Herbs & Plants (Spices)

Aegiceras corniculatum

Botanical Name: Aegiceras corniculatum
Family: Primulaceae
Order: Ericales
Genus: Aegiceras
Species: A. corniculatum

*Rhizophora corniculata Linnaeus
*Aegiceras fragrans
*Aegiceras majus
*Aegiceras malaspinaea

Common Names: Khalsi, Black mangrove, River mangrove, Goat’s horn mangrove

Habitat: The plant grows in coastal and estuarine areas ranging from India through South East Asia to southern China, New Guinea and Australia.

Aegiceras corniculatum grows as a shrub or small tree up to 7 metres (23 ft) high, though often considerably less. Its leaves are alternate, obovate, 30–100 millimetres (1.2–3.9 in) long and 15–50 millimetres (0.59–1.97 in) wide, entire, leathery and minutely dotted. Its fragrant, small, white flowers are produced as umbellate clusters of 10–30, with a peduncle up to 10 mm long and with pedicels 10–18 millimetres (0.39–0.71 in) long. The calyx is 2–4 millimetres (0.079–0.157 in) long and corolla 4–6 millimetres (0.16–0.24 in) long. The fruit is curved and cylindrical or horn-shaped, light green to pink in colour and 20–75 millimetres (0.79–2.95 in) long. It grows in mud in estuaries and tidal creeks, often at the seaward edge of the mangrove zone.


The species is of interest to many moths, including species from the genera Anarsia, Archips and Phyllocnistis, as well as the species Darna trima, Gonodontis clelia and Neurozerra conferta.

A plant of the moist to wet, lowland tropics. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 18 – 26°c, but can tolerate 7 – 35°c. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,000 – 2,000mm, but tolerates 800 – 4,000mm.
Grows best in a sunny position. Prefers a fertile soil on the heavy side. Tolerant of saline soils. Prefers a pH in the range 6.8 – 7.2, tolerating 6.5 – 7.5. Plants can withstand periodic inundation of the soil.

Propagation: Through seeds.

Medicinal Uses:
Aegiceras corniculatum extract has analgesic properties which supports a fight against diabetes. The stems of the plant contain up to seven compounds, including: 2-methoxy-3-nonylresorcinol, 5-O-ethylembelin, 2-O-acetyl-5-O-methylembelin, 3,7-dihydroxy-2,5-diundecylnaphthoquinone, 2,7-dihydroxy-8-methoxy-3,6-diundecyldibenzofuran-1,4-dione, 2,8-dihydroxy-7-methoxy-3,9-diundecyldibenzofuran-1,4-dione (6), and 10-hydroxy-4-O-methyl-2,11-diundecylgomphilactone.

Other Uses: The wood is hard and heavy, ranging in colour from reddish-brown to almost black. It is used for knife handles.
The wood is used for fuel.The plant helps soil erotion.

Known Hazards: The bark contains aegiceras-saponin and is used as a fish poison.

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 Herbs & Plants (Spices)

Porophyllum linaria

Botanical Name: Porophyllum linaria
Family: Asteraceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asterales
Tribe: Tageteae
Genus: Porophyllum
Species:P. linaria

Synonyms: Porophyllum tagetoides (Kunth) DC.

Common Names: Pipicha, Pepicha, Chepiche, Straight-leaf papalo

Habitat: Porophyllum linaria is native to Mexico. It grows on grassland, amongst xerophytic scrub, woodland edges, often on calcareous soils; at elevations from 1,200 – 2,500 metres.

Porophyllum linaria is short lived, erect to decumbent annual to perennial plant, usually branching from near the base, growing 10 – 50cm tall.
The plant is a popular food in Mexico, where it is often harvested from the wild for local use. It is cultivated as a food crop in Mexico, and occasionally elsewhere, and is sold as a vegetable in local markets.


Porophyllum linaria is a plant of semi-arid, subtropical to tropical climates. It is not tolerant of frost, but can generally be cultivated from the warm temperate zone( with hot summers) to tropical areas.

Requires a sunny position, succeeding in a range of soil types so long as they are well-drained.
A fast-growing plant, it can reach a height of 60cm within 30 – 45 days and can be harvested on a cut and come again basis until cut back by cold weather.
The aromatic oils, which are contained largely in the pores or glands that are especially plentiful on the leaves, produce a strong odour when the foliage is bruised, broken, or heated. Cures, real or fancied, that are attributed to various species of Porophyllum are probably largely due to either the soothing properties of the oils or the imagination by the patient that anything that is so odoriferous must be beneficial.

Propagation: Through Seed – sow in situ. Plants also readily regrow from cut stems ensuring long-season production.

Edible Uses:
Leaves – cooked and eaten as a vegetable. Used especially as a flavouring.Mainly used in Mexican cooking, where it is often used to flavor meat dishes. It has a strong taste akin to fresh coriander with overtones of lemon and anise.

Medicinal Uses: The Nahuatl used pipicha as a medicinal herb for bacterial infections and to detoxify the liver.

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 Herbs & Plants (Spices)

Schinus molle

Botanical Name: Schinus molle
Family: Anacardiaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Sapindales
Genus: Schinus
Species: S. molle

Common Names: Peruvian pepper, American pepper, Peruvian peppertree, Escobilla, False pepper, Molle del Peru, Pepper tree, Peppercorn tree, California pepper tree, Pirul (in Mexican Spanish site), Peruvian mastic, Anacahuita and Pepperina

Habitat: Schinus molle is native to the arid zone of northern South America and Peru’s Andean deserts, and goes to central Argentina and central Chile. It has, however, become widely naturalized around the world where it has been planted, known for its strong wood used for saddles. It was part of the Spanish colonies’ supply sources for saddles; as an ornamental and for spice production. S. molle is a drought-tolerant, long-lived, hardy evergreen species that has become a serious invasive weed internationally.

In South Africa, for example, S. molle has invaded savanna and grasslands and become naturalized along drainage lines and roadsides in semi-desert. It is also invasive throughout much of Australia in a range of habitats from grasslands to dry open forest and coastal areas, as well as railway sidings and abandoned farms. In the United States, either S. molle or its close relative Schinus terebinthifolius is particularly invasive in Florida and Hawaii, and can also be found crowding out native vegetation in southern Arizona, southern California, Texas, Louisiana and Puerto Rico.

Schinus molle is a quick growing evergreen tree that grows up to 15 meters (50 feet) tall and wide. It is the largest of all Schinus species and potentially the longest lived. The upper branches of the tree tend to droop. The tree’s pinnately compound leaves measure 8–25 cm long × 4–9 cm wide and are made up of 19-41 alternate leaflets. Male and female flowers occur on separate plants (dioecious). Flowers are small, white and borne profusely in panicles at the ends of the drooping branches. The fruit are 5–7 mm diameter round drupes with woody seeds that turn from green to red, pink or purplish, carried in dense clusters of hundreds of berries that can be present year round. The rough grayish bark is twisted and drips sap. The bark, leaves and berries are aromatic when crushed.


Cultivation & Propagation:
The tree reproduces through seed, suckers and cuttings. The seeds have a particularly hard coat and germination rates are greatly improved after they have passed through the gut of birds or other animals. Seeds germinate in spring, with seedlings slow growing until established. The seeds easily germinate under the tree in the existing leaf litter of the mother tree, by the hundreds at once and can be easily transplanted.

Edible Uses:
The dried and roasted berries are used as a pepper substitute. Some caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity. An (essential) oil distilled from the fruit is used as a spice in baked goods and candy. The fruits are pulverised and used in cooling drinks called ‘horchatas’ in S. America. A wine is made from the twigs and another from the berries. A gum that exudes from the bark is used for chewing.Extracts of S. molle have been used as a flavor in drinks and syrups.

Although not related to commercial pepper (Piper nigrum) the pink/red berries are sold as pink peppercorns and often blended with commercial pepper. Presently Schinus molle lacks generally recognized as safe (GRAS) status with the United States Food and Drug Administration.

Medicinal Uses:
In traditional medicine, S. molle was used in treating a variety of wounds and infections due to its antibacterial and antiseptic properties. It has also been used as an antidepressant and diuretic, and for toothache, rheumatism and menstrual disorders, with recent studies in mice providing possible support for its antidepressant effects. It has also been speculated that S. molle’s insecticidal properties make it a good candidate for use as an alternative to synthetic chemicals in pest control. A resinous gum obtained from the bark has been used in folk medicine to treat digestive disorders. A purgative known as ‘American Mastic’ is obtained from the tree.

Fresh green leaves in bunches are used shamanically in Mesoamerican traditional ceremonies for cleansings and blessings.

Other uses:
The leaves are also used for the natural dyeing of textiles in the Andean region. This practice dates back to pre-Columbian times. The Incas used the oil from its leaves in early mummification practices to preserve and embalm their dead.

Historical Use:
The Inca used the sweet outer part of ripe fruit to make a drink. Berries were rubbed carefully to avoid mixing with the bitter inner parts, the mix strained and then left for a few days to produce a drink. It was also boiled down for syrup or mixed with maize to make nourishing gruel.

There is also significant archaeological evidence that the fruits of S. molle were used extensively in the central Andes around 550-1000 AD for producing chicha, a fermented alcoholic beverage.

Known Hazards: The seed contains an allergenic substance that can irritate the mucus membrane. The fruit and leaves are, however, potentially poisonous to poultry, pigs and possibly calves. Records also exist of young children who have experienced vomiting and diarrhea after eating the fruit.

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 Herbs & Plants (Spices)

Perilla frutescens

Botanical Name: Perilla frutescens
Family: Lamiaceae
Order: Lamiales
Genus: Perilla
Species: P. frutescens

*Melissa cretica Lour.
*Melissa maxima Ard.
*Mentha perilloides Lam.
*Ocimum frutescens L.
*Perilla albiflora Odash.
*Perilla avium Dunn

Common Names:
Shiso, Beefsteakplant, Spreading Beefsteak Plant
Along with other plants in the genus Perilla, the plant is commonly called “perilla”. It is also referred to as “Korean perilla”, due to its extensive cultivation in Korea and use in Korean cuisine. In Korean, the name kkae refers to both the plant and the seed of sesame and perilla. Sesame is called chamkkae, while perilla is called deulkkae. Because of this, deulkkae is sometimes mistranslated as “wild sesame”. It is called egoma in Japanese, and, in Chinese, the plant is called ziso or sozi .

The leaves are called “perilla”, “perilla leaves”, or “Korean perilla leaves” in English, and kkaennip ( literally “leaf of kkae”) in Korean. The leaves are called suye or suziye in Chinese.

In the USA, where the plant has become a weed, the plant is known by many names such as perilla mint, beefsteak plant, purple perilla, Chinese basil, wild basil, blueweed, Joseph’s coat, wild coleus and rattlesnake weed.

Perilla frutescens is native to Southeast Asia and Indian highlands, and is traditionally grown in the Korean peninsula, southern China, Japan and India as a crop. It is grown in hills and mountains of central and southern Japan. Sunny and fertile situations in China.

Perilla frutescens is an annual plant growing 60–90 centimetres (24–35 in) tall, with hairy square stalks.

The leaves are opposite, 7–12 centimetres (2.8–4.7 in) long and 5–8 centimetres (2.0–3.1 in) wide, with a broad oval shape, pointy ends, serrated(saw-toothed) margins, and long leafstalks. The leaves are green with occasional touches of purple on the underside.

The flowers bloom on racemes at the end of branches and the main stalk in late summer. The calyx, 3–4 millimetres (0.12–0.16 in) long, consist of upper three sepals and the hairy lower two. The corolla is 4–5 millimetres (0.16–0.20 in) long with its lower lip longer than the upper. Two of the four stamens are long.

The fruit is a schizocarp, 2 millimetres (0.079 in) in diameter, and with reticulate pattern on the outside. Perilla seeds can be soft or hard, being white, grey, brown, and dark brown in colour and globular in shape. 1000 seeds weigh about 4 grams (0.14 oz). Perilla seeds contain about 38-45% lipid.


Landscape Uses:Border, Container, Specimen. Prefers a light soil. Requires a rich well-drained moisture-retentive soil in full sun. Plants require a well-drained soil but do not need particularly fertile soil. Prefers an acid soil with a pH between 5.5 and 6. The plant is not frost hardy and requires temperatures above 18°c if it is to grow well. The plant requires short days in order to flower. Shiso is often cultivated in the Orient as a food flavouring. There are some named varieties, those with purple leaves being preferred for seed production. Shiso is also cultivated for the oil obtained from its seed. It is sometimes used in sub-tropical bedding schemes in Britain. Special Features:Attractive foliage, Invasive, Naturalizing. In garden design, as well as the above-ground architecture of a plant, root structure considerations help in choosing plants that work together for their optimal soil requirements including nutrients and water. The root pattern is flat with shallow roots spreading near the soil surface.

Surface-sow or only lightly cover the seed in mid spring in a greenhouse. The seed germinates best at 20°c, though it also succeeds at slightly lower temperatures. Germination is usually quick, prick out the seedlings into trays or individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant them out into their permanent positions in early summer. Give the plants some protection such as a cloche until they are growing away well. The seed has a short viability and should be used when less than a year old.

Edible Uses:
Edible young leaves and seedlings – raw or cooked. The flavour is strange to western palates at first, some people detecting cinnamon, others coriander or citrus. Seedlings are added to salads, older leaves are used as a garnish or flavouring[206]. Older leaves are also salted and used as a condiment for tofu and as a garnish for tempura. Leaves from purple cultivars are used to colour preserved fruits. The leaves can also be dried for later use. The leaves contain about 3.1% protein, 0.8% fat, 4.1% carbohydrate, 1.1% ash. Immature flower clusters are used as a garnish for soups and chilled tofu. Older flower clusters are fried and eaten. The seeds are preserved in salt or are used as a spice in pickles, tempura and miso. They are one of the ingredients in ‘Shichimi’ or ‘seven spice’ mixture. The seed can also be eaten cooked. Seeds from purple-leafed forms of the plant are preferred for culinary use. The seed contains about 21.5% protein, 43.4% fat, 11.3% carbohydrate, 4.4% ash. An edible drying oil is obtained from the seed. It is rich in linolenic acid. The plant yields an essential oil which is used as a food flavouring in candies and sauce.

Medicinal Uses:
The leaves, stems and seeds of Perilla frutescens are often used in Oriental medicine. It is a pungent, aromatic, warming herb that is antibacterial, antidote, antipyretic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antitussive, aromatic, carminative, diaphoretic, emollient, expectorant, pectoral, stomachic and tonic. The leaves are used in the treatment of colds, chest stuffiness, vomiting, abdominal pain etc. The juice of the leaves is applied to cuts and wounds. The seed is antiasthmatic, antitussive, emollient and expectorant. It is used internally in the treatment of asthma, colds and chills, nausea, abdominal pain, food poisoning and allergic reactions (especially from seafood), bronchitis and constipation. The stems are a traditional Chinese remedy for morning sickness. This herb should be avoided by pregnant women.

Other Uses:
Perilla frutescens is a very attractive plant for the garden and attracts butterflies. It is an aromatic plant with a strong minty smell.
A drying oil obtained from the seed is used in making paints, varnishes, water proofing etc. The plant yields 0.3 – 1.3% essential oil, which contains 20% citral. It is used as a food flavouring and in dental products. Attractive leaves. Perilla frutescens, is used as an antidote for ?sh and crab meat allergy or as a food colorant. In the United States, perilla is a weed pest, toxic to cattle after ingestion.

Known Hazards:
There have been cases of toxicity, including dermatitis, pulmonary oedema, respiratory distress and even death following ingestion by cattle and 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.


Herbs & Plants Herbs & Plants (Spices)

Tasmannia lanceolata

Botanical Name: Tasmannia lanceolata
Family: Winteraceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Canellales
Genus: Tasmannia
Species:T. lanceolata

*Drimys aromatica (R.Br.) F.Muell.
*Drimys lanceolata (Poir.) Baill.
*Tasmannia aromatica R.Br.
*Winterana lanceolata Poir.
*Winterania lanceolata orth. var. Poir.

Common Names: Tasmanian pepperberry, Mountain pepper (Aus), or Cornish pepper leaf.

Habitat: Tasmannia lanceolata is native to woodlands and cool temperate rainforest of south-eastern Australia.
it is found from Tasmania, northwards through Victoria to Barrington Tops in New South Wales. It is found in gullies in rainforest.

Tasmannia lanceolata is an evergreen shrub or tree, to 6-30 ft (2-10 m) tall, in the landscape a shrub, 8-12 ft (2.5-3.5 m) and 4-8 ft wide (1.2-2.5 m). Compact rounded growth habit. Stems are bright red to purple-red in color. Leaf arrangement variable, alternate then more sub-opposite or opposite towards the ends of branches. The leaves are aromatic, simple, 4-12 cm long and 0.7-2.0 cm wide, lanceoate to narrow-elliptic, dark green with a pale underside. Male and female flowers are on separate plants, both in small terminal custers. Male flowers are pale brown to flesh colored and have 20-25 stamens. The small female flowers have 3-8 petals that are yellow-cream or white; they appear in late winter, spring or early summer (depending on the climate) and are followed by red and finally black, globose, berries 5–8 mm wide.


Cultivation& propagation:
It can be grown as a garden plant, and its berries attract birds. Currawongs are among those which feed on them. It can be propagated from cuttings or seed, and can grow in a well-drained acidic soil with some shade, but is sensitive to Phytophthora cinnamomi.

Edible Uses:
The leaf and berry are used as a spice, typically dried. Mountain pepper was used as a colonial pepper substitute. More recently, it has become popularised as bushfood condiment. It can be added to curries, cheeses, and alcoholic beverages. It is exported to Japan to flavour wasabi. The berries are sweet at first with a peppery aftertaste. Dried T. lanceolata berries and leaves have strong antimicrobial activity against food spoilage organisms. It also has high antioxidant activity. Low safrole clonal selections are grown in plantations for commercial use, as safrole is considered a low-risk toxin.Australian herbs and food species being supported by the Australian Native Food Industry Ltd, which brings together producers of food species from all parts of Australia.

The leaf is edible and has a hot peppery taste which makes a perfect addition to winter dishes. Please dry the leaf or chop finely before adding to meals as, like the bay leaf, the whole fresh leaf can be a choking hazard.

Medicinal Uses:
Used in colonial medicine as a substitute for Winter’s bark, a stomachic, it was also used for treating scurvy.

Other Uses: The pepperberry can be used as a fish poison.

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.