Tag Archives: Americas

Mentha x gracilis

Botanical Name: Mentha x gracilis
Family: Lamiaceae
Genus: Mentha
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Lamiales

Synonyms: Mentha cardiaca (S.F. Gray) Bak.), M. sativa gentilis.

Common Names : Gingermint, Redmint and Scotchmint in Europe, in North America it is known as Scotch spearmint

Habitat : Gingermint is a naturally occurring hybrid indigenous throughout the overlapping native regions of cornmint and spearmint in Europe and Asia. It was first introduced to North America from Scotland by a gardener in Wisconsin in 1969; due to the Scottish origin of the variety and its similarity in flavour to spearmint, it is known there as Scotch spearmint.

Description:
Mentha x gracilis is a perennial herb growing to 0.5 m (1ft 8in) by 0.6 m (2ft).
It is not frost tender. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.It is noted for attracting wildlife.

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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;
Succeeds in most soils and situations so long as the soil is not too dry. Grows well in heavy clay soils. A sunny position is best for production of essential oils, but it also succeeds in partial shade. This species is somewhat less easy in cultivation than most other mints. It can be lost over winter if the weather is very cold or wet so ensure that it is grown in a warm, well-drained sunny position. A sterile hybrid, the result of a cross between M. arvensis and M. spicata, though it can back-cross with its parents. There are some named varieties, most of which have variegated leaves. A polymorphic species. Most mints have fairly aggressive spreading roots and, unless you have the space to let them roam, they need to be restrained by some means such as planting them in containers that are buried in the soil. The whole plant has a strong minty aroma with a hint of ginger. The flowers are very attractive to bees and butterflies. A good companion plant for growing near cabbages and tomatoes, helping to keep them free of insect pests. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer.

Propagation:
Seed – sow spring in a cold frame. Germination is usually fairly quick. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant them out in the summer. Mentha species are very prone to hybridisation and so the seed cannot be relied on to breed true. Even without hybridisation, seedlings will not be uniform and so the content of medicinal oils etc will vary. When growing plants with a particular aroma it is best to propagate them by division. Division can be easily carried out at almost any time of the year, though it is probably best done in the spring or autumn to allow the plant to establish more quickly. Virtually any part of the root is capable of growing into a new plant. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. However, for maximum increase it is possible to divide the roots up into sections no more than 3cm long and pot these up in light shade in a cold frame. They will quickly become established and can be planted out in the summer.

Edible Uses:
Leaves – raw or cooked. They are used as a flavouring in salads or cooked foods. A refreshing odour and taste, they are said to go particularly well with melon, tomatoes and fruit salads. The slight ginger scent make them an interesting addition to fresh salads. A herb tea is made from the leaves. An essential oil from the leaves is used as a spearmint flavouring, it is especially used in N. America in chewing gums. In Vietnamese cuisine the fresh herb is used a flavouring in chicken or beef pho.
Medicinal Uses:
Ginger mint, like many other members of this genus, is often used as a domestic herbal remedy, being valued especially for its antiseptic properties and its beneficial effect on the digestion. As a medicinal herb it is used to treat fevers, headaches, and digestive ailments . Like other members of the genus, it is best not used by pregnant women because large doses can cause an abortion. A tea made from the leaves has traditionally been used in the treatment of fevers, headaches, digestive disorders and various minor ailments. The leaves are harvested as the plant comes into flower and can be dried for later use. The essential oil in the leaves is antiseptic, though it is toxic in large doses.

Other Uses:
Essential; Repellent; Strewing.

The essential oil obtained from the leaves has a spearmint flavour and is used commercially in N. America. Rats and mice intensely dislike the smell of mint. The plant was therefore used in homes as a strewing herb and has also been spread in granaries to keep the rodents off the grain. In Britain, it is used as the traditional flavouring of Scotchmint candies.

Known Hazards : Although no records of toxicity have been seen for this species, large quantities of some members of this genus, especially when taken in the form of the extracted essential oil, can cause abortions so some caution is advised.

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/Mentha_%C3%97_gracilis
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Mentha+x+gracilis

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Betula nigra

Botanical Name : Betula nigra
Family: Betulaceae
Genus: Betula
Subgenus: Neurobetula
Species: B. nigra
Kingdom: Plantae
Order:Fagales

Synonyms: Betula americana, Betula lanulosa, Betula rubra.

Common Names: Black birch, River birch, Water birch, Red Birch

Habitat: Betula nigra is native to the Eastern United States from New Hampshire west to southern Minnesota, and south to northern Florida and west to Texas. It grows on the banks of streams, by swamps etc, in deep rich soil that is often inundated for weeks at a time.

Description:
Betula nigra is a deciduous tree growing to 25–30 meters (82–98 ft) with a trunk 50 to 150 centimeters (20 to 59 in) in diameter, often with multiple trunks. The bark is variable, usually dark gray-brown to pinkish-brown and scaly, but in some individuals, smooth and creamy pinkish-white, exfoliating in curly papery sheets. The twigs are glabrous or thinly hairy. The leaves are alternate, ovate, 4–8 centimeters (1.6–3.1 in) long and 3–6 centimeters (1.2–2.4 in) broad, with a serrated margin and five to twelve pairs of veins. The flowers are wind-pollinated catkins 3–6 centimeters (1.2–2.4 in) long, the male catkins pendulous, the female catkins erect. The fruit is unusual among birches in maturing in late spring; it is composed of numerous tiny winged seeds packed between the catkin bracts.

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Cultivation:
Landscape Uses:Firewood, Pest tolerant, Specimen, Woodland garden. Succeeds in a well-drained loamy soil in a sheltered position. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Likes its roots within reach of water. Dislikes wet soils according to another report. Shade tolerant. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus. A good plant to grow near the compost heap, aiding the fermentation process. Trees are notably susceptible to honey fungus. Special Features: Attracts birds, North American native, Attracts butterflies, Inconspicuous flowers or blooms.

Propagation:
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a light position in a cold frame. Only just cover the seed and place the pot in a sunny position. Spring sown seed should be surface sown in a sunny position in a cold frame. If the germination is poor, raising the temperature by covering the seed with glass can help. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a cold frame for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. If you have sufficient seed, it can be sown in an outdoor seedbed, either as soon as it is ripe or in the early spring – do not cover the spring sown seed. Grow the plants on in the seedbed for 2 years before planting them out into their permanent positions in the winter.
Edible Uses: 
Sap – raw or cooked. A sweet flavour. Harvested in early spring, before the leaves unfurl. The trunk is tapped by drilling a hole about 6mm wide and about 4cm deep. The sap flows best on warm sunny days following a hard frost. It makes a refreshing drink and can also be concentrated into a syrup or sugar. The sap can be fermented to make birch beer or vinegar. An old English recipe for the beer is as follows:- “To every Gallon of Birch-water put a quart of Honey, well stirr’d together; then boil it almost an hour with a few Cloves, and a little Limon-peel, keeping it well scumm’d. When it is sufficiently boil’d, and become cold, add to it three or four Spoonfuls of good Ale to make it work…and when the Test begins to settle, bottle it up . . . it is gentle, and very harmless in operation within the body, and exceedingly sharpens the Appetite, being drunk ante pastum.”

Native Americans used the boiled sap as a sweetener similar to maple syrup, and the inner bark as a survival food. It is usually too contorted and knotty to be of value as a timber tree.

Medicinal Uses:
A salve was made by boiling the buds until they were thick and pasty, sulphur was added and this was then applied externally to skin sores and ringworm. The leaves have been chewed, or used as an infusion, in the treatment of dysentery. An infusion of the bark has been used to treat stomach problems, ‘milky’ urine and difficult urination with discharge. The German Commission E Monographs, a therapeutic guide to herbal medicine, approve Betula species for infections of the urinary tract, kidney and bladder stones, rheumatism.

Other Uses:
Besom; Soil stabilization; Wood.

Young branches are used to make besoms, whisks etc. This species has an extensive root system and is sometimes planted for erosion control along the banks of streams. Wood – light, strong, close grained and hard, but it contains many knots because of the numerous branches along the trunk. It weighs 36lb per cubic foot. Of little use commercially, though it is sometimes used for furniture, turnery etc.

While its native habitat is wet ground, it will grow on higher land, and its bark is quite distinctive, making it a favored ornamental tree for landscape use. A number of cultivars with much whiter bark than the normal wild type have been selected for garden planting, including ‘Heritage’ and ‘Dura Heat’; these are notable as the only white-barked birches resistant to the bronze birch borer Agrilus anxius in warm areas of the southeastern United States of America.
Known Hazards :The aromatic and aliphatic hydrocarbons in birch tar are irritating to the skin. Do not use in patients with oedema or with poor kidney or heart functions.
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:
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Betula+nigra
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betula_nigra

Rhus coriaria

Botanical Name : Rhus coriaria
Family: Anacardiaceae
Genus: Rhus
Species:R. coriaria
Kingdom:Plantae
Order: Sapindales

Common Names: Sicilian sumac, Tanner’s sumach, or Elm-leaved sumach

Habitat :Rhus coriaria is native to southern Europe. It grows on rocky places and waysides, mainly on limestone.

Description:
Rhus coriaria is a deciduous Shrub growing to 3 m (9ft 10in).
It is frost tender. It is in flower from Jul to August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.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……...CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES
Cultivation:
Succeeds in a well-drained fertile soil in full sun. This species is not very hardy in Britain and is unlikely to succeed outdoors in any but the mildest parts of the countr. Another report says that the plant is quite hardy and is often grown in British gardens. The young growth in spring can be damaged by late frosts. Unlike most members of this genus, this species is hermaphrodite. The form ‘Humilior’ from Italy is smaller growing. Plants have brittle branches and these can be broken off in strong winds. Plants are also susceptible to coral spot fungus. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus. Many of the species in this genus, including this one, are highly toxic and can also cause severe irritation to the skin of some people, whilst other species are not poisonous. It is relatively simple to distinguish which is which, the poisonous species have axillary panicles and smooth fruits whilst non-poisonous species have compound terminal panicles and fruits covered with acid crimson hairs. The toxic species are sometimes separated into their own genus, Toxicodendron, by some botanists.

Propagation :
Seed – best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe. Pre-soak the seed for 24 hours in hot water (starting at a temperature of 80 – 90c and allowing it to cool) prior to sowing in order to leach out any germination inhibitors. The stored seed also needs hot water treatment and can be sown in early spring in a cold frame. 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. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 10cm with a heel, July/August in a frame. Root cuttings 4cm long taken in December and potted up vertically in a greenhouse. Good percentage. Suckers in late autumn to winter

Edible Uses:
The immature fruits are used as caper substitutes. Some caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity. The crushed fruit, mixed with Origanum syriacum, is a principal ingredient of ‘Zatar‘, a popular spice mixture used in the Middle East. The seed is used as an appetizer in a similar manner to mustard.

Medicinal Uses:
The leaves and the seeds are astringent, diuretic, styptic and tonic. They are used in the treatment of dysentery, haemoptysis and conjunctivitis. The seeds are eaten before a meal in order to provoke an appetite. Some caution is advised in the use of the leaves and stems of this plant, see the notes below on toxicity.

Other Uses:
The leaves and bark are rich in tannin. The leaves can be collected as they fall in the autumn and used as a brown dye or as a mordant. The fruit and bark are also used. The leaves contain 20 – 35% tannin and yield a yellow dye. The finely ground leaves and stems provide the dyeing and tanning agent ‘sumac’. The shoots are cut down annually, near to the root, for this purpose. A fawn colour, bordering on green, is obtained and this can be improved with the judicious use of mordants. The cultivar ‘Mesculino’ is very rich in tannin, containing up to 35%. An oil is extracted from the seeds. It attains a tallow-like consistency on standing and is used to make candles. These burn brilliantly, though they emit a pungent smoke. A black dye is obtained from the fruit. A yellow and a red dye are obtained from the bark.

Known Hazards : The plant contains toxic substances which can cause severe irritation to some people. Both the sap and the fruit are poisonous

Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhus_coriaria
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Rhus+coriaria

Crataegus crus-galli

Botanical Name : Crataegus crus-galli
Family:    Rosaceae
Genus:    Crataegus
Series:    Crus-galli
Species:C. crus-galli
Kingdom:Plantae
Order:    Rosales

Synonyms:
Crataegus acutifolia Sarg.
Crataegus albanthera Sarg.
Crataegus arborea Beadle
Crataegus barrettiana Sarg.
Crataegus calophylla Sarg.
Crataegus candens Sarg.
Crataegus cherokeensis Sarg.
Crataegus consueta Sarg.
Crataegus hamata E.J.Palmer
Crataegus hannibalensis E.J.Palmer
Crataegus infera Sarg.
Crataegus leptophylla Sarg.
Crataegus limnophylla Sarg.
Crataegus ludovicensis Sarg.
Crataegus monosperma Sarg.
Crataegus pachyphylla Sarg.
Crataegus paradoxa Sarg.
Crataegus parkiae Sarg.
Crataegus permera Sarg.
Crataegus phaneroneura Sarg.
Crataegus polyclada Sarg.
Crataegus pyracanthoidesBeadle
Crataegus regalis Beadle
Crataegus rubrifolia Sarg.
Crataegus rudis Sarg.
Crataegus severa Sarg.
Crataegus strongylophylla Sarg.
Crataegus tantula Sarg.
Crataegus tardiflora Sarg.
Crataegus tenax Ashe
Crataegus tenuispina Sarg.
Crataegus truncata Sarg.

Common Names: Cockspur Thorn, Cockspur hawthorn, Dwarf Hawthorn

Habitat : Crataegus crus-galli is native to  Eastern N. America – Quebec to Georgia, west to Louisiana. Locally naturalized in Europe.  It grows in  thickets and open ground, especially in dry or rocky places. Usually found on the slopes of low hills in rich soils.

Description:
Crataegus crus-galli  is a small deciduous tree growing up to about 10 meters tall and 8 meters wide, rounded in form when young and spreading and flattening as it matures. The leaves are 5 to 6 centimeters long, glossy dark green in color and turning gold to red in the fall. The flowers are white and have a scent generally considered unpleasant. The fruits are small pomes that vary in colour, usually a shade of red. Most wild varieties of the tree are heavily armed in sharp thorns several centimeters long. This species is a popular ornamental tree, especially var. inermis, which lacks thorns. Many other wild forms would be very suitable for landscaping if better known, and yellow-fruited forms exist.

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It is not frost tender. It is in flower in June, and the seeds ripen in 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 and can grow in very alkaline soils.

It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry moist or wet soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.
It can tolerate atmospheric pollution.

Cultivation:     
Landscape Uses:Border, Espalier, Pollard, Screen, Specimen, Street tree. 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. A very hardy plant, tolerating temperatures down to about -18°c. A very ornamental plant. There are many named forms, selected for their ornamental value. 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. This plant is often confused in cultivation with C. prunifolia. ‘Splendens’. Special Features:Attracts birds, North American native, Blooms are very showy.

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[80]. 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. A dry flesh, it is used in jellies. The fruit is about 1cm in diameter and is borne in small clusters. It often persists on the tree until spring. This suggests that it does not make very good eating. 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:
Hedge;  Hedge;  Wood.

Very amenable to trimming, the plant can even be cut right back into very old wood and will resprout freely. It is often used as a hedge. Wood – fine-grained, hard and heavy. Used for tool handles etc.

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_crus-galli
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Crataegus+crus-galli

Kalopanax septemlobus

Botanical Name : Kalopanax septemlobus
Family: Araliaceae
Subfamily:Aralioideae
Genus: Kalopanax
Species:K. septemlobus
Kingdom:Plantae
Order: Apiales

Synonyms: K. pictus. (Thunb.)Nakai. K. ricinifolium. Acanthopanax ricinifolium. Acer pictum. Acer septemlobus

Common Names:Tree Aralia, Castor aralia, Prickly castor oil tree

Habitat :Kalopanax septemlobus is native to E. Asia – China, Japan. It grows in cool deciduous forests from near sea level to elevations of 2500 metres.

Description:
Kalopanax septemlobus is a deciduous Tree growing to 25 m (82ft 0in) at a slow rate with a trunk up to 1–1.5 metres (3.3–4.9 ft) diameter. The stems are often spiny, with stout spines up to 1 centimetre (0.39 in) long. The leaves are alternate, in appearance similar to a large Fatsia or Liquidambar (sweetgum) leaf, 15–35 centimetres (5.9–13.8 in) across, palmately lobed with five or seven lobes, each lobe with a finely toothed margin.

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The leaf lobes vary greatly in shape, from shallow lobes to cut nearly to the leaf base. Trees with deeply lobed leaves were formerly distinguished as K. septemlobus var. maximowiczii, but the variation is continuous and not correlated with geography, so it is no longer regarded as distinct.

The flowers are produced in late summer in large umbels 20–50 centimetres (7.9–19.7 in) across at the apex of a stem, each flower with 4-5 small white petals. The fruit is a small black drupe containing 2 seeds.

It is in flower from Aug to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs)Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.
Cultivation:
Requires a deep fertile moisture-retentive soil in sun or part shade. Young shoots, especially on young plants, can die back over winter if they are not fully ripened. Young plants are slow-growing. The tree is widely cultivated for timber in China. A polymorphic species.

Propagation:
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in the autumn in a cold frame. Stored seed probably requires a period of cold stratification and should be sown as soon as possible. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame. Root cuttings in late winter

Edible Uses: Young leaves and young shoots – cooked.

Medicinal Uses:
Antifungal; Expectorant; Hepatic; Skin; Stomachic.

The bark contains a range of bio-active constituents, including saponins, flavonoids and lignans. It has antifungal and liver protecting properties. It is used in Korea in the treatment of contusions, beri-beri, lumbago, neuralgia and pleurisy. An infusion of the leaves is used to make a stomachic tea. The root is expectorant. A decoction of the wood is used for skin diseases.

Other Uses:  The tree is cultivated as an ornamental tree for the “tropical” appearance of its large palmate leaves in Europe and North America; despite its tropical looks, it is very hardy, tolerating temperatures down to at least ?40 °C (?40 °F) The bark and the leaves are used as an insecticide. Wood is very useful.

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/Kalopanax
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Kalopanax+septemlobus