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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

Categories
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

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Herbs & Plants

Urtica gracilis

Botanical Name: Urtica gracilis
Family: Urticaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Rosales
Genus: Urtica
Species: U. dioica
Subspecies: U. d. subsp. gracilis

Synonyms:
*Urtica californica Greene
*Urtica dioica var. angustifolia Schltdl.
*Urtica dioica var. californica (Greene) C.L. Hitchc.
*Urtica dioica var. gracilis (Aiton) R.L. Taylor & MacBryde
*Urtica dioica var. lyallii (S. Watson) C.L. Hitchc.
*Urtica dioica var. procera (Muhl. ex Willd.) Wedd.
*Urtica gracilis Aiton
*Urtica lyallii S. Watson
*Urtica procera Muhl. ex Willd.
*Urtica viridis Rydb.

Common Names: : California nettle or American stinging nettle

Habitat:Urtica gracilis is native to most of the United States and Canada.( Range:N. Europe. N. America – Newfoundland to British Columbia, south to North Carolina and Louisiana). It grows in the thickets and damp rich soils. Dry soils. Alluvial woods, margins of deciduous woodlands, fencerows and waste places from sea level to 3100 metres.

Description:
Urtica gracilis is a herbaceous perennial plant, growing to 1.5 m (5ft).The plant is usually unbranched, although short stems may develop from the leaf axils. The central stem is light green and stout; it has several flat ridges that are separated by narrow channels. The central stem is sparsely covered with stiff white hairs of variable length; these hairs can penetrate the skin and sting. Along the central stem are pairs of opposite leaves that droop downward slightly. The leaf blades are up to 8″ long and 2½” across; they are medium to dark green, lanceolate, and coarsely serrated. The base of each leaf blade is rounded or slightly cordate. The upper surface of each leaf blade is heavily veined and glabrous, while the lower surface has sparse stiff hairs that can also sting. The slender petioles of the leaves are up to 1″ long. At the base of each petiole, there is a pair of stipules up to ½” long.

Panicles of flowers develop from the axils of the middle to upper leaves. These panicles are much branched and droop downward; their pubescent branches are heavily covered with flowers. Slender Nettle is monoecious to slightly dioecious; some plants have male flowers entirely or predominantly, while other plants have female flowers entirely or predominately. The male flowers are 1/8″ (3 mm.) across with 4 green sepals and 4 white stamens. The female flowers are 1/8″ across with 4 green sepals; the 2 inner sepals that enclose the ovary are larger in size than the 2 outer sepals. The sepals of both male and female flowers are pubescent; neither kind of flower has petals. The blooming period occurs during the summer and can last 1-2 months for a colony of plants. Pollination of the flowers is by wind. The brown seeds are 1.0–1.5 mm. long and irregular in shape. They can remain viable in the ground for 10 years. The root system is fibrous and rhizomatous. Clonal colonies are often produced from the long rhizomes.

It is not frost tender. It is in flower from June to August. The species is dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required). and is pollinated by Wind. The plant is not self-fertile.

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Cultivation:
The preference is partial sun to light shade, moist to mesic conditions, and light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil. The Flora of North America treats this taxon as a sub-species of U. dioica. The following notes are based on the general needs of the genus. Prefers a nitrogen-rich soil. The best fibre is produced when plants are grown on deep fertile soils. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.. Most growth occurs during late spring and mid-summer. This plant can spread aggressively in favorable situations. The leaves are often attacked by insects.

Edible Uses:
Young leaves are cooked and eaten.. 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:
The leaves are alterative, antiasthmatic, antidandruff, antispasmodic, diaphoretic, diuretic and expectorant. A decoction has been used in the treatment of colds. The fresh leaves of nettles have been rubbed or beaten onto the skin in the treatment of rheumatism etc. This practice, called urtification, causes intense irritation to the skin as it is stung by the nettles. It is believed that this treatment works in two ways. Firstly, it acts as a counter-irritant, bringing more blood to the area to help remove the toxins that cause rheumatism. Secondly, the formic acid from the nettles is believed to have a beneficial effect upon the rheumatic joints. An infusion of the roots has been used in the treatment of dysentery and urine retention. A decoction of the root has been used as a bath in the treatment of rheumatism.

Other Uses:
A strong flax-like fibre is obtained from the stems. Used for making string and cloth, it also makes a good quality paper. It is harvested as the plant begins to die down in early autumn and is retted before the fibres are extracted. The following uses have been listed for U. dioica, but they are almost certainly also applicable to this species. The plant matter left over after the fibres have been extracted are a good source of biomass and have been used in the manufacture of sugar, starch, protein and ethyl alcohol. An oil obtained from the seeds is used as an illuminant. An essential ingredient of ‘QR’ herbal compost activator. This is a dried and powdered mixture of several herbs that can be added to a compost heap in order to speed up bacterial activity and thus shorten the time needed to make the compost. The leaves are also an excellent addition to the compost heap and they can be soaked for 7 – 21 days in water to make a very nutritious liquid feed for plants[54]. This liquid feed is both insect repellent and a good foliar feed. The growing plant increases the essential oil content of other nearby plants, thus making them more resistant to insect pests. Although many different species of insects feed on nettles, flies are repelled by the plant so a bunch of freshly cut stems has been used as a repellent in food cupboards. The juice of the plant, or a decoction formed by boiling the herb in a strong solution of salt, will curdle milks and thus acts as a rennet substitute. This same juice, if rubbed into small seams of leaky wooden tubs, will coagulate and make the tub watertight again. A hair wash is made from the infused leaves and this is used as a tonic and antidandruff treatment. A beautiful and permanent green dye is obtained from a decoction of the leaves and stems. A yellow dye is obtained from the root when boiled with alum.

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_dioica_subsp._gracilis
https://pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Urtica+gracilis
https://www.illinoiswildflowers.info/savanna/plants/sl_nettle.htm

Categories
Herbs & Plants

Ulmus rubra

Botanical Name: Ulmus rubra
Family: Ulmaceae
Kingdom:Plantae
Order: Rosales
Genus: Ulmus

Synonyms:
*Ulmus americana L. var. rubra Aiton
*Ulmus crispa Willd.
*Ulmus dimidiata Raf.
*Ulmus elliptica Anon.
*Ulmus fulva Michx., Loudon, Bentley & Trimen, Sarg.
*Ulmus Heyderi Späth
*Ulmus pinguis Raf.
*Ulmus pubescens Walter

Common Name: Grey Elm, Red Elm, Slippery Elm, Soft Elm. or Indian elm.

Habitat: Ulmus rubra is native to Central and Southern N. America – Maine to Florida, west to Texas and North Dakota. It grows on the rich deep soils, often calcareous, on the banks of streams and low rocky hillsides.

Description:
Ulmus rubra is a medium-sized deciduous tree with a spreading head of branches, commonly growing to 12–19 m (39–62 ft), very occasionally > 30 m (98 ft) in height. Its heartwood is reddish-brown, giving the tree its alternative common name ‘red elm’. The species is chiefly distinguished from American elm by its downy twigs, chestnut brown or reddish hairy buds, and slimy red inner bark. The broad oblong to obovate leaves are 10–20 cm (4–8 in) long, rough above but velvety below, with coarse double-serrate margins, acuminate apices and oblique bases; the petioles are 6–12 mm (1?4–15?32 in) long. The leaves are often red tinged on emergence, turning dark green by summer, and then a dull yellow in the fall. The perfect, apetalous, wind-pollinated flowers are produced before the leaves in early spring, usually in tight, short-stalked, clusters of 10–20. The reddish-brown fruit is an oval winged samara, orbicular to obovate, slightly notched at the top, 12–18 mm (15?32–23?32 in) long, the single, central seed coated with red-brown hairs, naked elsewhere.

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Cultivation:
The species has seldom been planted for ornament in its native country. It occasionally appeared in early 20th-century US nursery catalogues. Introduced to Europe and Australasia, it has never thrived in the UK; Elwes & Henry knew of not one good specimen, and the last tree planted at Kew attained a height of only 12 m (39 ft) in 60 years. Specimens supplied by the Späth nursery to the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh in 1902 as U. fulva may survive in Edinburgh as it was the practice of the Garden to distribute trees about the city (viz. the Wentworth Elm). A specimen at RBGE was felled c.1990. The current list of Living Accessions held in the Garden per se does not list the plant. Several mature trees survive in Brighton (see Accessions). The tree was propagated and marketed in the UK by the Hillier & Sons nursery, Winchester, Hampshire, from 1945, with 20 sold in the period 1970 to 1976, when production ceased.

Edible Uses:
Leaves – raw or cooked. Inner bark – raw or cooked. It can be dried, ground into a powder and then used as a thickener in soups or added to cereal flours when making bread etc. It can also be chewed as a thirst quencher. The inner bark has been cooked with fats in order to prevent them becoming rancid. Immature fruit – raw or cooked. The fruit is about 20mm in diameter. A tea-like beverage can be brewed from the inner bark.

Medicinal Uses:
Ulmus rubra bark is a widely used herbal remedy and is considered to be one of the most valuable of remedies in herbal practice. In particular, it is a gentle and effective remedy for irritated states of the mucous membranes of the chest, urinary tubules, stomach and intestines. The inner bark contains large quantities of a sticky slime that can be dried to a powder or made into a liquid. The inner bark is harvested in the spring from the main trunk and from larger branches, it is then dried and powdered for use as required. Ten year old bark is said to be best. Fine grades of the powder are best for internal use, coarse grades are better suited to poultices. The plant is also part of a North American formula called essiac which is a popular treatment for cancer. Its effectiveness has never been reliably proven or disproven since controlled studies have not been carried out. The other herbs included in the formula are Arctium lappa, Rumex acetosella and Rheum palmatum. The inner bark is demulcent, diuretic, emollient, expectorant, nutritive. It has a soothing and healing effect on all parts of the body that it comes into contact with and is used in the treatment of sore throats, indigestion, digestive irritation, stomach ulcers etc. It used to be frequently used as a food that was a nutritive tonic for the old, young and convalescents. It was also applied externally to fresh wounds, burns and scalds. The bark has been used as an antioxidant to prevent fats going rancid. The whole bark, including the outer bark, has been used as a mechanical irritant to abort foetuses. Its use became so widespread that it is now banned in several countries.

Other Uses:
A fibre obtained from the inner bark is used to make a twine. The boiled bark has been used for making matting, nets etc. The inner bark has been used in making baskets. The bark has been used as a roofing material. The weathered bark has been used as kindling for starting a fire. Wood – very close-grained, tough, heavy, hard, strong, durable, easy to split. It weighs 43lb per cubic foot and is used for fence posts, window sills, agricultural implements etc.

Known Hazards: Outer bark constituents known to cause abortions – avoid during pregnancy.

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/Ulmus_rubra
https://pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Ulmus+rubra