Herbs & Plants

Vaccaria hispanica

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Botanical Name : Vaccaria hispanica
Family: Caryophyllaceae
Genus: Vaccaria
Species: V. hispanica
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Caryophyllales

Synonyms : V. pyramidata. V. segetilis. V. vulgaris. Saponaria vaccaria. L.

Common Names : Cowherb, Cowcockle, Cow basil, Cow soapwort, and Prairie carnation,Bladder-soapwort (English), China cockle (English) , Cow cockle (English), Cowherb (English), Cow-soapwort ( English) , Ful al-arab( Arabic), Saponaire des vaches ( French), Kuhlkraut (German) , Akernejlika (Swedish), mai lan cai (Chinese)

Habitat : Vaccaria hispanica is native to Central and Southern Europe, North to Belgium. An introduced and not infrequent casual in Britain. It grows as a weed of cultivated fields.

Vaccaria hispanica is an annual plant, growing to 0.6 m (2ft). 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 Lepidoptera, self. The plant is self-fertile.

Physical  Characteristics:
Flower petal color : blue to purple, pink to red
Leaf type : the leaves are simple (lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets)
Leaf arrangement: opposite: there are two leaves per node along the stem
Leaf blade edges: the edge of the leaf blade is entire (has no teeth or lobes)
Flower symmetry: there are two or more ways to evenly divide the flower (the flower is radially symmetrical)
Number of sepals, petals or tepals: there are five petals, sepals, or tepals in the flower
Fusion of sepals and petals : both the petals and sepals are separate and not fused
Stamen number: 10
Fruit type (general): the fruit is dry and splits open when ripe

Succeeds in any well-drained soil in a sunny position[200]. Sometimes cultivated for its seed which is often added to wild bird foods. By this means, the plant is often found as an introduced casual in Britain.

Propagation: Seed – sow April in situ.

Edible Uses: Condiment……….Leaves – used as a condiment. Seed – ground into a meal. Rich in starch. The seed contains 13.8 – 16.1% protein and 1.6 – 3.2% fat. The seed also contains saponins, see notes above on toxicity below.

Chemical Constituents:
Figures in grams (g) or miligrams (mg) per 100g of food.
Seed (Dry weight)
* 0 Calories per 100g
* Water : 0%
* Protein: 15g; Fat: 2.5g; Carbohydrate: 0g; Fibre: 0g; Ash: 0g;
* Minerals – Calcium: 0mg; Phosphorus: 0mg; Iron: 0mg; Magnesium: 0mg; Sodium: 0mg; Potassium: 0mg; Zinc: 0mg;
* Vitamins – A: 0mg; Thiamine (B1): 0mg; Riboflavin (B2): 0mg; Niacin: 0mg; B6: 0mg; C: 0mg;

Notes: The report does not make it clear whether this is a zero moisture basis.

Medicinal Uses:

Anodyne; Antiphlogistic; Antipruritic; Diuretic; Emmenagogue; Febrifuge; Galactogogue; Oxytoxic; Styptic; Vulnerary.

The seed is anodyne, discutient, diuretic, emmenagogue, galactogogue, styptic and vulnerary. They are used in Chinese medicine. This medicinal ingredient is known as Wang Bu Liu Xing. It is supposed to promote diuresis and milk secretion, activate blood circulation and relieve swelling.

A decoction of the seed is used to treat skin problems, breast tumors, menstrual problems, deficiency of lactation and sluggish labor. The seeds are also taken internally as a galactogogue. The flowers, leaves, roots and shoots also have the same properties. The sap of the plant is said to be febrifuge and tonic. It is used in the treatment of long-continued fevers of a low type as well as coughs. It is used in the treatment of long-continued fevers of a low type. The plant is used externally to cure itch.

The medicinal seeds are round, reddish brown, and look like mustard seeds. They are bitter and contain saponin. The plant is used externally to cure itch. This herb is used for its astringent properties in a patent formula called Prostate Gland Pills, for swelling and inflammation of the prostate. The formula is quite effective, but during treatment the herb causes some men to temporarily lose the capacity to sustain erection, a side effect that disappears when the herb is withdrawn. In fact, this effect helps support the therapy, because men are supposed to refrain from sexual intercourse anyway during treatment for prostate problems.
Known Hazards :The seeds and other parts of the plant contain saponins. Although toxic, these substances are very poorly absorbed by the body and so tend to pass through without causing harm, they are also broken down if thoroughly heated. Saponins are found in many plants, including several that are often used for food, such as certain beans. It is not advisable to eat large quantities of food that contain saponins. Saponins are much more toxic to some creatures, such as fish, and hunting tribes have traditionally put large quantities of them in streams, lakes etc in order to stupefy or kill the fish.

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.


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