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Herbs & Plants

Vachellia tortilis

Botanical Name: Vachellia tortilis
Family: Fabaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Fabales
Clade: Mimosoideae
Genus: Vachellia
Species: V. tortilis

Synonyms:
*Acacia heteracantha Burch.
*Acacia raddiana Savi.

  • Acacia spirocarpa Hochst.
  • Acacia tortili

Common Names: Umbrella thorn and Israeli babool

Habitat: Vachellia tortilis is native to Africa – semi-arid areas from S. Africa to the Sahel and also to Israel and Arabia. It grows widespread in the Sahel, in woodlands and in the savannah. It generally forms open, dry forests in pure stands or mixed with other species.

Description:
Vachellia tortilis a medium to large evergreen tree growing to 15 m (49ft) by 15 m to 21m in height at a fast rate. It has a large, spreading, umbrella-shaped canopy. The leaves are pinnate, with each leaf composed of about 15 pairs of leaflets. Flowers are small, white, fragrant, and occur in tight clusters.They are polinated by bees. Seeds are in flat pods. V. tortilis is tolerant to drought, high alkalinity, high temperatures, sandy and stony soils, strongly sloped rooting surfaces, and sand blasting.

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Cultivation:
Vachellia tortilis is a plant for semi-arid tropical and subtropical areas, succeeding at elevations from sea level to 2,000 metres. It grows best in areas where the mean annual temperature is in the range 23.4 – 31.3c, with a mean annual rainfall of 100 – 1,000mm. It tolerates a maximum temperature of 50c and a minimum temperature close to 0c, though trees less than 2 years old are very susceptible to frost damage. The tree favours alkaline soils and grows in sand dunes, sandy loam, rocky soils and other soils that drain well. It also does well on light brown, sandy soil with little or no calcium carbonate, and pH ranges of between 7.95-8.30. Tolerates pH in the range 6.5 – 8.5. A drought resistant plant, it can tolerate strong salinity and seasonal waterlogging. The long taproot and numerous lateral roots enable it to utilize the limited soil moisture available in the arid areas. Plants can grow fairly well in shallow soil, less than 0.25 m deep, though they develop long lateral roots that can become a nuisance in nearby fields, paths, and roadways. A fast-growing tree, it develops a long lateral root system and creates problems in marshy fields, paths and roadways. It grows fairly well even on shallow soils less than 25cm deep. However, the plant assumes shrubby growth and must be widely spaced for the lateral root growth. It responds vigorously to felling by producing numerous coppice shoots, provided there is no interference from browsing animals. Lopping of entire branches does not seem to affect the vitality of the tree. 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. Carbon Farming- Cultivation: regional crop. Management: standard, coppice.

Edible Uses:
A porridge is made from the pods after extracting the seed. The immature seeds are eaten. An edible gum is obtained from the stems. Of moderate quality.

Medicinal Uses:
The dried, powdered bark is used as a disinfectant in healing wounds. In Senegal the powdered bark is used as an anthelmintic and is dusted on to skin ailments. The stem is used to treat asthma. Seeds are taken to treat diarrhoea.

Other Uses:
Agroforestry Uses: Due to its drought hardiness and fast growth, this is a promising species for afforesting shifting sand dunes, refractory sites, hill slopes, ravines and lateritic soils. It is the tree most recommended for reclaiming dunes in India and Africa. It has been grown successfully with Azadirachta indica in shelterbelts. Other Uses The pods have been used as beads in necklaces. The source of a resin called Gomme Rouge. The bark is reported to be a rich source of tannin. A strong fibre is obtained from the bark. A powerful molluscicide and algicide, the fruits are placed in fish ponds to kill the snail species that carry schistosomiasis, without affecting the fish. The thorny branches are suitable material for erecting barriers. The sapwood and heartwood are white and lustrous, with the heartwood aging to reddish-brown. Growth rings are distinct and separated by brown lines. The wood is moderately soft, not very strong, and is readily attacked by decay-causing fungi and insects. It should be promptly converted after felling and subjected to rapid drying conditions. The timber is not durable in the open but moderately so under cover. It is used for planking, boxes, poles, moisture-proof plywood, gun and rifle parts, furniture, house construction and farm implements. It is believed that Noah of the Old Testament made his ark from the wood of this tree. The root of this tree is traditionally used to make quivers for arrows. A piece of wood about 40 – 60cm long is placed in the spent ashes of a warm fire and left overnight. The next morning, a short section of the bark of the root is removed at one end; a circular groove is carved into the exposed core wood; a piece of wire is wound around the groove at one end whist the other end is attached to a tree; the bark (having already been loosened from the wood by the drying action of the warm ashes) is then simply pulled whole off the root. The core of wood remaining is then often used as a pestle. The plant starts producing fuel wood at the age of 8 -18 years, at the rate of 50 kg/tree. Its fast growth and good coppicing behaviour, coupled with the high calorific value for its wood (4400 kcal/kg), make it suitable for firewood and charcoal. Carbon farming – Industrial Crop: biomass, tannin. Agroforestry Services: nitrogen, windbreak, crop shade. Fodder: pod, bank. Other Systems: parkland.

Known Hazards: There are unconfirmed allegations that the foliage can be toxic to livestock.

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/Vachellia_tortilis
https://pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Vachellia+tortilis

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Herbs & Plants

Vachellia seyal

Botanical Name: Vachellia seyal
Family: Fabaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Fabales
Clade: Mimosoideae
Genus: Vachellia
Species: V. seyal

Synonyms:
*Acacia fistula Schweinf.
*Acacia flava (Forssk.) Schweinf. var. seyal (Delile) Roberty
*Acacia seyal Delile
*Acacia stenocarpa A.Rich.

Common Names: Shittah tree, Shittim Wood

Habitat:
Vachellia seyal is native to Semi-arid areas of tropical Africa – Senegal to Egypt, Ethiopia and Somalia, south to Zambia. It mostly grows in groups or patches, sometimes of considerable size, in areas inhabited by Senegalia senegal.

Description:
Vachellia seyal is an evergreen thorny tree growing to 10 m (32ft) by 12 m (39ft) with a pale greenish or reddish bark. At the base of the 3–10 cm (1.2–3.9 in) feathery leaves, two straight, light grey thorns grow to 7–20 cm (2.8–7.9 in) long. The blossoms are displayed in round, bright yellow clusters about 1.5 cm (0.59 in) diameter. The flowers are pollinated by Bees.

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Cultivation:
This species is more commonly found within 12 degrees of the equator, especially in semi-arid areas. It is found in an altitude range of 1,700 – 2,000 metres, growing best where the mean annual temperature is in the range 18 – 28°c and the mean annual rainfall is 250 – 1,000mm. Grows best in a well-drained, neutral to acid soil. It normally prefers heavy, clayey soils, stony gravely alluvial soils or humic soils. This species is tolerant to a high pH in the range 6 – 8. Plants also tolerate salts in the soil and periodic flooding. The subspecies var. Fistula is more tolerant to waterlogging than var. Seyal. Plants are tolerant of wind and salt spray. On good sites, young trees can increase in height by more than 1 metre a year. Trees managed on a 10 – 15 years rotation can yield 10 – 35 cubic metres of fuel wood per hectare per year. Trees usually coppice very freely. The flowers are borne in profusion and are spicy scented or sweet smelling. Bees are the likely pollinators, the flowers yielding a white-coloured honey with mild aroma. Flowering is concentrated in the middle of the dry season, with ripe fruits appearing 4 months later. 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. Carbon Farming – Cultivation: regional crop. Management: standard.

Edible Uses:
An edible gum is obtained from the bark. Eaten when fresh, although it has slightly acid taste. It is also mixed with pulp from the fruit of Balanites aegyptiaca to make a syrup.

Medicinal Uses:
The bark, leaves and gums are used for colds, diarrhoea, haemorrhage, jaundice, headache and burns. A bark decoction is used against leprosy and dysentery, is a stimulant and acts as a purgative for humans and animals. Exposure to smoke is believed to relieve rheumatic pains. A root decoction mixed with leaves of Combretum glutinosum and curdled milk causes strong diuresis.

Other Uses:
Agroforestry Uses: The plants root system makes it a good soil stabilizer. Other Uses: A gum arabic is obtained from the trunk. The gum (known as talha gum) is darker and inferior in quality to that of Acacia senegal (gum arabic). However, it forms 10% of the Sudanese gum exported to India and Europe. Talha does not meet the requirements of the food industry because it has not been toxicologically evaluated and contains tannins. For technological use outside the food industry, talha gum is attractive because of its clarity and solubility. The gum is mixed with soot and powdered Nubian sandstone for black and red ink. Pods and bark contain 20% tannin. The bark contains 18-30 % tannins and is a source of red dye. The smoke produced by burning the wood acts as a fumigant against insects and lice. Chemicals in the bark kill the freshwater snails that carry bilharzia parasites and algae growing in ponds. Methanolic extracts from the bark applied to ponds display algicidal properties. Molluscidal properties have been demonstrated with spray-dried powder of ethyl extracts, which are effective against schistosomiasis vectors Biomphalaria pfeifferi and Bulinus truncatus. The roots are used for making staves. The bark is used for making rope. The fibre has promising technological characteristics for use as particleboard. In many areas, farmers cut branches of A. Seyal to make fences. The thorny branches are good for this purpose and last about 2 years. The wood is pale yellow to medium brown, with localized pinkish-brown patches and some dark mahogany-red heartwood in larger or older individuals. It has potential in rural areas as timber. If the tree is grown with few knots and straight grain, sprayed with insecticide after felling, and treated with preservatives, the timber works well and is hard and tough. It produces a hard, dark wood, called shittim wood, with interlocked, irregular and coarse-textured grain. It takes good a polish but is susceptible to insect attack. Therefore, it must be properly treated by splitting it, putting it under water for a few weeks and then drying it thoroughly. Shittim wood was used by ancient Egyptians for pharaohs’ coffins. Produces a good, dense firewood that is highly valued and is used widely throughout its range. The smoke is pleasantly fragrant and the wood burns rather quickly. In Sudan it is used to make a fragrant fire over which women perfume themselves. A. Seyal var. Seyal is an important source of rural energy as both firewood and charcoal. Carbon Farming – Industrial Crop: gum. Agroforestry Services: nitrogen. Fodder: pod.

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/Vachellia_seyal
https://pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Vachellia+seyal

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Herbs & Plants

Smilacina racemosa

Botanical Name: Smilacina racemosa
Family: Asparagaceae
Subfamily: Nolinoideae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asparagales
Genus: Maianthemum
Species: M. racemosum

Synonyms:
*Maianthemum racemosum
*Vagnera racemosa.
*Smilacena racemosa

Common Names: False Spikenard, Treacleberry, Feathery false lily of the valley, False Solomon’s seal, Solomon’s plume or False spikenard

Habitat: Smilacina racemosa is native to N. America – British Columbia to Nova Scotia, south to Georgia and Missouri. It grows in the moist coniferous and deciduous woods, clearings and bluffs, preferring shaded streamsides.

Description:
Smilacina racemosais a woodland herbaceous perennial plant growing to 50–90 cm (20–35 in) tall, with 7-12 alternate, oblong-lanceolate leaves 7–15 cm (2.8–5.9 in) long and 3–6 cm (1.2–2.4 in) broad. Bases are rounded to clasping or tapered, sometimes with a short petiole. Leaf tips are pointed to long-tipped.

Seven to 250 small flowers are produced on a 10–15 cm (3.9–5.9 in) panicle that has well-developed branches. Each flower has six white tepals 3–6 mm (0.12–0.24 in) long and is set on a short pedicel usually less than 1 mm long. Blooming is mid-spring with fruiting by early summer. The plants produce fruits that are rounded to 3-lobed and green with copper spots when young, turning red in late summer.

It spreads by cylindrical rhizomes up to 0.3 m (1 ft 0 in) long with scattered roots. It is in flower from May to June, and the seeds ripen from August to October. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Insects. The plant is self-fertile.

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The Latin specific epithet racemosum means “with flowers that appear in racemes”, which can cause confusion as the inflorescence is a panicle; it is the individual branches of the panicle that have flowers arranged in a raceme.

Cultivation:
An easy plant to grow, it requires a deep fertile humus rich moisture retentive soil, neutral to slightly acid, that does not dry out in the growing season, and a shady position. Requires a lime-free soil. It does well in a woodland garden. Hardy to about -20°c. Plants take a few years to become established. This species can be separated into two sub-species, S. racemosa racemosa being found in the east of the range whilst S. racemosa amplexicaule is found in the west. One report says that the plant is apomictic (producing seeds without sexual fusion), though this needs to be investigated further. The flowers have a gentle sweet perfume. For polyculture design as well as the above-ground architecture (form – tree, shrub etc. and size shown above) information on the habit and root pattern is also useful and given here if available. The plant growth habit is a runner spreading indefinitely by rhizomes or stolons. The root pattern is rhizomatous with underground stems sending roots and shoots along their length.

Edible Uses:
Fruit – raw, cooked or made into jellies and molasses. The fruit is smaller than a pea but is produced in quite large terminal clusters on the plant and so is easy to harvest. It has a delicious bitter-sweet flavour, suggesting bitter molasses. The fruit is said to store well, it certainly hangs well on the plants and we have picked very delicious fruits in late October. Rich in vitamins, the fruit has been used to prevent scurvy. Some caution is advised since the raw fruit is said to be laxative in large quantities, though this is only if you are not used to eating this fruit. Thorough cooking removes much of this laxative element. Young leaves – raw or cooked. The young shoots, as they emerge in spring, can be cooked and used as an asparagus substitute. Root – cooked. It should be soaked in alkaline water first to get rid of a disagreeable taste. It can be eaten like potatoes or pickled.

Medicinal Uses:
Smilacina racemosa was widely employed by several native North American Indian tribes who used it to treat a variety of complaints. It is little, if at all, used in modern herbalism. The plant is contraceptive and haemostatic. A decoction is used in the treatment of coughs and the spitting up of blood. Half a cup of leaf tea drunk daily for a week by a woman is said to prevent conception. a poultice of the crushed fresh leaves is applied to bleeding cuts. A tea made from the roots is drunk to regulate menstrual disorders. The root is analgesic, antirheumatic, appetizer, blood purifier, cathartic and tonic. A decoction is said to be a very strong medicine, it is used for treating rheumatism and kidney problems and, when taken several times a day it has been used successfully in treating cancer and heart complaints. The fumes from a burning root have been inhaled to treat headaches and general body pain. The fumes have also been used to restore an unconscious patient and to bring an insane person back to normal. The dried powdered root has been used in treating wounds. A poultice of the root has been applied to the severed umbilical cord of a child in order to speed the healing process and is also used to treat cuts, swellings etc. A cold infusion of the root is used as a wash for sore eyes.

Other Uses: Plants can be grown as a ground cover when planted about 45cm apart each way.

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/Maianthemum_racemosum
https://pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Smilacina+racemosa

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Herbs & Plants

Uvularia grandiflora

Botaniocal Name: Uvularia grandiflora
Family: Colchicaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Liliales
Genus: Uvularia
Species: U. grandiflora

Common Names: Fairybells, Merry Bells, Bellwort, Largeflower bellwort

Habitat: Uvularia grandiflora is native to southeastern North America – South Quebec to Georgia, west to Arkansas to North Dakota. It grows in the
rich moist woods on calcareous to neutral soils from sea level to 1100 metres.

Description:
Uvularia grandiflora is a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial plant with pendent leaves which are hairy on the undersides. It grows 75 cm (30 in) tall by 30 cm (12 in) broad. It blooms in mid- to late spring, producing large yellow, solitary or paired, bell-shaped, pendent flowers. It blooms in mid- to late spring, producing large yellow, solitary or paired, bell-shaped, pendent flowers. The top parts of the plant tend to bend downward due to the weight of the leaves and flowers. The light green stems are round, glabrous, and glaucous and the leaves are perfoliate since the stem appears to come through the leaves at the base. In late summer three capsuled ovaries split open releasing seeds that have attached food bodies called (elaiosome) which are attractive to ants that collect and redistribution the seeds.

The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Insects.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) or semi-shade (light woodland). It prefers moist soil.

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Cultivation:
Landscape Uses:Container, Foundation, Specimen, Woodland garden. An easily grown plant, it requires a cool moist shady position and a light sandy soil. Likes plenty of humus in the soil. Grows well in a woodland garden and in the rock garden. Plants grow much taller in rich soils and then succeed in the herbaceous border. A very hardy plant, tolerating temperatures down to about -20°c. A very ornamental species, there are some named varieties. Special Features:North American native, Naturalizing, Attracts butterflies.

Medicinal Uses:
The root is analgesic. It is used as a poultice or salve in the treatment of toothaches, boils, swellings, wounds and ulcers. An infusion of the root has been used to treat backaches and, mixed with oil, has been used as a salve on sore muscles. A tea made from the roots is used as a wash in the treatment of rheumatic pains.

Other Uses:
An excellent native shade plant for the woodland garden, shaded border front, wildflower garden or naturalized area. Mass plantings under shade trees or along wood margins can be effective.

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/Uvularia_grandiflora
https://pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Uvularia+grandiflora
http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=r260

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Herbs & Plants

Urtica pilulifera

Botaniocal Name: Urtica pilulifera
Family: Urticaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Rosales
Genus: Urtica
Species: U. pilulifera

Common Names: Roman nettle

Habitat: Urtica pilulifera is native to the countries around the Mediterranean, and eastwards into the Arabian Peninsula and Iran. It has been introduced into Belgium, Germany and Great Britain. It is no longer found in Britain. It is a weed of cultivated land and waste places, preferring light soils.

Description:
Urtica pilulifera is a is a herbaceous annual flowering plant, growing to 0.6 m (2ft). Its leaves have stinging hairs, which can irritate the skin.
It is not frost tender. It is in flower from June to September, and the seeds ripen from July to October. The species is monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and is pollinated by Wind. The plant is not self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

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Cultivation:
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) nitrogen-rich soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil. The best fibre is produced when plants are grown on deep fertile soils. Dislikes a shady position.

Edible Uses:
Young leaves – cooked and used as a potherb. A very nutritious food, high in vitamins and minerals, it makes an excellent spinach substitute and can also be added to soups and stews. Only use the young leaves and wear stout gloves when harvesting them to prevent getting stung. Although the fresh leaves have stinging hairs, thoroughly drying or cooking them destroys these hairs. Nettle beer is brewed from the young shoots.

Medicinal Uses:
Nettles have a long history of use in the home as a herbal remedy. A tea made from the leaves has traditionally been used as a tonic and blood purifier. The whole plant is antiasthmatic, antidandruff, astringent, depurative, diuretic, galactogogue, haemostatic, hypoglycaemic and a stimulating tonic. An infusion of the plant is very valuable in stemming internal bleeding, it is also used to treat anaemia, excessive menstruation, haemorrhoids, arthritis, rheumatism and skin complaints, especially eczema. Externally, the plant is used to treat arthritic pain, gout, sciatica, neuralgia, haemorrhoids, hair problems etc. For medicinal purposes, the plant is best harvested in May or June as it is coming into flower and dried for later use. This species merits further study for possible uses against kidney and urinary system ailments. The juice of the nettle can be used as an antidote to stings from the leaves and an infusion of the fresh leaves is healing and soothing as a lotion for burns. A homeopathic remedy is made from the fresh plant, gathered when in flower. A useful first-aid remedy, it is used in the treatment of ailments such as bites and stings, burns, hives and breast feeding problems.

Other Uses:
A strong flax-like fibre is obtained from the stems. Used for string and cloth, it also makes a good quality paper. It is harvested as the plant begins to die down in early autumn. The growing plant increases the essential oil content of other nearby plants, thus making them more resistant to insect pests. A hair wash is made from the infused leaves and this is used as a tonic and antidandruff treatment. A green dye is obtained from the leaves and stems. A yellow dye is obtained from the root. An oil extracted from the seeds is used as an illuminant in lamps.

Known Hazards: The leaves of the plants have stinging hairs, causing irritation to the skin. This action is neutralized by heat so the cooked leaves are perfectly safe and nutritious. However, only young leaves should be used because older leaves develop gritty particles called cystoliths which act as an irritant to the kidneys.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urtica_pilulifera
https://pfaf.org/USER/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Urtica+pilulifera