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Vanilla planiforlia

Botanical Name : Vanilla planiforlia
Family: Orchidaceae
Subfamily: Vanilloideae
Tribes: Vanilleae
Class: Equisetopsida
Subclass: Magnoliidae
Superorder: Lilianae
Order: Asparagales
Genus: Vanilla
Species: Vanilla planifolia

Synonyms: Vanilla planifolia Jacks, Notylia planifolia

Common name: Vanilla
Habitat:Vanilla planiforlia is native to Mexico and Central America. It grows in the tropical forests.
Description:
Vanilla planifolia is a tropical vine, which can reach a length of over 30 m. It has thick, fleshy stems and greenish flowers that open early in the morning and are pollinated by bees. The flowers have only a slight scent, with no element of the vanilla flavour or aroma. Once pollinated, the ovaries swell and develop into fruits called ‘pods’ similar to long, thin runner beans over a period of four weeks. The pods contain thousands of tiny black seeds.
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Cultivation:
Chris Ryan of Kew’s Tropical Nursery has found that propagation of this orchid is relatively straightforward and is usually done from stem cuttings.

A piece of stem is taken, with a minimum of three sets of leaves. The cutting is placed on sphagnum moss and kept damp in a warm and humid environment until new growth starts from one of the nodes. The cuttings are then planted into hanging baskets, using a compost mix made of three parts bark chips, two parts pumice and one part charcoal. The compost is watered only when it dries out, but the aerial roots are misted once a day.

The plants are kept in a warm zone of the nursery, with a minimum winter temperature of 18?C, and shaded when necessary. When the plants become large they require some support due to their climbing habit. Flowering can be induced by tip-pruning established plants, which promotes flowering on lateral shoots.

Edible Uses:The tiny seeds, whole fruit, powder or fruit extract of vanilla are used as flavouring agents in food, particularly in confectionery and sweet foods, sometimes to reduce the amount of sugar necessary to sweeten food.

Medicinal Uses:
Vanilla is used medicinally as an aphrodisiac, as a stimulant, and to relieve fevers and gastric complaints, although there is no scientific evidence for its effectiveness in these cases. In the 16th and 17th centuries vanilla was believed to have various medicinal properties and was used as a stomach herb, a stimulant and aphrodisiac and an antidote to poisons. It was first included in European pharmacopoeias in the 18th century and was listed in the British and American ones for many years. It acts on the nervous system and used to be used to treat hysteria and high fevers.

Research has shown that vanillin, the main flavour molecule in vanilla, does have antimicrobial and antioxidant activities.
Other Uses:
Vanilla is among the most important ingredients in perfumery.

Vanilla: Essence and aroma

The mature, unripe fruits have no flavour when they are harvested. The aroma and flavour of vanilla are released when the fruit is dried and cured by steaming and fermentation. The finest quality vanilla pods turn dark brown and accumulate a frosting of glucose and vanillin on the surface during fermentation.

Vanillin was first synthesised in 1874 from a compound extracted from pine bark, and then in 1891 from a different compound extracted from cloves, and is widely used as a synthetic substitute for natural vanilla. The ‘vanilla essence‘ commonly used today is synthesised from wood pulp as a by-product of paper-making and from coal-tar (toluene). However, the characteristic aroma and flavour of natural vanilla comprises a cocktail of over 200 different molecules.
Known Hazards: Vanilla may cause allergic responses when applied topically or taken internally. ‘Vanillism’ is a condition sometimes experienced by workers handling vanilla, the symptoms of which are headache, dermatitis and insomnia.

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://species.wikimedia.org/wiki/Vanilla_planifolia
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_UZ.htm
http://www.kew.org/science-conservation/plants-fungi/vanilla-planifolia-vanilla

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Lactuca sativa longifolia

Botanical Name: Lactuca sativa longifolia
Family: Asteraceae
Genus: Lactuca
Species: L. sativa
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asterales
Tribe :Cichorieae

Common Name : Cos Lettuce, Romaine lettuce

Habitat: Of garden origin, probably derived from L. serriola. It is grown on cultivated bed.

Description:
Lactuca sativa longifolia is an annual/biennial plant growing to 0.9 m (3ft) by 0.3 m (1ft in).
It is not frost tender. It is in flower from Jul to August, and the seeds ripen from Aug to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Flies, self.The plant is self-fertile.

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Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

Cultivation:
Prefers a light sandy loam. Succeeds in most well-drained, humus-rich soils but dislikes acid conditions. Plants strongly dislike dry conditions, quickly running to seed in such a situation. Early and late sowings are best in a sunny position, but summer crops are best given a position with some shade in order to slow down the plants tendency to go to seed and to prevent the leaves becoming bitter. The garden lettuce is widely cultivated in many parts of the world for its edible leaves and is probably the most commonly grown salad plant. This is the cos lettuce, a taller growing plant that has longer, thinner leaves and a more erect habit, it does not form a compact heart. There are many named varieties capable of providing fresh leaves throughout the year if winter protection is given in temperate areas. Lettuces are quite a problematic crop to grow. They require quite a lot of attention to protect them from pests such as slugs, aphids and birds. If the weather is hot and dry the plants tend to run very quickly to seed, developing a bitter flavour as they do so. In wet weather they are likely to develop fungal diseases. In addition, the seed needs to be sown at regular intervals of 2- 3 weeks during the growing season in order to provide a regular supply of leaves. Lettuces make a good companion plant for strawberries, carrots, radishes and onions. They also grow well with cucumbers, cabbages and beetroot.

Propagation:
Seed – sow a small quantity of seed in situ every 2 or 3 weeks from March (with protection in cooler areas) to June and make another sowing in August/September for a winter/spring crop. Only just cover the seed. Germination is usually rapid and good, thin the plants if necessary, these thinnings can be transplanted to produce a slightly later crop (but they will need to be well watered in dry weather). More certain winter crops can be obtained by sowing in a frame in September/October and again in January/February.

Edible Uses:
Leaves – raw or cooked. A mild slightly sweet flavour with a crisp texture, lettuce is a very commonly used salad leaf and can also be cooked as a potherb or be added to soups etc. A nutritional analysis is available. Seed – sprouted and used in salads or sandwiches. An edible oil is obtained from the seed. The seed is very small, extraction of the oil on any scale would not be very feasible.

Medicinal Uses :
The whole plant is rich in a milky sap that flows freely from any wounds. This hardens and dries when in contact with the air[4]. The sap contains ‘lactucarium‘, which is used in medicine for its anodyne, antispasmodic, digestive, diuretic, hypnotic, narcotic and sedative properties. Lactucarium has the effects of a feeble opium, but without its tendency to cause digestive upsets, nor is it addictive. It is taken internally in the treatment of insomnia, anxiety, neuroses, hyperactivity in children, dry coughs, whooping cough, rheumatic pain etc[238]. Concentrations of lactucarium are low in young plants and most concentrated when the plant comes into flower. It is collected commercially by cutting the heads of the plants and scraping the juice into china vessels several times a day until the plant is exhausted. The cultivated lettuce does not contain as much lactucarium as the wild species, most being produced when the plant is in flower. An infusion of the fresh or dried flowering plant can also be used. The plant should be used with caution, and never without the supervision of a skilled practitioner. Even normal doses can cause drowsiness whilst excess causes restlessness[238] and overdoses can cause death through cardiac paralysis. Some physicians believe that any effects of this medicine are caused by the mind of the patient rather than by the medicine. The sap has also been applied externally in the treatment of warts. The seed is anodyne and galactogogue. Lettuce has acquired a folk reputation as an anaphrodisiac, anodyne, carminative, diuretic, emollient, febrifuge, hypoglycaemic, hypnotic, narcotic, parasiticide and sedative.

Other Uses:
Parasiticide. No further details are given, but it is probably the sap of flowering plants that is used. The seed is said to be used to make hair grow on scar tissue.

Known Hazards : The mature plant is mildly toxic.

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/Lettuce
http://www.pfaf.org/User/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Lactuca+sativa+longifolia

Cooking with vegetable oil is not good for health

Cooking with vegetable oils releases toxic cancer-causing chemicals, say experts

Scientists warn against the dangers of frying food in sunflower oil and corn oil over claims they release toxic chemicals linked to cancer

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Cooking with vegetable oils releases toxic chemicals linked to cancer and other diseases, according to leading scientists, who are now recommending food be fried in olive oil, coconut oil, butter or even lard.
The results of a series of experiments threaten to turn on its head official advice that oils rich in polyunsaturated fats – such as corn oil and sunflower oil – are better for the health than the saturated fats in animal products.
Scientists found that heating up vegetable oils led to the release of high concentrations of chemicals called aldehydes, which have been linked to illnesses including cancer, heart disease and dementia.

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Populus balsamifera

Botanical Name : Populus balsamifera
Family: Salicaceae
Genus: Populus
Section: Tacamahaca
Species: P. balsamifera
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Malpighiales

Common Names : Balsam Poplar, Black cottonwood, Bam, Bamtree, Eastern balsam poplar, Hackmatack, Tacamahac poplar, Tacamahaca

Other common names :    Heartleaf balsam poplar, and Ontario balsam poplar.

The black cottonwood, Populus trichocarpa, is sometimes considered a subspecies of P. balsamifera and may lend its common name to this species, although the black poplars and cottonwoods of Populus sect. Aigeiros are not closely related.

Habitat : Populus balsamifera is native to northern N. America – Newfoundland to Alaska, south to New England, Iowa and Colorado. It grows in deep moist sandy soils of river bottomlands, stream banks, borders of lakes and swamps.

Description:
Populus balsamifera is a deciduous medium to large-sized, averaging 23 – 30 m (75 – 100 ft) high, broadleaved hardwood. Crown narrow, pyramidal with thick, ascending branches. Branchlets moderately stout, round, shiny reddy-brown, orange lenticels, buds are reddish-brown to brown, 2.5 cm (1 inch) long, curved, resinous and fragrant. Twig has a bitter aspirin taste. Trunk bark greenish gray with lighter lenticels when young, later becoming darker and furrowed with long, scaly ridges.

Leaves – alternate, simple, ovate, finely serrated, shiny dark green, paler and often blotchy orange below, petiole long with glands at the leaf base.

Flowers – dioecious, male and female as hanging, long pale yellow green catkins, appearing in May.

Fruit – small, 2-valved, dry capsule containing numerous small seeds. Capsules are a lustrous green during development but turn dull green at time of dispersal. Male flowers are shed promptly and decay; female catkins are shed shortly after dispersal is completed but remain identifiable for the remainder of the summer.

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Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in heavy clay soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

Cultivation :
An easily grown plant, it does well in a heavy cold damp soil, though it prefers a deep rich well-drained circumneutral soil, growing best in the south and east of Britain. Growth is much less on wet soils, on poor acid soils and on thin dry soils. Does not do well in exposed upland sites. Dislikes shade, it is intolerant of root or branch competition A fast-growing and generally short-lived tree, though specimens 150 – 200 years old have occasionally been recorded. This is a pioneer species, invading cleared land, old fields etc, but unable to tolerate shade competition and eventually being out-competed by other trees. It is not fully satisfactory in Britain. In spring and early summer the buds and young leaves have a strong fragrance of balsam. Poplars have very extensive and aggressive root systems that can invade and damage drainage systems. Especially when grown on clay soils, they should not be planted within 12 metres of buildings since the root system can damage the building’s foundations by drying out the soil. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.

Propagation:
Seed – must be sown as soon as it is ripe in spring. Poplar seed has an extremely short period of viability and needs to be sown within a few days of ripening. Surface sow or just lightly cover the seed in trays in a cold frame. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the old frame. If sufficient growth is made, it might be possible to plant them out in late summer into their permanent positions, otherwise keep them in the cold frame until the following late spring and then plant them out. Most poplar species hybridize freely with each other, so the seed may not come true unless it is collected from the wild in areas with no other poplar species growing. Cuttings of mature wood of the current season’s growth, 20 – 40cm long, November/December in a sheltered outdoor bed or direct into their permanent positions. Very easy. Suckers in early spring[

Edible Uses:…The inner bark is often dried, ground into a powder and then used as a thickener in soups etc or added to cereals when making bread. Catkins – raw or cooked. A bitter flavour. It is best used in spring.
Medicinal Uses:
Anodyne; Antiinflammatory; Antiscorbutic; Antiseptic; Cathartic; Diuretic; Expectorant; Febrifuge; Stimulant; Tonic.

Balsam poplar has a long history of medicinal use. It was valued by several native North American Indian tribes who used it to treat a variety of complaints, but especially to treat skin problems and lung ailments. In modern herbalism it is valued as an expectorant and antiseptic tonic. The buds are used as a stimulating expectorant for all conditions affecting the respiratory functions when congested. In tincture they have been beneficially employed in affections of the stomach and kidneys and in scurvy and rheumatism, also for chest complaints.

The leaf buds are covered with a resinous sap that has a strong turpentine odor and a bitter taste. They are boiled in order to separate the resin and the resin is then dissolved in alcohol. The resin is a folk remedy, used as a salve and wash for sores, rheumatism, wounds etc. It is made into a tea and used as a wash for sprains, inflammation, muscle pains etc.

The bark is cathartic and tonic. Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, the bark of most, if not all members of the genus contain salicin, a glycoside that probably decomposes into salicylic acid (aspirin) in the body. The bark is therefore anodyne, anti-inflammatory and febrifuge. It is used especially in treating rheumatism and fevers, and also to relieve the pain of menstrual cramps. A tea made from the inner bark is used as an eye wash and in the treatment of scurvy.

It is an excellent hemorrhoid treatment. For burns it lessens pain, keeps the surface antiseptic and also stimulates skin regeneration. The tincture is a very effective therapy for chest colds, increasing protective mucus secretions in the beginning, when the tissues are hot, dry and painful. Later, it increases te softening expectorant secretions when the mucus is hard and impacted on the bronchial walls, and coughing is painful. Are aromatics are secreted as volatile gases in expiration. This helps to inhibit microorganisms and lessen the likelihood of secondary, often more serious, infections.

Other Uses:
Pioneer; Repellent; Resin; Rooting hormone; Wood.

An extract of the shoots can be used as a rooting hormone for all types of cuttings. It is extracted by soaking the chopped up shoots in cold water for a day. The resin obtained from the buds was used by various native North American Indian tribes to waterproof the seams on their canoes. The resin on the buds has been used as an insect repellent. The bark has been burnt to repel mosquitoes. A pioneer species, capable of invading cleared land and paving the way for other woodland trees. It is not very shade tolerant and so it is eventually out-competed by the woodland trees. Wood – soft, light, rather woolly in texture, without smell or taste, of low flammability, not durable, very resistant to abrasion. It weighs 23lb per cubic foot, and is used for pulp, boxes etc. The wood is also used as a fuel, it gives off a pleasant odour when burning.
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/Populus_balsamifera
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Populus+balsamifera
http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/volume_2/populus/balsamifera.htm

http://www.borealforest.org/trees/tree11.htm

Chickpea

Botanical Name: Cicer arietinum
Family: Fabaceae
Genus: Cicer
Species: C. arietinum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Fabales

Synonyms:
*Cicer album hort.
*Cicer arientinium L
*Cicer arientinum L.
*Cicer edessanum Bornm.
*Cicer grossum Salisb.
*Cicer nigrum hort.
*Cicer physodes Rchb.
*Cicer rotundum Alef.
*Cicer sativum Schkuhr
*Cicer sintenisii Bornm.
Common Names: Chickpea or chick pea, Gram, or Bengal gram, Garbanzo or Garbanzo bean, Egyptian pea, ceci, Cece or Chana or Kabuli Chana (particularly in northern India).

Habitat: Chiekpea is native to Asia. It is grown in cultivated beds. It is one of the earliest cultivated legumes: 7,500-year-old remains have been found in the Middle East

Description:
Chickpea is an annuak plant. It grows to between 20–50 cm (8–20 inches) high and has small feathery leaves on either side of the stem. Chickpeas are a type of pulse, with one seedpod containing two or three peas. It has white flowers with blue, violet or pink veins. It is not frost tender. It is in flower from Jun to July, and the seeds ripen from Aug to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs)It can fix Nitrogen.

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Types:
There are three main kinds of chickpea.
Desi has small, darker seeds and a rough coat. It is grown mostly in India and other parts of the Indian subcontinent, as well as in Ethiopia, Mexico, and Iran. Desi means ‘country’ or ‘local’ in Hindustani; its other names include Bengal gram or kala chana (“black chickpea” in both Hindi and Urdu) or chhola boot. Desi is probably the earliest variety because it closely resembles seeds found both on archaeological sites and the wild plant ancestor Cicer reticulatum of domesticated chickpeas, which only grows in southeast Turkey, where it is believed to have originated. Desi chickpeas have a markedly higher fibre content than other varieties, and hence a very low glycemic index, which may make them suitable for people with blood sugar problems. The desi type is used to make chana dal, which is a split chickpea with the skin removed.

Bombay chickpeas (Bambai) are also dark but slightly larger than desi. They too are popular in the Indian subcontinent.

Kabuli are lighter-coloured, larger and with a smoother coat, and are mainly grown in the Mediterranean, Southern Europe, Northern Africa, South America and Indian subcontinent. The name means “from Kabul” in Hindi and Urdu, and this variety was thought to come from Kabul, Afghanistan when it was introduced to India in the 18th century. It is called Kabuli chana in Marathi and safed chana in India.

An uncommon black chickpea, ceci neri, is grown only in Apulia, in southeastern Italy. It is larger and darker than the desi variety.

Green chickpeas are common in the state of Maharastra, India. In Marathi, they are called harbhara. Chana dal is also called harbara dal . Tender, immature harbara roasted on coal before the skin is removed is called hula in Marathi.
Cultivation:
Requires a hot sunny position, tolerating drought once established. Prefers a light well-drained fertile soil. Tolerates a pH in the range 5.5 to 8.6. Plants are hardy to about -25°c when covered by snow. This suggests that plants can be autumn sown – some trials are called for, especially of some of the hardier cultivars. The chickpea is widely cultivated in warm temperate and tropical areas for its edible seed. There are many named varieties, some of which should be suitable for cultivation in Britain. Plants only succeed outdoors in Britain in hot summers. Plants are about as hardy as broad beans but they often do not succeed in mild moist maritime climates because the seedpods are hairy and this holds moisture. The moisture then encourages fungal growth and the seed usually rots before it is fully mature. Plants require 4 – 6 months with moderately warm dry conditions if they are to crop well. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby. When removing plant remains at the end of the growing season, it is best to only remove the aerial parts of the plant, leaving the roots in the ground to decay and release their nitrogen.

Propagation:
Seed – sow April/May in situ under cloches. Chick peas can germinate at lower temperatures than broad beans. Could an early spring or even autumn sowing outdoors be successful

Edible Uses :
Edible Parts: Leaves; Seed; Seedpod.
Edible Uses: Coffee; Drink.

Seed – raw or cooked. The fresh or dried seed is cooked in soups, stews etc. It has a somewhat sweet flavour and a floury texture somewhat reminiscent of sweet chestnuts. The mature seed can also be sprouted and eaten raw. Parched seeds can be eaten as a snack. The seed can also be ground into a meal and used with cereal flours for making bread, cakes etc. The seed is a good source of carbohydrates and protein. The roasted seed is a coffee substitute. The roasted root can also be used. Both the young seedpods and the young shoots are said to be edible but some caution is advised. See the notes above on toxicity. A refreshing drink can be made from the acid dew that collects on the hairy seedpods overnight.

Nutrition:
Chickpeas are a nutrient-dense food, providing rich content (> 20% of the Daily Value, DV) of protein, dietary fibre, folate, and certain dietary minerals such as iron and phosphorus. Thiamin, vitamin B6, magnesium and zinc contents are moderate, providing 10-16 percent of the DV (right table). Chickpeas have a Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score of about 76 percent, which is higher than fruits, vegetables, many other legumes, and cereals.

Compared to reference levels established by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization and World Health Organization,[20] proteins in cooked and germinated chickpeas are rich in essential amino acids like lysine, isoleucine, tryptophan and total aromatic amino acids.

A 100 g serving of cooked chickpeas provides 164 kilocalories (690 kJ) (see table). Carbohydrates make up 68 percent of calories, most of which (84 percent) is starch, followed by total sugars and dietary fibre. Lipid content is 3 percent, 75 percent of which is unsaturated fatty acids for which linoleic acid comprises 43 percent of total fat

Medicinal Uses: An acid exudation from the seedpods is astringent. It has been used in the treatment of dyspepsia, constipation and snakebite

Other Uses: Animal feed:
Chickpeas serve as an energy and protein source not only in human nutrition but also as animal feed.
Resources:
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Cicer+arietinum
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chickpea