Herbs & Plants

Orobanche tuberosa

Botanical Name: Orobanche tuberosa
Family: Orobanchaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Lamiales
Genus: Orobanche
Species: O. bulbosa

*Aphyllon tuberosum
*Myzorrhiza tuberosa
*Phelipaea tuberosa

Common Name: Ground Cone

Habitat:Orobanche tuberosa is native to Western N. America – British Columbia to N. California. It is parasitic on Gaultheria shallon, on or near the coast.

Orobanche tuberosa is a perennial plant growing to 0.1 m (0ft 5in).
It arises from a thick root and a bulbous, twisted, scaly stem base, and grows erect to a maximum height near 30 centimetres (12 in). As a parasite taking its nutrients from a host plant, it lacks leaves and chlorophyll. It is dark purple to nearly black in color, with tiny whitish bumps bearing hairs. The inflorescence is a dense spike-like or pyramid-shaped cluster of generally over 20 flowers. Each flower is tubular, between 1 and 2 centimetres (0.4 and 0.8 in) long, and yellow to purple in color.

The fruit is a capsule containing minute seeds.


The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs).
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

Considering its native range it should succeed outdoors in most parts of the country. It requires a well-drained soil and should succeed in sun or shade. A fully parasitic plant lacking in chlorophyll, it is entirely dependant upon its host plant for obtaining nutrient. According to , the correct name for this species is Boschniakia hookeri.

Edible Uses:
Roots are edible. The potato-like stem bases were occasionally peeled and eaten raw as a snack by some North American Indian tribe.

Medicinal Uses:
The roots have been used in the treatment of coughs.

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.


Herbs & Plants

Ochroma pyramidale

Botanical Name: Ochroma pyramidale
Family: Malvaceae

Subfamily: Bombacoideae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Malvales
Genus: Ochroma
Species: O. pyramidale

*Bombax pyramidale Cav. ex Lam.
*Ochroma bicolor Rowlee
*Ochroma concolor Rowlee
*Ochroma lagopus Sw.
*Ochroma obtusum Rowlee

Common Name: Balsa tree.

Habitat:Ochroma pyramidale is native from southern Mexico to southern Brazil, but can now be found in many other countries (Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Thailand, Solomon Islands). It is a pioneer plant, which establishes itself in clearings in forests, either man-made or where trees have fallen, or in abandoned agricultural fields. It grows extremely rapidly, up to 27 m in 10–15 years. The speed of growth accounts for the lightness of the wood, which has a lower density than cork. Trees generally do not live beyond 30 to 40 years It grows on moist, lowland, limestone forest. Common along the margins of lakes or in disturbed areas, rare in the older forest where it is a large tree. It is found mainly on fertile, bottom-land soils along the sides of streams.

Ochroma pyramidale is an evergreen Tree growing to 30 m (98ft) by 30 m (98ft) at a fast rate. Flowers are produced from the third year onwards, typically at the end of the rainy season when few other trees are in flower. The large flowers open in the late afternoon and remain open overnight. Each may contain a pool of nectar up to 2.5 cm deep. Daytime pollinators include capuchin monkeys. However, most pollination occurs at night. The main pollinators were once thought to be bats, but recent evidence suggests that two nocturnal arboreal mammals, the kinkajou and the olingo, may be the primary pollinators.


Ecuador supplies 95% or more of commercial balsa. In recent years, about 60% of the balsa has been plantation-grown in densely packed patches of around 1000 trees per hectare (compared to about two to three per hectare in nature). It is evergreen or dry-season deciduous, with large 30- to 40-cm, weakly palmately lobed leaves. Being a deciduous angiosperm, balsa is classified as a hardwood despite the wood itself being very soft. It is the softest commercial hardwood. The trees are harvested after six to 10 years of growth. The name balsa comes from the Spanish word for “raft”.

Medicinal Uses: The root bark is emetic.

Other Uses:
Balsa lumber is very soft and light, with a coarse, open grain. The density of dry balsa wood ranges from 40–340 kg/m3, with a typical density around 160 kg/m3. Balsa is the softest wood ever measured using the Janka hardness test (22 to 167 lbf). The wood of the living tree has large cells that are filled with water. This gives the wood a spongy texture. It also makes the wood of the living tree not much lighter than water and barely able to float. For commercial production, the wood is kiln-dried for about two weeks, leaving the cells hollow and empty. The large volume-to-surface ratio of the resulting thin-walled, empty cells gives the dried wood a large strength-to-weight ratio because the cells are mostly air. Unlike naturally rotted wood, which soon disintegrates in the rainforests where balsa trees grow, the cell walls of kiln-seasoned balsa wood retain their strong structure of cellulose and lignin.

Because it is low in density but high in strength, balsa is a very popular material for light, stiff structures in model bridge tests, model buildings, and construction of model aircraft; all grades are usable for airworthy control line and radio-controlled aircraft varieties of the aeromodeling sports, with the lightest “contest grades” especially valuable for free-flight model aircraft. However, it also is valued as a component of full-sized light wooden aeroplanes, most notably the World War II de Havilland Mosquito.

Balsa is used to make wooden crankbaits for fishing, especially Rapala lures.

Sticks of dried balsa are useful as makeshift pens for calligraphy when commercial metal nibs of the desired width are not available.

Balsa wood is often used as a core material in composites; for example, the blades of many wind turbines are partly of balsa. In table tennis bats, a balsa layer is typically sandwiched between two pieces of thin plywood made from other species of wood. Balsa wood is also used in laminates together with glass-reinforced plastic (fiberglass) for making high-quality balsa surfboards and for the decks and topsides of many types of boats, especially pleasure craft less than 30 m in length. On a boat, the balsa core is usually end-grain balsa, which is much more resistant to compression than if the soft balsa wood were laid lengthwise.

Balsa is also used in the manufacture of “breakaway” wooden props such as tables and chairs that are designed to be broken as part of theatre, movie, and television productions.

The fifth and sixth generations of the Chevrolet Corvette had floor pans composed of balsa sandwiched between sheets of carbon fiber reinforced plastic.

Norwegian scientist and adventurer Thor Heyerdahl, convinced that early contact between the peoples of South America and Polynesia was possible, built the raft Kon Tiki from balsa logs, and upon it his crew and he sailed the Pacific Ocean from Peru to the Polynesian Tuamotu Archipelago in 1947. However, the Kon Tiki logs were not seasoned and owed much of their (rather slight) buoyancy to the fact that their sap was of lower density than seawater. This serendipitously may have saved the expedition, because it prevented the seawater from waterlogging the wood and sinking the raft.

Balsa wood is also a popular wood type used in the arts of whittling, and surfing. In the making of picture frames, balsa was often used in a baroque style because of the ease of shaping the design.

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.


Herbs & Plants

Melocanna baccifera

Botanical Name: Melocanna baccifera
Family: Poaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Poales
Genus: Melocanna
Species: M. baccifera

*Bambusa baccifera Roxb.
*Beesha baccifera (Roxb.) Kunth
*Melocanna bambusoides Trin. [Illegitimate]
*Nastus baccifera (Roxb.) Raspail

Common Names: Berry Bamboo. Mali bamboo

Habitat: Melocanna baccifera is native to E. Asia – Bangladesh, Myanmar. It is grown in vast stands, usually on hilly ground.

Melocanna baccifera is an evergreen bamboo with an elongated rhizome that produces single culms arising at a distance of about 60 cm apart and reaching a height of 10 – 20 metres. The thin-walled culms have a diameter of 50 – 90mm, with internodes 30 – 60cm long. The flowers are pollinated by Wind. It is an aggressive bamboo, easily occupying large open areas, due to its vigorous long rhizomes and, when fruiting, due to its easily germinating fruits..

One of the most useful bamboos within its native range, especially in Bangladesh, it provides edible shoots, medicine and culms that have a wide range of uses. Usually gathered from the wild, it is occasionally cultivated for these uses. The plant is also grown as an ornamental.


One of the most useful bamboos within its native range, especially in Bangladesh, it provides edible shoots, medicine and culms that have a wide range of uses. Usually gathered from the wild, it is occasionally cultivated for these uses. The plant is also grown as an ornamental

A plant of the moist tropics. It grows best in areas where the mean annual temperature falls within the range 20 – 33°c, though it can tolerate 15 – 38°c. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 2,000 – 3,000mm, tolerating 600 – 4,400mm.
Succeeds in full sun or light shade. Succeeds in moist soils, preferring a fertile medium to heavy soil. Prefers a pH in the range 5.5 – 6.5, but tolerates 5 – 7.
Harvesting of the culms may start 5 – 6 years after planting. Young shoots are harvested in the rainy season. Culms are considered mature when 2 years old
The average green culm yield is estimated at 12,000 culms/ha per 3 years, weighing about 84 tonnes. Other reported culm yield data per 3 years per ha in air dry weight are: 38 tonnes (Bangladesh), 21 tonnes (Myanmar) and 17.5 tonnes (India)
Bamboos have an interesting method of growth. Each plant produces a number of new stems annually – these stems grow to their maximum height in their first year of growth, subsequent growth in the stem being limited to the production of new side branches and leaves. In the case of some mature tropical species the new stem could be as much as 30 metres tall, with daily increases in height of 30cm or more during their peak growth time. This makes them some of the fastest-growing species in the world[.
Seedlings, unlike those of most bamboos, grow vigorously from the beginning. By the end of their first year’s growth they have usually produced 1 or 2 shoots, but up to 5 shoots can be produced. The least shoot produced can be up to 3 metres tall. The shoots are crowded together in a clump.
More shoots are produced during the second season – these can be up to 7 metres tall and the clump becomes larger.
By the fifth season, the culms have attained almost their maximum height, but they are still thin and crowded together. Per clump, more than 70 culms may be present.
In later years, the culms become spaced out with the gradual extension of the rhizomes.
Clumps are mature after about 10 years, reaching 4 – 5 metres in diameter and producing 30 – 40 new culms annually.
Young shoots emerge above the soil during the rainy season and develop to their full height within 4 – 6 months. Lateral branches emerge and develop in the following season.
Bamboos in general are usually monocarpic, living for many years before flowering, then flowering and seeding profusely for a period of 1 – 3 years before usually dying. The plant flowers gregariously, with a flowering cycle of 30 – 45 years. In the season before flowering no new shoots are produced. Flowering may continue for about 10 years over a tract that is sometimes called a flowering wave. Soon after flowering, the leaves wither and fall, the culms turn yellow and the fruit forms rapidly, ripening and falling – often already germinating even before they fall. Many fruits fail to mature and those produced from the earlier flowering part are larger than those from the later part. Eventually, clumps that have flowered die.
The rhizomes are very vital and start growing easily – this means that eradication of the plant from cleared bamboo forest is very difficult because every rhizome part left in the ground quickly develops into a new plant.

Seed – when available, they afford the best means of propagation. Sown in a nursery bed and only just cover the seeds. Germination usually takes place within a few days – up to 80% of the seed germinates if sown in a shady position, but only 33% in a sunny position. Rhizome development begins 30 – 40 days after germination. Due to its tall and soft stem, the seedling gets easily damaged during handling and transportation – therefore chopping the seedling stem tips at 3 – 5 nodes is generally recommended. Frequent shifting of seedlings from one bed to another helps in minimizing root and rhizome intermingling at the nursery stage.

Normally, seed remains viable for about 35 days. Storage in air-conditioned rooms increases its lifespan up to 45 days, and when stored with dry sand in gunny bags, up to 60 days.
Single-culm clump division. These should be made from the youngest culms, while the lateral buds of the rhizome are still dormant, or before they have pushed more than 50 – 75mm. Most of the culm and the long slender rhizome neck may be discarded for convenience
Culm cuttings are preferably taken from 2-year-old culms.
Propagation with rhizome cuttings is easy and successful. In fact the rhizomes are very vital and start growing easily

Edible Uses:
Young shoots – cooked. The shoots are also sliced and dried in the sun for preservation. The remarkable large fruits are fleshy and edible. They are used as a famine food. The leaves may be used in brewing liquor.

Medicinal Uses:
Tabashir, which is a siliceous concretion found in the culms of the bamboo stem, can be collected from the culms. It is used as a tonic in treating respiratory diseases.

Other Uses:
The culms are widely used in house building; to make woven wares such as baskets, mats, handicrafts, wall plates, screens and hats; and for domestic utensils.
The culms are an important source of superior paper pulp.

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.


Herbs & Plants

Malpighia glabra

Botanical Name: Malpighia glabra
Family: Malpighiaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Malpighiales
Genus: Malpighia
Species: M. glabra

*Bunchosia parvifolia S.Watson
*Malpighia biflora Poir.
*Malpighia dicipiens Sessé & Moc.
*Malpighia fallax Salisb.
*Malpighia lucida Pav. ex A. Juss.
*Malpighia lucida Pav. ex Moric.
*Malpighia myrtoides Moritz ex Nied.

Common Names: Escobillo, Acerola,Barbados Cherry, Wild Crapemyrtle,

Habitat: Malpighia glabra is native to C. America – Mexico to northern S. America and the Caribbean. It grows on rocky limestone, from sea level to 1,000 metres[307 ]. Thrives at elevations between sea level and 800 metres, but it can be found at elevations up to 1,700 metres.

The Barbados cherry is a shrub or small tree that grows up to 15 feet tall with wide spread branches and evergreen oval leaves. The leaves are evergreen, simple, 0.5-15 cm long, with an entire, wavy margin. The flowers are solitary or in umbels of two to several together, each flower 1-2 cm diameter, with five pink or white petals. The fruit is a red, orange or purple drupe, containing 2-3 hard seeds. It is sweet and juicy, and very rich in vitamin C, up to 65 times that of an orange. Eaten fresh or as flavoring for drinks. Commonly used in parts of South America to flavor ice creams, drinks, and cocktails.


A plant of the subtropics to hot, tropical, lowland areas with medium to high rainfall. It can be found at elevations up to 1,700 metres, but does best below 800 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 24 – 30°c, but can tolerate 5 – 34°c. When dormant, the plant can survive temperatures down to about -2°c, but young growth can be severely damaged at -1°c. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,300 – 2,000mm, but tolerates 700 – 2,400mm. Tolerates seasonally dry periods. Easily grown in a good soil and a sunny position. Prefers a rich, deep and well drained soil but is able to tolerate a variety of soil conditions. Sandy soils carry an increasing risk of nematode infection. Prefers a pH in the range 5.5 – 7.5, tolerating 5 – 8. Requires a pH in excess of 5.5. Established plants are drought tolerant. Plants are fairly tolerant of salt-laden winds. Seedlings can fruit when only 2 – 3 years old, but are not always of as good quality as their parents. Trees start to produce well 3 – 4 years after planting and continue for 15 years. Plants can produce several flushes of flowers each year. The flowers are very attractive to bees. Plants can produce 2 – 3 crops of fruit a year. Individual trees can produce 15 – 30 kilos of fruit each year. Yields of 6.7 – 105 tonnes per hectare have been recorded. Plants usually require cross-pollination to ensure a good fruit set, though there are some reports of self-fertilization. Flowering Time: Mid Spring Late Spring/Early Summer. Bloom Color: Rose/Mauve. Spacing: 15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m).

Seed – germination is slow, with only 5 – 50% of the seed germinating.

Edible Uses:
Fruits are eaten – raw or cooked. The bright red fruit can range in flavour from sweet to somewhat acid. As well as being eaten out of hand, they can also be stewed, made into juices, sauces, jellies, jams, wines or purees. The ovoid fruit is 10 – 35mm in diameter.

Medicinal Uses:
In Suriname’s traditional medicine the leaves are used against dysentery and diarrhea. Also used for liver ailments; fruit used against the common cold.
The fruits are considered beneficial against liver problems, diarrhoea, dysentery, coughs and colds. The bark exudes a gum that is recommended as a pectoral

Agroforestry Uses: The plants are suitable for hedges.

Other Uses: The bark has been used as a source of tannin. The wood is hard and heavy. It can be used for making small utensils.

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.


Herbs & Plants

Mahonia pumila

Botanical Name: Mahonia pumila
Family: Berberidaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Ranunculales
Genus: Berberis
Species: M. pumila

*Berberis pumila
*Odostemon pumilus

Common Names: Dwarf Barberry

Habitat: Mahonia pumila is native to South-western N. America – California and southern Oregon. It grows on mountains. Open woods and rocky areas at elevations of 300 – 1200 metres.

Mahonia pumila is an evergreen shrub growing 10 – 40cm tall. The plant suckers at the base, producing a cluster of unbranched stems. Stems monomorphic, without short axillary shoots. Bark of 2d-year stems gray-brown or purplish, glabrous. Bud scales 3-6 mm, deciduous. Spines absent. Leaves 3-9-foliolate; petioles 0.5-4 cm. Leaflet blades thick and rigid; surfaces abaxially dull, papillose, adaxially dull, glaucous; terminal leaflet stalked, at least on most leaves, blade 4-8 × 2-5 cm, 1.3-1.9 times as long as wide; lateral leaflet blades ovate to oblong-ovate or elliptic, 1(-3)-veined from base, base obtuse, rarely truncate, margins plane or undulate, toothed, with 2-10 teeth 1-3 mm tipped with spines to 1.6-3 – 0.3-0.4(-0.5) mm, apex obtuse or rounded, rarely broadly acuminate. Inflorescences racemose, dense, 30-45-flowered, 2-4 cm; bracteoles membranous, apex rounded or obtuse, sometimes apiculate. Flowers: anther filaments with distal pair of recurved lateral teeth. Berries dark blue, glaucous, oblong-ovoid to spheric, 5-8 mm, juicy, solid. 2n = 28.
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and a medicine. It is sometimes grown as an ornamental, where it can be used as a ground cover.


Mahonia pumila is hardy to about -15°c if growing in a sheltered position.
An easily grown plant, it thrives in any good well-drained garden soil, preferring one on the dryish side. Prefers a sunny position, but also succeeds in the light shade of trees.
Established plants sucker freely and form quite dense thickets Resistant to honey fungus.

Some Berberis/Mahonia species (especially Berberis vulgaris) harbour the black stem-rust fungus (Puccinia graminis Persoon). This is a major disease of wheat and barley crops and can spread from infected barberries to the grain crop. The sale or transport of susceptible or untested species of Berberis is illegal in the United States and Canada This species is resistant to infection by the fungus.

Edible Uses:
Fruits are eaten – raw or cooked. We have seen no reports of edibility for this species, but it is certainly not poisonous. The fruit is likely to have an acid flavour and be suitable for making jams. jellies etc. The fruit is about 10mm in diameter.

Medicinal Uses:
A decoction of the roots is used as a blood tonic and as a treatment for coughs.
Mahonia species have a long history of medicinal usage, with several members of the genus being commonly used in traditional medicine and also in modern herbalism. They are employed in the treatment of a wide range of conditions and have, in particular, been demonstrated to exert good efficacy in the clinical treatment of dysentery, internal and external haemorrhage, acne vulgaris and chronic pharyngitis amongst other diseases. Phytochemical research into this genus has resulted in the identification of more than 150 chemical constituents, amongst which alkaloids are predominant. The isolated compounds and crude extracts have been shown to exhibit a wide spectrum of in vitro and in vivo pharmacological effects, including antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, hepatoprotective, antioxidant, antimutagenic and analgesic properties.
Berberine, an alkaloid that is universally present in the rhizomes and stems of Mahonia species, has been shown to have a marked antibacterial effect. and is also used as a bitter tonic. Since it is not appreciably absorbed by the body, it can be used orally in the treatment of various enteric infections, especially bacterial dysentery
Berberine has also shown antitumour activity.

The plant should not be used with Glycyrrhiza species (Liquorice) because this nullifies the effects of the berberine.

Agroforestry Uses: This species forms suckers freely and should make a good dense ground cover in a sunny position.

Other Uses:
A yellow dye is obtained from the inner bark of the stem and roots It is green.
Dark green, violet and dark blue-purple dyes are obtained from the fruit. A green dye is obtained from the leaves.

Known Hazards:
All parts of the plant contain the alkaloid berberine – this is most concentrated in the roots, stems and inner bark, and least concentrated in the fruits. In small quantities berberine has a range of effective medicinal applications but, in excess, can cause vomiting, lowered blood pressure, reduced heart rate, lethargy, and other ill-effects.
The fruit of most, if not all, members of this genus are more or less edible and can be eaten in quantity since the levels of berberine in the fruit are very low.

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.