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Ulex europaeus

Botanical Name: Ulex europaeus
Family:Fabaceae
Subfamily:Faboideae
Genus:Ulex
Species:U. europaeus
Kingdom:    Plantae
Order:Fabales

Synonyms:  Furze. Broom. Whin. Prickly Broom. Ruffet. Frey. Goss.
Common Names: Gorse, Common gorse, Furze

Habitat: Ulex europaeus is  native to portions of Europe from the northern United Kingdom south to Galicia in Spain and Portugal, and from the western Republic of Ireland east to Galicja in Poland and Ukraine. There is probably hardly a heath in the country which lacks a patch, however small, of the dry-soil-loving Furze.

Description:
Ulex europaeus is a deciduous Shrub growing to 1.5 m (5ft) by 1.5 m (5ft) at a fast rate, growing to 2–3 metres (7–10 ft) tall. The young stems are green, with the shoots and leaves modified into green spines, 1–3 centimetres (0.39–1.18 in) long. Young seedlings produce normal leaves for the first few months; these are trifoliate, resembling a small clover leaf.

The flowers are yellow, 1–2 centimetres (0.39–0.79 in) long, with the pea-flower structure typical of the Fabaceae; they are produced throughout the year, but mainly in early spring. The fruit is a legume (pod) 2 centimetres (0.79 in) long, dark purplish-brown, partly enclosed by the pale brown remnants of the flower; the pod contains 2-3 small blackish, shiny, hard seeds, which are ejected when the pod splits open in hot weather. Seeds remain viable for 30 years.

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Like many species of gorse, it is often a fire-climax plant, which readily catches fire but re-grows from the roots after the fire; the seeds are also adapted to germinate after slight scorching by fire. It has a tap root, lateral and adventious roots. An extremely tough and hardy plant, it can live for about thirty years.

Cultivation:
An easily grown plant, it requires a poor soil and a sunny position to be at its best. It does well on dry sunny banks or in poor gravelly soils. It is intolerant of shade, nor does it do well on rich soils. Prefers a neutral to slightly acid soil, disliking alkaline soils. Plants are very intolerant of root disturbance. Very tolerant of maritime exposure and, once established, drought. Although native to Britain and said to be hardy to about -20°c, gorse often suffers badly in severe winters, but the plants usually recover. They often accumulate dry dead spines at their centre, this can be a fire risk in dry summers. The plants often resprout from the base after a fire and, even if killed, numerous seedlings will soon spring up to replace the dead plants. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus. The flowers are strongly scented of coconut. Another report says that the flowers have a smell of vanilla with undertones of orange or pineapple. It is one of the most refreshing of all flower scents. A food plant for the caterpillars of several lepidoptera species. Plants often form dense thickets and these are ideal nesting areas for many species of birds. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby.

Propagation: 
Seed – pre-soak 24 hours in hot water and sow in individual pots in a greenhouse in late winter to early spring. Germination should take place within 2 weeks. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Plants are very intolerant of root disturbance and so should be planted into their permanent positions as soon as possible, though not until after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 7cm with a heel, July/August in a frame. Pot up in spring as soon as rooting commences and plant out into their permanent positions as soon as possible

Edible Uses: The flower buds are pickled in vinegar and then used like capers in salads. A tea is made from the shoot tips

Parts Used:  Flowers, seed.

Medicinal Uses:
Gorse has never played much of a role in herbal medicine, though its flowers have been used in the treatment of jaundice and as a treatment for scarlet fever in children. The seed is said to be astringent and has been used in the treatment of diarrhoea and stones. The plant is used in Bach flower remedies – the keywords for prescribing it are ‘Hopelessness’ and ‘Despair’

Other Uses:
Bruised gorse was used in some areas for feeding to horses and other livestocks.

Lectin extracted from seeds of this species binds to, is remarkably specific for, and is the standard method for identification of H-substance (absent in the hh antigen system) on human red blood cells. The vast majority of humans express H-substance, which is the basis for the ABO blood group system, but a few rare individuals (“Bombay phenotype“) do not—and a chemical isolated from Ulex europaeus is used to identify these individuals.
It fixes nitrogen into the soil.

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/Ulex_europaeus
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/g/gorgol31.html
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Ulex+europaeus

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Birthwort

Botanical Name:Aristolochia clematitis
Family: Aristolochiaceae
Genus: Aristolochia
Species: A. clematitis
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Piperales

Synonyms:
Heterotypic
Aristolochia infesta Salisb., Prodr. stirp. Chap. Allerton, 215. 1796, nom. illeg.
Aristolochia longa Georgi, Beschr. russ. Reich vol. 3, 5, 1274. 1800, nom. illeg. (non L.).
Aristolochia rotunda Georgi, Beschr. russ. Reich vol. 3, 5, 1274. 1800, nom. illeg. (non L.).

Common Name:Birthwort

Habitats:  Birthwort  is native to   east  and south east Europe. Naturalized in Britain. It grows in the waste ground, gardens, orchards etc.

Description:   Birthwort is a evergreen and deciduous woody vines and herbaceous perennials plant, growing to 0.7 m (2ft 4in) by 0.5 m (1ft 8in). The smooth stem is erect or somewhat twining. The simple leaves are alternate and cordate, membranous, growing on leaf stalks. There are no stipules.

The flowers grow in the leaf axils. They are inflated and globose at the base, continuing as a long perianth tube, ending in a tongue-shaped, brightly colored lobe. There is no corolla. The calyx is one to three whorled, and three to six toothed. The sepals are united (gamosepalous). There are six to 40 stamens in one whorl. They are united with the style, forming a gynostemium. The ovary is inferior and is four to six locular.

It is in leaf 11-May It is in flower from Jul to September. These flowers have a specialized pollination mechanism. The plants are aromatic and their strong scent attracts insects. The inner part of the perianth tube is covered with hairs, acting as a fly-trap. These hairs then wither to release the fly, covered with pollen.

The fruit is dehiscent capsule with many endospermic seeds.

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

Cultivation:
Prefers a well-drained loamy soil, rich in organic matter, in sun or semi-shade[1, 134]. Succeeds in ordinary garden soil. The plant has an invasive root system. Most species in this genus have malodorous flowers, often smelling like decaying flesh, that are pollinated by flies. The insects that pollinate this plant become trapped in the hairy throat of the flower. Birthwort was formerly cultivated as a medicinal plant in most of Europe.

Propagation:
Seed – best sown in a greenhouse as soon as it is ripe in the autumn. Pre-soak stored seed for 48 hours in hand-hot water and surface sow in a greenhouse. Germination usually takes place within 1 – 3 months at 20°c. Stored seed germinates better if it is given 3 months cold stratification at 5°c. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant out in late spring or early summer after the last expected frosts. Division in autumn. Root cuttings in winter

Medicinal Uses;

AbortifacientAntiinflammatory;  Antispasmodic;  Diaphoretic;  EmmenagogueFebrifuge;  Oxytoxic;  Stimulant.

Birthwort has a very long history of medicinal use, though it has been little researched scientifically and is little used by present-day herbalists. It is an aromatic tonic herb that stimulates the uterus, reduces inflammation, controls bacterial infections and promotes healing. The juice from the stems was used to induce childbirth. The plant contains aristolochic acid which, whilst stimulating white blood cell activity and speeding the healing of wounds, is also carcinogenic and damaging to the kidneys. The flowering herb, with or without the root, is abortifacient, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, febrifuge, oxytocic and stimulant. Another report says that the root is used on its own whilst a third says that either the fresh flowering herb or the dried rootstock can be used. The plant should not be used internally without experienced supervision, externally it is used in the treatment of slow-healing cuts, eczema, infected toe and finger nails etc. Use with caution, internal consumption can cause damage to the kidneys and uterine bleeding. It should not be used by pregnant women

Used to treat: abdominal complaints, cancer, cancer (nose), depurative, leg ulcers, menstrual troubles, polyps (nose), tumor, wounds.  Not used much today, birthwort was formerly used to treat wounds, sores, and snake bite.  It has been taken after childbirth to prevent infection and is also a potent menstruation-inducing herbs and a (very dangerous) abortifacient.  A decoction was taken to encourage healing of ulcers.  Birthwort has also been used for asthma and bronchitis.
Chinese research into aristolochic acid has shown it to be an effective wound healer.  Aristolochia species are used in China, but the medicinal use has been banned in Germany because of the toxicity of aristolochic acid.  Chinese herbalists use the fruit when there is lung heat and inflammation, with or without deficiency, but with the presence of phlegm. For these conditions, it stops coughing and wheezing. It is also used internally to treat bleeding hemorrhoids.

Click to see :Overview of Aristolochia Clematitis (Arist-c) as a homeopathic remedy. :

Known Hazards:
The root and stem are poisonous. The plant contains aristolochic acid, this has received rather mixed reports on its toxicity. According to one report aristolochic acid stimulates white blood cell activity and speeds the healing of wounds, but is also carcinogenic and damaging to the kidneys. Another report says that it is an active antitumour agent but is too toxic for clinical use. Another report says that aristolochic acid has anti-cancer properties and can be used in conjunction with chemotherapy and radiotherapy and that it also increases the cellular immunity and phagocytosis function of the phagocytic cells

Medicinal problems:
It was formerly used as a medicinal plant (though poisonous) and is now occasionally found established outside of its native range as a relic of cultivation. A recent study suggests that it is the cause for thousands of kidney failures in Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia and Croatia where the plant is unintentionally consumed through flour. This has been discovered after a clinic for obesity in Belgium used Aristolochiaceae as a diuretic, after a few months some of the subjects suffered from kidney carcinoma and kidney failure.

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

Resources:
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_AB.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aristolochia_clematitis
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Aristolochia%20clematitis
http://species.wikimedia.org/wiki/Aristolochia_clematitis

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