Tag Archives: Centaurea

Cyperus esculentus

Botanical Name ; Cyperus esculentus
Family: Cyperaceae
Genus: Cyperus
Species: C. esculentus
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Poales

Common Names ;Chufa, Chufa sedge, Nut grass, Yellow nutsedge, Tiger nut sedge, or Earth almond

Habitat :Cyperus esculentus is native to most of the Western Hemisphere as well as southern Europe, Africa, Madagascar, the Middle East and the Indian Subcontinent. It has become naturalized in many other regions, including Ukraine, China, Hawaii, Indochina, New Guinea, Java, New South Wales and various oceanic islands. It can be found wild, as a weed, or as a crop. There is evidence for its cultivation in Egypt since the sixth millennium BC, and for several centuries in Southern Europe. In Spain, C. esculentus is cultivated for its edible tubers, called earth almonds or tiger nuts, for the preparation of “horchata de chufa”, a sweet, milk-like beverage. However, in most other countries, C. esculentus is considered a weed.
Description:
Cyperus esculentus is an annual or perennial plant, growing to 90 cm (3 feet) tall, with solitary stems growing from a tuber. The plant is reproduced by seeds, creeping rhizomes, and tubers. The stems are triangular in section and bear slender leaves 3–10 mm (1/8 to 1/2 inches) wide. The spikelets of the plant are distinctive, with a cluster of flat, oval seeds surrounded by four hanging, leaf-like bracts positioned 90 degrees from each other. They are 5 to 30 mm (about 3/8 to 1 1/8 inches) long and linear to narrowly elliptic with pointed tips and 8 to 35 florets. The color varies from straw-colored to gold-brown. They can produce up to 2420 seeds per plant. The plant foliage is very tough and fibrous and is often mistaken for a grass. The roots are an extensive and complex system of fine, fibrous roots and scaly rhizomes with small, hard, spherical tubers and basal bulbs attached. The tubers are 0.3 – 1.9 cm (1/8 to 1/2 inches) in diameter and the colors vary between yellow, brown, and black. One plant can produce several hundred to several thousand tubers during a single growing season. With cool temperatures, the foliage, roots, rhizomes, and basal bulbs die, but the tubers survive and resprout the following spring when soil temperatures remain above 6 °C (42.8 °F). They can resprout up to several years later. When the tubers germinate, many rhizomes are initiated and end in a basal bulb near the soil surface. These basal bulbs initiate the stems and leaves above ground, and fibrous roots underground. C. esculentus is wind pollinated and requires cross pollination as it is self–incompatible.

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Cultivation:
Prefers a moist sandy loam. Plants are hardy to about -15°c. The chufa, or tiger nut, is often cultivated for its edible tuber in warm temperate and tropical zones, there is a cultivated variety, var. sativus, that produces larger tubers. We have had lots of problems with growing this cultivated form. Once the tubers come into growth then they normally grow vigorously, but the difficulty is getting them to come into growth. We harvest the tubers in the autumn and store them in moist sand, replanting them in the spring. However, they rarely come into new growth until mid to late summer which gives them too short a growing season to produce much of a crop. We need to find a satisfactory way of storing the tubers and exciting them back into growth. In warmer climates this plant is a serious weed of cultivation. It is much hardier than was once imagined and is becoming a weed in N. America where it is found as far north as Alaska. The tubers are often formed a metre or more away from the plant, especially if it is growing in a heavy clay soil. The tubers are extremely attractive to mice and require protection from them in the winter.

Propagation:
Seed – surface sow in the spring and keep the compost moist. The seed usually germinates in 2 – 6 weeks at 18°c. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle. Grow on for their first winter in a greenhouse and plant them out in late spring after the last expected frosts. Division in spring or autumn. This is more a matter of harvesting the tubers and replanting them. If this is done in the autumn, then it is best to store the tubers in a cool frost-free place overwinter and plant them out in the spring.
Edible Uses: Coffee; Oil; Oil.

Tuber – raw, cooked or dried and ground into a powder. They are also used in confectionery. A delicious nut-like flavour but rather chewy and with a tough skin. They taste best when dried. They can be cooked in barley water to give them a sweet flavour and then be used as a dessert nut. A refreshing beverage is made by mixing the ground tubers with water, cinnamon, sugar, vanilla and ice. The ground up tuber can also be made into a plant milk with water, wheat and sugar. An edible oil is obtained from the tuber. It is considered to be a superior oil that compares favourably with olive oil. The roasted tubers are a coffee substitute. The base of the plant can be used in salads. (This probably means the base of the leaf stems.)

Medicinal Uses:

Aphrodisiac; Carminative; Digestive; Diuretic; Emmenagogue; Stimulant; Tonic.

Tiger nuts are regarded as a digestive tonic, having a heating and drying effect on the digestive system and alleviating flatulence. They also promote urine production and menstruation. The tubers are said to be aphrodisiac, carminative, diuretic, emmenagogue, stimulant and tonic. In Ayurvedic medicine they are used in the treatment of flatulence, indigestion, colic, diarrhoea, dysentery, debility and excessive thirst.

As a source of oils, the tubers were used in pharmacy under the Latin name bulbuli thrasi beginning no later than the end of 18th century. In ayurvedic medicine tiger nuts are used in the treatment of flatulence, diarrhoea, dysentery, debility and indigestion. Tiger nut oil can be used in the cosmetic industry. As it is antidioxide (because of its high content in vitamin E) it helps slow down the ageing of the body cells. It favours the elasticity of the skin and reduces skin wrinkles.

Other Uses:
Oil; Oil; Weaving:

The tubers contain up to 30% of a non-drying oil, it is used in cooking and in making soap. It does not solidify at 0°c and stores well without going rancid. The leaves can be used for weaving hats and matting etc.

Use as fishing bait:
The boiled nuts are used in the UK as a bait for carp. The nuts have to be prepared in a prescribed manner to prevent harm to the fish. The nuts are soaked in water for 24 hours and then boiled for 20 minutes or longer until fully expanded. Some anglers then leave the boiled nuts to ferment for 24–48 hours, which can enhance their effectiveness. If the nuts are not properly prepared, however, they can be extremely toxic to the carp. This was originally thought to have been the cause of death of Benson, a very large and very famous carp. The 54-lb. fish was found floating dead in a fishing lake, with a bag of unprepared tiger nuts lying nearby, empty, on the shore. An examination of the fish by a taxidermist concluded tiger nut poisoning was not, in the end, the cause of death.

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/Cyperus_esculentus
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Cyperus+esculentus
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_C.htm

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Centaurea solstitalis

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

Synonym: St. Barnaby’s Thistle.

Common Names: yellow star-thistle, golden starthistle, yellow cockspur and St. Barnaby’s thistle (or Barnaby thistle)

Habitat : Centaurea solstitalis is native to the Mediterranean Basin region. It grows on cultivated land and waste ground.

Description:
Centaurea solstitalis forms a scrubby bush, 18 inches to 2 feet high, with the lower part of the stems very stiff, almost woody, the branches when young very soft, with broad wings, decurrent from the short, strap-shaped leaves. The lower leaves are deeply cut into, the upper ones narrow and with entire margins. The spines of the flower-heads are very long, 1/2 inch to 1 inch in length, pale yellow. The whole plant is hoary.
CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

This plant obtains its name from being supposed to flower about St. Barnabas’ Day, June 11 (old style).

During the vegetative stage if forms a rosette of non-spiny leaves (5–20 cm diameter). As the summer approaches, it produces a flowering stem (1 m) which will produce numerous spinous capitula containing numerous (10-50) yellow flowers. Flowers within capitula are pollinated by insects and each capitula will produce a mix of (10-50) pappus and non-pappus seeds. It is an annual semelparous species, and will die after reproduction is completed, normally by the end of the summer.
Cultivation:
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.

Edible Uses: The plant is eaten as a vegetable. The part used is not specified.

Medicinal Uses:
Parts Used: Herb, seeds, root

It has been used for the same purposes as the Common Star Thistle. Many species of Centaurea grow wild in Palestine, some of formidable size. Canon Tristram mentions some in Galilee through which it was impossible to make way till the plants had been beaten down. ‘Thistle’ mentioned several times in the Bible refers to some member of this family (Centaurea), probably C. Calcitrapa, which is a Palestinian weed.

The powdered seed is used as a remedy for stone. The powdered root is said to be a cure for fistula and gravel.

Known Hazards: There is a report that the plant causes brain lesions and a nervous syndrome called ‘chewing disease’ in horses.

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/Centaurea_solstitialis
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/t/thistl11.html#com

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Centaurea+solstitialis

Centaurea Colcitrapa

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

Common Names :Common Star Thistle,Purple starthistle, Red starthistle     ( The species name calcitrapa comes from the word caltrop, a type of weapon covered in sharp spikes.)

Habitat :Centaurea Colcitrapa is native to Europe but is rarely found there, it is known across the globe as an introduced species and often a noxious weed.Centaurea Colcitrapa occurs in waste places and by roadsides, but is somewhat rare and chiefly found in south-east England.

Description:
Centaurea Colcitrapa is an annual or Biennial plant growing erect to a maximum height of one to 1.3 metres. The stems are hairless and grooved.

click & see the pictures

It sometimes takes the shape of a mound, and it is finely to densely hairy to spiny. The leaves are dotted with resin glands. The lowermost may reach a length of 20 centimeters and are deeply cut into lobes. The inflorescence contains a few flower heads. Each is 1.5 to 2 centimeters long and oval in general shape. The phyllaries are green or straw-colored and tipped in tough, sharp yellow spines. The head contains many bright purple flowers. The fruit is an achene a few millimeters long which lacks a pappus.

It flowers from July until September, and the seeds ripen from August to October.

The Red Star-thistle has been identified as a Priority Species by the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. It is identified as ‘vulnerable’ by the UNIC and is listed as Nationally Rare in the UK Red Data Book. There is no national or Sussex BAP for this species.

Cultivation: 
Succeeds in ordinary garden soil. Prefers a well-drained fertile soil and a sunny position. Tolerates dry, low fertility and alkaline soils[200]. 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 in the summer. If you have sufficient seed, it can also be sown in situ during August/September.

Edible Uses:  Leaves and young stems are eaten  raw or cooked.

Medicinal Uses:
The seeds used to be made into powder and drunk in wine as a remedy for stone, and the powdered root was considered a cure for fistula and gravel.

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.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/t/thistl11.html#com
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centaurea_calcitrapa
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Centaurea+calcitrapa

Greater Knapweed

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

Synonyms: Hardhead. Ironhead. Hard Irons. Churls Head. Logger Head. Horse Knops. Matte Felon. Mat Fellon. Bottleweed. Bullweed. Cowede. Boltsede.

Common Name: Greater Knapweed. (This larger species of Knapweed was in olden times called ‘Matte Felon,’ from its use in curing felons or whitlows. As early as 1440 we find it called ‘Maude Felone,’ or ‘Boltsede.’)

Habitat: Frequent in the borders of fields and in waste places, being not uncommon in England, where it is abundant on chalk soil, but rare in Scotland.

Description:
Greater Knapweed  is a perennial plant, the rootstock becomes thick and woody in old plants. The stem is 1 to 3 feet high, generally branched, very tough. The leaves, which are firm in texture, are very variable in the degree of division, but generally deeply cut into, the segments again deeply notched. The lower leaves are very large, often a foot or even more in length, making a striking looking rosette on the ground, from which the flowering stems arise. The whole plant is a dull green, sparingly hairy. It flowers in July and August. The flowers are terminal, somewhat similar to those of the Cornflower in general shape, though larger. All the florets are of the same colour, a rich purplish-crimson, the outer ray ones with the limb divided nearly to the base into narrow, strap-shaped segments. The flower-head is hard and solid, a mass of bracts lapping over each other like tiles, each having a central green portion and a black fringe-like edge. In some districts the plant is called from these almost round heads, ‘Hardhead,’ and the ordinary English name, Knapweed, is based on the same idea, Knap, being a form of Knop, or Knob.

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This species is very common and generally distributed in pastures, borders of fields and roadsides throughout Britain, and flowers from early June till well into September. Both species of Knapweed may readily be distinguished from Thistles by the absence of spines and prickles.

click to see the pictures

Cultivation: 
Succeeds in ordinary garden soil. Prefers a well-drained fertile soil and a sunny position. Tolerates dry, low fertility and alkaline soils[200]. Does well in the summer meadow. An important nectar plant for bees and butterflies. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer.

Propagation:     
Seed – sow early spring 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. Division in autumn. Very easy, 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 summer or following spring. This should be done at least once every three years in order to maintain the vigour of the plant. Basal cuttings in spring. Harvest the shoots when they are about 10 – 15cm long with plenty of underground stem. Pot them up into individual pots and keep them in light shade in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the summer.

Medicinal Uses:

Parts Used: Root, seeds.

The roots and seeds are diaphoretic, diuretic, tonic and vulnerary. The plant once had a very high reputation as an ingredient of the Medieval ‘salve’, an ointment applied to heal wounds and treat skin infections.

It is good for catarrh, taken in decoction, and is also made into ointment for outward application for wounds and bruises, sores, etc.

Culpepper tells us: ‘it is of special use for soreness of throat, swelling of the uvula and jaws, and very good to stay bleeding at the nose and mouth.’
Greater Knapweed has been used in traditional herbal healing as either a vulnerary or an emollient.

Other Uses:
This species is very valuable to bees. It is also a magnet for many species of butterfly. Among them is the Marbled White.

This is the only known foodplant for caterpillars of the Coleophoridae case-bearer moth Coleophora didymella....click to see

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/Centaurea_scabiosa
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/k/knagre06.html
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Centaurea+scabiosa

 

Centaurea Cyanus

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

Synonyms: Bluebottle. Bluebow. Hurtsickle. Blue Cap.

Common Names :Cornflower, bachelor’s button, bluebottle, boutonniere flower, hurtsickle or cyani flower
(Cornflower is also used for chicory, and a few other Centaurea species; to distinguish C. cyanus from these it is sometimes called common cornflower. It may also be referred to as basketflower, though the term also refers to the Plectocephalus group of Centaurea, which is probably a distinct genus.)

Habitat :Centaurea Cyanus is native to Europe. In the past it often grew as a weed in crop fields, hence its name (fields growing grains such as wheat, barley, rye, or oats are sometimes known as corn fields in the UK). It is now endangered in its native habitat by agricultural intensification, particularly over-use of herbicides, destroying its habitat; in the United Kingdom it has declined from 264 sites to just 3 sites in the last 50 years. In reaction to this, the conservation charity Plantlife named it as one of 101 species it would actively work to bring ‘Back from the Brink’.  It is also, however, through introduction as an ornamental plant in gardens and a seed contaminant in crop seeds, now naturalised in many other parts of the world, including North America and parts of Australia.

Description:
Centaurea CyanusIt is an annual plant growing to 16-35 inches tall, with grey-green branched stems. The leaves are lanceolate, 1–4 cm long. The flowers are most commonly an intense blue colour, produced in flowerheads (capitula) 1.5–3 cm diameter, with a ring of a few large, spreading ray florets surrounding a central cluster of disc florets. The blue pigment is protocyanin, which in roses is red.

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In the wild condition it is fairly common in cultivated fields and by roadsides. The stems are 1 to 3 feet high, tough and wiry, slender, furrowed and branched, somewhat angular and covered with a loose cottony down. The leaves, very narrow and long, are arranged alternately on the stem, and like the stem are covered more or less with white cobwebby down that gives the whole plant a somewhat dull and grey appearance. The lower leaves are much broader and often have a roughly-toothed outline. The flowers grow solitary, and of necessity upon long stalks to raise them among the corn. The bracts enclosing the hard head of the flower are numerous, with tightly overlapping scales, each bordered by a fringe of brown teeth. The inner disk florets are small and numerous, of a pale purplish rose colour. The bright blue ray florets, thatform the conspicuous part of the flower, are large, widely spread, and much cut into.

Cultivation:  
Succeeds in ordinary garden soil. Prefers a well-drained fertile soil and a sunny position. Tolerates dry, low fertility and alkaline soils. Established plants are drought tolerant. A very ornamental plant, there are many named varieties. The flowers are often used in dried-flower arrangements because they retain their colour well. A good plant for bees, butterflies and moths. The cornflower is considered to be a good companion, in small quantities, for cereal crops, though another report says that its greedy roots deprive the cultivated plants of nutrients and its tough stem dulls the reaper’s sickle. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer.

Propagation :
Seed – sow March in the greenhouse. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in May. The seed can also be sown in situ during April, whilst in areas where the winters are not too cold a sowing in situ during September will produce larger and earlier-flowering plants

Medicinal Uses:
The flowers are the part used in modern herbal medicine and are considered to have tonic, stimulant and emmenagogue properties, with action similar to that of Blessed Thistle.

In herbalism, a decoction of cornflower is effective in treating conjunctivitis, and as a wash for tired eyes.

 

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A water distilled from Cornflower petals was formerly in repute as a remedy for weak eyes. The famous French eyewash, ‘Eau de Casselunettes,’ used to be made from them. Culpepper tells us that the powder or dried leaves of the Bluebottle is given with good success to those that are bruised by a fall or have broken a vein inwardly. He also informs us that, with Plantain, Horsetail, or Comfrey,

‘it is a remedy against the poison of the scorpion and resisteth all venoms and poisons. The seeds or leaves (or the distilled water of the herb) taken in wine is very good against the plague and all infectious diseases, and is very good in pestilential fevers: the juice put into fresh or green wounds doth quickly solder up the lips of them together, and is very effectual to heal all ulcers and sores in the mouth.’

Other Uses:
The expressed juice of the petals makes a good blue ink; if expressed and mixed with alum-water, it may be used in water-colour drawing. It dyes linen a beautiful blue, but the colour is not permanent.

The dried petals are used by perfumers for giving colour to pot-pourri.

It was the favorite flower of John F. Kennedy and was worn by his son, John F. Kennedy, Jr. at his wedding in tribute to his father.

Cornflowers were also used in the funeral wreath made for Pharaoh Tutankhamun.

In folklore, cornflowers were worn by young men in love; if the flower faded too quickly, it was taken as a sign that the man’s love was not returned.

The blue cornflower has been the national flower of Estonia since 1968 and symbolizes daily bread to Estonians. It is also the symbol of the Estonian political party, People’s Union, the Finnish political party, National Coalition Party, and the Swedish political party, Liberal People’s Party, and has since the dawn of the 20th century been a symbol for social liberalism there. It is the official flower of the Swedish province of Östergötland and the school flower of Winchester College.

The blue cornflower was one of the national symbols of Germany. This is partly due to the story that when Queen Louise of Prussia was fleeing Berlin and pursued by Napoleon’s forces, she hid her children in a field of cornflowers and kept them quiet by weaving wreaths for them from the flowers. The flower thus became identified with Prussia, not least because it was the same color as the Prussian military uniform. After the unification of Germany in 1871, it went on to became a symbol of the country as a whole. For this reason, in Austria the blue cornflower is a political symbol for pan-German and rightist ideas. Members of the Freedom Party wore it at the opening of the Austrian parliament in 2005.

It was also the favourite flower of Louise’s son Kaiser Wilhelm I. Because of its ties to royalty, authors such as Theodor Fontane have used it symbolically, often sarcastically, to comment on the social and political climate of the time.

The cornflower is also often seen as an inspiration for the German Romantic symbol of the Blue Flower.

Due to its traditional association with Germany, the cornflower has been made the official symbol of the annual German-American Steuben Parade.

In France the Bleuet de France is the symbol of the 11th November 1918 armistice and, as such, a common symbol for veterans (especially the now defunct poilus of World War I), similar to the Remembrance poppies worn in the United Kingdom and in Canada.

The cornflower is also the symbol for motor neurone disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Cornflowers are sometimes worn by Old Harrovians.

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.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/c/cornf102.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centaurea_cyanus

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Centaurea+cyanus