Tag Archives: Brassicaceae

Watercress

Botanical Name :Nasturtium officinale
Family: Brassicaceae
Genus: Nasturtium
Species: N. officinale
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Brassicales

Synonyms:  Rorippa nasturtium-aquaticum – (L.)Hayek., Sisymbrium nasturtium-aquaticum – L.

Common Name :Watercress

Habitat : Watercress is native to Europe and Asia, and one of the oldest known leaf vegetables consumed by humans. It is a member of the family Brassicaceae, botanically related to garden cress, mustard and radish — all noteworthy for a peppery, tangy flavour.

Description:
It is hardy to zone 6 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from May to October, and the seeds ripen from July to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, flies. The plant is self-fertile. It is noted for attracting wildlife.
 Click to see the pictures..>…...(01)..(1)....(2).…...(3).…..(4)……..(5).....(6).…...(7)…..
The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It requires wet soil and can grow in water.

In some regions, watercress is regarded as a weed, in other regions as an aquatic vegetable or herb. Watercress has been grown in many locations around the world.

Cultivation :
Watercress is easily grown when given the correct conditions of slowly flowing clean water, preferably coming from chalky or limestone soils. It prefers to grow in water about 5cm deep with an optimum pH 7.2. Plants can be grown in wet soil if the position is somewhat shaded and protection is given in winter, though the flavour may be hotter. Hardy to about -15°c. Watercress is often cultivated for its edible leaves, there are some named varieties. The plant is very sensitive to pollution so a clean source of water is required. Plants will often continue to grow all through mild winters. A fast-growing plant, the stems trail along the ground or float in water and produce new roots at the leaf nodes, thus making the plant very easy to propagate vegetatively. Unfortunately, virus diseases have become more common in cultivated plants and so most propagation is carried out by seed. This is a diploid species. It has hybridised naturally in the wild with the triploid species N. microphyllum to produce the sterile hybrid N. x sterilis which is also commonly cultivated as a salad crop. The flowers are a rich source of pollen and so are very attractive to bees.

Propagation:
Seed – sow spring in a pot emmersed to half its depth in water. Germination should take place within a couple of weeks. Prick out seedlings into individual pots whilst they are still small and increase the depth of water gradually until they are submerged. Plant out into a pond in the summer. Cuttings can be taken at any time in the growing season. Virtually any part of the plant, including a single leaf, will form roots if detached from the parent plant[56]. Just put it in a container of water until the roots are well formed and then plant out in shallow water.

Edible Uses.
Leaves – raw or cooked. Water cress is mainly used as a garnish or as an addition to salads, the flavour is strong with a characteristic hotness[183]. It has a reputation as a spring tonic, and this is its main season of use, though it can be harvested for most of the year and can give 10 pickings annually. Some caution is advised if gathering the plant from the wild, see the notes above on toxicity. The leaves are exceptionally rich in vitamins and minerals, especially iron. A nutritional analysis is available. The seed can be sprouted and eaten in salads. A hot mustardy flavour. The seed is ground into a powder and used as a mustard. The pungency of mustard develops when cold water is added to the ground-up seed – an enzyme (myrosin) acts on a glycoside (sinigrin) to produce a sulphur compound. The reaction takes 10 – 15 minutes. Mixing with hot water or vinegar, or adding salt, inhibits the enzyme and produces a mild but bitter mustard.

Chemical Constituents:
Stems and leaves:
vitamins a, c and e, nicotinamide, a glycoside, gluconastur-tin, volatile oil, manganese, iron, phosphorus, iodine, copper, calcium

Leaves (Fresh weight)•19 Calories per 100g
•Water: 93.3%
•Protein: 2.2g; Fat: 0.3g; Carbohydrate: 3g; Fibre: 0.7g; Ash: 1.2g;
•Minerals – Calcium: 151mg; Phosphorus: 54mg; Iron: 1.7mg; Magnesium: 0mg; Sodium: 52mg; Potassium: 282mg; Zinc: 0mg;
•Vitamins – A: 2940mg; Thiamine (B1): 0.08mg; Riboflavin (B2): 0.16mg; Niacin: 0.9mg; B6: 0mg; C: 79mg;

Medicinal Uses:
Antiscorbutic; Depurative; Diuretic; Expectorant; Hypoglycaemic; Odontalgic; Purgative; Stimulant; Stomachic; TB.

Watercress is very rich in vitamins and minerals, and has long been valued as a food and medicinal plant. Considered a cleansing herb, its high content of vitamin C makes it a remedy that is particularly valuable for chronic illnesses. The leaves are antiscorbutic, depurative, diuretic, expectorant, purgative, hypoglycaemic, odontalgic, stimulant and stomachic. The plant has been used as a specific in the treatment of TB. The freshly pressed juice has been used internally and externally in the treatment of chest and kidney complaints, chronic irritations and inflammations of the skin etc. Applied externally, it has a long-standing reputation as an effective hair tonic, helping to promote the growth of thick hair. A poultice of the leaves is said to be an effective treatment for healing glandular tumours or lymphatic swellings. Some caution is advised, excessive use of the plant can lead to stomach upsets. The leaves can be harvested almost throughout the year and are used fresh.

Watercress contains significant amounts of iron, calcium, iodine, and folic acid, in addition to vitamins A and C. Because it is relatively rich in Vitamin C, watercress was suggested (among other plants) by English military surgeon John Woodall (1570–1643) as a remedy for scurvy.

Many benefits from eating watercress are claimed, such as that it acts as a stimulant, a source of phytochemicals and antioxidants, a diuretic, an expectorant, and a digestive aid. It also appears to have antiangiogenic cancer-suppressing properties; it is widely believed to help defend against lung cancer. A 2010 study conducted by the University of Southampton found that consumption of watercress may also inhibit the growth of breast cancer. The content of phenethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC) in watercress inhibits HIF, which can inhibit angiogenesis.

Watercress is mentioned in the Talmud as being able to stop bleeding, when mixed with vinegar

Other Uses:
Hair; Miscellany.
The juice of the plant is a nicotine solvent and is used as such on strong tobaccos.

Known Hazards:
Whilst the plant is very wholesome and nutritious, some care should be taken if harvesting it from the wild. Any plants growing in water that drains from fields where animals, particularly sheep, graze should not be used raw. This is due to the risk of it being infested with the liver fluke parasite. Cooking the leaves, however, will destroy any parasites and render the plant perfectly safe to eat.

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://digedibles.com/database/plants.php?Nasturtium+officinale

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

http://www.anniesremedy.com/herb_detail372.php

Armoracia rusticana(Horseradish)

Botanical Name ; Armoracia rusticana
Family: Brassicaceae– Mustard family
Genus: Armoracia G. Gaertn., B. Mey. & Scherb.– armoracia
Species: Armoracia rusticana G. Gaertn., B. Mey. & Scherb.– horseradish
Kingdom: Plantae– Plants
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta– Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta– Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta– Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida– Dicotyledons
Subclass: Dilleniidae
Order: Capparales

Synonyms: Armoracia armoracia. Armoracia rustica. Cardamine armoracia. Rorippa armoracia

Common Name :Horseradish

Habitat :Armoracia rusticana is native to Europe. Naturalized in Britain. It grows on arable land, waste ground and by streams, favouring slightly damp positions.

Description:
Armoracia rusticana is a perennial herb  growing to 2 to 2.5 feet and spreading 2.5 to 3 feet with dock-like, toothed, shiny, dark green leaves and insignificant, whitish flowers which appear in summer in terminal panicles. An extremely vigorous plant that crowds out most weeds and is itself weed-like, with a very spreading growth habit (particularly if the roots are not harvested every year)….click & see

You may click to see the pictures

It is hardy to zone 5 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from May to June. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, flies, beetles, self.The plant is self-fertile.

CLICK & SEE

Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained 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 moist soil.

Cultivation:
A very easily grown plant, horseradish prefers a good deep moist well-drained soil and a sunny position. Plants require a good soil if they are to produce good roots, though once established they are very tolerant of neglect and will continue to produce a crop for many years. Plants do not thrive if they are in the shade of trees. Excess nitrogen causes heavy top growth and forking of the roots. Prefers a wet clay soil according to one report, whilst another says that it will not grow in wet clay. Tolerates a pH in the range 5.8 to 8.3. Horseradish has long been cultivated for its root which is used as a food flavouring and medicinally, there are some named varieties. If the roots are given some protection they will produce fresh young leaves for the salad bowl all through the winter. Digging up some roots and putting them into a greenhouse for the winter is the easiest method. If the young shoots are blanched they will produce white, tender, sweet leaves. A very invasive plant, it is considered to be a pernicious weed in some areas. Even quite small sections of root will regrow if they are left in the soil. The plant has yet to prove invasive on our Cornwall trial grounds, though it has survived and even prospered in a very overgrown site. The forms of this plant grown in gardens are almost sterile and seldom produce good seed. This is a good companion plant for potatoes since it is said to deter potato eelworm and the Colorado beetle. One plant at each corner of the potato patch is quite sufficient. When grown under apple trees it is said to prevent brown rot, powdery mildew and other fungal diseases.

Propagation: Seed – this is seldom produced on plants in cultivation. If seed is obtained then it is best sown in situ during the spring. Division is very easy and can be carried out at almost any time of the year, though it is probably best in spring. It s best to use sections of root about 20cm long, which can be planted out into their permanent positions in February or March, though even very small bits of root will grow away. Division should be carried out at least once every three years or the crop will deteriorate

Edible Uses:
Edible Parts: Leaves;  Root;  Seed.
Edible Uses: Condiment.

Young root – raw or cooked. The grated root is used to make the condiment ‘Horseradish sauce’, this has a hot mustard-like flavour. The sauce is best used uncooked or gently warmed, heating it will destroy the volatile oils that are responsible for its pungency. It is said that in Germany the roots are sliced and cooked like parsnips[183] – rather them than me!. The root is a rich source of sulphur. Fresh roots contain the glycoside sinigrin – this is decomposed in the presence of water by the enzyme myrosin, producing mustard oil which gives the root its hot flavour. The fleshy roots can be up to 60cm long and 5cm thick. The plant is fully hardy and can be left in the ground all winter to be harvested as required. Alternatively, the roots can be harvested in early winter and stored for later use, they will retain their juicy state for some time if stored in dry sand. Young leaves – raw or cooked. A very strong flavour, though nice when added in small quantities to the salad bowl. A pleasant mild flavour according to another report. Seeds – sprouted and eaten in salads.

Medicinal Uses:
Antibacterial;  Antirheumatic;  Antiseptic;  Aperient;  Digestive;  Diuretic;  Expectorant;  Rubefacient;  Stimulant.

Horseradish is a very pungent stimulant herb that controls bacterial infections and can be used both internally and externally. The plant is a powerful stimulant, whether used internally as a spur for the digestive system or externally as a rubefacient. It should not be used internally by people with stomach ulcers or thyroid problems. The roots are antiseptic, aperient, digestive, diuretic, expectorant, rubefacient and stimulant. They should be used in their fresh state. An infusion is used in the treatment of colds, fevers and flu and is of value in the treatment of respiratory and urinary tract infections. A sandwich of the freshly grated root is a traditional remedy for hay fever. A tea made from the root is weakly diuretic, antiseptic and expectorant. The plant is antibiotic against gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria and also pathogenic fungi. It is experimentally antitumor. Externally, a poultice made from the roots is used to treat pleurisy, arthritis and infected wounds. It will also relieve the pain of chilblains. Some caution should be employed, however, because it can cause blistering. The German Commission E Monographs, a therapeutic guide to herbal medicine, approve Armoracia rusticana for internal & external use in catarrhs of the respiratory tract, internally as supportive therapy for urinary tract infections, externally for the hyperaemic treatment of minor muscles aches.

Other Uses :
Fungicide;  Repellent.

Horseradish tea is effective against brown rot of apples and other fungicidal diseases. The growing plant deters potato eelworm.

Known Hazards:
Large quantities of this plant can be poisonous due to its content of volatile oils. Traditional texts suggested possible thyroid function depression. Contraindicated with chronic nephritis, hepatitis, gastro-oesophageal reflux or hyperacidity conditions, and inflammatory bowel conditions. Avoid during pregnancy and lactation (moderate amounts with food ok)

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=Armoracia+rusticana

http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=ARRU4

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Armoracia_rusticana

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Raphanus sativus

Botanical Name : Raphanus sativus
Family: Brassicaceae– Mustard family
Genus: Raphanus L.– radish
Species: Raphanus sativus L.– cultivated radish
Kingdom:Plantae– Plants
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta– Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta– Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta– Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida– Dicotyledons
Subclass: Dilleniidae
Order: Capparales

Synonyms: Raphanus raphanistrum sativus – (L.) G. Beck.

Common Name :Radish

Habitat :The origin of Raphanus sativus is not found, it is a plant  of cultivation. It probably arose through cultivation.

Description:
Raphanus sativus is an annual herb growing to 0.45m by 0.2m at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone 0 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from June to August, and the seeds ripen from July to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, flies.

You may click to see the picture

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The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. The plant prefers neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires moist soil.

Cultivation :
Very easily cultivated fast-growing plants which prefer a rich light soil with ample moisture. They dislike very heavy or acid soils. Plants are susceptible to drought and require irrigation during dry spells in the summer or the root quality will rapidly deteriorate and the plant will go to seed. Radishes are widely cultivated for their edible roots. There are many named variet that are able to supply edible roots all year round. Over the centuries a number of distinct groups have evolved through cultivation, these have been classified by the botanists as follows. A separate entry has been made for each group:- R. sativus. The common radish. Fast maturing plants with small roots that can be round or cylindrical and usually have red skins. They are grown primarily for their roots which in some varieties can be ready within three weeks from sowing the seed and are used mainly in salads. These are mainly grown for spring, summer and autumn use and can produce a crop within a few weeks of sowing. R. sativus caudatus. The rat-tailed radishes. This group does not produce roots of good quality, it is cultivated mainly for the edible young seedpods which are harvested in the summer. R. sativus niger. The Oriental and Spanish radishes. These are grown for their larger edible root which can be round or cylindrical and can be available throughout the winter. R. sativus oleiformis. The fodder radishes. These are grown mainly for their leaves and oil-rich seeds, they are used as a green manure or stock feed though they can also be eaten by people. The roots of these plants soon become fibrous, though they make acceptable eating when young. Radishes are a good companion plant for lettuces, nasturtiums, peas and chervil, tomatoes and cucumbers. They are said to repel cucumber beetles if planted near cucumber plants and they also repel the vine borers which attack squashes, marrows and courgettes. They grow badly with hyssop and with grape vines.

Propagation:
Seed – sow outdoors in situ in succession from late winter to the middle of summer. Germination takes place within a few days of sowing the seed. If you want a constant supply of the roots then you need to sow seed every 2 – 3 weeks

Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Flowers; Leaves; Root; Seed; Seedpod.

Edible Uses: Oil.
Young leaves – raw or cooked. A somewhat hot taste, and the texture is somewhat coarse. As long as they are young, they make an acceptable addition in small quantities to chopped salads and are a reasonable cooked green[K]. A nutritional analysis is available. Young flower clusters – raw or cooked. A spicy flavour with a crisp pleasant texture, they make a nice addition to salads or can be used as a broccoli substitute. Seeds – raw. The seed can be soaked for 12 hours in warm water and then allowed to sprout for about 6 days. They have a hot spicy flavour and go well in salads. Young seedpods – raw. Crisp and juicy with a mildly hot flavour. They must be eaten when young because they quickly become tough and fibrous. Root – raw or cooked. Crisp and juicy, they have a hot and spicy flavour and are a very popular addition to salads. The summer crops do not store well and should be used as soon as possible after harvesting. The winter varieties (including the Japanese forms) have much larger roots and often a milder flavour. These store well and can be either harvested in early winter for storage or be harvested as required through the winter. An edible oil is obtained from the seed.

Composition:
Figures in grams (g) or miligrams (mg) per 100g of food.

Leaves (Dry weight) : 287 Calories per 100g
*Water: 0%
*Protein: 28.7g; Fat: 5.2g; Carbohydrate: 49.6g; Fibre: 9.6g; Ash: 16.5g;
*Minerals – Calcium: 1913mg; Phosphorus: 261mg; Iron: 35.7mg; Magnesium: 0mg; Sodium: 956mg; Potassium: 4348mg; Zinc: 0mg;
*Vitamins – A: 21mg; Thiamine (B1): 0.7mg; Riboflavin (B2): 2.43mg; Niacin: 34.8mg; B6: 0mg; C: 704mg;

Notes: Vitamin A is mg not IU

Medicinal Uses:
Anthelmintic; Antibacterial; Antifungal; Antiscorbutic; Antispasmodic; Astringent; Cancer; Carminative; Cholagogue; Digestive; Diuretic; Expectorant; Laxative; Poultice; Stomachic.

Radishes have long been grown as a food crop, but they also have various medicinal actions. The roots stimulate the appetite and digestion, having a tonic and laxative effect upon the intestines and indirectly stimulating the flow of bile. Consuming radish generally results in improved digestion, but some people are sensitive to its acridity and robust action. The plant is used in the treatment of intestinal parasites, though the part of the plant used is not specified. The leaves, seeds and old roots are used in the treatment of asthma and other chest complaints. The juice of the fresh leaves is diuretic and laxative. The seed is carminative, diuretic, expectorant, laxative and stomachic. It is taken internally in the treatment of indigestion, abdominal bloating, wind, acid regurgitation, diarrhoea and bronchitis. The root is antiscorbutic, antispasmodic, astringent, cholagogue, digestive and diuretic. It is crushed and used as a poultice for burns, bruises and smelly feet. Radishes are also an excellent food remedy for stone, gravel and scorbutic conditions. The root is best harvested before the plant flowers. Its use is not recommended if the stomach or intestines are inflamed. The plant contains raphanin, which is antibacterial and antifungal. It inhibits the growth of Staphylococcus aureus, E. coli, streptococci, Pneumococci etc. The plant also shows anti-tumour activity.

Radish root stimulates the appetite and digestion.  The common red radish is eaten as a salad vegetable and an appetizer.  The juice of the black radish is drunk to counter gassy indigestion and constipation.  Radish juice has a tonic and laxative action on the intestines and indirectly stimulates the flow of bile.  Consuming radish generally results in improved digestion, but some people are sensitive to its acridity and robust action. It is crushed and used as a poultice for burns, bruises and smelly feet. The leaves, seeds and old roots are used in the treatment of asthma and other chest complaints.  The juice of the fresh leaves is diuretic and laxative.  In China, radish is eaten to relive abdominal distension.  The root is also prepared “dry-fried” to treat chest problems.  The seed is used to treat abdominal fullness, sour eructations, diarrhea caused by food congestion, phlegm with productive cough and wheezing.  Because of its neutral energy, it is very effective in breaking up congestion in patients with extreme heat.  Radishes are also an excellent food remedy for stone, gravel and scorbutic conditions. The plant contains raphanin, which is antibacterial and antifungal. It inhibits the growth of Staphylococcuc aureus, E. coli, streptococci, pneumococci etc. The plant also shows anti-tumor activity.

Other Uses:
Green manure; Oil; Repellent.

The growing plant repels beetles from tomatoes and cucumbers. It is also useful for repelling various other insect pests such as carrot root fly. There is a fodder variety that grows more vigorously and is used as a green manure.

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Known Hazards: The Japanese radishes have higher concentrations of glucosinolate, a substance that acts against the thyroid gland. It is probably best to remove the skin.

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://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Raphanus_sativus

http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=RASA2

http://species.wikimedia.org/wiki/Raphanus_sativus

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

Dentaria diphylla

Botanical Name : Cardamine diphylla
Family : Brassicaceae – Mustard family
Genus: Cardamine L. – bittercress
Species: Cardamine diphylla (Michx.) Alph. Wood – crinkleroot
Kingdom : Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom:  Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division : Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Subclass: Dilleniidae
Order : Capparales

Synonyms: Dentaria diphylla Michx., Dentaria incisa Small

Common Name : Broadleaf toothwort, Crinkle root, Crinkle-root, Crinkleroot, Pepper root, Twin-leaved Toothwort, Twoleaf toothwort, Toothwort

Habitat :Cardamine diphylla is  native to North America.Its habitat ranges from Georgia north to Ontario and from the Atlantic to Wisconsin. It is found in moist woodlands usually in edge habitats and blooms from April to June. A member of the mustard family, it is typified by a four petal flower which blooms in a cluster on a single stalk above a single pair of toothed stem leaves each divided into three broad leaflets. After flowering, narrow seedpods appear just below the flower cluster. It grows approximately 30 cm (12 in) tall.

Description:
Dentaria diphylla is a Perennial plant grows to a height of 30 cm.t is not frost tender. It is in flower from May to June. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.

The plant prefers light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils.The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils..It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) or semi-shade (light woodland).It requires moist soil.

Cultivation:An easily grown plant, preferring a rich light moist soil and a shady position. This species is hardy to about -20°c.

Propagation
Seed – sow spring in a cold frame. Germination usually takes place within 1 – 3 weeks at 15°c. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in light shade in a greenhouse or cold frame for the first two years, planting them out when dormant in late summer. Division in early spring or after the plant dies down in the summer. Larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the spring.

Edible Uses:
Edible Parts: Leaves;  Root.

Root – raw or cooked. It has a crisp texture and a pleasant pungent taste, rather like water cress or horseradish. It can be added to salads or used as a relish[105, 183]. The root has a pungent acrid taste when first harvested, the Indians cleaned the roots, heaped them on a blanket, covered them to exclude air and then left them to ferment for 4 – 5 days. After this the roots developed a sweet taste. Leaves – raw or cooked. The cooking water was changed once in order to remove the bitterness.

Medicinal Uses:

Cardiac;  Carminative;  Febrifuge;  Miscellany;  Odontalgic;  Stomachic.

The peppery root is used as a folk remedy in the treatment of toothache. It has also been chewed in the treatment of colds, an infusion drunk to treat gas and other stomach problems, and it has been made into a poultice for headaches. A tea made from the root is gargled in the treatment of sore throat, hoarseness etc. An infusion of the plant has been used to treat fevers in children. Combined with Acorus calamus root, it has been used in the treatment of heart diseases.

The root of this little plant is a diffusive and somewhat pungent stimulant, when dried; and also possesses a mild tonic power. Its principal influence is expended upon the nervous peripheries, and moderately upon the capillaries. It is of the antispasmodic class of nervines; and is useful in hysterical nervousness and spasms of the more acute form, painful and tardy menstruation, flatulent colic, and similar maladies requiring a diffusive stimulant. It warms the surface, and secures gentle perspiration. It is agreeable in taste, but its influence is rather transient. It has been claimed to have used it for many years with unvarying success in epilepsy. The best method of giving it is a tincture prepared by macerating four ounces of the roots in a quart of diluted alcohol, straining and pressing; of which two to three fluid drachms may be given every four or two hours.     The peppery root is used as a folk remedy in the treatment of toothache. It has also been chewed in the treatment of colds, an infusion drunk to treat gas and other stomach problems. A tea made from the root is gargled in the treatment of sore throat, hoarseness etc. An infusion of the plant has been used to treat fevers in children. Combined with Acorus calamus root, it has been used in the treatment of heart diseases. Toothwort tea can also be used to soothe and calm nerves and is a mild natural relaxant. The fresh juice can aid in digestion. The crushed root of Toothwort can be used externally as a plaster for aches, pains, and rheumatism.

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://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Dentaria+diphylla

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

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

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Mustard seeds

Botanical Name:Brassica alba

Family: Brassicaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Orde
r: Brassicales
Syn. B.rapa Linn
Common Name :Mustard, Sarson

Habitat :Mild white mustard (Sinapis hirta) grows wild in North Africa, the Middle East and Mediterranean Europe and has spread farther by long cultivation; brown or Indian mustard (Brassica juncea), originally from the foothills of the Himalaya, is grown commercially in the UK, Canada, Denmark and the US; black mustard (Brassica nigra) in Argentina, Chile, the US and some European countries. Canada grows 90% of all the mustard seed for the international market. The Canadian province of Saskatchewan produces almost half of the world’s supply of mustard seed.


Description:

Both white and brown mustard are grown as spring-sown annual crops whose dry seeds are harvested in early autumn. From very small seedlings, the plants grow rapidly and enter a phase of dense flowering; the blooms have an intense yellow colour. The plants reach their full height of 1.5 to 2 m (5 to 61/2 feet) as their flowers fade and after numerous green seedpods appear on their branches. The pods of brown mustard contain up to 20 seeds each, those of white mustard contain up to 8 seeds. Mustard plants are easy and inexpensive to grow; they flourish on many different types of soil, suffer from unusually few insect pests or plant diseases, and tolerate extremes of weather without serious harm.

Click to see the pictures….(01)......(1)..…..(2).…....(3)..…..(4).….(.5)...

Edible Uses:Mustards are several plant species in the genera Brassica and Sinapis whose small mustard seeds are used as a spice and, by grinding and mixing them with water, vinegar or other liquids, are turned into the condiment known as mustard. The seeds are also pressed to make mustard oil, and the edible leaves can be eaten as mustard greens.

Mustard,  any of several herbs belonging to the mustard family of plants, Brassicaceae (Cruciferae), or the condiment made from these plants’ pungent seeds. The leaves and swollen leaf stems of mustard plants are also used, as greens, or potherbs. The principal types are white, or yellow, mustard (Sinapis alba), a plant of Mediterranean origin; and brown, or Indian, mustard (Brassica juncea), which is of Himalayan origin. The latter species has almost entirely replaced the formerly used black mustard (Brassica nigra), which was unsuitable for mechanized cropping and which now occurs mainly as an introduced weed.

The use of mustard seeds as a spice has been known from the earliest recorded times and is described in Indian and Sumerian texts dating back to 3000 bc. Mustard plants are mentioned frequently in Greek and Roman writings and in the Bible. In the New Testament, the tiny mustard seed is a symbol of faith. Mustard seed was used medicinally by Hippocrates, among other ancient physicians. During the 20th century, the use of mustard as a spice or condiment has grown to the extent that it is by far the largest spice by volume in world trade. Mustard is unusual among spices in that it is mainly grown in the temperate regions of the world, principally on the Canadian and American Great Plains, in Hungary and in Britain, and in lesser amounts in other countries. In the main producing countries, the crop production of mustard is fully mechanized.

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Mustard seeds, both white and brown, are nearly globular in shape, finely pitted, odourless when whole, and pungent-tasting. White mustard seeds are light yellow in colour and about 2.5 mm (1/10 inch) in diameter; brown mustard seeds are about the same size but are a darker yellow in colour. The seeds of both types contain similar constituents: about 30 to 40 percent vegetable oil, a slightly smaller proportion of protein, and a strong enzyme called myrosin. When dry or when ground into a flour, the seeds are odourless, but when the seed is chewed or when the flour is mixed with water, a chemical reaction between two of the constituents within mustard, an enzyme and a glucoside, produces an oil that is not present as such in the plant. In brown mustard this action yields the volatile oil of mustard, which has a pungent, irritating odour and an acrid taste. In white mustard the result is sinalbin mustard oil, a nonvolatile oil that has very little odour but produces a sensation of heat on the tongue.

As a condiment, mustard is sold in three forms: as seeds, as dry powder that is freshly mixed with water for each serving to obtain the most aroma and flavour, and prepared as a paste with other spices or herbs, vinegar or wine, and starch or flour to tone down the sharpness. The differing flavours of white and brown mustard are used in different condiments; the pungent brown is used in French-type paste mustards, and the white is used in milder American- or German-type pastes, while both types are used in English mustard products. Mustard is widely used as a condiment with various foods, particularly cold meats, sausages, and salad dressings. It is also used as an ingredient in mayonnaises, sauces, and pickles. Mustard plasters were formerly used in medicine for their counterirritant properties in treating chest colds and other ailments.

Click to see : Mustard (condiment),       Mustasa

Medicinal Uses:
Mustard Seed has long been relied upon to improve the digestive system and to promote a healthy appetite. As an irritant, Mustard stimulates the gastric mucous membrane and increases the flow of gastric juices (also having some effect on pancreatic secretions), all of which help to advance good digestion. Herbalists have also used Mustard Seed to relieve obstinate hiccups.

The mucilage content in Mustard Seed may help to calm an upset stomach due to acid indigestion and also produces a laxative action.

Mustard Seed is a stimulant that warms and invigorates the circulatory system.  It helps to dilate blood vessels, encourages blood flow and is also said to aid in the metabolism of fat in the body.

Mustard See is also considered a diaphoretic, an agent that helps to increase perspiration, which can lower fever and cleanse toxins from the body through the skin. This factor is also useful for colds and flu.

One of the oldest uses of Mustard Seed has been as an emetic, a medicine that provokes vomiting. This is especially valuable when used in narcotic poisoning when it is desirable to empty the stomach without the accompanying depletion and depression of the system.

Used externally, Mustard Seeds are famous for their rubefacient properties by dilating the blood vessels and increasing the blood flow toward the surface of the skin, warming and reddening the affected area and encouraging the removal of toxins.  Poultices and Mustard plasters are a tried-and-true remedy to relieve the pain of arthritic joints, rheumatism, sciatica, neuralgia, neck pain, backache, “charley horse” and muscle pain.

Mustard Seed’s topical use also extends to the relief of respiratory infections when used in baths, poultices and mustard plasters.  Mustard Seed helps treat bronchitis, chest congestion, pneumonia, croup and pleurisy.

Other Uses:
Although some varieties of mustard plants were well-established crops in Hellenistic and Roman times, Zohary and Hopf note that: “There are almost no archeological records available for any of these crops.” Wild forms of mustard and its relatives the radish and turnip can be found over west Asia and Europe, suggesting that their domestication took place somewhere in that area. However, Zohary and Hopf conclude: “Suggestions as to the origins of these plants are necessarily based on linguistic considerations.”

There has been recent research into varieties of mustards that have a high oil content for use in the production of biodiesel, a renewable liquid fuel similar to diesel fuel. The biodiesel made from mustard oil has good cold flow properties and cetane ratings. The leftover meal after pressing out the oil has also been found to be an effective pesticide.

An interesting genetic relationship between many species of mustard has been observed, and is described as the Triangle of U.

Brown mustard, which is related to rapeseed, is grown as a source of vegetable oil and is an important crop for this purpose in northern India, Pakistan, China, southern Russia, and Kazakhstan. The oil is used for food or for industrial purposes, with the residual cake used for animal feed.

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/Mustard_plant

http://www.herbalextractsplus.com/mustard-seed.cfm

http://vaniindia.org.whbus12.onlyfordemo.com/herbal/plantdir.asp

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Black-mustard-seeds.jpg

Shepherd’s Purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris)

Botanical Name : Capsella bursa-pastoris
Family: Brassicaceae
Genus: Capsella
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Brassicales
Species: C. bursa-pastoris
Common Names :  Shepherd’s Purse(because of its triangular, purse-like pods,) , Pickpurse, Casewort

Habitat :
It is native to eastern Europe and Asia minor but is naturalized and considered a common weed in many parts of the world, especially in colder climates, including Britain, where it is regarded as an archaeophyte, North America and China but also in the Mediterranean and North Africa.

Description:
Shepherd’s-purse  is a small (up to 0.5m) annual and ruderal species, and a member of the Brassicaceae or mustard family. Capsella bursa-pastoris is closely related to the model organism Arabidopsis thaliana and is also used as a model organism due to the variety of genes expressed throughout its life cycle that can be compared to genes that are well studied in A. thaliana. Unlike most flowering plants, it flowers almost all year round. Like many other annual ruderals exploiting disturbed ground, C. bursa-pastoris reproduces entirely from seed, has a long soil seed bank, and short generation time and is capable of producing several generations each year.

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Shepherd’s-purse plants grow from a rosette of lobed leaves at the base. From the base emerges a stem about 0.2 to 0.5 meters tall, which bears a few pointed leaves which partly grasp the stem. The flowers are white and small, in loose racemes, and produce seed pods which are heart-shaped.

Like a number of other plants in several plant families, its seeds contain a substance known as mucilage, a condition known as myxospermy. The adaptive value of myxospermy is unknown, although the fact that mucilage becomes sticky when wet has led some to propose that C. bursa-pastoris traps insects which then provide nutrients to the seedling, which would make it protocarnivorous.

Constituents: choline, acetylcholine and tyramine, saponins, mustard oil, flavonoids

Fumaric acid is one active substance that has been isolated.. Although Fumaric acid and its derivatives are used with success in many conditions there is no direct evidence that plant extract has been used with similar success.

Parasites
*Capsella bursa-pastoris
*Traditional Chinese

Medicinal Uses:
Common Uses: Abrasions/Cuts * Bladder Infection (UTI) Cystitis * Childbirth * Heart Tonics/Cordials * Menorrhagia *
Properties:  Antiscorbutic* Diuretic* Styptic* Astringent* Febrifuge* Refrigerant*
Parts Used: whole herb.

Shepherd’s purse is one of the important herbs to stop bleeding an effect due to the tyramine and other amines it contains. This property leads to its use is a number of condidtions such as heavy menstrual bleeding, nosebleeds, and as a post-partum herb. The herb is both a vasodilator, and also hastens coagulation and constrict blood vessels.

Shepherd’s purse contains a protein that acts in the same way in the body as the hormone oxytocin, constricting the smooth muscles that support and surround blood vessels, especially those in the uterus. Other chemicals in the herb may accelerate clotting. Still other compounds in the herb help the uterus contact, explaining the long-time use of the herb to help the womb return to normal size after childbirth. Mountain Rose Herbs (2008-07-09)

Herbally, it is primarily used to stop vaginal bleeding, an action which may be attributable to the common parasitic fungus found with it, which is related to the vasoconstrictor ergot.

Other Uses
Shepherd’s-purse is gathered from the wild or grown for food to supplement animal feed, for cosmetics, and for medicinal purposes. It is commonly used as food in Shanghai and the surrounding Jiangnan region as food, where they are stir-fried with rice cakes and other ingredients or as part of the filling in wontons. It is one of the ingredients of the symbolic dish consumed in the Japanese spring-time festival, Nanakusa-no-sekku.

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/Capsella_bursa-pastoris

http://www.anniesremedy.com/herb_detail112.php

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Garlic Mustard(Alliaria petiolata)

Botanical Name :Alliaria petiolata (M. Bieb.) Cavara & Grande
Family : Cruciferae
Genus  : Alliaria
Synonyms: Alliaria officinalis – Andrz. ex M.Bieb.Erysimum alliaria – L. Sisymbrium alliaria – (L.)Scop.
Common Name: Garlic Mustard. (Garlic mustard gets its name from its characteristic odor of garlic when the plant is crushed and its mustard-like appearance. It is a naturalized European biennial herb that poses a significant threat to lowland natural areas as well as gardens and field crops. It belongs to the Brassicaceae (Mustard) family.)

Habitat : Most of Europe, including Britain, south to N. Africa and east to W. Asia and the Himalayas. Damp hedgerows, edges of woods and other shady places, preferring basic soils .land Garden; Dappled Shade; Shady Edge; Deep Shade; Hedgerow; Bog Garden;

Description:
It is a Biennial  plant.

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Height: First-year rosettes extend to 10 cm (4 in) high. Flowering stems may reach 0.6-1.1 m (2.0-3.5 ft).

Leaves: First-year leaves (which remain the second year) are round to kidney-shaped and are on stems approximately 5.0-6.5 cm (2-3 in) tall. Leaves on flowering plants are alternate and are larger near the base of the stem. They are large-toothed, triangular in shape, and approximately 2.54 cm (1 in) long and 5.0-7.5 cm (2-3 in) wide.
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Flowers: Flowers grow in clusters at the end of the stems. Each flower has four white petals (0.5 cm or 0.2 in long). Blooms in spring, usually in late April to May. Occasionally, some plants will bloom again in July-August.

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Fruit: Fruit is a long 2.5-6.3 cm (1.0-2.5 in) green capsule called a silique, and contains many seeds. Siliques are produced summer to early fall. The capsules burst open when mature and ballistically disperse seeds several meters.

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Seeds: Small, black seeds grow in a row inside the silique. Seeds may remain viable for up to 5 years. Plants can produce up to 868 seeds depending on habitat and population density. Seeds are dispersed by human/animal vectors or by water in riparian areasclick & see

 

Life History
Garlic mustard is a cool-season obligate biennial herb. Seeds germinate in early spring (April-May) of the first year resulting in initially high seedling densities. Natural mortality during the first year results in only 2%-4% of the plants surviving to flower the following spring. Garlic mustard is self- or cross-pollinated and a single plant can populate an entire site. Adult plants set and disperse seed in late spring (May-June) the second year and produce an average of 165-868 seeds. The seeds are dormant for 20 months germinating in early spring of year four.

It is hardy to zone 0 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from April to June, and the seeds ripen from June to August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, flies, Lepidoptera (Moths & Butterflies). The plant is self-fertile. It is noted for attracting wildlife.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) or semi-shade (light woodland). It requires moist or wet soil.

Cultivation :-
Prefers a damp rich alluvial soil. Succeeds in damp shady places where few other herbs will grow. A good woodland edge plant, it also grows well in the bottom of hedgerows and will self-sow freely in suitable conditions. On a calm day the plant emits a strong smell of garlic. This is especially pronounced if the leaves are bruised. This species is an important food source for the orange-tip butterfly.

Propagation:-
Seed – sow outdoors in situ either in spring or autumn.


Edible Uses:-
Edible Parts: Flowers; Leaves; Seedpod.

Young leaves – raw or cooked as a potherb or as a flavouring in cooked foods. A mild garlic and mustard flavour, the leaves are also believed to strengthen the digestive system. They can be finely chopped and added to salads. The leaves are available very early in the year and provide a very acceptable flavouring for salads in the winter. Flowers and young seed pods – raw. A mild, garlic-like flavour.

Medicinal Actions & Uses:-
Antiasthmatic; Antiscorbutic; Antiseptic; Deobstruent; Diaphoretic; Sternutatory; Vermifuge; Vulnerary.

Garlic mustard has been little used in herbal medicine. The leaves and stems are antiasthmatic, antiscorbutic, antiseptic, deobstruent, diaphoretic, vermifuge and vulnerary. The leaves have been taken internally to promote sweating and to treat bronchitis, asthma and eczema. Externally, they have been used as an antiseptic poultice on ulcers etc, and are effective in relieving the itching caused by bites and stings. The leaves and stems are harvested before the plant comes into flower and they can be dried for later use. The roots are chopped up small and then heated in oil to make an ointment to rub on the chest in order to bring relief from bronchitis. The juice of the plant has an inhibitory effect on Bacillus pyocyaneum and on gram-negative bacteria of the typhoid-paratyphoid-enteritis group. The seeds have been used as a snuff to excite sneezing.

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.

Other Uses:-
Dye.

A yellow dye is obtained from the whole plant.

Scented Plants
Plant: Crushed
On a calm day the plant emits a strong smell of garlic. This is especially pronounced if the leaves are bruised.

Resources:

http://www.pfaf.org/database/plants.php?Alliaria+petiolata

http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=ALPE4&photoID=alof3_002_avp.tif

http://www.se-eppc.org/manual/garlicmustard.html

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Alliaria_petiolata

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Eruca Sativa

Botanical Name:Eruca Sativa
Family:Brassicaceae
syn. :   E. vesicaria subsp. sativa (Miller) Thell., Brassica eruca L
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.
Common Names:Rocket or Arugula, Roquette

Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Brassicales
Genus: Eruca
Species: E. sativa

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:
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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 .

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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Pak Choy

Wong Baak
Image via Wikipedia

Botanical Name:Brassica rapa
Family: Cruciferae
Genus: Brassica
Synonyms: Brassica parachinensis – L.H.Bailey.
Known Hazards: None known

Common Names:bok choy, pak choi, choi sum, Chinese white cabbage, Chinese flowering cabbage, Peking cabbage, celery cabbage, and white mustard cabbage.
Nomenclature
In Mandarin Chinese bai cai ( “white vegetable”) refers to both groups of B. rapa. However, the English word bok choy and its variations bok choi and pak choi are derived from the Cantonese cognate, which instead denotes one specific variety of cabbage, namely those with white stems and dark green leaves. The other varieties all have different names which entered the English language as you choy, choy sum, napa and baby bok choy, etc. Hence the English word bok choy (and its Cantonese source) is not equivalent to the Mandarin word bai cai, though the Chinese characters are the same.

Description:
Pak Choy have gloss, dark green leaves with long, large white petioles. They are generally called Full Size White Pak Choy in the markets. These varieties grow best in mild and slightly cold climates, suitable for fall crops. They may go into the pre-matured flowering in heat conditions. Pak Choy is used extensively in Cantonese cooking. Many varieties can grow up to 20 inches high.

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A type of Chinese vegetable of the mustard family. It has dark green leaves and white celery-like stalks that have a mild, slightly peppery flavor. Both the greens and the stalks are popular in salads and the stalks are often used in stir-fry recipes.Pak Choy is available throughout the year. When selecting, look for a firm compact head with fresh leaves. The cabbage should be used when fresh if possible because it does not store well. If it is necessary to store, keep it in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator, wrapped in plastic, and it should stay fresh for 4 to 5 days.

Cultivation details:
Succeeds in full sun in a well-drained fertile preferably alkaline soil. Prefers a pH of 5.5 to 7. Prefers a cool moist reasonably fertile soil. The plant is shallow rooted and intolerant of drought, it responds well to a moist fertile soil but succeeds in poorer soils than standard Pak choi. Hardy to about -10°c, the plants stand up well to snow but are less likely to stand up to prolonged winter wet. The prostrate forms are hardier than semi-prostrate forms. The rosette pak choi is widely cultivated in China for its edible leaves, there are several named varieties. It is slower-growing than standard Pak choi, B. rapa chinensis.

choy seeds are extremely small, so difficult to handle when sowing. Pak choy can either be sown direct in the row and thinned to an appropriate spacing, or transplanted 15 to 30 days, depending on the variety, after seeding. Transplanting may reduce bolting, especially during summer. The soil should be well prepared so that the beds are raised with good drainage and air circulation.

Within row spacing varies from 2.5 to 10 cm for the smallest varieties and up to 45 cm for the largest. Spacing between rows varies between 15 and 30 cm. Do not sow seeds deeper than 2 cm below the surface.

Pak choy is a shallow-rooted crop and requires frequent watering. Apply light irrigations to avoid leaching. Outdoor plants can be protected by film covers in winter and shading net in summer. Do not apply large amounts of nitrogen to soil as this may increase the incidence of bacterial soft rots in pak choy.

Harvesting:
Pak choy are usually harvested by hand, cut off at the base 35 to 55 days after sowing. Pak choy should always be picked when leaves are fresh and crisp, and before the outer leaves turn yellow. Remove any dead or damaged leaves, trim the base flush with the first petiole and wash the plant. Harvest during a cooler part of the day. Yields are usually about 15 tonne per hectare. Market prices are highest for green, turgid produce.

Uses:
Pak choy is a vegetable which has been cultivated in China for thousands of years. In addition to being widely used in Chinese cuisine, pak choy or “white vegetable” is very popular in other parts of Asia as well. Many English speakers know pak choy as bok choy or pak choi, thanks to disagreement about how the Chinese word for this vegetable should be transliterated. Whatever you call it, pak choy is a very versatile, tender, flavorful vegetable which can be used in a wide assortment of dishes.

This vegetable is also sometimes called “Chinese cabbage,” a reference to the fact that it is classified in the Brassica genus, to which cabbages belong. Brassicas are also members of the mustard family, and they have a distinctive tangy, somewhat spicy flavor as a result. Brassica chinensis, as pak choy is more formally known, comes in a wide variety of sizes and colors, thanks to the development of specific cultivars.

Classic pak choy has white, crunchy stems and dark green leaves, both of which are edible. In China, the smaller the vegetable is, the more favorably it is viewed, because small pak choy plants tend to be more tender. Outside of China, some cooks seek out larger versions, as they are under the impression that bigger is better, but if you can obtain smaller vegetables, you may find that they are much more tasty; many markets sell young pak choy as “baby pak choy,” and it is growing easier to find. Big pak choy bunches tend to be woody and lacking in flavor.

Tender young pak choy only needs to be cooked very briefly, and the leaves take even less time to cook than the stems. Most cooks separate leaves and stems, throwing the leaves into a dish at the last minute to lightly wilt them before serving. The stalks can be allowed to cook a bit longer than the leaves, although many people favor a brief cooking time to leave the stalks crunchy and tender, rather than allowing them to soften.

Many cooks like to use pak choy in stir fries, and it can also be used in soups, curries, spring rolls, and a variety of other dishes. The flavor of pak choy is very mild, with a hint of a tangy bite which betrays its place in the mustard family, and this vegetable is also very healthy. It is high in calcium, like other Brassicas, and it also has high levels of vitamins A and C.
Click to see:->Pak Choy cooking Terms

Resources:

http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-pak-choy.htm

http://www.pfaf.org/database/plants.php?Brassica+rapa+parachinensis

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

http://www2.dpi.qld.gov.au/horticulture/5300.html

http://www.evergreenseeds.com/larleafpetty.html

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