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Herbs & Plants

Juniperus occidentalis

Botanical Name: Juniperus occidentalis
Family: Cupressaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pinophyta
Class: Pinopsida
Order: Pinales
Genus: Juniperus
Species:J. occidentalis

Synonyms: Juniperus pyriformis.

Common Names: Western juniper

Habitat: Juniperus occidentalis is native to western N. America – British Columbia to the Sierra Nevada.It is usually found on thin rocky or sandy soils on desert foothills and lower mountains, also on windswept peaks up to elevations of 3,000 metres where they become low gnarled shrubs.

Description:
Juniperus occidentalis is an evergreen Tree growing to 18 m (59ft 1in) at a slow rate.The shoots are of moderate thickness among junipers, at 1–1.6 mm diameter. The leaves are arranged in opposite decussate pairs or whorls of three; the adult leaves are scale-like, 1–2 mm long (to 5 mm on lead shoots) and 1–1.5 mm broad. The juvenile leaves (on young seedlings only) are needle-like, 5–10 mm long. The cones are berry-like, 5–10 mm in diameter, blue-brown with a whitish waxy bloom, and contain one to three seeds; they are mature in about 18 months. The male cones are 2–4 mm long, and shed their pollen in early spring.

It is in leaf all year, and the seeds ripen in 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.

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Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.

Edible Uses:
Fruits are edible the are eaten – raw or cooked- thin dry flesh with a resinous flavour. The fruit is sweet and nutritious, it can also be dried or ground into a powder and mixed with cereal flours to be made into a bread.The cones are about 10mm in diameter, they take 2 years to mature.

Medicinal Uses:
Juniperus occidentalis was quite widely employed as a medicinal herb by a number of native North American tribes who used it to treat a variety of complaints, especially those related to the kidneys and the skin. It is rarely, if at all, used in modern herbalism. The leaves are blood tonic and laxative. A decoction is used in the treatment of constipation, coughs and colds. An infusion of the leaves has been taken by pregnant women prior to giving birth in order to relax the muscles. A poultice of the pounded moistened leaves has been applied to the jaw to treat swollen and sore gums and toothaches. The berries are analgesic, blood tonic and diuretic. A decoction is used to relieve the pain of menstrual cramps and to induce urination. Externally, the decoction is used as a poultice on rheumatic joints. The young twigs are antiseptic, blood tonic and febrifuge. A decoction is used in the treatment of kidney problems, fevers, stomach aches, smallpox, influenza and haemorrhages. The branches have been used in a sweat bath to ease rheumatism. A poultice of the twigs has been used as a dressing on burns and as a drawing agent on boils or splinters. A decoction has been used as an antiseptic wash on sores. The leaves or young twigs have been burnt and the smoke inhaled to ease the pain of headaches.

Other Uses:
The bark is employed as a tinder and is also made into a slow match. The crushed bark was twisted into a rope, tied at intervals with yucca (Yucca species), and wrapped into a coil. The free end was set on fire and kept smouldering by blowing on it at intervals. Fire could be carried in this fashion for several hours. The bark can be wound around a stick and used as a torch to provide light and carry fire to a new campsite. The bark can be rubbed between the hands until it is soft and the fibres can then be woven into clothing. The bark can also be rolled into rope, coiled and then sown to form sandal shoes. The root fibre is used to make twined baskets. The branches have been burnt as an incense and fumigant in the home. The dried seeds have been used as beads or as the ‘rattle’ in rattles. Wood – very close-grained, light, soft, exceedingly durable. It is easily worked and can be exquisitely finished. Because of its small size, however, it is mainly used for fencing, fuel.

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/Juniperus_occidentalis
https://pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Juniperus+occidentalis

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Herbs & Plants

Juniperus monosperma

Botanical Name: Juniperus monosperma
Family: Cupressaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pinophyta
Class: Pinopsida
Order: Pinales

Synonyms: Sabina scopulorum (Sargent) Rydberg (Adams 1993).

Common Name: One-Seed Juniper, Rocky Mountain juniper, Mountain red cedar, Weeping juniper (Peattie 1950), Rocky Mountain redcedar

Habitat: Juniperus monosperma is native to western North America, in the United States in Arizona, New Mexico, southern Colorado, western Oklahoma (Panhandle), and western Texas, and in Mexico in the extreme north of Chihuahua. It grows on dry rocky or sandy soils, 1000 – 2300 metres altitude.

Description:
Juniperus monosperma is an evergreen coniferous shrub or small tree growing to 2–7 m (rarely to 12 m) tall, usually multistemmed, and with a dense, rounded crown. The bark is gray-brown, exfoliating in thin longitudinal strips, exposing bright orange brown underneath. The ultimate shoots are 1.2–1.9 mm thick. The leaves are scale-like, 1–2 mm long and 0.6–1.5 mm broad on small shoots, up to 10 mm long on vigorous shoots; they are arranged in alternating whorls of three or opposite pairs. The juvenile leaves, produced on young seedlings only, are needle-like. The cones are berry-like, with soft resinous flesh, subglobose to ovoid, 5–7 mm long, dark blue with a pale blue-white waxy bloom, and contain a single seed (rarely two or three); they mature in about 6–8 months from pollination, and are eaten by birds and mammals. The male cones are 2–4 mm long, and shed their pollen in late winter. It is usually dioecious, with male and female cones on separate plants, but occasional monoecious plants can be found. Its roots have been found to extend to as far as 61m below the surface, making it the plant with the second deepest roots, after Boscia albitrunca.

Frequently, cones can be found with the seed apex exposed; these were formerly sometimes considered a separate species “Juniperus gymnocarpa”, but this is now known to be due to insect damage to the developing cones (and can affect many different species of juniper); the seeds from such cones are sterile.

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Cultivation:
Succeeds in dry soils. Succeeds in most soils, including chalk, if they are well drained, preferring a neutral or slightly alkaline soil. Trees are fairly fast growing for a Juniper, and are also long-lived in their native habitats. They grow better in dry areas with hot summers, western Britain is generally to cool and wet for this species to thrive. Plants are resistant to honey fungus. This species is closely related to J. occidentalis. The seed matures in 1 year. Some fruit is produced most years, but heavy crops only occur every 2 – 3 years. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required. 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.

Edible Uses:
Fruit is eaten raw or cooked. Soft, juicy and pulpy, but with a thin flesh. It can be dried and ground into a powder and then be baked, or can be used as a seasoning in stews etc. The fruits were only used when other foods were in short supply. The cones are about 5 – 8mm in diameter and ripen in their first year. Inner bark is also eaten – raw or cooked. It was chewed in times of food shortage for the little nourishment it supplied. The gum is chewed as a delicacy.

Medicinal Uses:
Juniperus monosperma was commonly employed medicinally by a number of 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 leaves are febrifuge, laxative and pectoral. An infusion is used in the treatment of stomach complaints, constipation, coughs and colds. An infusion was also used by pregnant women prior to childbirth in order to relax the muscles. A poultice of the heated twigs can be bound over a bruise or sprain in order to reduce the swelling. An infusion of the staminate cones has been used as a stomach tonic and in the treatment of dysentery. The chewed bark has been applied externally to help heal spider bites. It is also highly prized as a dressing on burns. The fruits are strongly diuretic. A gum from the plant has been used as a temporary filling in a decayed tooth.

An infusion of the leaves was also taken for muscle aches and to prevent conception. An infusion of the leaves was also taken postpartum to prevent uterine cramps and stop vaginal bleeding. A simple or compound infusion of twigs was used to promote muscular contractions at birth and used after birth to stop blood flow.

Other Uses:
Thin strips of the fibrous bark are used for making sleeping mats etc. It has also been used as a lining in shoes to absorb moisture and to keep the feet warmer. When rubbed fine, the bark can be used to make children’s clothing. The bark is employed as a tinder and is also made into a slow match or can be shredded, bound into bundles and used as a torch to give light in the house. The crushed bark was twisted into a rope, tied at intervals with yucca (Yucca species), and wrapped into a coil. The free end was set on fire and kept smouldering by blowing on it at intervals. Fire could be carried in this fashion for several hours. The dried seeds have been used as beads or as the ‘rattle’ in rattles. A green dye is obtained from the bark and berries. A yellow dye is obtained from the whole plant. Ashes from the whole plant have been used as a mordant to fix the colour of dyes. Wood – moderately hard, somewhat heavy, slightly fragrant. When seasoned properly it is very durable and is used mainly for fencing and fuel. As a fuel it burns steadily and evenly.

Among the Zuni people, a poultice of the chewed root was applied to increase the strength of newborns and infants. The wood was also used as a favorite and ceremonial firewood, and the shredded, fibrous bark was specifically used as tinder to ignite the fire sticks used for the New Year fire.

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/Juniperus_monosperma
https://pfaf.org/USER/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Juniperus+monosperma
https://www.conifers.org/cu/Juniperus_scopulorum.php

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Herbs & Plants

Juncus effusus

Botanical Name: Juncus effusus
Family: Juncaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Poales
Genus: Juncus
Species: J. effusus

Synonyms: J. communis effusus.

Common Names: Common rush, Soft Rush, Lamp rush, Pacific rush

Habitat: Juncus effusus is native to the northern temperate zone, including Britain, east and south Africa, Australasia. It grows on the wet pastures, bogs, damp woods etc, usually on acid soils.

Description:
Juncus effusus is perennial plant.It grows in large clumps about 1.5 metres (4 ft 11 in) tall at the water’s edge along streams and ditches, but can be invasive anywhere with moist soil. It is commonly found growing in humus-rich areas like marshes, ditches, fens, and beaver dams.

The stems are smooth cylinders with light pith filling. The yellowish inflorescence appears to emerge from one side of the stem about 20 centimetres (8 in) from the top. In fact the stem ends there; the top part is the bract, that continues with only a slight colour-band marking it from the stem. The lower leaves are reduced to a brown sheath at the bottom of the stem.

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Cultivation: Easily grown in a moist soil, bog garden or shallow water. Prefers a heavy soil in sun or light shade.

Propagation:
Seed – surface sow in pots in a cold frame in early spring and keep the compost moist. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer if they have grown sufficiently, otherwise in late spring of the following year. Division in spring. 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 spring.

Edible Uses: Young shoots are eaten raw. Some caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity. Juncus effusus is listed as one of the seven ingredients of Hui sup tea.

Medicinal Usaes:
The pith of the stem is antiphlogistic, depurative, discutient, diuretic, febrifuge, lenitive, lithontripic, pectoral and sedative. It is used in the treatment of sore throats, jaundice, oedema, acute urinary tract infection and morbid crying of babies.

Other Uses:
Stems are used in basket making, thatching, weaving mats etc. The stems can also be dried then twisted or braided into ropes for tying or binding. Stems can be peeled (except for a small spine which is left to keep them upright) and soaked in oil then used as a candle. A fibre obtained from the stems is used for making paper. The stems are harvested in late summer or autumn, they are split and cut into usable pieces and then soaked for 24 hours in clear water. They are then cooked for 2 hours with lye and beaten in a blender. The fibres make an off-white paper. When mixed with mulberry fibres they can be used for making stencil paper. The whole plant was formerly used as a strewing herb. In Japan, this rush is grown to be woven into the covering of tatami mats. In Iran and Afghanistan too it is used to weave light cheap mats. It is called halfa. In Europe, this rush was once used to make rushlights (by soaking the pith in grease), a cheap alternative to candles.

The species provides wildfowl, wader feeding, and nesting habitats, and also habitats for small mammals. The rootstalks are eaten by muskrats, and birds take shelter amongst the plant’s stems. A number of invertebrates feed on soft rush, including the rufous minor moth.

Known Hazards: Possibly toxic to mammals.

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/Juncus_effusus
https://pfaf.org/user/plant.aspx?LatinName=Juncus+effusus

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Herbs & Plants

Irvingia gabonensis

Botanical Name: Irvingia gabonensis
Family: Irvingiaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Malpighiales
Genus: Irvingia
Species: I. gabonensis

Synonyms:
*Irvingia barteri Hook.f.
*Irvingia caerulea Tiegh.
*Irvingia duparquetii Tiegh.
*Irvingia erecta Tiegh.
*Irvingia fusca Tiegh.
*Irvingia griffonii Tiegh.
*Irvingia hookeriana Tiegh.
*Irvingia laeta Tiegh.
*Irvingia pauciflora Tiegh.
*Irvingia platycarpa Tiegh.
*Irvingia tenuifolia Hook.f.
*Irvingia velutina Tiegh.

Common Names: Wild mango, African mango, Bush mango, Dika, Odika, Modika, Oro, Andok or Ogbono.

Habitat: Irvingia gabonensis is native to Tropical Africa – Nigeria to Central African Republic, south to Congo, DR Congo and Angola. It grows in the Evergreen dense, moist, lowland rain-forest.

Description:
Irvingia gabonensis is an evergreen Tree growing straight, up to a height of 40 m (130 ft) and 1 m (3 ft 3 in) in diameter. It has buttresses to a height of 3 m (9.8 ft). The outer bark is smooth to scaly with grey to yellow-grey color. The crown is evergreen, spherical and dense. Leaves are elliptic, one margin is often a little rounder than the other, acuminate, dark green and glossy on the upside. Flowers are yellow to greenish-white in small panicles. The flowers are bisexual. The fruit is nearly spherical, green when ripe with a bright orange pulp. The stone is woody and contains one seed. Seedling germinates epigeally.

Cultivation:
Until some years ago, 90% of dika products were harvested from scattered, wild trees. Dika trees were not cultivated systematically, because it was believed, that it takes up to 15 years until a tree bears fruit. Although they were not planted, their occurrence is high because they were also rarely lumbered. In a plantation using marcots (air-layering plants), flower production was observed two to four years after planting. Germination from seeds is low and when they are not handled carefully, most fail. The seeds are mostly extracted by breaking them by hand

Edible Uses:
Irvingia gabonensis bears edible mango-like fruits, and are especially valued for their fat- and protein-rich nuts. Edible portion: Seeds, Fruit, Kernels, Leaves, Bark – drink. Seed – cooked. In season, the fallen fruits are collected in the forest and stacked till the pulp has rotted away. The nuts are opened and the cotyledons removed and dried. These cotyledons are a common item of market produce and are used in soups and as a food flavouring. They are said to have a pleasant taste with a lingering slight bitterness. The seeds are 25 – 38 mm long, 17 – 27 mm wide, 8 – 12 mm thick; the endosperm is almost non-existent. The principal domestic use of the seed is for the preparation of odika, or dika bread, also known as Gabon chocolate. For this the cotyledons are ground and heated in a pot that is lined with banana leaves in order to melt the fat, and then left to cool. The resultant grey-brown greasy mass is dika bread. It has a slightly bitter and astringent taste with a more or less aromatic odour. Pepper and other spices may be added, and it may perhaps be subjected to wood smoke. The end product may be made up into cylindrical packets wrapped in a basket-like or leaf-wrapping. It can be kept for a long time without going off and it is used as a food-seasoner. An alternative method of preparation, more akin to the making of vegetable butters, is to take the fresh or stored cotyledons and pound them into a paste. A third preparation, known in Gabon as ov?ke, is to soak the kernels for 15 – 20 days till soft and then to knead them by hand into a cheese-like paste. A fourth practice is known in Sierra Leone, in which the cotyledons are dried and ground to a brown ‘flour’ in which form it can be stored for use as an additive to food as and when required. The kernel is an important source of vegetable oil. There is a wide variation in quantity and composition of the oil; even so the seeds are considered a suitable source of industrial and edible oils. Total fat content has been recorded as 54 – 68%. The crude dika paste yields on heating or boiling 70 – 80% of a pale yellow or nearly white solid fat, dika butter, which has qualities comparable with cacao-butter, and is, in fact, a possible adulterant or substitute for the latter in chocolate manufacture. Freed from its slight odour it can also be regarded as suitable for margarine manufacture. The yellow, fibrous fruit looks somewhat like a small mango and has a similar flavour. The fruit pulp is palatable and can be used for a fruit drink and for jam production. The fruit is variable, with special forms. The pulp of some trees is edible with a turpentine flavour, and of others inedible, bitter and acrid. The edible ones are a good source of vitamins. The ellipsoidal to cylindrical fruit is 40 – 65mm long, 42 – 64mm wide, 34 – 60mm thick, smooth, green at maturity; mesocarp bright orange, soft and juicy with few weak fibres.

Medicinal Uses:
The bark has a bitter taste and has the usual usages of bitter barks in Africa. It is used as a purgative for treating gastro-intestinal and liver conditions; sterility; hernias; and urethral discharge. It is considered by some to be a powerful aphrodisiac and to be beneficial in cases of senility. It is used in an enema, or added to a baked banana in order to relieve diarrhoea and dysentery. Applied externally, it is ground up with water for rubbing on to the body for easing pains[332 ]. It is used in mouth-washes for relieving toothache, made into a poultice and applied to sores and wounds. Tannin has been reported present in both the bark and the roots, also a strong presence of alkaloid in the bark, though none in the roots.

Other Uses:
Agroforestry Uses: The tree is commonly preserved on farms when woodland is cleared in order to provide shade for crops, especially cocoa and coffee. Other Uses: A wax has been extracted from the plant which has been found useful as an adjunct in making medicinal tablets. Both the bark and the roots contain tannins. The fruit pulp is used to prepare a black dye for cloth The fat extracted from the seed is suitable for soap-making and other industrial uses. The sap-wood is light brown, the heart-wood a slightly darker or greenish-brown. The wood is tough, very heavy, very hard, durable, immune to termite attack but rather difficult to split. It has a fine moderately close grain and a good polished finish can be achieved. It is not easy to cut, which limits its usefulness for native people who often only have simple implements. Its weight is said to preclude it from all but the most rugged construction-work, e.g., for railway-ties, house building, etc. It is used for street paving. Canoes can be made from the trunk, and pestles for yam-mortars. Tests for paper manufacture have shown cellulose content 48 .8%, fibre length 1.5 mm, and the resultant dark brown paper to be inferior, rather weak and soft, and not bleachable.

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/Irvingia_gabonensis#:~:text=Irvingia%20gabonensis%20is%20a%20species,%2D%20and%20protein%2Drich%20nuts.
https://pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Irvingia+gabonensis

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Herbs & Plants

Impatiens ecalcarata

Botanical Name: Impatiens ecalcarata
Family: Balsaminaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Ericales
Genus: Impatiens
Species: I. ecornuta

Common Names: Touch-me-not or Western touch-me-not

Habitat:Impatiens ecalcarata is native to the northwestern United States and British Columbia in Canada. It grows on shady places in moist positions.

Description:
Impatiens ecalcarata is an annual flowering plant. The leaves are simple, smooth & alternate, with serrate margins. They are green or reddish-green, ovate to elliptic in shape. Flowers are solitary and borne on racemes in many forms: doubled, semi-doubled, etc. They come in many colors: purple, variegated whites, yellows, reds, and oranges.

The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Insects.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

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Standard impatiens flowers come in a variety of colors, including white, red, pink, violet, coral, purple, and (a relative newcomer) yellow. Common impatiens flowers have much to offer, including shade-tolerance, long-lasting blooms, and brightly colored blossoms that come in a variety of colors.

Cultivation:
Succeeds in any reasonably good soil. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Prefers a moist well-drained humus rich soil in a cool shady site. Plants self-sow in areas where minimum winter temperatures go no lower than -15°c. This plant has seed capsules that spring open forcibly as the seed ripens to eject the seed a considerable distance. The capsules are sensitive to touch even before the seed is ripe, making seed collection difficult but fun. This species is probably part of I. noli-tangere.

Edible Uses:
Young shoots – cooked in one change of water. See the notes above on toxicity. Seed – raw or cooked. They are tedious to collect in quantity, mainly because of their exploding seed capsules which scatter the ripe seed at the slightest touch.

Medicinal Uses: Antidote, parasiticide. Used in the treatment of warts, ringworm, nettle stings, poison ivy rash etc.

Other Uses:
A yellow dye is obtained from the plant. No more details are given. Used as a hair rinse for itchy scalps. No more details are given. A fungicide is obtained from the plant. No more details are given but it is likely to be the juice of the plant that is used.

Known Hazards: Regular ingestion of large quantities of these plants can be dangerous due to their high mineral content. This report, which seems nonsensical, might refer to calcium oxalate. This mineral is found in I. capensis and so is probably also in other members of the genus. It can be harmful raw but is destroyed by thoroughly cooking or drying the plant. People with a tendency to rheumatism, arthritis, gout, kidney stones and hyperacidity should take especial caution if including this plant in their diet.

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/Impatiens_ecornuta
https://pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Impatiens+ecalcarata