone. A similar oil is obtained from Ranunculus bulbosus, R. flammula and R. sceleratus, which belong to the same order of plants. Its therapeutic value is not considered great. When kept for some time,this oily substance becomes decomposed into Anemonic acid and Anemonin. Anemonin is crystalline, tasteless and odourless when pure and melts at 152ø. The action of Pulsatilla is virtually that of this crystalline substance Anemonin, which is a powerful irritant, like cantharides, in overdoses causing violent gastro-enteritis. It is volatile in water vapour and is then irritative to the eyes and mouth. The Oil acts as a vescicant when applied to the skin. Anemonicacid appears to be inert. Anemonin sometimes causes local inflammation and gangrene when subcutaneously injected, vomiting and purging when given internally. It is, however, uncertain whether these symptoms are due to Anemonin itself or to some impurity in it. The chief action of pure Anemonin is a depressant one on the circulation, respiration and spinal cord, to a certain extent resembling that of Aconite. The symptoms are slow and feeble pulse, slow respiration, coldness, paralysis and death without convulsions. In poisoning by extract of Pulsatilla, convulsions are always present. Their absence in poisoning by pure Anemonin appears to be due to its paralysing action on motor centres in the brain.

Medicinal Uses:
Nervine, antispasmodic, alterative and diaphoretic.The tincture of Pulsatilla is beneficial in disorders of the mucous membrane, of the respiratory and of the digestive passages. Doses of 2 to 3 drops in a spoonful of water will allay the spasmodic cough of asthma, whooping-cough and bronchitis.

For catarrhal affection of the eyes, as well as for catarrhal diarrhoea, the tincture is serviceable. It is also valuable as an emmenagogue, in the relief of headaches and neuralgia, and as a remedy for nerve exhaustion in women.

It is specially recommended for fair, blue-eyed women.

It has been employed in the form of extract in some cutaneous diseases with much success; it is included in the British Pharmacopoeia and was formerly included in the United States Pharmacopoeia.

In homoeopathy it is considered very efficacious and even a specific in measles. It is prescribed as a good remedy for nettlerash and also for neuralgic toothache and earache, and is administered in indigestion and bilious attacks.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Aloe vaera

Botanical NameAloe Perryi, Aloe vaera (LINN)

Family: Asphodelaceae
Subfamily: Asphodeloideae
Genus: Aloe
Species: A. perryi
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Order: Asparagales

Common Name: Socotrine aloe.

Habitat: –Aloes are indigenous to East and South Africa, but have been introduced into the West Indies (where they are extensively cultivated) and into tropical countries, and will even flourish in the countries bordering on the Mediterranean. These plants are mainly found in dry areas; on flat or gentle slopes, primarily on limestone pavement but occasionally on sandy plains or granite mountains; at elevations from sea-level to 900 metres.

Aloe Perryi or Aloveras are succulent plants belonging to the Lily family, with perennial, strong and fibrous roots and numerous, persistent, fleshy leaves, proceeding from the upper part of the root, narrow, tapering, thick and fleshy, usually beset at the edges with spiney teeth. Many of the species are woody and branching. In the remote districts of S.W. Africa and in Natal, Aloes have been discovered 30 to 60 feet in height, with stems as much as 10 feet in circumference.

The flowers are produced in erect, terminal spikes. There is no calyx, the corolla is tubular, divided into six narrow segments at the mouth and of a red, yellow or purplish colour. The capsules contain numerous angular seeds.

The true Aloe is in flower during the greater part of the year and is not to be confounded with another plant, the Agave or American Aloe (Agave Americana), which is remarkable for the long interval between its periods of flowering. This is a succulent plant, without stem, the leaves being radical, spiney, and toothed. There is a variety with variegated foliage. The flower-stalk rises to many feet in height, bearing a number of large and handsome flowers. In cold climates there is usually a very long interval between the times of its flowering, though it is a popular error to suppose that it happens only once in a hundred years for when it obtains sufficient heat and receives a culture similar to that of the pineapple, it is found to flower much more frequently. Various species of Agave, all of which closely resemble each other, have been largely grown as ornamental plants since the first half of the sixteenth century in the south of Europe, and are completely acclimatized in Spain, Portugal and Southern Italy, but though often popularly called Aloes all of them are plants of the New World whereas the true Aloes are natives of the Old World. From a chemical point of view there is also no analogy at all between Aloes and Agaves.


Although the Agave is not employed medicinally, the leaves have been used in Jamaica as a substitute for soap, the expressed juice (a gallon of the juice yields about 1 lb. of the soft extract), dried in the sun, being made into balls with wood ash. This soap lathers with salt water as well as fresh. The leaves have also been used for scouring pewter and kitchen utensils. The inner spongy substance of the leaves in a decayed state has been employed as tinder and the fibres may be spun into a strong, useful thread.

The fleshy leaves of the true Aloe contain near the epidermis or outer skin, a row of fibrovascular bundles, the cells of which are much enlarged and filled with a yellow juice which exudes when the leaf is cut. When it is desired to collect the juice, the leaves are cut off close to the stem and so placed that the juice is drained off into tubs. This juice thus collected is concentrated either by spontaneous evaporation, or more generally by boiling until it becomes of the consistency of thick honey. On cooling, it is then poured into gourds, boxes, or other convenient receptacles, and solidifies.

Aloes require two or three years’ standing before they yield their juice. In the West Indian Aloe plantations they are set out in rows like cabbages and cutting takes place in March or April, but in Africa the drug is collected from the wild plants.

A plant of mainly arid and semi-arid lowland areas in the tropics. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 22 – 27°c, but can tolerate 12 – 31°c. It can be killed by temperatures of 5°c or lower It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 400 – 700mm, but tolerates 250 – 1,400mm. Tolerant of poor soils. Requires a well-drained, light to medium soil and a position in full sun. Prefers a pH in the range 6.5 – 7, tolerating 6 – 7.5.

Aloe species follow the Crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM). CAM plants can fix carbon dioxide at night and photosynthesize with closed stomata during the day, thus minimizing water loss. This, plus their succulent leaves and stems, and the presence of a thick cuticle, makes them well adapted to dry conditions.

Seed – we have no specific information on this species – in general Aloes are sown in a sandy, well-drained potting soil in a warm, shady position in standard seed trays. Germination takes about three weeks. Cover the seed with a thin layer of sand (1 – 2mm), keep moist. The seedlings can be planted out in individual bags or containers as soon as they are large enough to handle.

The most important constituents of Aloes are the two Aloins, Barbaloin and Isobarbaloin, which constitute the so-called ‘crystalline’ Aloin, present in the drug at from 10 to 30 per cent. Other constituents are amorphous Aloin, resin and Aloe-emodin. The proportion in which the Aloins are present in the respective Aloes is not accurately known.

The manner in which the evaporation is conducted has a marked effect on the appearance of the Aloes, slow and moderate concentration tending to induce crystallization of the Aloin, thus causing the drug to appear opaque. Such Aloes is termed ‘livery’ or hepatic, and splinters of it exhibit minute crystals of Aloin when examined under the microscope. If, on the other hand, the evaporation is carried as far as possible, the Aloin does not crystallize and small fragments of the drug appear transparent; it is then termed ‘glassy,’ ‘vitreous,’ or ‘lucid’ Aloes and exhibits no crystals of Aloin under the microscope.

Medicinal Uses:
Used medicinally in the same ways as Aloe vera Aloe vera is used in the following ways:-

The clear gel contained within the leaf makes an excellent treatment for wounds, burns and a host of other skin disorders, placing a protective coat over the affected area, speeding up the rate of healing and reducing the risk of infection. The gel is also applied externally to cure haemorrhoids. These actions are in part due to the presence of aloectin B, which stimulates the immune system. To obtain this gel, the leaves can be cut in half along their length and the inner pulp rubbed over the affected area of skin. This has an immediate soothing effect on all sorts of burns and other skin problems.
The use of the gel has been approved in the United States for the treatment of leukaemia in cats, of fibrosarcoma in dogs, for wound healing in humans and to prevent dry socket (‘alveolar osteitis’) in humans.
The peeled leaves are eaten to relieve sore throat and coughs and as a mild laxative. As a food supplement, the leaf gel is said to facilitate digestion, and to improve blood and lymphatic circulation, as well as kidney, liver and gall bladder functions. There are claims of beneficial activity of Aloe vera products in cases of AIDS, arthritis, or other chronic and debilitating conditions. However, these claims have not been substantiated by scientific studies. There is also no evidence that topical Aloe vera gel is effective in preventing or minimizing radiation-induced skin reactions in cancer patients. In large amounts, the gel has anti-irritant properties.

A bitter substance is obtained from the yellow sap at the base of the leaf. Known as ‘bitter aloes’, it contains anthraquinones which are a useful digestive stimulant and a strong laxative. It also has vermicidal properties. It is taken internally in the treatment of chronic constipation, poor appetite, digestive problems etc. Mixed with other ingredients to mask its bitter taste, it is taken against asthma and to treat coughs. Similar mixtures are taken to cure dysentery, kidney problems or against dyspepsia. It should be administered preferably in combination with an antispasmodic to moderate its griping action.

It is applied externally as a refrigerant to treat acne or cuts.
‘Curaçao aloe’ should contain at least 28% hydroxy-anthraquinone derivatives; it is almost entirely soluble in 60% alcohol and for more than 70% in water. It should not contain more than 12% moisture and 3% ash.The plant is strongly purgative so great care should be taken over the dosage.
Anthraquinone-based laxatives, such as bitter aloes, should not be used longer than 8 – 10 days, nor by children younger than 12 years. Contra-indications include pregnancy, breastfeeding, intestinal inflammations and haemorrhoids.
When plants are grown in pots the anthraquinone content is greatly reduced.

The word Aloes, in Latin Lignum Aloes, is used in the Bible and in many ancient writings to designate a substance totally distinct from the modern Aloes, namely the resinous wood of Aquilaria agallocha, a large tree growing in the Malayan Peninsula. Its wood constituted a drug which was, down to the beginning of the present century, generally valued for use as incense, but now is esteemed only in the East.

A beautiful violet colour is afforded by the leaves of the Socotrine Aloe, and it does not require a mordant to fix it.
Known Hazards: The sap of Aloe species contains anthraquinones. These compounds have several beneficial medicinal actions, particularly as a laxative, and many species of Aloe are thus employed in traditional medicine. Whilst safe in small doses and for short periods of time, anthraquinones do have potential problems if used in excess. These include congestion and irritation of the pelvic organs.

Long term use of anthraquinone laxatives may also play a role in development of colorectal cancer as they have genotoxic potential, and tumorigenic potential.

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

Astragalus hamosus

Botanical Name: Astragalus hamosus
Family : Fabaceae
Subfamily : Faboideae
Tribe : Galegeae
United : Plantae
Division : magnoliophyta
Class : magnoliopsida
Subclass: Rosidae
Order : Fabales

Common Name : European milkvetch
Habitat : Astragalus hamosus is native to EuropeMediterranean to Armenia, Ukraine and the Caucasus. It grows on the dry grassland. Semidesert areas in foothills and the low montane belt, on clay, loess, sand and rock debris.

Astragalus hamosus is an annual herbiculas plant growing to 0.6 m (2ft) by 0.5 m (1ft 8in). The lives in dry fields and meadows terofíticos . It branches from the base but branches are applied to the soil. The leaves have many leaflets , but less and are smaller than in Astragalus boeticus .
It is in flower from May to July, and the seeds ripen from Jul to September.

The flowers are white, are grouped at the end of a stalk . The fruits perfectly characterize this species as they are strongly curved, they are similar to some fishhooks. It blooms in the spring and the seeds ripen from Jul to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, lepidIt is in flower from May to July, and the seeds ripen from Jul to September. optera.It can fix Nitrogen.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry soil.
Requires a dry well-drained soil in a sunny position. Grows well in Cornwall. Plants are intolerant of root disturbance and are best sown in situ. 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. When removing plant remains at the end of the growing season, it is best to only remove the aerial parts of the plant, leaving the roots in the ground to decay and release their nitrogen. Many members of this genus can be difficult to grow, this may be due partly to a lack of their specific bacterial associations in the soil.

Seed – sow late winter in a greenhouse. Pre-soak the seed for 24 hours in warm water. If any seed does not swell up in this time then carefully prick it with a needle making sure that you do not damage the embryo, and re-soak for a further 24 hours. Germination usually takes place within 3 – 6 weeks at 13°c. As soon as it is large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in early summer.
Edible Uses: Young seedpods – cooked. They quickly become tough and fibrous. The young seedpods are also used in salads. They have only a mediocre taste, but look very much like certain worms and so are used mainly for their novelty value.
Medicinal Uses:
The plant is demulcent, emollient, galactogogue and laxative. It is useful in treating irritation of the mucous membranes, nervous affections and catarrh.

Known Hazards: Many members of this genus contain toxic glycosides. All species with edible seedpods can be distinguished by their fleshy round or oval seedpod that looks somewhat like a greengage. A number of species can also accumulate toxic levels of selenium when grown in soils that are relatively rich in that element.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.