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Ferula communis

Botanical Name : Ferula communis
Family: Apiaceae
Genus: Ferula
Species: F. communis
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Apiales

Synonyms : F. brevifolia. F. linkii. ,Ferula communis ‘Gigantea’

Common Names: Giant Fennel, Meeting seed

Habitat : Ferula communis is native to Europe – Mediterranean. It grows on dry hills, walls, waste ground and limestone, often in soils that are damp in the spring.
Description:
Ferula communis is a tall herbaceous perennial plant growing to 2.5 m (8ft) by 1 m (3ft 3in). It is found in Mediterranean and East African woodlands and shrublands. It was known in antiquity as Laser or narthex.It has big, pinnately divided large leaves and compound umbels of small white, yellow or purple flowers; that may die after flowering.

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It is not frost tender. It is in flower in June. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Flies.The plant is self-fertile.
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 and can tolerate drought.

Cultivation:
Succeeds in most soils including dry ones according to one report whilst others say that it requires a deep moist fertile soil in a sunny position. Established plants are drought resistant. This species is hardy to about -10°c, possibly lower if the rootstock is mulched in the winter. A very ornamental plant, though the flowers have a most unpleasant rancid smell. Plants are often monoecious. Plants are intolerant of root disturbance due to their long taproot. They should be planted into their final positions as soon as possible. The sub-species brevifolia is the form used for its gum.

Propagation:
Seed – best sown as soon as the seed is ripe in a greenhouse in autumn. Otherwise sow in April in a greenhouse. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle. Plant them out into their permanent positions whilst still small because the plants dislike root disturbance. Give the plants a protective mulch for at least their first winter outdoors. Division in autumn. This may be inadvisable due to the plants dislike of root disturbance.
Edible Uses:
Edible Parts: Leaves. & Gums

Medicinal Uses:
One report says that the root yields a gum with medicinal properties but no details are are found in internet.

Other Uses :
Furniture; Gum; Miscellany; Tinder.

A gum ‘Gum Ammoniac‘ is obtained by notching the root. It is used as an incense[4], it also has medicinal value. The stems are used in furniture making. The dried pith is used as a tinder, it burns very slowly inside the stem and can thus be carried from one place to another.

Known Hazards: In Sardinia two different chemotypes of Ferula communis have been identified: poisonous (especially to animals like sheep, goats, cattle, and horses) and not-poisonous. They differ for both secondary metabolites pattern and enzymatic composition.

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

Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferula_communis#cite_note-4
https://www.rhs.org.uk/plants/details?plantid=791
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Ferula+communis

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Aconitum fischeri

Botanical Name : Aconitum fischeri
Family: Ranunculaceae
Genus: Aconitum
Species: A. fischeri
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Ranunculales

Common Names: Fischer monkshood,Azure Monkshood

Habitat : Aconitum fischeri is native to E. Asia – Northern Japan, Eastern Russia. (Korea and Siberia and cultivated in gardens in temperate zones for its showy flowers.) It grows in riverside forests on alluvium, often in large groups, clearings, occasionally in birch and alder forests and very rarely on herb covered slopes in Kamtschatka.
Description:
Aconitum fischeri is a perennial plant, growing 61 to 66 cm (24 to 26 in) spreads 61 to 76cm (24 to 30 in). It produces upright spikes of lavender blue flowers in September. This species has particularly strong stems that do not require staking. The deeply divided dark green foliage is very attractive. Plants bloom early-late summer. This plant works well in perennial borders and cottage and woodland gardens and provides colour late in the season. It is pollinated by Bees.Colour of flowers are lavender blue. The plant is deer & rabbit registant.

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

Cultivation:
Thrives in most soils and in the light shade of trees. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Prefers a moist soil in sun or semi-shade. Prefers a calcareous soil. Grows well in open woodlands. Members of this genus seem to be immune to the predations of rabbits and deer. A greedy plant, inhibiting the growth of nearby species, especially legumes. Cultivated in China as a medicinal plant, it has been said to have been rendered much less toxic through this cultivation.

Propagation:
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. The seed can be stratified and sown in spring but will then be slow to germinate. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a cold frame for their first winter. Plant them out in late spring or early summer. Division – best done in spring but it can also be done in autumn. Another report says that division is best carried out in the autumn or late winter because the plants come into growth very early in the year.

Medicinal Uses:
The dried root is alterative, anaesthetic, antiarthritic, deobstruent, diaphoretic, diuretic, sedative, stimulant. It should be harvested in the autumn as soon as the plant has died down. This is a very poisonous plant and should only be used with extreme caution and under the supervision of a qualified practitioner.

Known Hazards: All parts of Aconitum are poisonous. Always wear gloves when working with this plant as simple skin contact has caused numbness in some people.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aconitum_fischeri
http://www.whitehouseperennials.com/catalogue/perennials/item/aconitum-fischeri
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Aconitum+fischeri

Five for Fitness

Most of us are born healthy and usually remain so with minimal effort till around 20. After that, our body starts to fall apart — like an old, unserviced machine — unless some effort is made to maintain the inherent fitness levels.

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The recommendations vary from walking an hour daily (ideal) to 30 minutes three days a week (just about enough to scrape along). Despite doing this, people develop stress, bad posture, arthritis, diabetes, abnormal lipid profiles, hypertension and heart attacks. That’s because they are unaware of the other components of an ideal fitness regimen, the need to simultaneously develop “core strength”, flexibility, strength training and balance.

People are bombarded by adverts of gyms and expensive exercise equipment. The latter may target specific muscle groups to produce a six-pack abdomen and bulging biceps. Most people do not, however, have the time to go to a gym regularly. As for fancy equipment, it usually starts to gather dust after a short period of activity.

Corporate gurus talk about maintaining core strength, and employees take to meditation, religion and prayer as they try to maintain their inner fortitude. Actually, in fitness terms, strengthening the “core” means exercising the muscles deep within the torso, the abdominal muscles, those of the back and pelvic floor. The core is a group of muscles, so a balanced approach is needed to work them all. All body movement is powered by these muscles. A strong back and fit abdominal muscles are needed, or else it results in poor posture and back problems. These muscles work together to support the spine when we sit, stand, bend over, pick up things and exercise. In sum, they are the body’s epicentre of power and balance.

Dancers and yoga practitioners do exercises that give them strong core muscles. They are thus fitter, have better postures and more energy than their peers in old age.

Core training can be done at home. It requires just 20 minutes thrice a week. The exercises are regularly taught as part of yoga and Pilates. CDs and books are also available. Proper demonstration will enable you to do them correctly.

A simple, effective core workout routine which covers all the basic muscles includes the plank exercise (balancing on the toes and forearms), the side plank (where you balance on one arm and leg), push-ups, squats, cycling in the air and lunges. All movements need to be held for 20 seconds at a time. Repeat five or six times.

Strength training does not involve heavy weight lifting. The muscles of the arms legs and lower back can be effectively trained using 1kg weights. This can be done with an iron or aluminum baby dumbbell (available at sports shops). You could even fabricate one by filling a 1-litre plastic bottle with water. The movements are similar to those in a school PT drill. Doing this regularly will slowly and surely build up muscle power.

People often do not give enough importance to flexion training of the muscles. If you don’t do anything more stressful than slow walking, your calf muscles may contract and eventually become tight. They can then restrict the range of motion at the knee and ankle resulting in eventual injury. All the groups of muscles in the body need to be stretched to their limit but there should not be any pain. Stretching is taught in yoga. The exercises are also demonstrated on the Doordarshan sports channel. If you discontinue the activity, benefits are lost in three or four days.

Balance becomes more and more important with age. Training for balance involves standing on one leg at a time with the arms stretched out. Once you are able to do this with ease, try doing it with your eyes closed.

A common misconception is that exercise tires you out. On the contrary, it improves stamina and the ability to perform day-to-day activities. Several studies have shown that it reduces cortisol levels and therefore improves mental strength and reduces stress.

To be effective, exercise training needs to balance the five elements of good health. The routine should include aerobic activity, muscular fitness, stretching, core exercise and balance training.

Sometimes fitting in an exercise schedule with all these components becomes difficult. Try getting up half an hour earlier in the morning to complete the routine. Regular exercise will improve balance and posture and reduce the risk of injury, lifestyle diseases and arthritis, leading to a long, healthy and happy life.

Source : The Telegraph ( Kolkata, India)

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Stoking The Inner Fire

Turning Inward During Winter
In the depths of winter, we can forget that bare trees will once again be full with foliage, and grass and flowers hidden beneath a blanket of white or a deceptive covering of hardened earth will burst forth once again. While they slumber, nature is continuing its work at the center of each living thing. We can think of our blankets and warm clothes as similar protection—like the cocoon that surrounds a changing caterpillar—while we undergo our own inner transformational work. In the meantime, the lights that twinkle and the fires that warm us can serve to remind us of the flame of life that burns within us.

In order to stoke our inner flame, we can use the time indoors to focus our attention on our homes and families. We can become distracted by the world outside and forget that we need to nourish the lights that warm our hearts. Interacting at a soul level can be done by sharing stories from our hearts, doing projects together, dancing, or playing games. Devoting energy this way helps us build a stronger bond that will sustain us once the world allows us each to pursue our individual goals again.

Winter allows us to feed the flame in our own centers by reading or researching to nourish our dreams and plans for the future. This can mean catching up on all the quieter things we wanted to do but didn’t have time for, like reading books, watching movies, or listening to music. We may have set aside creative pursuits such as painting or writing that can be brought back to the center burner now. It is also a great time to do some journaling to look back on the year that has passed and perhaps the years before this one in preparation for forward motion in the coming year. Nature’s wisdom offers us opportunities to nourish our inner seeds of hope in preparation for our future, so let us enjoy the inner warmth and be grateful for it all.

Sources: Daily Om

Beyond Counting Blessings

Being Truly Thankful
Often when we practice being thankful, we go through the process of counting our blessings, acknowledging the wonderful people, things and places that make up our reality. While it is fine to be grateful for the good fortune we have accumulated, true thankfulness stems from a powerful comprehension of the gift of simply being alive, and when we feel it, we feel it regardless of our circumstances. In this deep state of gratitude, we recognize the purity of the experience of being, in and of itself, and our thankfulness is part and parcel of our awareness that we are one with this great mystery that is life.

It is difficult for most of us to access this level of consciousness as we are very caught up in the ups and downs of our individual experiences in the world. The thing to remember about the world, though, is that it ebbs and flows, expands and contracts, gives and takes, and is by its very nature somewhat unreliable. If we only feel gratitude when it serves our desires, this is not true thankfulness. No one is exempt from the twists and turns of fate, which may, at any time, take the possessions, situations, and people we love away from us. Ironically, it is sometimes this kind of loss that awakens us to a thankfulness that goes deeper than just being grateful when things go our way. Illness and near-miss accidents can also serve as wake-up calls to the deeper realization that we are truly lucky to be alive.

We do not have to wait to be shaken to experience this state of being truly thankful for our lives. Tuning in to our breath and making an effort to be fully present for a set period of time each day can do wonders for our ability to connect with true gratitude. We can also awaken ourselves with the intention to be more aware of the unconditional generosity of the life force that flows through us regardless of our circumstances.

Sources: Daily Om