Tag Archives: Aesculus californica

Californian Buckeye

Botanical Name :Aesculus californica
Family: Hippocastanaceae/Sapindaceae
Genus : Aesculus
Synonyms: Pavia californica – (Spach.)Hartw.
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Sapindales
Species:
A. californica

Common Names :Buckeye, California Buckeye or California Horse-chestnut.

Habitat: South-western N. AmericaCalifornia.    Moist stream borders, scrub and the edges of oak and pine woods in canyons and dry slopes below 1200 metres. Woodland Garden; Canopy; Secondary;

Description:
It is a large decidious shrub or small tree growing to 4-12 m tall, with gray bark often coated with lichens or mosses. It typically is multi-trunked with a crown as broad as it is high. The leaves are dark green, palmately compound with five (rarely seven) leaflets, each leaflet 6-17 cm long, with a finely toothed margin and (particularly in spring) downy surfaces. The leaves are tender and prone to damage from both spring freezing or snow and summer heat and desiccation.
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The flowers are sweet-scented, white to pale pink, produced in erect panicles 15-20 cm long and 5-8 cm broad. The fruit is a fig-shaped capsule 5-8 cm long, containing a large (2-5 cm), round, orange-brown seed; the seeds are poisonous. The California Buckeye has adapted to its native Mediterranean climate by growing during the wet winter and spring months and entering dormancy during dry summer and fall months; it begins the year’s growth in early spring and begins dropping leaves by mid-summer

It is hardy to zone 7 and is frost tender. It is in flower from July to August, and the seeds ripen in September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.

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 deep loamy well-drained soil but is not too fussy. Requires a position in full sun. Prefers dry sunny locations[126]. Although fairly hardy throughout Britain, it grows best in areas where winter temperatures do not fall below -10°c. A moderately fast-growing and long-lived tree in the wild, in Britain it grows best in eastern and south-eastern England. Plants thrives at Kew. Most members of this genus transplant easily, even when fairly large.

Propagation:-
Seed – best sown outdoors or in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe. The seed germinates almost immediately and must be given protection from severe weather. The seed has a very limited viability and must not be allowed to dry out. Stored seed should be soaked for 24 hours prior to sowing and even after this may still not be viable. It is best to sow the seed with its ‘scar’ downwards. If sowing the seed in a cold frame, pot up the seedlings in early spring and plant them out into their permanent positions in the summer.

Edible Uses:-
Edible Parts: Seed.

Seed – cooked. It can be dried, ground into a powder and used as a gruel. The seed contains about 23% protein and has an agreeable taste. The seed is large, and can be up to 5cm in diameter. It is often produced abundantly in the warmer areas of Britain and is easily harvested. This was the most commonly used Aesculus species in N. America. It does, however, contain poisonous saponins (see the notes above on toxicity) and so needs careful preparation before being eaten. The seed needs to be leached of these toxins before it becomes safe to eat – the Indians would do this by slow-roasting the nuts (which would have rendered the saponins harmless) and then cutting them into thin slices, putting them into a cloth bag and rinsing them in a stream for 2 – 5 days. Most of the minerals etc would also have been leached out by this treatment

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

Seed (Fresh weight)
0 Calories per 100g
Water: 0%
Protein: 23g; Fat: 0g; Carbohydrate: 0g; Fibre: 0g; Ash: 0g;
Minerals – Calcium: 0mg; Phosphorus: 0mg; Iron: 0mg; Magnesium: 0mg; Sodium: 0mg; Potassium: 0mg; Zinc: 0mg;
Vitamins – A: 0mg; Thiamine (B1): 0mg; Riboflavin (B2): 0mg; Niacin: 0mg; B6: 0mg; C: 0mg;

Medicinal Actions &  Uses:-
Expectorant; Odontalgic; Salve.
The seed contains saponins and can be used as an expectorant. The crushed fruit is applied as a salve on haemorrhoids. A decoction of the bark is used in the treatment of toothache and loose teeth.  The Pomo Indians used the fruit to expel worms from the bowels of their horses and the bark of the tree to cure toothaches.  Small fragments were placed in the cavity of the patient’s tooth and kept firmly in place until the pain receded.

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.

Other Uses:-
Friction sticks; Soap; Wood.
The seed is rich in saponins, these are used as a soap substitute. The saponins can be easily obtained by chopping the seed into small pieces and infusing them in hot water. This water can then be used for washing the body, clothes etc. Its main drawback is a lingering odour of horse chestnuts. Wood – soft, light, very close grained. Of no value as a lumber. The wood was used as friction sticks for making fire by the North American Indians.

Scented Plants:-
Flowers: Fresh
The flowers are scented.

Ecology:-
The tree acts as a soil binder, which prevents erosion in hilly regions. It is sometimes used as an ornamental. Local native American tribes, including the Pomo, Yokut, and Luiseño, used the poisonous nuts to stupefy schools of fish in small streams to make them easier to catch. The bark, leaves, and fruits contain the neurotoxic glycoside aesculin, which causes hemolysis of red blood cells.

Native groups occasionally used the nuts as a food supply when the acorn supply was sparse; after boiling and leaching the toxin out of the nut meats for several days, they could be ground into a meal similar to that made from acorns.

Known Hazards: The nectar of the flowers is  toxic, and it can kill honeybees and other insects. When the shoots are small and leaves are new they are lower in toxins and are grazed by livestock and wildlife.  The seed is rich in saponins. 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. The flowers of this plant are toxic to bees.

Resources:
http://www.pfaf.org/database/plants.php?Aesculus+californica
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aesculus_californica
http://www.calfloranursery.com/pages_plants/pages_a/aescal.html

http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_AB.htm

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California Poppy ( Eschscholzia californica)

Botanical Name : Eschscholzia californica
Family: Papaveraceae
Genus: Eschscholzia
Species: E. californica
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Ranunculales
Parts Used: Aerial parts

Synonyms:  Eschscholzia douglasii.

Common Names : California poppy, Californian poppy,  Golden poppy, California sunlight, Cup of gold
Habitat:   Eschscholzia californica  is native to   Western N. America – ——-Washington to California and Nevada. A frequent garden escape in Britain. Grassy open places to 2000 metres in California

Description:      Eschscholzia californica  is a  perennial herb, with spreading stems, growing up to 2 feet tall with alternately branching glaucous blue-green foliage. The leaves are ternately divided into round, lobed segments. The leaves are divided many times into fine greenish- gray segments. Conspicuous flowers range in color from bright yellow to deep orange and have four petals and many stamens.

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The flowers are solitary on long stems, silky-textured, with four petals, each petal 2-6 cm long and broad; their color ranges from yellow to orange, and flowering is from February to September. The fruit is a slender dehiscent capsule 3-9 cm long, which splits in two to release the numerous small black or dark brown seeds. It is perennial in mild parts of its native range, and annual in colder climates; growth is best in full sun and sandy, well-drained, poor soil.

It grows well in disturbed areas and often recolonizes after fires. In addition to being planted for horticulture, revegetation, and highway beautification, it often colonizes along roadsides and other disturbed areas. It is drought-tolerant, self-seeding, and easy to grow in gardens.

Cultivation :
Succeeds in a hot dry position. Plants grow well in maritime climates. A very ornamental plant, it is commonly grown in the flower garden and there are many named varieties. This plant is the state flower of California. Although a perennial it is usually quite short-lived and is more often grown as an annual in this country. It can tolerate temperatures down to about -10°c, however, and often survives mild winters. If the dead flowers are removed before they set seed the plant will continue flowering for a longer period. A polymorphic species. Plants resent root disturbance and should be sown in situ. The flowers are very attractive to bees. They close during wet or overcast weather. Plants often self-sow if the soil is disturbed by some means such as hoeing. Special Features:Attractive foliage, North American native, Naturalizing, Suitable for cut flowers, Extended bloom season in Zones 9A and above.

Propagation:
Seed – sow in mid spring or late summer to early autumn in a sunny border outdoors and only just cover the seed.  Autumn sown plants may require protection from frosts in cold winters. The seed usually germinates in 2 – 3 weeks.

Edible Uses:…..Leaves – cooked. This plant is in a family that contains many poisonous plants so some caution is advised in using it.

Constituents: Califonidine, eschscoltzin, protopine, N-methyllaurotanin, allocryptopine, cheleryytrine and sanguinarine.
Medicinal Uses:

Anodyne; Antianxiety; Antidepressant; Antispasmodic; Diaphoretic; Diuretic; Galactofuge; Odontalgic.

The Californian poppy is a bitter sedative herb that acts as a diuretic, relieves pain, relaxes spasms and promotes perspiration. The whole plant is harvested when in flower and dried for use in tinctures and infusions. It is taken internally in the treatment of nervous tension, anxiety, insomnia and incontinence (especially in children). The watery sap is mildly narcotic and has been used to relieve toothache. It is similar in its effect to the opium poppy (Papaver somniferum) but is much milder in its action and does not depress the central nervous system. Another report says that it has a markedly different effect upon the central nervous system, that it is not a narcotic but tends to normalize psychological function. Its gently antispasmodic, sedative and analgesic actions make it a valuable herbal medicine for treating physical and psychological problems in children. It may also prove beneficial in attempts to overcome bedwetting, difficulty in sleeping and nervous tension and anxiety. An extract of the root is used as a wash on the breasts to suppress the flow of milk in lactating females.

Used for stress, anxiety, tension, neuralgia, incontinence ( especially in children), tachycardia, hypertension, colic, headache, and toothache.
California Poppy has the reputation of being non-addictive (compared to the Opium Poppy), though it is less powerful. It has been used effectively as a sedative, and also as a hypnotic for those cases when a spasmodic remedy is required.
It is used in treating sleeplessness and over excitability in children, acting as a sedative. It is a non-addictive alternative to the Opium Poppy.

Other Uses: Landscape Uses:Border, Container, Foundation, Massing, Rock garden. Prefers a poor sandy soil and a sunny position but is easily grown in an ordinary garden soil.

Taxonomy:
The species is very variable, and over 90 synonyms exist. Some botanists accept two subspecies, one with four varieties (e.g. Leger and Rice, 2003), though others do not recognise them as distinct (e.g. Jepson 1993):

E. californica subsp. californica, native to California, Baja California, and Oregon, widely planted as an ornamental, and an invasive elsewhere.

E.californica subsp. californica var. californica, which is found along the coast from the San Francisco Peninsula north. They are perennial and somewhat prostrate, with yellow flowers.

E. californica subsp. californica var. maritima (E. L. Greene) Jeps., which is found along the coast from Monterey south to San Miguel Island. They are perennial, long-lived, glaucous, short in stature, and have extremely prostrate growth and yellow flowers.

E. californica subsp. californica var. crocea (Benth.) Jeps., which grows in non-arid inland regions. They are perennial, taller, and have orange flowers.

E. california subsp. californica var. peninsularis (E. L. Greene) Munz, which is an annual or facultative annual growing in arid inland environments.

E. californica subsp. mexicana (E. L. Greene) C. Clark, the Mexican Goldpoppy, which is found in the Sonoran Desert.

History and uses
Eschscholzia californica was the first named member of the genus Eschscholzia, which was named by the German botanist Adelbert von Chamisso after another botanist, Johann Friedrich von Eschscholtz, his friend and colleague on Otto von Kotzebue’s scientific expedition to California and the greater Pacific in the early 19th century.

Spanish explorers called the flower copa de oro, “cup of gold” or sometimes dormidera, which means, “the drowsy one” because the flowers close at dusk. The botanical name is in honor of Dr. J.F. Eschscholtz, a physician and naturalist, who came to explore California with the Russians in 1816 and 1824.
Native Indians used the green foliage as a vegetable and parts of the plant as a mild pain-killer.

The California poppy is the California state flower. It was selected as the state flower by the California State Floral Society in December 1890, winning out over the Mariposa lily (genus Calochortus) and the Matilija poppy (Romneya coulteri) by a landslide, but the state legislature did not make the selection official until 1903. Its golden blooms were deemed a fitting symbol for the Golden State. April 6 of each year is designated “California Poppy Day.”

Horticulturalists have produced numerous cultivars with various other colors and blossom and stem forms. These typically do not breed true on reseeding.

A common myth associated with the plant is that cutting or otherwise damaging the California poppy is illegal because it is a state flower. There is no such law. There is a state law that makes it a misdemeanor to cut or remove any flower, tree, shrub or other plant growing on state or county highways, with an exception for authorized government employees and contractors (Cal. Penal Code Section 384a).

The Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve is located in northern Los Angeles County, California. At the peak of the blooming season, orange petals seem to cover all 1,745 acres (7 km²) of the reserve.

As an invasive species:
Because of its beauty and ease of growing, the California poppy was introduced into several regions with similar Mediterranean climates. It is commercially sold and widely naturalized in Australia, and was introduced to South Africa, Chile, and Argentina. In Chile, it was introduced from multiple sources between the mid 1800s and the early 1900s. It appears to have been both intentionally imported as an ornamental garden plant, and accidentally introduced along with alfalfa seed grown in California. Since Chile and California have similar climatic regions and have experienced much agricultural exchange, it is perhaps not surprising that it was introduced to Chile. Once there, its perennial forms spread primarily in human-disturbed environments (Leger and Rice, 2003).

Interestingly, the introduced Chilean populations of California poppy appear to be larger and more fecund in their introduced range than in their native range (Leger and Rice, 2003). Introduced populations have been noted to be larger and more reproductively successful than native ones (Elton, 1958), and there has been much speculation as to why. Increase in resource availability, decreased competition, and release from enemy pressure have all been proposed as explanations.

One hypothesis is that the resources devoted in the native range to a defense strategy, can in the absence of enemies be devoted to increased growth and reproduction (the EICA hypothesis, Blossey & Nötzold, 1995). However, this is not the case with introduced populations of E. californica in Chile: the Chilean populations were actually more resistant to Californian caterpillars than the native populations (Leger and Forister, 2005).

Within the USA, it is also recognized as a potentially invasive species, being classified in Tennessee as a Rank 3 (Lesser Threat) species, i.e. an exotic plant species that spreads in or near disturbed areas, and is not presently considered a threat to native plant communities (Tennessee Exotic Pest Plant Council). Also, no indications of ill effects have been reported for this plant where it has been introduced outside of California.

It is not known whether efforts are being undertaken anywhere in its introduced range to control or prevent further spread, nor what methods would be best suited to do so

 

California poppy leaves were used medicinally by Native Americans, and the pollen was used cosmetically. The seeds are used in cooking.

Extract from the California poppy acts as a mild sedative when smoked. The effect is far milder than that of opium, which contains a different class of alkaloids. Smoking California poppy extract is claimed not to be addictive.

A tincture of California poppy can be used to treat nervousness and, with larger dosage, insomnia.

Preparation and Dosages:
Fresh plant tincture, [1:2] 15 to 25 drops, up to 3 times a day.
Dry herb, standard infusion, 2 to 4 ounces.

Known Hazards : No records of toxicity have been seen but this species belongs to a family that contains many poisonous plants. Some caution is therefore advised.

Contraindications: The California Poppy should not be used in pregnancy due to the uterine stimulating effects from the alkaloid, cryptopine.

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.

Resource:
http://www.indianspringherbs.com/California_Poppy.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_Poppy

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Eschscholzia+californica

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