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Digitalis lutea

Botanical Name : Digitalis lutea
Family: Plantaginaceae
Genus: Digitalis
Species: D. lutea
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Lamiales

Synonym: Digitalis aurea, Digitalis guellii, Digitalis intermedia, Digitalis nutans

Common Names: Digitalis lutea, Straw foxglove or (small) Yellow foxglove

Habitat: Digitalis lutea is native to Europe. It grows in woodlands, hedgerows and uncultivated fields on siliceous soils.

Description:
Digitalis lutea is a short-lived perennial plant. It grows 0.6 m (2ft) by 0.3 m (1ft in). The leaves are oblong to inversely lance-shaped, veined, glossy, dark green and, in early to midsummer, upright stems bearing slender racemes of narrow, tubular, pale yellow flowers, hairy inside.The flowers are yellow, with brown dots on the inside of the corolla. Flowers are borne beginning in late spring, then sporadically throughout the summer and fall. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.

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Like many foxgloves, this plant is often grown in gardens, where it readily self-sows and can become weedy.

Cultivation:
An easily grown plant, succeeding in ordinary garden soil, especially if it is rich in organic matter. It also succeeds in dry soils and, once established, is drought tolerant. It prefers semi-shade but succeeds in full sun if the soil is moist. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer or rabbits. The yellow foxglove is a good companion plant, stimulating the growth of nearby plants. Root crops grown near to this plant will store better.

Propagation:
Seed – surface sow early spring in a cold frame. The seed usually germinates in 2 – 4 weeks at 20°c. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer.
Medicinal Uses:
Cardiac; Diuretic; Stimulant; Tonic.

Yellow foxglove is little used in herbal medicine but is in fact a less toxic alternative to the purple and woolly foxgloves (D. purpurea and D. lanata) which are widely used in the treatment of heart complaints. The yellow foxglove has similar medical actions, but its alkaloids are more readily metabolized and flushed out of the body. The leaves are cardiac, strongly diuretic, stimulant and tonic. They are used in the treatment of a weakened or failing heart, increasing the strength of contraction, slowing and steadying the heart rate and lowering blood pressure by strongly stimulating the flow of urine – which reduces overall blood volume. The leaves of plants in their second year of growth are harvested in the summer and dried for later use. This remedy should be used with caution and only under the supervision of a qualified practitioner, excessive doses can prove fatal. See also the notes above on toxicity.

Other Uses: Preservative……..An infusion of the plant added to the water in the vase will prolong the life of cut flowers. When grown near root crops the roots will store better.
Known Hazards :All parts of the plant are poisonous. The plant is less dangerous that the common foxglove (D. purpurea) since its effects are not cumulative.

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/Digitalis_lutea
http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/747/
http://www.shootgardening.co.uk/plant/digitalis-lutea
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Digitalis+lutea

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Agrimonia eupatoria

 

Botanical Name:Agrimonia eupatoria
Family:    Rosaceae
Genus:    Agrimonia
Species:    A. eupatoria
Kingdom:    Plantae
Order:    Rosales

Synonyms: Common Agrimony. Church Steeples. Cockeburr. Sticklewort. Philanthropos.
Common Name: Agrimony, Churchsteeples

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Habitat: The plant is found abundantly throughout England, on hedge-banks and the sides of fields, in dry thickets and on all waste places. In Scotland it is much more local and does not penetrate very far northward.It grows on  fields, stone walls, waste ground and roadside verges, usually on alkaline soils, preferring sunny positions.

Description:
The common agrimony grows as a deciduous, perennial herbaceous plant and reached heights of up to 100 centimeters. Its roots are deep rhizomes, from which spring the stems. It is characterized by its typical serrated edged pinnate leaves.

The whole plant is dark green with numerous soft hairs. The soft hairs aid in the plant’s seed pods sticking to any animal or person coming in contact with the plant. The flower spikes have a spicy odor like apricots. In the Language of Flowers Agrimony means thankfulness or gratitud.

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The short-stemmed flowers appear from June to September, in long, spike-like, racemose inflorescences. The single flower has an urn-shaped curved flower cup, the upper edge has several rows of soft, curved hook-shaped bristles, 1 to 4 millimeters long. The hermaphrodite flower has fivefold radial symmetry. There are five sepals present . There are five yellow, rounded petals.   The petals and the five to 20 stamens rise above the tip of the flower cup . The two medium-sized carpels in the flower cups are sunk into, but not fused with it. The flowers with their abundant pollen supply attract hoverflies, flies and honey bees. The pollinated flowers develop fruits with burs. These attach to passing grazing animals such as cattle, sheep and deer and are spread over a large area

Agrimony has an old reputation as a popular, domestic medicinal herb, being a simple well known to all country-folk. It belongs to the Rose order of plants, and its slender spikes of yellow flowers, which are in bloom from June to early September, and the singularly beautiful form of its much-cut-into leaves, make it one of the most graceful of our smaller herbs.

Cultivation:
Easily grown in most soils, preferring a calcareous soil. Thrives in a dry lightly shaded position, though it prefers full sun. Plants usually self-sow quite freely when growing in a suitable position. The seeds are contained in burrs that can easily attach themselves to clothing or animal’s fur, thus transporting them to a new area where they can germinate and grow. The cultivar ‘Sweet scented’ is popular in France for making tea because the whole plant is sweet scented and the flowers have a spicy apricot-like fragrance.
Propagation:
Seed – can be sown in spring or autumn, either in pots in a cold frame or in situ. It usually germinates in 2 – 6 weeks at 13°c, though germination rates can be low, especially if the seed has been stored. A period of cold stratification helps but is not essential. When grown in pots, prick out the seedlings when they are large enough to handle and plant them out in late spring or early summer. Division in autumn. Very easy, the divisions can be planted straight out into their permanent positions.

Edible Uses:
Edible Parts: Seed.
Edible Uses: Tea.

A refreshing tea is made from the fresh or dried leaves, flowers and stems. It can be drunk hot or cold. It was formerly very popular either on its own or added to China tea, having a peculiar delicacy and aroma. Seed – dried and ground into a meal. A famine food, used when all else fails. This report could refer to A. pilosa. Ledeb (q.v.).

Constituents: Contains volatile oils, flavonoids, apigenin, luteolin, quercetin, kaempferol, tiliroside, triterpene glycosides including euscapic acid and tormentic acid, phenolic acids, and 3%–21% tannins.

Medicinal Uses:
-Astringent tonic, diuretic. Agrimony has had a great reputation for curing jaundice and other liver complaints. Gerard believed in its efficacy. He says: ‘A decoction of the leaves is good for them that have naughty livers’: and he tells us also that Pliny called it a ‘herb of princely authoritie.’ Dioscorides stated that it was not only ‘a remedy for them that have bad livers,’ but also ‘for such as are bitten with serpents.’ Dr. Hill, who from 1751 to 1771 published several works on Herbal medicine, recommends ‘an infusion of 6 oz. of the crown of the root in a quart of boiling water, sweetened with honey and half a pint drank three times a day,’ as an effectual remedy for jaundice. It gives tone to the system and promotes assimilation of food.

Agrimony is also considered a very useful agent in skin eruptions and diseases of the blood, pimples, blotches, etc. A strong decoction of the root and leaves, sweetened with honey or sugar, has been taken successfully to cure scrofulous sores, being administered two or three times a day, in doses of a wineglassful, persistently for several months. The same decoction is also often employed in rural districts as an application to ulcers.

In folklore:
Agrimony has been stated to have medical and magical properties since the time of Pliny the elder. It is ruled astrologically by Cancer, according to Nicholas Culpeper. Common folklore held that it could cure musket wounds, and ward off witchcraft.

Traditional herbal medicine:
The 9th-century text Bald’s Leechbook advised the use of Agrimony as a cure for male impotence – saying it should be boiled in milk, and that it could excite a man who was “insufficiently virile”; it also states that when boiled in Welsh beer it would have the opposite effect.

A. gryposepala, the plant’s North American relative, also has traditional medical uses.

Other Uses:
A. eupatoria is a foodplant for the caterpillars of the snout moth Endotricha flammealis.
A yellow dye is obtained from the root – from whole plant according to other report, – and from the leaves according to another. Harvested in autumn, the yellow becomes deeper the later that the plant is harvested

Known Hazards:  Large quantities could lead to digestive complaints and constipation due to its tannins.

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://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agrimonia_eupatoria
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/a/agrim015.html

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Agrimonia+eupatoria

Arbutus unedo

Botanical Name :Arbutus unedo
Family: Ericaceae
Genus: Arbutus
Species: A. unedo
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Ericales

Common Nanmes: Strawberry tree, occasionally cane apple,Irish strawberry tree” or “Killarney strawberry tree”.

Habitat :Arbutus unedo is native to the Mediterranean region and western Europe north to western France and Ireland. Due to its presence in South West Ireland.

Description:
Arbutus unedo grows to 5–10 m tall, rarely up to 15 m, with a trunk diameter of up to 80 cm.

The leaves are dark green and glossy, 5–10 cm (2–4 in) long and 2–3 cm (0.8–1.2 in) broad, with a serrated margin.

The hermaphrodite flowers are white (rarely pale pink), bell-shaped, 4–6 mm diameter, produced panicles of 10–30 together in autumn. They are pollinated by bees.

Bloom Color: Pink, White. Main Bloom Time: Early fall, Early winter, Late fall, Late winter, Mid fall, Mid winter.  Form: Rounded.

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The fruit is a red berry, 1–2 cm diameter, with a rough surface, maturing 12 months at the same time as the next flowering. The fruit is edible, though many people find it bland and meally; the name ‘unedo’ is explained by Pliny the Elder as being derived from unum edo “I eat one”, which may seem an apt response to the flavour.

When eaten in quantities this fruit is said to be narcotic, and the wine made from it in Spain has the same property.
The tree is common in the Mediterranean region, and the fruit was known to the ancients, but according to Pliny (who gave the tree the name of Arbutus) was not held in much esteem, as the name implies (un ede=one 1 eat), the fruits being considered so unpalatable, that no one tasting them for the first time would be tempted to repeat the experiment. Nevertheless, there is some evidence that at one time the fruit was an article of diet with the ancients. Horace praises the tree for its shade and Ovid for its loads of ‘blushing fruit.’ Virgil recommends the young shoots as winter food for goats and for basket-work.

Gerard speaks of it in his time as growing in ‘some few gardens,’ and says, ‘the fruit being ripe is of a gallant red colour, in taste somewhat harsh, and in a manner without any relish, of which thrushes and blackbirds do feed in winter .’

In Spain, a sugar and spirit have been extracted from the fruit and a wine made from it in Corsica.

In the neighbourhood of Algiers it forms hedges, and in Greece and Spain the bark has been used for tanning. The wood of the tree makes good charcoal.
Cultivation:
Landscape Uses:Container, Espalier, Pest tolerant, Hedge, Standard, Specimen. Requires a nutrient-rich well-drained moisture-retentive soil in sun or semi-shade and shelter from cold drying winds, especially when youn. Grows well in heavy clay soils and in dry soils. Most species in this genus require a lime-free soil but this species is fairly lime tolerant. Succeeds in fairly exposed maritime positions[166, 200]. A tree in a very exposed position at Rosewarne in N. Cornwall was looking rather tattered in April 1987 but it was 4.5 metres tall and carrying a very good crop of immature fruit[K]. Tolerates industrial pollution. Plants have withstood temperatures down to -16°c without injury at Kew. They grow very well in S.W. England, fruiting well in Cornwall. Plants resent root disturbance and are best placed in their final positions whilst young. Give them some protection in their first winter. The strawberry tree flowers in November and December, the fruit takes 12 months to ripen and so the tree carries both mature fruit and flowers at the same time and is incredibly beautiful at this time. The flowers have a soft honey scent. There are a number of named varieties developed for their ornamental value. ‘Elfin King’, ‘Croomei’ and ‘Rubra’ are all small forms that fruit well when smal. The variety ‘Rubra’ was 1.2 metres tall at Kew in late 1990 and was laden down with fruits and flowers. ‘Elfin King’ only reaches a height of 1 metre, comes into bearing when young and fruits well. It is ideal for container culture. ‘Croomei’ is said to be a more reliable fruiting form. Special Features:Attracts birds, Not North American native, Attractive flowers or blooms.

Propagation:
Seed – best surface sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe. Stored seed should be soaked for 5 – 6 days in warm water and then surface sown in a shady position in a greenhouse. Do not allow the compost to become dry. 6 weeks cold stratification helps. The seed usually germinates well in 2 – 3 months at 20°c. Seedlings are prone to damp off, they are best transplanted to individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle and should be kept well ventilated. Grow them on in a greenhouse for their first winter and then plant out in late spring after the last expected frosts. Basal cuttings in late winter. Cuttings of mature wood of the current season’s growth, November/December in a frame. Poor percentage. Layering of young wood – can take 2 years.
Edible Uses:
Fruit – raw or cooked. Sweet but insipid. The Latin name ‘unedo’ means ‘I eat one (only)’ and suggests that the fruit is not very palatable, though another report says that the fruit is so delicious that a person only needs to eat one. It does have a somewhat gritty skin, but the fruit itself has the texture of a lush tropical fruit and has a delicate pleasant flavour. For those people with sensitive taste buds, this is a fruit that can be enjoyed when eaten in moderate quantities. The fruit contains about 20% sugars and can be used to make delicious and nourishing jams and preserves. It is ripe in November/December and is about 15mm in diameter. When fully ripe it falls from the tree and so it is advisable to grow the plant in short grass in order to cushion the fall of the fruit.

Medicinal Uses:
Antiseptic;  Astringent;  Diuretic.

The strawberry tree is little used in herbalism, though it does deserve modern investigation. All parts of the plant contain ethyl gallate, a substance that possesses strong antibiotic activity against the Mycobacterium bacteria. The leaves, bark and root are astringent and diuretic. They are also a renal antiseptic and so are of use in the treatment of affections of the urinary system such as cystitis and urethritis. Their astringent action makes them of use in the treatment of diarrhoea and dysentery and, like many other astringent plants, a gargle can be made for treating sore and irritated throats. The leaves are gathered in the summer and dried for later use. The flowers are weakly diaphoretic.

Other Uses:

Tannin is obtained from the leaves, bark and fruit. The bark contains 45% tannin. Wood – used for turning, Greek flutes etc. It makes a good charcoal.
Arbutus unedo serves as a bee plant for honey production, and the fruits are food for birds. The fruits are also used to make jams, beverages, and liqueurs (such as the Portuguese medronho, a type of strong brandy).

The Garden of Earthly Delights, a painting by Hieronymus Bosch, was originally listed by José de Sigüenza, in the inventory of the Spanish Crown as La Pintura del Madroño – “The Painting of the Strawberry Tree“.

The tree makes up part of the Coat of arms of Madrid (El oso y el madroño, The Bear and the Strawberry Tree) of the city of Madrid, Spain. In the center of the city (Puerta del Sol) there is a statue of a bear eating the fruit of the Madroño tree. The image appears on city crests, taxi cabs, man-hole covers, and other city infrastructure. The fruit of the Madroño tree ferments on the tree if left to ripen, so some of the bears become drunk from eating the fruits.

 

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://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arbutus_unedo
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/a/arbut053.html
http://www.pfaf.org/user/plant.aspx?latinname=Arbutus+unedo

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Eruca Sativa

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Botanical Name:Eruca Sativa
Family:Brassicaceae

Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Brassicales
Genus: Eruca
Species: E. sativa
syn. :   E. vesicaria subsp. sativa (Miller) Thell., Brassica eruca L

Common Names:Rocket or Arugula, Roquette
Vernacular Names : Garden Rocket, Rocket (British English), Eruca, Rocketsalad, jarj?r (Arabic), Arugula (American English), Rucola (Italian), Rukola (Serbian, Slovenian, Polish), Rugola (Italian), Rauke (German), Roquette (French), Rokka (Greek), Roka (Turkish), Ruca (Catalan), Beharki (Basque), Voinicic (Romanian) Rúcula, Oruga and Arúgula (Spanish), Rúcula (Portuguese), Ruchetta (Italian)  and Rughetta (Italian). The term arugula (variations of Italian dialects) is used by the Italian diaspora in Australia and North America and from there picked up as a loan word to a varying degree in American and Australian English, particularly in culinary usage. The names ultimately all derive from the Latin word eruca, a name for an unspecified plant in the family Brassicaceae, probably a type of cabbage.

Habitat : Arugula is native to western Asia and the Mediterranean region. It is standard table fare in Italy, the South of France, Greece and Little Italy in New York City. In recent years Californians and other Americans have discovered this tangy salad green and it can now be found in upscale supermarkets throughout most of the United States. Arugula has naturalized in waste places, road shoulders and fallow fields in northern and western Europe, well beyond its original range.


DESCRIPTION:

Arugula is an annual salad green that has leaves similar in taste and appearance to its relative, the radish (Raphanus sativus). The leaves are 3-7 in (7.6-18 cm) long and deeply lobed, like those of dandelions. Arugula is best used as a salad green when it’s young, just 1 ft (0.3 m) or so tall. It will eventually produce stems 2-3 ft (0.6-0.9 m) in height, topped with white cross shaped flowers that are very similar to those of radish. Several cultivars are offered in the specialty seed catalogs.
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CULTIVATION:
Light: Full sun. If grown in summer, provide shade from midday sun.
Moisture: Arugula appreciates regular watering.
Hardiness: Arugula can be grown in all zones. It is an annual that can tolerate temperatures down to 25ºF (-3.9 C). It goes quickly to seed in hot weather.

It is now cultivated in various places, especially in Veneto, Italy, but is available throughout the world. It is also locally naturalised away from its native range in temperate regions around the world, including northern Europe and North America. In India, the mature seeds are known as Gargeer.

PROPAGATION :
From seed. Plant seeds thickly in rows, bands or patches in early spring and again in autumn. Summer plantings go quickly to flower and seed, and the leaves are tougher and more bitter than those from plants grown in cool weather. Arugula will self seed in the garden if allowed.

USES:
Arugula is one of the new darlings among “in” salad lovers in America, but it has been a popular salad green and “seasoning leaf” in southern Europe for centuries. It’s stronger tasting than most leafy greens, but not quite strong enough to be called an herb. The flavor of arugula has been likened to mustard greens (Brassica juncea), radish (Raphanus sativus) and cress. It adds a pleasant peppery “bite” to fresh green salads. Larger, more mature leaves, and those grown in the hot summer, are stronger tasting, almost bitter, and used in salads with discretion. The small younger leaves may be used freely. Toss arugula with radicchio and a mild lettuce (Lactuca sativa). Arugula is a standard component in mesclun, a toss of young leaves of various lettuces, chicories (Cichorum intybus), endives (Cichorium endivia) and mild herbs. It adds a nice tangy bite to potato salads. Arugula can be cooked like spinach (Spinacea oleracea) or wilted in hot olive oil and garlic and served with pasta or potatoes. Use the older, more tangy leaves in soups and sauces. Add arugula to leek and potato soup near the end of the simmering. Use arugula in vegetable stir fry. The seeds of arugula are sometimes used as a flavoring substitute for mustard, and they are pressed to yield an edible oil known as jamba oil. The seeds are also sprouted for use in salads.

It is used as a leaf vegetable, which looks like a longer leaved and open lettuce. It is rich in vitamin C and potassium[9]. It is frequently cultivated, although domestication cannot be considered complete. It has been grown in the Mediterranean area since Roman times, and is considered an aphrodisiac. Before the 1990s it was usually collected in the wild and was not cultivated on a large scale or researched scientifically. In addition to the leaves, the flowers (often used in salads as an edible garnish), young seed pods and mature seeds are all edible.

On the island of Ischia in the Gulf of Naples, a digestive alcohol called rucolino is made from the plant, a drink often enjoyed in small quantities following a meal. The liquor is a local specialty enjoyed in the same way as a limoncello or grappa and has a sweet peppery taste that washes down easily.

Grow arugula in the fall and early spring garden. Usable leaves should be ready in 4-6 weeks. The best leaves are from plants grown fast in cool weather. Use nitrogen fertilizer to insure rapid growth. Pick off leaves as needed, leaving the plant to grow more.

Features:

According to ancient traditions, eating arugula will bring you good luck. The oil extracted from the seeds was considered to be an aphrodisiac. Since it also tastes good, it seems like everyone might want to grow this talented green.

MEDICINAL USES:
Herbal medicine : Medicinal notes  It is sharp, spicy and pungent. Eruca sativa is most often used cooked or fresh.

RECENT RESEARCH study conducted by Saudi Arabian researchers has confirmed that the herb  Rocket “Eruca sativa L.” (EER), a member of the   Brassicacae family, has potential anti-ulcer medicinal properties.
Click to see:->Herb Medicine ‘Rocket’ has Gastric Anti-ulcer Properties :

Traditional uses:
Parts used  Traditional uses  Contemporary uses  Fragrance  Fragrance parts  Fragrance intensity    Fragrance category    Dye parts  Dye color .

Other Uses: The seed yields a semi-drying oil which is a substitute for rapeseed oil[46]. It can also be used for lighting, burning with very little soot.

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://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eruca_sativa
http://www.floridata.com/ref/E/eruc_sat.cfm

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Asafoetida

Botanical Name : Ferula asafoetida
Family:    Apiaceae
Genus:    Ferula
Species:    F. assa-foetida
Kingdom:    Plantae
Order:    Apiales
Common Names : Asafoetida , devil’s dung, food of the gods, hing, narthex

It has several Names
Asafetida, Assafetida, Assafoetida, Devil’s Dung, Devil’s Durt, Food of the Gods (Persian), Laser (Roman), Stinking Gum
French: assa foetida, ferulr perisque
German: Asafotida, Stinkender Asant
Italian: assafetida
Spanish: asafetida

Ferula foetida

Ferula foetida (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Afghan: kama-i-anguza
Indian: hing, hingu, heeng
Tamil: perunkaya,   Bengali :Hing

Asafoetida gets its name from the Persian aza, for mastic or resin, and the Latin foetidus, for stinking. It is a gum that is from the sap of the roots and stem of the ferula species, a giant fennel that exudes a vile odour. Early records mention that Alexander the Great carried this “stink finger” west in 4 BC. It was used as a spice in ancient Rome, and although not native to India, it has been used in Indian medicine and cookery for ages. It was believed that asafoetida enhanced singers voices. In the days of the Mughal aristocracy, the court singers if Agra and Delhi would eat a spoonful of asafoetida with butter and practice on the banks of the river Yamuna.

Plant Details and it’s Cultivation
Asafoetida is grown chiefly in Iran and Afghanistan from where it is exported to the rest of the world. In India it is cultivated in Kashmir. It is a perennial fennel that grows wild to 3.6 metres (12 ft) high, in large natural forests where little else grows. It bears fine leaves and yellow flowers. The roots are thick and pulpy and also yield a similar resin to that of the stems. All parts of the plant have the distinctive fetid smell. In March and April, just before flowering, the stalks are cut close to the root. A milky liquid oozes out, which dries to form a resin. This is collected and a fresh cut is made. This procedure lasts for about three months from the first incision, by which time the plant has yielded up to two pounds of resin and the root has dried up.

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Asafoetida is a hard resinous gum, grayish-white when fresh, darkening with age to yellow, red and eventually brown. It is sold in blocks or pieces as a gum and more frequently as a fine yellow powder, sometimes crystalline or granulated.
Bouquet: a pungent smell of rotting onions or sulfur. The smell dissipates with cooking.
Flavour: on its own, extremely unpleasant, like concentrated rotten garlic. When cooked, it adds an onion-like flavour.
Hotness Scale: 0

To make and store:

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It is vital to keep asafoetida in airtight containers as its sulfurous odour will effect other foods and spices. It is most commonly available as a powder or granules that can be added directly to the cooking pot. It is also sold in lumps that need to be crushed before using. This is a very powerful spice and even in its ground state lasts well over a year if stored properly, away from light and air.

Cultivation and manufacture:
The resin-like gum comes from the dried sap extracted from the stem and roots and is used as a spice. The resin is greyish-white when fresh but dries to a dark amber colour. The asafoetida resin is difficult to grate and is traditionally crushed between stones or with a hammer. Today, the most commonly available form is compounded asafoetida, a fine powder containing 30% asafoetida resin, along with rice flour and gum arabic.

Ferula assafoetida is a monoecious, herbaceous, perennial plant of the family Apiaceae. It grows to 2 m (7 ft) high, with a circular mass of 30–40 cm (12–16 in) leaves. Stem leaves have wide sheathing petioles. Flowering stems are 2.5–3 m (8–10 ft) high and 10 cm (4 in) thick and hollow, with a number of schizogenous ducts in the cortex containing the resinous gum. Flowers are pale greenish yellow produced in large compound umbels. Fruits are oval, flat, thin, reddish brown and have a milky juice. Roots are thick, massive, and pulpy. They yield a resin similar to that of the stems. All parts of the plant have the distinctive fetid smell.

Edible Uses:
Use in minute quantities, adding directly to cooking liquid, frying in oil, or steeping in water. Asafoetida is used mostly in Indian vegetarian cooking, in which the strong onion-garlic flavour enhances many dishes, especially those of Brahmin and Jain castes where onions and garlic are prohibited. It is used mostly in south and west India, though it does not grow there. It is used in many lentil dishes (often to prevent flatulence), vegetarian soups and pickles. It is also suited to many fish dishes and some pappadums are seasoned with asafoetida.

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Constituents:  Typical asafoetida contains about 40–64% resin, 25% endogeneous gum, 10–17% volatile oil, and 1.5–10% ash. The resin portion is known to contain asaresinotannols ‘A’ and ‘B’, ferulic acid, umbelliferone and four unidentified compounds.
Medicinal Uses:
*Antiflatulent. Asafoetida reduces the growth of indigenous microflora in the gut, reducing flatulence.[8] In the Jammu region of India, asafoetida is used as a medicine for flatulence and constipation by 60% of locals.

*A digestion aid. In Thailand and India, it is used to aid digestion and is smeared on the abdomen in an alcohol or water tincture known as mahahing.  Assafoetida in this tincture form was evidently used in western medicine as a topical treatment for abdominal injuries during the 18th and 19th centuries, although when it came into use in the West and how long it remained in use is uncertain. One notable case in which it was used is that of Canadian Coureur des bois Alexis St. Martin, who in 1822 suffered a severe abdominal injury from an accidental shooting that perforated his right lung and stomach and shattered several ribs. St Martin was treated by American army surgeon William Beaumont, who subsequently used St Martin as the subject of a pioneering series of experiments in gastric physiology. When St Martin’s wounds had healed, there remained an open fistula into his stomach that enabled Beaumont to insert various types of food directly into St Martin’s stomach and record the results. In his account of his treatment of and later experiments on St Martin, Beaumont recorded that he treated the suppurating chest wound with a combination of wine mixed with diluted muriatic acid and 30-40 drops of tincture of asafoetida applied three times a day, and that this appeared to have the desired effect, helping the wound to heal.

*Fighting influenza: Asafoetida was used in 1918 to fight the Spanish influenza pandemic. In 2009, researchers reported that the roots of Asafoetida produce natural antiviral drug compounds that demonstrated potency against the H1N1 virus in vitro and concluded that “sesquiterpene coumarins from F. assa-foetida may serve as promising lead compounds for new drug development against influenza A (H1N1) viral infection”.

*Remedy for asthma and bronchitis. It is also said  to be helpful in cases of asthma and bronchitis. A folk tradition remedy for children’s colds: it is mixed into a pungent-smelling paste and hung in a bag around the afflicted child’s neck.
An antimicrobial: Asafoetida has a broad range of uses in traditional medicine as an antimicrobial, with well documented uses for treating chronic bronchitis and whooping cough, as well as reducing flatulence.

*A contraceptive/abortifacient: Asafoetida has also been reported to have contraceptive/abortifacient activity,. It is related to (and considered an inferior substitute for) the ancient Ferula species Silphium.

*Antiepileptic: Asafoetida oleo-gum-resin has been reported to be antiepileptic in classical Unani, as well as ethnobotanical literature.

*Balancing the vata and kapha. In India according to the Ayurveda, asafoetida is considered to be one of the best spices for balancing the vata dosha. It mitigates vata and kapha, relieves flatulence and colic pain. It is pungent in taste and at the end of digestion. It aggravates pitta, enhances appetite, taste and digestion. It is easy to digest.

*Antidote for opium. Asafoetida has only been speculated to be an antidote for opium.

*Acifidity Bag. Asafoetida was approved by the US Pharmacopedia to stave off the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918 that killed millions worldwide. It was placed into pouches called “acifidity bags” that were provided by drug stores to be hung around the neck to try to prevent catching the disease.
Other uses

Other Uses:
*Bait: John C Duval reported in 1936 that the odour of asafoetida is attractive to the wolf, a matter of common knowledge, he says, along the Texas–Mexico border. It is also used as one of several possible scent baits, most notably for catfish and pike.

*May also be used as a moth (Lepidoptera) light trap attractant by collectors—when mixed by approximately 1 part to 3 parts with a sweet, fruit jelly.

*Repelling spirits: In Jamaica, asafoetida is traditionally applied to a baby’s anterior fontanel (Jamaican patois mole) to prevent spirits (Jamaican patois duppies) from entering the baby through the fontanel. In the African-American Hoodoo tradition, asafoetida is used in magic spells, as it is believed to have the power both to protect and to curse.

*In ceremonial magick, especially from The Key of Solomon the King, it is used to protect the magus from daemonic forces and to evoke the same and bind them

Side Effects:
The uncooked herb can cause nausea and vomiting. Using asafoetida over long periods may cause throat irritation, gas, diarrhea, and burning urination. This herb should be avoided during pregnancy. It may affect the menstrual cycle, and it is known to induce miscarriage.

Known Hazards :  Do not use orally. Avoid during pregnancy as possible increased bleeding. Topical use may cause skin irritation

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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://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asafoetida

Encylopedia of spices,

http://www.anniesremedy.com/herb_detail415.php

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

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