Category Archives: Herbs & Plants

Barleria pronitis

Botanical Name:Barleria pronitis
Family: Acanthaceae
Genus: Barleria
Species:B. prionitis
Kingdom:Plantae
Order: Lamiales

Common Name: Porcupine flower

Sanskrit Name: Kuranta; Marathi Name: Vjradanti, Tamil Name: Tagalog: kukong manok

Bengali Name: Kantajanti/ Peetjhanti

Habitat: Porcupine flower is found in Tropical Africa and Asia.It is grown on the roadsid
e hedges, found as an escape.

Description:
Porcupine flower is an erect, prickly shrub, usually single-stemmed, growing to about 1.5 m tall. Spines are about 1.2 cm long. Leaves are up to 5-9 x 2.5-4 cm, elliptic, pointed, with a fine point, base wedge-shaped, sparsely puberulus, fringed with hairs on the margins, gland dotted beneath, leaf-stalk up to 2 cm. Orange-yellow flowers are borne in cymes in leaf-axils; bracts 2, 1.5 cm, oblong with a fine point at the tip. Outer sepals are 1.3 x 0.4 cm, inner 1.1 x 0.2 cm, fine-tipped, hairy. Flower tube is 2.5 cm, petals 2 cm obovate, filaments 1.3 cm, staminodes 2, remaining at the base of the flower tube. Ovary is 2.5 mm, style 2.5 cm.

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Medicinal uses:
Unverified information Porcupine Flower has numerous medicinal properties including treating fever, respiratory diseases, toothache, joint pains and a variety of other ailments; and it has several cosmetic uses. A mouthwash made from root tissue is used to relieve toothache and treat bleeding gums. The whole plant, leaves, and roots are used for a variety of purposes in traditional Indian medicine. For example, the leaves are used to promote healing of wounds and to relieve joint pains and toothache. Because of its antiseptic properties, extracts of the plant are incorporated into herbal cosmetics and hair products to promote skin and scalp health.

The whole plant decoction is used to
cure dropsy, paste with karanja oil (Pongamia pinnata Vent.) used to cure swellings of legs. Roots used as tonic, diuretic, febrifuge and expectorant, used to
treat pimples, swellings of joints. Leaves and leaf juice given to cure catarrhal fever of childr
en, eye diseases,
and juice applied to treat cracking soles of feet, juice and black peeper powder applied to treat paralysis,
infusion used in cough and toothache. Dried bark is used as powder to the children to treat whooping cough.

Propagation:
By immediate placement of seed/tuberous roots.

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/Barleria_prionitis
http://www.flowersofindia.net/catalog/slides/Porcupine%20Flower.html
http://www.ijesi.org/papers/Vol(6)6/E0606012850.pdf

Desmodium gangeticum


Botanical Name: Desmodium gangeticum
Family: Fabaceae
Genus: Desmodium
Species: D. gangeticum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Fabales

Common Vernacular Name: Salpani, Salparni(in Bengali)
In Sanskrit:Anshumati, Dhruva, Dirghamoola, Pivari, Shalaparni

Habitat:Desmodium gangeticum is very common weed in Malesia, mainly found in anthropogenic habitats in the lowlands, under everwet or seasonal conditions. In Indo-China it is found in savannahs and deforested terrains, in hedges and along forest paths, at elevations up to 1,900 m.
It grows in forest, roadside shrubberies, waste places.

Description:
Desmodium gangeticum is a very variable perennial plant. Usually much-branched, it can be erect or prostrate with stems that can range from herbaceous to woody and persistant. It can be just a few centimetres tall, or can occasionally reach up to 2 metres tall and look somewhat tree-like.

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Stem with appressed hairs. Leaves 1-foliolate, stip., ovate or oblong-ovate, 4-9 cm long,
acute. Flowers white or violet, in racemes, bracteates. Pod 6-8 joined, with hooked hairs.
Flowering and fruiting: July October.

Medicinal Uses:
A decoction of the leaves is used against stones in the gall bladder, kidneys or bladder
The leaves are applied as a poultice to the head as a treatment for headache.

The roots are considered to be alterative, astringent, bitter tonic, diuretic, expectorant and febrifuge. A decoction of the root is employed to treat kidney problems, oedema, swellings, chronic fever, coughs, biliousness, diarrhoea and dysentery; or as a sedative for children.
The roots are applied to the gums as a treatment for toothache. A decoction is used externally to clean wounds and ulcers.

Roots used to treat chronic fever, chronic affection of the chest and lungs, piles,
asthma, bronchitis, vomiting and nausea. Decoction of whole plant is given to treat erysipelas (An acute febrile
disease associated with intense skin inflammation caused by a haemolytic streptococcus) and general debility.

Other Uses:
The fibrous stems are reported to be useful for paper production.

Cultivation:
Because of the abundant small uncinate hairs on most species, the seedpods cling most tenaciously to clothing, to any part of the human body, and also to the feathers and hair of various animals, thus ensuring a wide dispersal of the plants. The plant has often escaped from cultivation and is classified as an invasive weed in some areas.
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.

Propagation:
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe. Stored seed develops a hard seedcoat and may benefit from scarification before sowing in order to speed up and improve germination. This can usually be done by pouring a small amount of nearly boiling water on the seeds (being careful not to cook them!) and then soaking them for 12 – 24 hours in warm water. By this time they should have imbibed moisture and swollen – if they have not, then carefully make a nick in the seedcoat (being careful not to damage the embryo) and soak for a further 12 hours before sowing.

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/Desmodium_gangeticum
http://www.ijesi.org/papers/Vol(6)6/E0606012850.pdf
http://tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Desmodium+gangeticum

Dendrophylax lindenii

Botanical Name: Dendrophylax lindenii
Family: Orchidaceae
Subfamily:Epidendroideae
Kingdom:Plantae
Order: Asparagales
Genus: Dendrophylax
Species: D. lindeni

Synonyms:
*Aeranthes lindenii (Lindl.)
*Angraecum lindenii Lindl.
*Polyrrhiza lindenii (Lindl.) Cogn.
*Polyradicion lindenii (Lindl.) Garay

Common Names:Ghost orchid,White frog orchid and Palm polly

Habitat: Dendrophylax lindenii is native to Florida, Cuba and the Bahamas.It is a leafless epiphyte in the tribe Vandeae, in the subfamily Epidendroideae. The plant consists mainly of a network of photosynthetic roots on a tree trunk. Its habitat is moist, swampy forest in south-western Florida and Caribbean islands such as Cuba.

Description:

Dendrophylax lindenii is a perennial epiphyte from the orchid family (Orchidaceae). This orchid is exceptional among the monocots, in that it consists of a greatly reduced stem and its leaves have been reduced to scales. The flat, cord-like green roots constitute the bulk of the mature plant. They bear distinctive white “track marks”, for which the technical term is pneumatodes and are believed to function partly like stomata, enabling the photosynthetic roots to perform the gas exchange necessary for respiration and photosynthesis. Chloroplasts in these flattened roots perform practically all the plant’s photosynthesis. Their outer layer is an example of the velamen typical of most epiphytic orchids. Its functions include the absorption of nutrients and water, and admission of light for photosynthesis.

The species is endangered in the wild, and cultivation has proven exceptionally difficult, but while most attempts to raise seedlings into adult plants in sterile culture end in failure, some orchidists have in fact succeeded. This orchid is listed on the Appendix II of CITES and is fully protected by Florida state laws, which forbid its removal from the wild. Plants collected from the wild typically do not survive removal from their habitat, and die within a year. In the wild, Dendrophylax lindenii typically grows on the central trunk or large main branches of living trees. It seems to prefer Annona glabra (pond-apple) trees, or occasionally Fraxinus caroliniana (pop ash) trees. It tends to attach to a tree at about eye-level or a few feet higher.

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Dendrophylax lindenii blossoms between June and August, producing one to ten fragrant flowers that open one at a time. The flowers are white, 3–4 cm wide and 7–9 cm long. They are borne on spikes arising from the root network. Their most intense fragrance is in the early morning, the scent fruity, resembling an apple.[5] The lower petal, the labellum, has two long, lateral tendrils that twist slightly downward, resembling the hind legs of a jumping frog. Its bracts are scarious — thin and papery. The roots of this orchid are so well camouflaged on the tree that the flower may seems to float in mid-air, hence its name of “ghost orchid”.

Cultivation:
Plants can be successfully grown in a terrarium-like environment mounted bare root on a decay resistant, untreated wood stock in which the wood is laid horizontally on top of a bed of living sphagnum moss, as the plants require high humidity and stagnant air, or in a Wardian case or greenhouse which approximates these conditions. Plants should not be allowed to cross pollinate and set seed unless the plant is very large, at least 10 inches across, as plants without sufficient biomass will transfer all of their stored reserves into making a very large seed pod and the plants behave much like an annual and die after seed set. These plants should be given 1/4 strength fertilizer in distilled or other low salt water sources weekly.

The plants are intolerant of water with high levels of dissolved salts and will result in the roots dying off from the tips. Continued exposure to chlorinated tap water will usually kill these plants, with the tips of the roots yellowing and rapidly dying back to the reduced stem. It is normal for the plants to periodically consume and dehise older roots, but this process does not yellow the roots, they simply shrivel and turn gray then dehise completely. Healthy plants will exhibit vigorous lime green root tips which are in an active state of growth. The plants root tips will grow continuously provided they receive bright light and regular fertilization and watering, with only a short resting period in late fall/early winter. Water should never be allowed to remain standing in the roots nor should any portion of the plants roots to be immersed in standing water for any significant period of time. The key to getting these plants to grow quickly is to keep the roots moist all the time when they are small without water standing in the roots, and regular fertilization. When the plants are small and their roots become dry these plants cease to grow appreciably. They like to be kept moist but not wet to stimulate increase in biomass and active root growth when small. The roots of these plants will also tend to produce new plantlets in a starfish like manner from broken or damaged roots or from roots which have grown longer than 12 inches, a growth habit shared with other members of the genus Dendrophylax.

Although plants in habitat occasionally experience light frost with some root tip damage, as a rule, the plants should not be subjected to freezing temperatures. Freezing temperatures except for very short periods will kill these plants in cultivation. Blooming is triggered by subjecting the plants to a cool, dry resting period with only very light misting every few weeks and lowering the humidity in the growing environment for a period of several months in late fall and early winter when the plants are large enough to support flowering, typically with a root mass of 7-8 inches across.

Newly forming flowers will appear from the highly reduced stem from the center of the root mass and are difficult to distinguish from aerial roots until the flower starts to develop. When new growth is apparent after giving the plants a resting period, resume normal watering. Plants which are large and have set seed pods should be given more frequent fertilizing and should limit only a single seed pod per plant by removing all but one seed pod from a plant. When attempting to produce seed pods from one of these plants, if the plant has multiple flowers all of them should be hand pollinated with pollenaria from a different plant if available, and only one seed pod allowed to remain on each plant, since not all of the flowers may successfully take. When mature, the pod contains thousands of microscopic dust-like seeds.

In habitat, successful pollination of this species appears to be an infrequent, but not rare, event. The plants also flower irregularly in habitat, and some years do not flower at all.

The giant sphinx moth, Cocytius antaeus, is the only insect to have co-evolved with Dendrophylax to perform the necessary pollination. No other pollinator in its region has a proboscis long enough to access the nectar in the extremely long nectar spur of Dendrophylax. In this respect the plant-pollinator coevolution of the new-world moth and orchid present an example of convergence with the old-world Madagascan orchid Angraecum sesquipedale, which led Charles Darwin to predict that a long-tongued species of moth would be found to fertilize it. Years later the moth responsible was discovered: Morgan’s hawk moth, Xanthopan morganii. The larvae of the giant sphinx moth feed on Annona glabra (pond apple), the same trees D. lindenii is most intimately associated with

Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dendrophylax_lindenii

Alexanders


Botanical Name: Smyrnium Olisatrum
Family: Apiaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Apiales
Genus: Smyrnium
Species: S. olusatrum

Synonyms: Alexanders. Alisanders. Black Pot-herb.

Common Names: Alexanders, Alisanders, Horse parsley, and Smyrnium.

Habitat:
Alexanders is native to the Mediterranean but is able to thrive farther north.Widely dispersed in England and Ireland. Common in waste ground and edges of fields especially near the shore.

Description:
Alexanders is a large binnial or perennial herb, growing 3 or 4 feet in height, with very large leaves, doubly and triply divided into three (ternate), with broad leaflets; the sheaths of the footstalks are very broad and membraneous in texture.
It has solid stem which becomes hollow and grooved with age. The leaves are bluntly toothed, the segments ternately divided the segments flat, not fleshy.

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The flowers are yellow-green in colour and arranged in umbels,and its fruits are black. It flowers from April to June.The flowers are produced in numerous close, rounded umbels without involucres (the little leaves that are placed often at the spot where the various rays of the umbel spring). The whole herb is of a yellowish-green tint. The fruit is formed of two, nearly globular halves, with prominent ridges. When ripe, it is almost black, whence the plant received from the old herbalists the name of ‘Black Pot-herb,’ the specific name signifying the same. (Olus, a pot-herb, and atrum, black.)

Edible Uses: Alexanders is intermediate in flavor between celery and parsley. It was once used in many dishes, either blanched, or not, but it has now been replaced by celery.

Leaves and young shoots – raw in salads or cooked in soups, stews etc. The plant comes into growth in the autumn and the leaves are often available throughout the winter. They have a rather strong celery-like flavour and are often blanched (by excluding light from the growing plant) before use. Leafy seedlings can be used as a parsley substitute. Stem – raw or cooked. It tastes somewhat like celery, but is more pungent. The stem is often blanched (by excluding light from the growing plant) before use. Flower buds – raw. Added to salads, they have a celery-like flavour. The spicy seeds are used as a pepper substitute. Root – cooked. Boiled and used in soups, its flavour is somewhat like celery. The root is said to be more tender if it has been kept in a cool place all winter.

It is now almost forgotten as a food source, although it still grows wild in many parts of Europe, including Britain. It is common among the sites of medieval monastery gardens.

Look out for this tall plant on cliff paths, the first seaside greenery of the year. The Romans brought it with them to eat the leaves, the stems, the roots, and the buds.

Medicinal Uses:
The whole plant is bitter and digestive. It has been used in the past in the treatment of asthma, menstrual problems and wounds, but is generally considered to be obsolete as a medicinal plant.
It is used as traditional medicine in China.

Other Uses:
Alexanders is a feed source much appreciated by horses.

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/Smyrnium_olusatrum
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/l/lovbla44.html
http://www.pfaf.org/user/plant.aspx?LatinName=Smyrnium+olusatrum

Ocimum tenuiflorum

Botanical Name: Ocimum tenuiflorum
Family: Lamiaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Genus: Ocimum
Species: O. tenuiflorum

Synonym: Ocimum sanctum

Common Name: Tulasi, Holy basil, (sometimes spelled thulasi) or tulsi.

DNA barcodes of various biogeographical isolates of tulsi from the Indian subcontinent are now available. In a large-scale phylogeographical study of this species conducted using chloroplast genome sequences, a group of researchers from Central University of Punjab, Bathinda, have found that this plant originates from North Central India. The discovery might suggest the evolution of tulsi is related with the cultural migratory patterns in the Indian subcontinent

Description:
Holy basil is an erect, many-branched subshrub, 30–60 cm (12–24 in) tall with hairy stems. Leaves are green or purple; they are simple, petioled, with an ovate, up to 5 cm (2.0 in)-long blade which usually has a slightly toothed margin; they are strongly scented and have a decussate phyllotaxy. The purplish flowers are placed in close whorls on elongate racemes . The two main morphotypes cultivated in India and Nepal are green-leaved (Sri or Lakshmi tulasi) and purple-leaved (Krishna tulasi).

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Chemical composition:
Some of the phytochemical constituents of tulsi are oleanolic acid, ursolic acid, rosmarinic acid,eugenol, carvacrol, linalool, ?-caryophyllene (about 8%).

Tulsi essential oil consists mostly of eugenol (~70%) ?-elemene (~11.0%), ?-caryophyllene (~8%) and germacrene (~2%), with the balance being made up of various trace compounds, mostly terpenes.

Edible Uses:
Thai cuisine:
The leaves of holy basil, known as kaphrao in the Thai language (Thai: ??????), are commonly used in Thai cuisine. Kaphrao should not be confused with horapha which is normally known as Thai basil, or with Thai lemon basil (maenglak; Thai: ??????). One dish made with this herb is phat kaphrao — a stir-fry of Thai holy basil with meats, seafood or, as in khao phat kraphao, with rice.

Medicinal Uses:
Ayurveda:
Tulasi (Sanskrit:-Surasa) has been used in Ayurveda for its supposed uses to treat diseases. Traditionally, tulasi is taken as herbal tea, dried powder, fresh leaf or mixed with ghee. Essential oil extracted from tulasi is mostly used for supposed medicinal purposes and herbal cosmetics.

Other Uses:
Religious Uses:
In Hinduism:
Tulsi leaves are an essential part in the worship of Vishnu and his avatars, including Krishna and Ram, and other male Vaishnava deities such as Hanuman, Balarama, Garuda and many others. Tulsi is a sacred plant for Hindus and is worshipped as the avatar of Lakshmi. It is believed that water mixed with the petals given to the dying raises their departing souls to heaven. Tulsi, which is Sanskrit for “the incomparable one”, is most often regarded as a consort of Krishna in the form of Lakshmi. According to the Brahma Vaivarta Purana, tulsi is an expression of Sita. There are two types of tulsi worshipped in Hinduism: “Rama tulsi” has light green leaves and is larger in size; “Shyama tulsi” has dark green leaves and is important for the worship of Hanuman. Many Hindus have tulasi plants growing in front of or near their home, often in special pots. Traditionally, tulsi is planted in the centre of the central courtyard of Hindu houses. It is also frequently grown next to Hanuman temples, especially in Varanasi.

According to Vaishnavas, it is believed in Puranas that during Samudra Manthana, when the gods win the ocean-churning against the asuras, Dhanvantari comes up from the ocean with Amrit in hand for the gods. Dhanvantari, the divine healer, sheds happy tears, and when the first drop falls in the Amrit, it forms tulasi. In the ceremony of Tulsi Vivaha, tulsi is ceremonially married to Krishna annually on the eleventh day of the waxing moon or twelfth of the month of Kartik in the lunar calendar. This day also marks the end of the four-month Chaturmas, which is considered inauspicious for weddings and other rituals, so the day inaugurates the annual marriage season in India. The ritual lighting of lamps each evening during Kartik includes the worship of the tulsi plant, which is held to be auspicious for the home. Vaishnavas especially follow the daily worship of tulsi during Kartik. In another legend, Tulsi was a pious woman who sought a boon to marry Vishnu. Lakshmi, Vishnu’s consort, cursed her to become a plant in earth. However, Vishnu appeased her by giving her a boon that she would grace him when he appears in the form of Shaligrama in temples.

Vaishnavas traditionally use Hindu prayer beads made from tulsi stems or roots, which are an important symbol of initiation. Tulsi rosaries are considered to be auspicious for the wearer, and believed to put them under the protection of Hanuman. They have such a strong association with Vaishnavas, that followers of Hanuman are known as “those who bear the tulsi round the neck”.

Tulsi grown in front of a house and worshiped. An altar with tulsi plant for daily worship in a courtyard in India

Insect repellent:
For centuries, the dried leaves have been mixed with stored grains to repel insects.

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.
Crataegus dispessa

Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ocimum_tenuiflorum