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Herbs & Plants

Caesalpinia spinosa

Botanical Name: Caesalpinia spinosa
Family: Fabaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Fabales
Genus: Tara
Species: C. spinosa

Synonyms:
*Caesalpinia pectinata Cav.
*Tara spinosa
*Caesalpinia tara Ruiz & Pav.
*Caesalpinia tinctoria Dombey ex DC.
*Caesalpinia tinctoria (Kunth) Benth. ex Reiche
*Coulteria tinctoria Kunth
*Poinciana spinosa Feuillée ex Molina
*Tara tinctoria Molina

Common Names: Spiny Holdback, Tara

Habitat: Caesalpinia spinosa is native to S. America – Argentina, northern Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela. It grows in forests and semi desert areas of the Interandine region, along the higher, cooler, inner slopes of both Cordilleras of Ecuador.

Description: Caesalpinia spinosa is an evergreen Tree growing to 6 m (19ft) by 6 m (19ft) at a fast rate. It’s bark is dark gray with scattered prickles and hairy twigs. Leaves are alternate, evergreen, lacking stipules, bipinnate, and lacking petiolar and rachis glands. Leaves consist of three to 10 pairs of primary leaflets under 8 cm in length, and five to seven pairs of subsessile elliptic secondary leaflets, each about 1.5–4 cm long. Inflorescences are 15–20 cm long terminal racemes, many flowered and covered in tiny hairs. Flowers are yellow to orange with 6- to 7-mm petals; the lowest sepal is boat-shaped with many long marginal teeth; stamens are yellow, irregular in length and barely protruding. The fruit is a flat, oblong indehiscent pod, about 6–12 cm long and 2.5 cm wide, containing four to seven round black seeds, which redden when mature.

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Cultivation:
A plant of higher elevations in the Andean mountains, it has been cultivated from the warm temperate to the very dry and seasonally wet tropics. It can grow in areas where the mean annual temperatures are within the range 14° – 28°c, and the mean annual rainfall is in the range 660 – 1,730mm. Succeeds in full sun and partial sun. Prefers a pH in the range 6.8 – 7.5. A fast-growing plant. Although many species within the family Fabaceae have a symbiotic relationship with soil bacteria, this species is said to be devoid of such a relationship and therefore does not fix atmospheric nitrogen.

Edible Uses:
The endosperm of the seed (22% of the total seed weight) yields a gum of commercial value. It is a white to yellowish powder and consists chiefly of galactomannan-type polysaccharides. The gum is used as a thickening agent and stabilizer in the food industry.

Tara gum is a white or beige, nearly odorless powder that is produced by separating and grinding the endosperm of T. spinosa seeds. Tara gum consists of a linear main chain of (1-4)-?-D-mannopyranose units attached by (1-6) linkages with ?-D-galactopyranose units.[14] The major component of the gum is a galactomannan polymer similar to the main components of guar and locust bean gums that are used widely in the food industry. The ratio of mannose to galactose in tara gum is 3:1.[15] Tara gum has been deemed safe for human consumption as a food additive.[16] Tara gum is used as a thickening agent and stabilizer in a number of food applications. A solution of tara gum is less viscous than a guar gum solution of the same concentration, but more viscous than a solution of locust bean gum. Generally, tara gum presents a viscosity around 5,500 cps (1% aqueous solution). Furthermore, tara gum shows an intermediate acid stability between locust bean gum and guar gum. It resists the depolymerisation effect of organic acids down to a pH of 3.5. This gum is also stable to high-temperature treatment, up to 145 °C in a continuous process plant. Blends of tara with modified and unmodified starches can be produced which have enhanced stabilization and emulsification properties, and these are used in the preparation of convenience foods, such as ice cream. One example is the American ice cream brand Breyers.

The European food additive number for tara gum is E417. Tara gum is listed on the Canadian List of Permitted Emulsifying, Gelling, Stabilizing or Thickening Agents (Lists of Permitted Food Additives) as item T.2B.

The Italian company Silvateam is a producer of tara gum for the food and beverage industries. Silvateam’s website uses Caesalpinia spinosa as the Latin name of the plant, and notes that it is also called Peruvian carob. Silvateam encourages the use of tara gum in ice cream to provide “freeze-thaw stability by preventing the formation of ice crystals

Medicinal Uses:
Medicinal uses in Peru include gargling infusions of the pods for inflamed tonsils or washing wounds; it is also used for fevers, colds, and stomach aches. Water from boiled, dried pods is also used to kill fleas and other insects.

The powder contained within the seedpods is used as an eyewash. An infusions of the pods is used in Peru for inflamed tonsils or washing wounds; it is also used for fevers, colds and stomach aches.

Other Uses:
The pods contain around 50% tannin, about twice as much as sumac (Rhus spp). An excellent source of environmentally friendly tannins (tara tannins) most commonly used in the manufacture of automotive and furniture leathers. The high content of hydrolysable tan has made it interesting for the extraction of gallic acid and ink manufacturing. Sticks of the wood are split up finely; urine is poured over the pieces of wood, which are then set out in the sun. Urine is repeatedly poured over them, until they are well soaked. After airing, the sticks are boiled in water, together with red tiri (Stereoxylon resinosum) and woollen or cotton fabrics. The dye produced is a purplish red. The dried fruit is boiled with a bit of soot and woollens soaked in iron sulphate or vitriol without acid. The fabric produced will be dyed a beautiful clove colour. A gum is obtained from the seed. It is used in the food industry. The wood is durable. This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds. Grown as an ornamental plant because of its large colorful flowers and pods.

Known Hazards: The high tannin content of the pods may be lethal if consumed in large quantities by animals.

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/Tara_spinosa
https://pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Caesalpinia+spinosa

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Herbs & Plants

Caltha leptosepala

Botanical Name: Caltha leptosepala
Family: Ranunculaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Ranunculales
Genus: Caltha
Species: C. leptosepala

Synonyms
*C. lasopetala,C. leptostachya,

C. chelidonii,
*C. uniflora

Common Names: White marsh marigold, Twinflowered marsh marigold, Broadleaved marsh marigold, Western Marsh Marigold, Howell’s marsh marigold, Sulphur marsh marigold

Habitat:: Caltha leptosepala is native to Western N. America – Alaska to Oregon. It grows on open, wet, subalpine and alpine marshes, wet seepages and marshy meadows at elevations of 750 – 3900 metres.

Description:
Caltha leptosepala is a perennial flowering plant, growing to 0.3 m (1ft) by 0.3 m (1ft in). It grows a mostly naked stem with leaves located basally. The leaves are up to 13 or 15 centimeters long and may have smooth, wrinkled, or toothed edges. It is in flower from May to June. The inflorescence bears one or more flowers. Each flower is 1 to 4 centimeters wide and lacks petals, having instead petallike sepals which are usually white or sometimes yellow. In the center are many long, flat stamens and fewer pistils.
The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bees, beetles, flies.

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Cultivation:
A plant of the waterside, it prefers growing in a sunny position in wet soils or shallow water, though it will tolerate drier conditions if there is shade from the summer sun. It requires a deep rich slightly acidic soil. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Plants are hardy to about -20c. A greedy plant, inhibiting the growth of nearby plants, especially legumes.

Propagation:
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame in late summer. Stand the pots in 2 – 3cm of water to keep the soil wet. The seed usually germinates in 1 – 3 months at 15°c. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a tray of water in a cold frame until they are at least 15cm tall. Plant them out into their permanent positions in the summer.
Division in early spring or autumn. Very easy, larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the summer or following spring.

Edible Uses:
Roots are eaten but they must be well cooked. Some caution is advised, see the notes below on toxicity. Flower buds – raw, cooked or pickled and used as a caper substitute. Some caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity. Young leaves, before the flowers emerge are eaten raw or cooked. Some caution is advised, see the notes below on toxicity. Older leaves, before the plant flowers, can be eaten if well cooked properly.

Medicinal Uses:
The whole plant is antispasmodic and expectorant. It has been used to remove warts. A poultice of the chewed roots has been applied to inflamed wounds.

Known Hazards: The whole plant, but especially the older portions, contains the toxic glycoside protoanemanin – this is destroyed by heat. The sap can irritate sensitive skin.

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/Caltha_leptosepala
https://pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Caltha+leptosepala
http://temperate.theferns.info/plant/Caltha+leptosepala

Categories
Herbs & Plants

Orobanche tuberosa

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

Synonyms:
*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.

Description:
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.

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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.

Cultivation:
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.

Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orobanche_bulbosa
https://pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Orobanche+tuberosa

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Herbs & Plants

Ochroma pyramidale

Botanical Name: Ochroma pyramidale
Family: Malvaceae

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

Synonyms:
*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.

Description:
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.

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Cultivation:
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.

Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ochroma
https://pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Ochroma+pyramidale

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Herbs & Plants

Melocanna baccifera

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

Synonyms:
*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.

Description:
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.

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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

Cultivation:
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.

Propagation:
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.

Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melocanna_baccifera
https://pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Melocanna+baccifera
http://tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Melocanna+baccifera