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Lactuca formosana


Botanical Name:
Lactuca formosana
Family :
Asteraceae
Tribe:
Cichorieae
Genus:
Lactuca/Ixeris
Class :
Magnoliopsida
Kingdom:
Plantae
Order:
Asterales

Common Names: Lactuca morii Hayata; L. sonchus H. Léveillé & Vaniot; Pterocypsela formosana (Maximowicz) C. Shih; P. sonchus (H. Léveillé & Vaniot) C. Shih.

Habitat:
Lactuca formosana is native to E. Asia – China. It grows in grasslands on mountain slopes and in valleys, thickets or forests on mountain slopes, fields, along trails; 100-2000 m. Anhui, Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Ningxia, Shaanxi, Sichuan, Taiwan, Yunnan, Zhejiang.

Description:

Lactuca formosana is an annual or perennial herb 0.5-1.5 m tall. Roots ramose. Stem solitary, erect, loosely branched apically, ± hirsute, glabrescent. Lower and middle stem leaves with narrow petiole-like amplexicaul basal portion to 5 cm or with conspicuously expanded and semiamplexicaul base; leaf blade elliptic, lanceolate, or oblanceolate, 8-18 × 4-8 cm, hirsute, main rib echinulate, undivided and with coarsely dentate margin or pinnatifid with 2-5 pairs of elliptic to broadly falcate lateral lobes, faintly to strongly dentate on margin, and a lanceolate or triangular terminal lobe. Upper stem leaves similar to middle stem leaves, margin mostly ± entire. Synflorescence loosely corymbose, with ca. 10 to many capitula. Capitula with usually 25-30 florets. Involucre cylindric, 1-1.1 cm at anthesis, to 1.8 × 0.8 cm in fruit. Phyllaries acute to acuminate at apex; outer phyllaries broadly obovate to lanceolate, longest ca. 8 × 1-2 mm; inner phyllaries 8. Florets yellow. Achene 4.5-6.5 mm; body reddish brown, dark brown, or blackish brown, ellipsoid, compressed, broadly winged, 2-2.3 mm wide, with 1 prominent rib on either side, apically contracted into a usually pale to greenish filiform 2-3.5 mm beak. Pappus 7-8 mm, caducous. Fl. and fr. Apr-Nov.
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The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.
Cultivation:
We have very little information on this species and do not know if it will be hardy in Britain, though judging by its native range it could succeed outdoors in many parts of this country. We are not sure if it is an annual or perennial but assume that it can be grown as a spring-sown annual. The following notes are based on the general needs of the genus. Prefers a light sandy loam.

Propagation:
Seed – sow spring in situ and only just cover the seed. Germination is usually fairly quick.

Edible Uses: Leaves – cooked. A famine food, they are only used when all else fails.

Medicinal Uses:
Although we have seen no specific reports for this species, most if not all members of the genus have a milky sap that contains the substance ‘lactucarium‘ and can probably be used as the report below details. The whole plant is rich in a milky sap that flows freely from any wounds. This hardens and dries when in contact with the air. The sap contains ‘lactucarium’, which is used in medicine for its anodyne, antispasmodic, digestive, diuretic, hypnotic, narcotic and sedative properties. Lactucarium has the effects of a feeble opium, but without its tendency to cause digestive upsets, nor is it addictive. It is taken internally in the treatment of insomnia, anxiety, neuroses, hyperactivity in children, dry coughs, whooping cough, rheumatic pain etc. Concentrations of lactucarium are low in young plants and most concentrated when the plant comes into flower. It is collected commercially by cutting the heads of the plants and scraping the juice into china vessels several times a day until the plant is exhausted. An infusion of the fresh or dried flowering plant can also be used. The plant should be used with caution, and never without the supervision of a skilled practitioner. Even normal doses can cause drowsiness whilst excess causes restlessness and overdoses can cause death through cardiac paralysis. Some physicians believe that any effects of this medicine are caused by the mind of the patient rather than by the medicine. The sap has also been applied externally in the treatment of warts.

Known Hazards: Although no specific mention of toxicity has been seen for this species, many plants in this genus contain a narcotic principle, this is at its most concentrated when the plant begins to flower. This principle has been almost bred out of the cultivated forms of lettuce but is produced when the plant starts to go to seed.

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:
http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=2&taxon_id=242328013

Lactuca debilis


http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Lactuca+formosana

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Nicotiana benthamiana

Botanical Name: Nicotiana benthamiana
Family: Solanaceae
Genus: Nicotiana
Species:N. benthamiana
Kingdom:Plantae
Order: Solanales

Synonyms: Nicotiana suaveolens var. cordifolia

Common indigenous names: Tjuntiwari and Muntju. Tangungnu, Ngkwerlp-pweter, Pinapitilypa, Tjiknga, Munju, Pirnki-warnu, Turlkamula

Habitat :Nicotiana benthamiana is native to Australia.It is found amongst rocks on hills and cliffs throughout the northern regions of Australia.

Description:
Nicotiana benthamiana is an erect, sometimes sprawling, annual herbaceous plant. This short-lived herb will reach from 0.65-5 feet (0.2-1.5 m) tall. Grown in containers, the plants rarely reach over 18 inches (0.45 m) tall by about half as wide. The dark green, broadly ovate leaves will reach up to 4 inches (10 cm) wide by 5 inches (12.7 cm) long. We selected this plant to use for TMV research because it is very susceptible to all kinds of viruses. Plants are easy to grow and we always keep several different ages of plants available at all times.

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Blooming: In the greenhouse, plants flower all year round, but in nature, they normally bloom from May-September. The small, white flowers are 3/8 inch (1 cm) across by 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) long.

A vigorous plant with numerous erect leafy stems. Its alternate leaves are broadly egg-shaped, dull green and soft. Except at the top of the stems, where they are stalkless, its leaves have slender stalks. Flowers are whitish, with a long, slender tube and five blunt lobes; fruits are capsules containing many pitted seeds.

This plant is a close relative of tobacco and species of Nicotiana indigenous to Australia.The plant was used by peoples of Australia as a stimulant – it contains nicotine and other alkaloids – before the introduction of commercial tobacco (N.tabacum and N.rustica). It was first collected on the north coast of Australia by Benjamin Bynoe on a voyage of the H.M.S. Beagle in 1837.

Cultivation:
Nicotiana benthamiana need full sun to partial shade using a well-drained soil mix. In the greenhouse, we use a soil mix consisting of 2 parts peat moss to 1 part loam to 1 part coarse sand or perlite. Since we grow these plants for research, they are given water on a daily basis to keep them stress free. They are fertilized weekly with a balanced fertilizer diluted to 1/2 the strength recommended on the label. Since we have to have these plants for research, once they set seed, plants are discarded. During the winter months, we use supplemental lighting to keep the plants growing strong.

Propagation: Nicotiana benthamiana is best propagated from seed.
Medicinal Uses:
The scientists have shown that transgenic versions of a plant Nicotiana benthamiana, also known as ‘Tjuntiwari’ in the native language, may be able to produce large quantities of a protein griffithsin which can be used as an anti-HIV microbicide gel.The protein has shown capabilities of neutralizing HIV as it binds to the virus molecule in such a way that the virus could not disguise itself from the immune system of humans.

Anti-HIV microbicide gel directly targets entry of the virus and averts infection at the surfaces but at present they are being produced using biologicals like bacteria E.coli, an expensive process which is not cost-effective.

The researchers from USA and UK altered the genetic nature of the plant using a tobacco mosaic virus which produced the protein griffithsin.(Published in The Times Of India)

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:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicotiana_benthamiana
http://www.plantoftheweek.org/week425.shtml
http://biolinfo.org/cmkb/view.php?comname=cmkb_public&scid=412