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Centaurea melitensis

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Botanical Name :Centaurea melitensis
Family: Asteraceae
Tribe: Cynareae
Genus: Centaurea
Species:C. melitensis
Kingdom:Plantae
Order: Asterales

Common Names: Maltese star-thistle in Europe, Tocalote or Tocolote

Habitat: Centaurea melitensis is native to Mediterranean region, eastwards to Greece and Tunisia.  It grows on wasteplaces and roadsides.

Description:
Centaurea melitensis is an erect winter annual with a spiny, yellow-flowered head that typically reaches 1 m tall. The stems are stiff and openly branched from near or above the base or sometimes not branched in very small plants. Stem leaves are alternate, and mostly linear or narrowly oblong to oblanceolate. Margins are smooth, toothed, or wavy, and leaf bases extend down the stems (decurrent) and give stems a winged appearance. Rosette leaves typically are withered by flowering time.

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It is in flower from Jul to September, and the seeds ripen from Sep to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, flies, lepidoptera, self.The plant is self-fertile.
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 and can tolerate drought.

Cultivation:
We do not have information on this species, but the following notes are based on the closely related C. solstitialis. Succeeds in ordinary garden soil. Prefers a well-drained fertile soil and a sunny position. Tolerates dry, low fertility and alkaline soils. A good bee and butterfly plant the flowers are rich in nectar. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer.

Propagation:
Seed – sow April in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out into their permanent positions in the summer. If you have sufficient seed it can be sown in situ in the spring, and an autumn swing in situ might also be worth trying.

Medicinal Uses: The plant is used in the treatment of the kidneys.

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/Centaurea_melitensis
http://texasinvasives.org/plant_database/detail.php?symbol=CEME2
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Centaurea+melitensis

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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