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Gentianella diemensis

Botanical Name: Gentianella diemensis
Family: Gentianaceae
Genus: Gentianella
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Gentianales

Synonyms: Gentiana diamensis.

Common Name: Mountain Gentian
Habitat : Gentianella diemensis is native to Australia – New South Wales, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria. It grows on swamps, usually found at high elevations.

Description:
Gentianella diemensis is a annual/perennial  plant, growing to 0.3 m (1ft). It is in flower from Aug to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bumblebees, butterflies….CLICK & SEE THE  PICTURES

Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained 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:
We have almost no information on this species and do not know if it will be hardy in Britain. The following notes are based on the general needs of the genus. In general, gentians require a moist well-drained soil in a sheltered position, a certain minimum of atmospheric humidity, high light intensity but a site where temperatures are not too high. They are therefore more difficult to grow in areas with hot summers and in such a region they appreciate some protection from the strongest sunlight. Most species will grow well in the rock garden. A moisture loving plant, preferring to grow with full exposure to the sun but with plenty of underground moisture in the summer, it grows better in the north and west of Britain. Plants are intolerant of root disturbance.

Propagation :
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a light position in a cold frame. It can also be sown in late winter or early spring but the seed germinates best if given a period of cold stratification and quickly loses viability when stored, with older seed germinating slowly and erratically. It is advantageous to keep the seed at about 10°c for a few days after sowing, to enable the seed to imbibe moisture. Following this with a period of at least 5 – 6 weeks with temperatures falling to between 0 and -5°c will usually produce reasonable germination. It is best to use clay pots, since plastic ones do not drain so freely and the moister conditions encourage the growth of moss, which will prevent germination of the seed. The seed should be surface-sown, or only covered with a very light dressing of compost. The seed requires dark for germination, so the pots should be covered with something like newspaper or be kept in the dark. Pot up the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle and grow on in light shade in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. The seedlings grow on very slowly, taking 2 – 7 years to reach flowering size. When the plants are of sufficient size, place them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer.

Medicinal Uses:
Bitter; Tonic.

The root is a bitter tonic. It is taken internally as a tonic to the digestive system.

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/Gentianella_barringtonensis
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Gentianella+diemensis
http://www.rbg.vic.gov.au/dbpages/rbgcensus/index.php/census/species_detail/14001

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Yucca filamentosa

Botanical Name : Yucca filamentosa

Family: Asparagaceae

Subfamily: Agavoideae

Genus: Yucca

Species: Y. filamentosa

Kingdom: Plantae

clade: Angiosperms

clade: Monocots

Order: Asparagales

Common Names : Adam’s needle, bear grass, weak-leaf yucca

Habitat : Yucca filamentosa is native to the southeastern United States, as far west as Louisiana and as far north as Virginia. However, it is widely cultivated and can be found naturalized outside its native range.

Description:

Usually trunkless, Yucca filamentosa is a multisuckering plant with heads of 30 inch (75 cm) long, filamentous, blue green strappy leaves. The plant is fully hardy. Yucca filamentosa is readily identified from other Yucca species by white threads (filaments) on the leaf margins (as seen in the image).

CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

Flower stems up to 10 ft (3 m) tall bear masses of pendulous cream flowers in early summer.

Leaf: Evergreen, stiff and sword-like to slightly flexible and strap-like, up to 2 1/2 feet long and 1 to 3 inches wide, parallel veins, the leaf margins of younger leaves bearing fibrous white strands or filaments.

Flower: Very attractive, creamy white, bell-shaped, 6-petaled, approximately 2 1/2 inch-wide, borne on a 3-6 foot tall upright woody inflorescence. Flowers appearing once between June and August.

Fruit: Capsules borne upright on the woody inflorescence, approximately 2 inches long, initially green and drying to

Form: Dense, mounded clumps of leaves that reach 4 feet in height, but with upright inflorescences much taller.

Hardiness: USDA Zones 5-10

Y. filamentosa is closely related to Yucca flaccida and it is possible they should in fact be classified as a single species.

Propagation: By seed, root cuttings and offshoots. When one digs up a yucca to transplant, about a year later one may  often find the site ringed with baby yuccas growing from pieces of root left behind!

Medicinal Uses:

Yucca filamentosa is used for arthritis, rheumatism, gout, urethritis and prostates.  At one time it was considered an important source of phytosterols and used in the manufacturing of steroidal hormones.  Y glauca has been shown to have some activity against one strain of melanoma.  The amino acids in  Yucca filamentosa leaves have been shown to inhibit viruses, namely herpes simplex viruses 1 and 2, and cytomegalovirus.  One possible biochemical mechanism responsible for  Yucca filamentosa’s anti-inflammatory benefits lies in the plant’s steroidal saponins interacting with steroid receptors in the body, altering prostaglandin synthesis. Another possibility is that these chemicals may induce the production of anti-inflammatory steroidal compounds in the human body.

Other Uses:

Yucca filamentosa sometimes used as fish toxins or fish stupifying plants that have historically been used by many hunter gatherer cultures to stun fish, so that the fish become easy to collect by hand. Some of these toxins paralyse fish, others work by reducing oxygen content in water. The process of documenting many fish toxins and their use is ongoing, with interest in potential uses from medicine, agriculture, and industry.

Yucca filamentosas are useful garden perennials because they bloom at night (nyctinasty). The creamy-white flowers fill with sap and lift petals to the darkening sky then release a sweet odor (which reminds some viewers as smelling of a toilet soap) that attracts the very small pollinator, the yucca moth.

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://dendro.cnre.vt.edu/dendrology/syllabus2/factsheet.cfm?ID=822

http://www.floridata.com/ref/y/yucc_fil.cfm

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

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yucca_filamentosa

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Yellow Rattle

Rhinanthus minor

Rhinanthus minor (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Botanical Name : Rhinanthus minor
Family: Orobanchaceae
Genus: Rhinanthus
Species: R. minor
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Lamiales

Common Names ;Yellow Rattle or Cockscomb, Rhinanthus minor

Habitat : Rhinanthus minor is  native to Europe and Western Asia.Its preferred habitat is dry fields or meadows.In Ireland and Scotland, this species is often associated with Machair habitat.

Description:
Rhinanthus minor is a hemi-parasitic herbaceous annual plant that gains some of its nutrients from the roots of neighbouring plants. It grows to 25-50 cm tall, with opposite, simple leaves, with a serrated margin. The flowers are yellow, produced on a terminal raceme. The fruit is a dry capsule, which contain loose, rattling seeds when ripe; the plant’s name refers to these. Its flowering period is between June and September.

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Research at the UK’s Centre for Ecology and Hydrology has shown that encouraging Yellow Rattle to grow in hay meadows greatly increases biodiversity by restricting grass growth and thereby allowing other species to thrive. The seeds are spread very effectively by traditional hay-making practices.

It can be cultivated by scarifying the surface of the ground with a fork or similar, then sowing onto short grass, 0.5 to 1 gram of seed per square metre. Yellow Rattle seed is short-lived and should always be sown in the autumn, using seed harvested that year. Then, keep grass short for beginning of March when seedlings establish. Thereafter, the grass should not be cut until the end of July to allow the Yellow Rattle to flower and go to seed, then cut short.

Medicinal Uses:
The plant is ophthalmic.  Rhianthus has been reported to be an effective substitute for eyebright.  Used as an internal tea for colds and an external wash for the eyes.

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/Rhinanthus_minor
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_UZ.htm

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Dioscorea japonica

Botanical Name : Dioscorea japonica
Family: Dioscoreaceae
Genus: Dioscorea
Species: D. japonica
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Dioscoreales

Common Names :Yamaimo, Japanese mountain yam,Glutinous Yam

Habitat : Native to E. Asia – China, C. and S. Japan.Grows in wooded foothills. Mixed forests and margins, scrub forests, herb communities, mountain slopes, valleys, along rivers and streams, roadsides; 100 – 1200 metres

Description:
Dioscorea japonica is a perennial climber. It is in flower from Sep to October. The flowers are dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required)The plant is not self-fertile.

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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 cannot grow in the shade.It requires moist soil.

Cultivation:
We have very little information on this species and do not know if it will be hardy in Britain, though judging by its native range it could succeed outdoors at least in the mildest areas of this country. The following notes are based on the general needs of the genus. Easily grown in a fertile well-drained soil in a sunny position or light shade. Prefers a rich light soil. Plants produce tubercles (small tubers that are formed in the leaf axils of the stems), and can be propagated by this means. A climbing plant that supports itself by twining around the branches of other plants. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.

Propagation:
Seed – sow March to April in a sunny position in a warm greenhouse and only just cover. It germinates in 1 – 3 weeks at 20°c. Prick out the seedlings as soon as they are large enough to handle and grow on in a greenhouse for their first year. Plant out in late spring as the plant comes into new growth. Basal stem cuttings in the summer. Division in the dormant season, never when in growth. The plant will often produce a number of shoots, the top 5 – 10 cm of the root below each shoot can be potted up to form a new plant whilst the lower part of the root can be eaten. Tubercles (baby tubers) are formed in the leaf axils. These are harvested in late summer and early autumn when about the size of a pea and coming away easily from the plant. They should be potted up immediately in individual pots in a greenhouse or cold frame. Plant out in early summer when in active growth

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Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Leaves;  Root.

Tuber – cooked. A very pleasant mild flavour with a floury texture, the roots can be eaten as a potato substitute[2]. The starch can be used as a binding agent for other foods. Roots contain about 1.9% protein, 20% carbohydrate, 0.1% fat and 1% ash. Leaf tips – cooked. Tubercles – cooked

Medicinal Uses:
Contraceptive;  Miscellany;  Tonic.

The tubers are prescribed in the treatment of diarrhoea,dysentery, enteritis, enuresis and spermatorrhoea. They are also dried and cut into shavings then used as a tonic. The roots of most, if not all, members of this genus, contains diosgenin. This is widely used in modern medicine in order to manufacture progesterone and other steroid drugs. These are used as contraceptives and in the treatment of various disorders of the genitary organs as well as in a host of other diseases such as asthma and arthritis

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/Dioscorea_japonica
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Dioscorea+japonica
http://www.perennialveg.org.uk/djaponica.htm

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Catsear

 


Image via Wikipedia

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Botanical Name:Hypochaeris radicata
Family: Asteraceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Asterales
Tribe: Cichorieae
Genus: Hypochaeris
Species: H. radicata
Other Names:cat’s ear, false dandelion,long-rooted cat’s-ear, long-rooted hypochoere, spotted cat’s-ear

Etymology and differences from dandelions:
Catsear is derived from the words cat’s ear, and refers to the shape and fine-hair on the leaves resembling that of the ear of a cat.

The plant is also known as false dandelion, as it is commonly mistaken for true dandelions. Both plants carry similar flowers which form into windborne seeds. However, catsear flowering stems are forked and solid, whereas dandelions possess unforked stems that are hollow. Both plants have a rosette of leaves and a central taproot. The leaves of dandelions are jagged in appearance, whereas those of catsear are more lobe-shaped and hairy. Both plants have similar uses.

Habitat:The plant is native to Europe, but has also been introduced to the Americas, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.Found in the eastern United States as far north as New Jersey and as far west as Mississippi.

Description:
It is a perennial, low-lying edible herb often found in lawns.The leaves, which may grow up to eight inches, are lobed and covered in fine hairs, forming a low-lying rosette around a central taproot.Cat’s ear dandelion is similar to common dandelion. It has a basal rosette of densely hairy leaves with rounded lobes. This rosette arises from a prominent taproot. If broken, the leaves and flower stalks will emit a milky white sap. Most striking are the bright yellow flowers that are borne on the ends of long stems. Common dandelion plants can be distinguished because young leaves do not have hairs, whereas cat’s ear dandelion leaves have dense hairs. In addition, the leaves of common dandelion are more deeply notched than those of cat’s ear dandelion. On common dandelion, the leaf notches extend almost to the midrib of each leaf.

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When mature these form seeds attached to windborne “parachutes”. All parts of the plant exude a milky sap when cut.Typical stems do not occur, however leafless flower stalks (scapes) are present with 2 to 7 flowers on each stalk. Flower stalks also emit a milky sap when broken.

Hypochaeris species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including The Shark.

Culinary uses:
All parts of the catsear plant are edible; however, the leaves and roots are those most often harvested. The leaves are bland in taste but can be eaten raw in salads, steamed, or in stir-fries. Older leaves can become tough and fibrous, but younger leaves make for good eating. Some bitterness in the leaves may be apparent but is rare.

The root can be roasted and ground to form a coffee substitute.

Medicinal Uses:

Catsear is rich in nutrients and antioxidants – hence its popularity in recipes around the world – and this also means it has long been used for medicinal purposes. Uses include acting as a diuretic for kidney problems, and treating urinary infections, gallstones, rheumatism, constipation and liver infections.

Toxicity:
Catsear is considered a noxious weed for livestock and horses. Ingestion of large amounts of catsear can cause a neurological disorder in horses called stringhalt. Stringhalt causes involuntary twitching in the rear legs of the animal and other problems. The symptoms of catsear exposure may clear out of the system in a few years once grazing on the plant has been eliminated from the horse’s diet.

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/Catsear
http://ipm.ppws.vt.edu/scott/weed_id/hryra.htm
http://www.turffiles.ncsu.edu/Weeds/Dandelion_Cats_Ear.aspx

.http://www.meadowmat.com/wildflower-species/catsear

 

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