Herbs & Plants

Prunus cerasus frutescens

Botanical Name : Prunus cerasus frutescens
Family: Rosaceae
Genus: Prunus
Subgenus: Cerasus
Species: P. cerasus
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Rosales

Common Name : Bush Sour Cherry

Habitat : Prunus cerasus frutescens is native to S.E. Europe to W. Asia. It is grown in Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Hedge. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.

Prunus cerasus frutescens is a deciduous Tree growing to 1 m (3ft 3in).
It is in flower in May, and the seeds ripen in July. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.The plant is self-fertile.


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 acid soils.
Thrives in a well-drained moisture-retentive loamy soil. Prefers some lime in the soil but is likely to become chlorotic if too much lime is present[1]. Prefers an acid soil according to another report. Succeeds in sun or partial shade though it fruits better in a sunny position. Hardy to about -20°c. A shrub with a suckering habit, this subspecies has long been cultivated for its edible fruit, especially in Russia. There are several named varieties including ‘Ostheim’ which has been cultivated in Britain. This subspecies has smaller fruits. Most members of this genus are shallow-rooted. Plants in this genus are notably susceptible to honey fungus.
Seed – requires 2 – 3 months cold stratification and is best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe. Sow stored seed in a cold frame as early in the year as possible. Protect the seed from mice etc. The seed can be rather slow, sometimes taking 18 months to germinate. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle. Grow them on in a greenhouse or cold frame for their first winter and plant them out in late spring or early summer of the following year. Cuttings of half-ripe wood with a heel, July/August in a frame. Softwood cuttings from strongly growing plants in spring to early summer in a frame. Layering in spring. Division of suckers during the dormant season. They can be planted out direct into their permanent positions.
Edible Uses:
Edible Parts: Fruit; Oil; Oil; Seed.

Fruit – raw or cooked. Neither bitter nor sweet, the fruit is pleasantly acid and can be eaten out of hand, used in pies, preserves etc or dried for later use. The fruit is about 10mm in diameter and contains one large seed. Seed – raw or cooked. Do not eat the seed if it is too bitter – see the notes below on toxicity. An edible oil is obtained from the seed. When refined it is used as a salad oil. The leaves are used as a tea substitute. A gum obtained from the trunk is used for chewing.
Medicinal Uses
Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, all members of the genus contain amygdalin and prunasin, substances which break down in water to form hydrocyanic acid (cyanide or prussic acid). In small amounts this exceedingly poisonous compound stimulates respiration, improves digestion and gives a sense of well-being.
Other Uses:
Adhesive; Dye; Gum; Gum; Hedge; Hedge; Oil; Oil; Wood.

An edible drying oil obtained from the seed is also used in cosmetics. The gum obtained from the stem is also used as an adhesive. Plants can be grown as a hedge, succeeding in fairly exposed positions. A green dye can be obtained from the leaves. A dark grey to green dye can be obtained from the fruit

Known Hazards : Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, it belongs to a genus where most, if not all members of the genus produce hydrogen cyanide, a poison that gives almonds their characteristic flavour. This toxin is found mainly in the leaves and seed and is readily detected by its bitter taste. It is usually present in too small a quantity to do any harm but any very bitter seed or fruit should not be eaten. In small quantities, hydrogen cyanide has been shown to stimulate respiration and improve digestion, it is also claimed to be of benefit in the treatment of cancer. In excess, however, it can cause respiratory failure and even death.
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

Picea glauca

Botanical Name : Picea glauca
Family: Pinaceae
Genus: Picea
Species: P. glauca
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pinophyta
Class: Pinopsida
Order: Pinales

Synonyms : Picea alba.
Common Names: White spruce. It is also known as Canadian spruce, skunk spruce, cat spruce, Black Hills spruce, western white spruce, Alberta white spruce, and Porsild spruce.
Habitat : Picea glauca is native to the northern temperate and boreal forests in North America. Picea glauca was originally native from central Alaska all the east across southern/central Canada to the Avalon Peninsula in Newfoundland. It now has become naturalized southward into the far northern USA border states like Montana, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine; there is also an isolated population in the Black Hills of South Dakota and Wyoming. It grows in woods in good soils. Along streams and lakes and also on rocky hills and slopes, succeeding in a variety of soil conditions.
Picea glauca is a large coniferous evergreen tree which grows normally to 15 to 30 metres (49 to 98 ft) tall, but can grow up to 40 m (130 ft) tall with a trunk diameter of up to 1 m (3.3 ft). The bark is thin and scaly, flaking off in small circular plates 5 to 10 centimetres (2.0 to 3.9 in) across. The crown is narrow – conic in young trees, becoming cylindric in older trees. The shoots are pale buff-brown, glabrous (hairless) in the east of the range, but often pubescent in the west, and with prominent pulvini. The leaves are needle-like, 12 to 20 millimetres (0.47 to 0.79 in) long, rhombic in cross-section, glaucous blue-green above with several thin lines of stomata, and blue-white below with two broad bands of stomata.

The cones are pendulous, slender, cylindrical, 3 to 7 cm (1.2 to 2.8 in) long and 1.5 cm (0.59 in) wide when closed, opening to 2.5 cm (0.98 in) broad. They have thin, flexible scales 15 mm (0.59 in) long, with a smoothly rounded margin. They are green or reddish, maturing to pale brown 4 to 8 months after pollination. The seeds are black, 2 to 3 mm (0.079 to 0.118 in) long, with a slender, 5 to 8 mm (0.20 to 0.31 in) long pale brown wing.


Bloom Color is Red, Yellow. Main Blooming time is early spring, late spring, mid spring and the form is columnar, pyramidal.

It is in leaf 12-Jan, and the seeds ripen in September. The flowers are monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and are pollinated by Wind.Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay and nutritionally poor soils. Suitable pH: acid and neutral soils and can grow in very acid soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist or wet soil. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.
It cannot tolerate atmospheric pollution.
Likes abundant moisture at the roots, if grown in drier areas it must be given a deep moist soil. Tolerates poor peaty soils. Succeeds in wet cold and shallow soils but is not very wind-firm in shallow soils. Prefers a pH between 4 to 6. Dislikes shade. Intolerant of atmospheric pollution. Resists wind exposure to some degree. A fast growing tree, especially when young with annual increases of up to 1 metre in height. New growth takes place from April to July. Growth slows considerably as the trees grow older. It is an important forestry tree in N. America and is also planted for timber in N. Europe. It is sometimes used as a ‘Christmas tree’, but is unsuited for this because its leaves quickly fall. Seed production begins at approximately 20 years, though reliable crops make take twice that long. Heavy crops are produced every 2 – 5 years. Trees should be planted into their permanent positions when they are quite small, between 30 and 90cm. Larger trees will check badly and hardly put on any growth for several years. This also badly affects root development and wind resistance. In some upland areas, especially over granitic or other base-poor soils, growth rate and health have been seriously affected by aluminium poisoning induced by acid rain. Plants are strongly outbreeding, self-fertilized seed usually grows poorly[200]. They hybridize freely with other members of this genus. There are some named varieties selected for their ornamental value[200]. The crushed leaves are quite aromatic. Some people find the smell distasteful saying that it is like skunks, whilst others say it has a pleasant smell like blackcurrants or mouldy grapefruit. Special Features:North American native, Inconspicuous flowers or blooms.

Seed – stratification will probably improve germination so sow fresh seed in the autumn in a cold frame if possible. Sow stored seed as early in the year as possible in a cold frame. A position in light shade is probably best. Seed should not be allowed to dry out and should be stored in a cool place. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse or cold frame for their first winter. They can be planted out into their permanent positions in early summer of the following year, or be placed in an outdoor nursery bed for a year or so to increase in size. They might need protection from spring frosts. Cuttings of semi-ripe terminal shoots, 5 – 8cm long, August in a frame. Protect from frost. Forms roots in the spring. Cuttings of mature terminal shoots, 5 – 10cm long, September/October in a cold frame. Takes 12 months. Cuttings of soft to semi-ripe wood, early summer in a frame. Slow but sure.

Edible Uses:
Edible Parts: Flowers; Inner bark; Seed; Seedpod.

Young male catkins – raw or cooked. Used as a flavouring. Immature female cones – cooked. The central portion, when roasted, is sweet and syrupy. The cones are about 5cm long. Inner bark – raw or cooked. It can be dried, ground into a powder and then used as a thickener in soups etc or added to cereals when making bread. Usually harvested in the spring, it is an emergency food that is only used when all else fails. Seed – raw. The seed is about 2 – 4mm long and is too small and fiddly to be worthwhile unless you are desperate. A refreshing tea, rich in vitamin C, can be made from the young shoot tips. The trunk yields a gum, used for chewing. Spruce oil, distilled from the leaves and twigs, is used in the food industry to flavour chewing gum, ice cream, soft drinks and sweets.
Medicinal Uses:
White spruce was widely employed medicinally by several native North American Indian tribes, who valued it especially for treating chest complaints. It is little, if at all, used in modern herbalism. An infusion of the cones has been used in the treatment of urinary troubles. The inner bark is pectoral. It has been chewed, and an infusion drunk, in the treatment of TB, influenza, coughs and colds. An infusion is also drunk in the treatment of rheumatism. The inner bark has also been used as a poultice on sores and infected areas, and has also been used to bandage cuts. The tea made from the young shoot tips has antiseptic properties. It is used in the treatment of respiratory infections. A decoction of the stems is used as a herbal steam bath in the treatment of rheumatism. The gum is antiseptic, digestive, laxative, pectoral and salve. A decoction has been used in the treatment of respiratory complaints. The gum obtained from the trunk (probably pitch) has been used as a salve on sores and cuts. A poultice of the gum mixed with oil has been used to treat skin rashes, scabies, persistent scabs, growing boils etc, and has also been used on wounds where there is blood poisoning. The rotten, dried, finely powdered wood has been used as a baby powder and as a treatment for skin rashes.

Other Uses:
Baby care; Dye; Gum; Musical; Pitch; Repellent; Shelterbelt; String; Tannin; Waterproofing; Wood.

A fairly wind resistant tree, it can be grown as part of a shelterbelt planting. The cultivar ‘Denstat’ has been recommended[200]. The leaves have been burnt to repel insects. Various native North American Indian tribes made a string from the long roots of this species and used it to stitch the bark of their canoes and to make baskets etc. The rotten, dried, finely powdered wood has been used as a baby powder and as a treatment for skin rashes. The bark is a source of tannin. A yellow-brown dye can be obtained from the rotten wood. The pitch obtained from the trunk can be used as a waterproofing sealant in canoes. Wood – straight-grained, resilient, light, soft, not strong. Used for construction and as a source of pulp for paper making. The resonance of the wood, and its capacity to transmit vibrations, make it an ideal wood for guitars, violins, piano soundboards etc

Landscape Uses:Christmas tree, Firewood, Screen, Specimen.

White spruce is the provincial tree of Manitoba and the state tree of South Dakota.

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.


Health & Fitness

Memory Loss Can be Reversed — Just Do THIS

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Moderate physical activity performed in midlife or later appears to be associated with a reduced risk of mild cognitive impairment — and a six-month high-intensity aerobic exercise program can improve cognitive function in individuals who already have the condition.
Each year, 10 percent to 15 percent of individuals with mild cognitive impairment will develop dementia, as compared with 1 percent to 2 percent of the general population.

Physical exercise may protect against mild cognitive impairment by means of the production of nerve-protecting compounds, greater blood flow to the brain, improved development and survival of neurons and the decreased risk of heart and blood vessel diseases.

Eurekalert January 11, 2010
Archives of Neurology January 2010;67(1):71-9
Archives of Neurology January 2010;67(1):80-6

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Health Alert Healthy Tips

Health Tips For 2010

As Written by :DR GITA MATHAI

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Somehow the spirit of the New Year affects everyone, including cynics. It is time for all those resolutions that will change your life and make you a better person. After all, before you “heal the world (and) make it a better place,” you have to change “the man in the mirror”.

The changes must be effected on a war footing. India is already known as the world’s diabetic and ischaemic heart disease capital. The statistics are alarming. Unless we get going right now, many of us will not live to see our grandchildren. And even those who survive may be too sickly to enjoy them.

click & see

IN GOOD COMPANY: Join a group if exercising alone seems uninspiring

Recommendations for fitness have increased over the last five years from walking half an hour three or four times a week to one hour every day. However, a one-hour stroll in bathroom slippers will not do the trick — walking or jogging should be at a steady pace where conversation is not possible. At least four to five kilometres have to be covered in 60 minutes. If you feel you can walk for an hour in the evening as well, your health may improve further.

At times, taking walks outdoors may be dangerous, especially for women. There are no nearby walkers’ parks. Don’t lose heart — it’s possible to get almost similar benefits by spot jogging. This means standing in one spot and running vigorously, moving the arms as well. You must wear jogging shoes. The right foot has to hit the ground 45 times in one minute. Gradually, try to work up to 45 minutes a day. It is less effective than a using a treadmill or running on the road as there is no forward propulsion, but it definitely has health benefits and is better than doing nothing.

Jogging or walking helps reduce weight, trim the waistline and tone the body, controls blood pressure, boosts the immune system, and decreases the risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, stroke, fracture and mental disease. Depression and insomnia are far less. Walkers have also been shown to live to a healthy, mentally active old age in greater numbers than their inactive counterparts.

People are always asking for a magic pill for health, a single ingredient to prevent disease and treat all illnesses……. Regular speed walking or jogging is an activity that provides an answer to all these.

Diabetes, hypertension and ischaemic heart disease develop in susceptible genetically predisposed individuals when the environment is right. Even if the disease appears inevitable, the onset of these diseases can be delayed 10 years or more by maintaining a body mass index (BMI) of 23. This can be calculated by dividing the weight in kilograms by the height in metre squared. The only variable in this formula is the weight, as adult height does not change.

Walking or running alone will not help maintain your BMI. Diet has to be factored in by eating 20 calories per kilogram of expected weight. This, combined with jogging or walking, will help maintain your BMI. Calories are hidden everywhere — a cube of chocolate means 60 calories, a ladoo 280 calories and a plate of bhel puri 400 calories! Each teaspoon of sugar in juice adds 20 calories, 100gm of peanuts 550 calories and a teaspoon of oil around 50 calories.

A good way to chart progress is to maintain a diary and record the kilometres covered daily along with the approximate number of calories consumed. The weight should be recorded once a week.

It takes a negative balance of 3,500 calories to lose half a kg of body weight. This cannot be achieved by dieting alone. Walking or jogging builds up the calf muscles. It also increases the BMR (basal metabolic rate) so that more calories are utilised even at rest.

If exercising alone is a bother, get yourself good company. I am a member of groups such as Runners for Life, Chennai Runners and Chain Reaxion. I participated in the Chennai Half Marathon and two 47-km cycling events. To my pleasant surprise, I found a group of enthusiastic young people determined to propagate a healthy lifestyle. I also discovered that contrary to common belief, age is not a bar. Nor does running cause your knees to develop osteoarthritis!

Take the example of 97-year-old Fauja Singh who goes around the world running marathons. He is the Adidas poster boy for their slogan “nothing is impossible”.

So as we move into 2010, let us make the figure our walking milestone and cover 2,010 km in 365 days

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