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Ecballium elaterium

Botanical Name : Ecballium elaterium
Family: Cucurbitaceae
Tribus: Bryonieae
Genus: Ecballium
Species: Ecballium elaterium
Subspecies: E. e. subsp. elaterium – E. e. subsp. dioicum
Synonyms: Momordica elateria

Common Name : Squirting Cucumber

Habitat :Ecballium elaterium is native to Europe – Mediterranean. Naturalized in Britain at a few locations along the south coast. It grows on hot dry places on waste ground and roadsides, usually close to the coast.

Description:
Ecballium elaterium is a perennial plant,  growing to 0.3 m (1ft) by 1 m (3ft 3in).
It is frost tender. It is in flower from Jun to August, and the seeds ripen from Aug to September. 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 Insects.The plant is self-fertile….CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil.
Cultivation:
Prefers a moist well-drained soil in a sunny position. Grows best in a rich soil. Another report says that it succeeds in poor soils. The foliage is fairly frost-tender, though the roots are much hardier and plants can survive quite cold winters in Britain. They are more likely to be killed by excessive winter wet. The squirting cucumber is sometimes cultivated for its use as a medicinal plant. The ripening fruit becomes pumped full of liquid, leading to an increase in pressure. As the seed becomes ripe, this pressure forces the fruit to break away explosively from the plant, ejecting its seed to a considerable distance in the opposite direction. The plant occasionally self-sows in our Cornwall trial ground and can become a weed in warmer climates than Britain. It is subject to statutory control as a weed in Australia.
Propagation:
Seed – sow early spring in rich compost in a greenhouse. Place 2 – 3 seeds per pot and thin to the strongest plant. The seed usually germinates in 10 – 21 days at 25°c. Grow the plants on fast and plant them out after the last expected frosts.
Medicinal Uses:
Ecballium elaterium has been used as a medicinal plant for over 2,000 years, though it has a very violent effect upon the body and has little use in modern herbalism. The juice of the fruit is antirheumatic, cardiac and purgative. The plant is a very powerful purgative that causes evacuation of water from the bowels. It is used internally in the treatment of oedema associated with kidney complaints, heart problems, rheumatism, paralysis and shingles. Externally, it has been used to treat sinusitis and painful joints. It should be used with great caution and only under the supervision of a qualified practitioner. Excessive doses have caused gastro-enteritis and even death. It should not be used by pregnant women since it can cause an abortion. The fully grown but unripe fruits are harvested during the summer, they are left in containers until the contents are expelled and the juice is then dried for later use. The root contains an analgesic principle.
Known Hazards : Poisonous in large quantities (this probably refers to the fruit). The juice of the fruit is irritative to some skins
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://species.wikimedia.org/wiki/Ecballium_elaterium
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Ecballium+elaterium

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

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Crataegus festiva

Botanical Name : Crataegus festiva
Family: Rosaceae
Subfamily:Amygdaloideae
Tribe: Maleae
Subtribe:Malinae
Genus: Crataegus
Kingdom:Plantae
Order: Rosales

Habitat :Crataegus festiva is native to Eastern N. America. It grows on the woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade

Description:
Crataegus festiva is a deciduous Shrub growing to 3 m (9ft) by 3 m (9ft).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 7 and is not frost tender. The seeds ripen from Sep to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Midges.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 or wet soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure. It can tolerate atmospheric pollution....CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

Cultivation:
We have very little information on this species and do not know how hardy it will be in Britain. However, a tree growing in an open sunny position at Kew Botanical Gardens is healthy and bears a very good crop of fruit every year. A very easily grown plant, it prefers a well-drained moisture retentive loamy soil but is not at all fussy. Once established, it succeeds in excessively moist soils and also tolerates drought. It grows well on a chalk soil and also in heavy clay soils. A position in full sun is best when plants are being grown for their fruit, they also succeed in semi-shade though fruit yields and quality will be lower in such a position. Most members of this genus succeed in exposed positions, they also tolerate atmospheric pollution. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus. Seedling trees take from 5 – 8 years before they start bearing fruit, though grafted trees will often flower heavily in their third year. The flowers have a foetid smell somewhat like decaying fish. This attracts midges which are the main means of fertilization. When freshly open, the flowers have more pleasant scent with balsamic undertones. Seedlings should not be left in a seedbed for more than 2 years without being transplanted.
Propagation:
Seed – this is best sown as soon as it is ripe in the autumn in a cold frame, some of the seed will germinate in the spring, though most will probably take another year. Stored seed can be very slow and erratic to germinate, it should be warm stratified for 3 months at 15°c and then cold stratified for another 3 months at 4°c. It may still take another 18 months to germinate. Scarifying the seed before stratifying it might reduce this time. Fermenting the seed for a few days in its own pulp may also speed up the germination process. Another possibility is to harvest the seed ‘green’ (as soon as the embryo has fully developed but before the seedcoat hardens) and sow it immediately in a cold frame. If timed well, it can germinate in the spring. If you are only growing small quantities of plants, it is best to pot up the seedlings as soon as they are large enough to handle and grow them on in individual pots for their first year, planting them out in late spring into nursery beds or their final positions. When growing larger quantities, it might be best to sow them directly outdoors in a seedbed, but with protection from mice and other seed-eating creatures. Grow them on in the seedbed until large enough to plant out, but undercut the roots if they are to be left undisturbed for more than two years.
Edible Uses:
Fruit – raw or cooked. About 15mm in diameter with a delicious sweet flavour and juicy though slightly mealy texture. This is a very acceptable dessert fruit that makes very enjoyable eating. The fruit can also be used in making pies, preserves, etc, and can be dried for later use. There are up to five fairly large seeds in the centre of the fruit, these often stick together and so the effect is of eating a cherry-like fruit with a single seed.
Medicinal Uses:
Cardiotonic; Hypotensive.

Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, the fruits and flowers of many hawthorns are well-known in herbal folk medicine as a heart tonic and modern research has borne out this use. The fruits and flowers have a hypotensive effect as well as acting as a direct and mild heart tonic. They are especially indicated in the treatment of weak heart combined with high blood pressure. Prolonged use is necessary for it to be efficacious. It is normally used either as a tea or a tincture.

Other Uses: 
Wood – heavy, hard, tough, close-grained. Useful for making tool handles, mallets and other small items

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/Crataegus
http://www.pfaf.org/user/plant.aspx?LatinName=Crataegus+festiva

Datura

Botanical Name:Datura metel L. (Solanaceae)

Syn : Datura alba Nees, D. fastuosa L. var alba C.B. Clarke

English name: Hindu datura.

Sanskrit name: Dhustura.

Vernacular names :Ben: Dhutra, Dhatura; Hin : Sadahdhatura; Tam: Vellum mattai. Trade name: Dhutra.
Datura is a genus of 12-15 species of vespertine flowering plants belonging to the family Solanaceae. Their exact natural distribution is uncertain, due to extensive cultivation and naturalization throughout the temperate and tropical regions of the globe, but is most likely restricted to the Americas, from the United States south through Mexico (where the highest species diversity occurs) to the mid-latitudes of South America. Some species are reported by some authorities to be native to China, but this is not accepted by the Flora of China, where the three species present are treated as introductions from the Americas. (It also grows naturally throughout most of Australia).

Common names include jimson weed, Hell’s Bells, Devil’s weed, Devil’s cucumber, thorn-apple (from the spiny fruit), pricklyburr (similarly), and somewhat paradoxically, both angel’s trumpet and devil’s trumpet (from their large trumpet-shaped flowers), or as Nathaniel Hawthorne refers to it in the the Scarlet Letter apple-peru. The word Datura comes from Hindi dhatÅ«rā (thorn apple); record of this name dates back only to 1662 (OED).

Scientific Name
Datura Stramonium L. – Named by Carl Linnaeus as published in Species Plantarum (1753). The genus was derived from ancient hindu word for plant, dhatura. The species name is from New Latin, stramonium, meaning thornapple. Stramonium is originally from from Greek, strychnos (nightshade) and manikos (mad).

They are large, vigorous annual plants or short-lived perennial plants, growing to 1-3 m tall. The leaves are alternate, 10-20 cm long and 5-18 cm broad, with a lobed or toothed margin. The flowers are erect or spreading (not pendulous), trumpet-shaped, 5-20 cm long and 4-12 cm broad at the mouth; color varies from white to yellow, pink, and pale purple. The fruit is a spiny capsule 4-10 cm long and 2-6 cm broad, splitting open when ripe to release the numerous seeds.

Jimsonweed is a cosmopolitan weed of worldwide distribution. It is found in most of the continental US from New England to Texas, Florida to the far western states. Jimsonweed is found in most southern Canadian Provinces as well. It gows in cultivated fields being a major weed in soybeans worldwide. Jimsonweed is common on overgrazed pastures, barnyards, and waste land preferring rich soils.

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Datura species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including .
Datura contains the alkaloids scopolamine and atropine and has long been used as a poison and hallucinogen. The dose-response curve for the combination of alkaloids is very steep, so people who consume datura can easily take a potentially fatal overdose. In the 1990s and 2000s, the United States media contained stories of adolescents and young adults dying or becoming seriously ill from intentionally ingesting datura.

Datura stramonium is also called jimsonweed. This name comes from the town of Jamestown, Virginia. Various versions of the story exist, but in the most common version, British soldiers sent to quell Bacon’s Rebellion of 1676 were accidentally served this unfamiliar plant as food, causing many to be incapacitated for 11 days. Datura wrightii, also called sacred datura or western jimsonweed, has similar effects.

Medicinal Action and Uses:
Dried leaves and seeds of Datura is used in the British and US Pharmacopoeia as antispasmodic under critical conditions of Asthma and whooping cough. Antispasmodic, anodyne and narcotic. Its properties are virtually those of hyoscyamine. It acts similarly to belladonna, though without constipating, and is used for purposes similar to those for which belladonna is employed, dilating the pupil of the eyes in like manner. It is considered slightly more sedative to the central nervous system than is belladonna.

Stramonium is, in fact, so similar to belladonna in the symptoms produced by it in small or large doses, in its toxicity and its general physiological and therapeutic action, that the two drugs are practically identical, and since they are about the same strength in activity, the preparations may be used in similar doses.

Stramonium has been employed in all the conditions for which belladonna is more commonly used, but acts much more strongly on the respiratory organs, and has acquired special repute as one of the chief remedies for spasmodic asthma, being used far more as the principal ingredient in asthma powders and cigarettes than internally. The practice of smoking D. ferox for asthma was introduced into Great Britain from the East Indies by a certain General, and afterwards the English species was substituted for that employed in Hindustan. Formerly the roots were much used: in Ceylon, the leaves, stem and fruit are all cut up together to make burning powders for asthma, but in this country the dried leaves are almost exclusively employed for this purpose. The beneficial effect is considered due to the presence of atropine, which paralyses the endings of the pulmonary branches, thus relieving the bronchial spasm. It has been proved that the smoke from a Stramonium cigarette, containing 0.25 grams of Stramonium, leaves contains as much as 0.5 milligrams of atropine. The leaves may be made up into cigarettes or smoked in a pipe, either alone, or with a mixture of tobacco, or with cubebs, sage, belladonna and other drugs. More commonly, however, the coarsely-ground leaves are mixed into cones with some aromatic and with equal parts of potassium nitrate, in order to inincrease combustion and are burned in a saucer, the smoke being inhaled into the lungs. Great relief is afforded, the effect being more immediate when the powdered leaves are burnt and the smoke inhaled than when smoked by the patient in the form of cigars or cigarettes, but like most drugs, after constant use, the relief is not so great and the treatment is only palliative, the causation of the attack not being affected. Accidents have also occasionally happened from the injudicious use of the plant in this manner.

Dryness of the throat and mouth are to be regarded as indications that too large a quantity is being taken.

The seeds, besides being employed to relieve asthma in the same manner as the leaves, being smoked with tobacco, are employed as a narcotic and anodyne, generally used in the form of an extract, prepared by boiling the seeds in water, or macerating them in alcohol. A tincture is sometimes preferred. The extract is given in pills to allay cough in spasmodic bronchial asthma, in whooping-cough and spasm of the bladder, and is considered a better cough-remedy than opium, but should only be used with extreme care, as in over-doses it is a strong narcotic poison.

Applied locally, in ointment, plasters or fomentation, Stramonium will palliate the pain of muscular rheumatism, neuralgia, and also pain due to haemorrhoids, fistula, abscesses and similar inflammation.

Dautra or Jimsonweed Toxicity
All parts of Jimsonweed are poisonous. Leaves and seeds are the usual source of poisoning, but are rarely eaten do to its strong odor and unpleasant taste. Poisoning can occur when hungry animals are on sparse pasture with Jimsonweed infestation. Most animal poisoning results from feed contamination. Jimsonweed can be harvested with hay or silage, and subsequently poisoning occurs upon feeding the forage. Seeds can contaminate grains and is the most common poisoning which occurs in chickens.

Poisoning is more common in humans than in animals. Children can be attracted by flowers and consume Jimsonweed accidentally. In small quantities, Jimsonweed can have medicinal or haulucinagenic properties, but poisoning readily occurs because of misuse. Ingestion of Jimsonweed caused the mass poisoning of soldiers in Jamestown, Virginia in 1676.

Dautra or Jimsonweed toxicity is caused by tropane alkaloids. The total alkaloid content in the plant can be as high as 0.7%. The toxic chemicals are atropine, hyoscine (also called scopolamine), and hyoscyamine.

Cautions:
Because of Jimsonweed’s toxic properties, the custom of destroying the plant should be practiced on every farm. Animals should not be allowed to graze on sparse pasture inhabited by Jimsonweed. Hay and silage should not be made from fields until all Jimsonweed has been removed. Soybean and other grain fields infested with Jimsonweed can be controlled by a variety of broadleaf herbicides.
Note that herbicides should be applied as directed by a qualified applicator.

Click to learn more about Datura

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

Help taken from: en.wikipedia.org and www.botanical.com

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