Herbs & Plants (Spices)

Lactuca sibirica

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Botanical Name: Lactuca sibirica
Family: Asteraceae
Tribe: Cichorieae
Genus: Lactuca
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asterales

Synonyms: Lactuca sibirica (L.) Benth., Lagedium sibiricum (L.) Sojak., Sonchus sibiricus L., Mulgedium sibiricum Less., Agathyrsus sibiricus D.Don.

Common Names: Prickly lettuce

Habitat:Lactuca sibirica is native to N. Europe to E. Asia. It grows on woods and scrub, also on river sands and gravels.

Lactuca sibirica is a perennial herb . Stalks are 25-100 (to 140) cm in height, straight, simple, non-pubescent, frequently red. The main root is erect, sometimes branchy. The root system consists of numerous roots and rhizomes. Leaves are sessile, lanceolate, elongate-acuminate, 1-5 cm in width, 6-18 cm in length, full, less often runcinate or pinnatilobate. Leaves are naked or weakly pubescent, amplexicaul cordate or sagittate at base; upper side green, underside glaucous. Phyllotaxy alternate. Corymbose-paniculate inflorescence consists of rather large calathidia 2.5-3 cm in diameter. Flowers are dark blue or violet, with ligules. Ligules are 10-15 mm in length and 2-3-mm in width. Involucre is cylindrical in form, 3-4-seriate, 9-14 mm in length, 4-8 mm in width. Leaflets lanceolate, bare with the pubescent top. Fruits are hemicarps, slightly compressed and ribbed, up to 5 mm in length, densely pubescent. Rostellum is usually a quarter the size of the hemicarp. Pappus is yellowish, up to 10 mm in length. It is in flower during July -and in fruit during August-September.

Flower color is blue, rarely white. Achene brown to olive green, narrowly ellipsoid, ca. 4 mm, subcompressed, either marginal rib almost as thick as ca. 1/3 of achene diam., middle third with 4 or 5 narrow ribs on either side, apically attenuate or with a ca. 1 mm beak. Pappus 5-7 mm.

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. But light sandy loam in a sunny position is prefered.

Seed – sow spring in situ and only just cover the seed. Germination is usually fairly quick. Division in spring. Make sure that each portion of root has at least one leaf bud.

Edible Uses: Young plants are eaten – raw or cooked. An emergency food, it is only used when all else fails

Medicinal Uses:
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.


Herbs & Plants (Spices)

Betula kenaica

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Botanical Name : Betula kenaica
Family: Betulaceae
Genus: Betula
Species: B. kenaica
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Fagales

Synonyms: Betula papyrifera kenaica (W.H.Evans.)Henry

Common Names: Kenai birch

Habitat : Betula kenaica is native to North-western N. AmericaAlaska. It grows along the coast. Rocky slopes in the subalpine zone from sea level to 300 metres.

Betula kenaica is a deciduous Tree growing up to 12 m (39 ft) tall, with reddish-brown bark that may become pink or grayish-white. The leaf blades are ovate and grow in 2-6 pairs which are 4–5 cm (1.6–2.0 in) (sometimes up to 7.5 cm (3.0 in)) long and 2.5–4.5 cm (0.98–1.77 in) wide. The leaf margins are cuneated and serrated with rounded base and acute apex. The flowers bloom in late spring while fruits fall in autumn.

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, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in heavy clay and nutritionally poor soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

Succeeds in a well-drained loamy soil in a sunny position. Tolerates most soils including poor soils and heavy clays. Fairly wind tolerant. A fast-growing but short-lived species. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus. A good plant to grow near the compost heap, aiding the fermentation process[20]. This plant is closely related to B. papyrifera, and possibly no more than a sub-species of that species. Trees are notably susceptible to honey fungus.

Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a light position in a cold frame. Only just cover the seed and place the pot in a sunny position. Spring sown seed should be surface sown in a sunny position in a cold frame. If the germination is poor, raising the temperature by covering the seed with glass can help. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a cold frame for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. If you have sufficient seed, it can be sown in an outdoor seedbed, either as soon as it is ripe or in the early spring – do not cover the spring sown seed. Grow the plants on in the seedbed for 2 years before planting them out into their permanent positions in the winter.

Edible Uses:
The buds and twigs of the plant are used as a stew flavor while its inner bark can be eaten either raw or cooked and can be used as soup thickener. The sap is used to make honey.

Young leaves and catkins are eaten raw. Inner bark – raw or cooked. Best in spring. Inner bark can be dried and ground into a powder and then used as a thickener in soups etc or added to flour when making bread, biscuits etc. Inner bark is generally only seen as a famine food, used when other forms of starch are not available or are in short supply. Sap is eaten raw or cooked. It can be used as a refreshing drink, or can be concentrated by boiling to make a syrup. It is tapped in late winter, the flow is best on sunny days following a heavy frost. The sap can be fermented into a beer. An old English recipe for the beer is as follows:- “To every Gallon of Birch-water put a quart of Honey, well stirr’d together; then boil it almost an hour with a few Cloves, and a little Limon-peel, keeping it well scumm’d. When it is sufficiently boil’d, and become cold, add to it three or four Spoonfuls of good Ale to make it work…and when the Test begins to settle, bottle it up . . . it is gentle, and very harmless in operation within the body, and exceedingly sharpens the Appetite, being drunk ante pastum.”

Medicinal Uses: The bark is antirheumatic, astringent, lithontripic, salve and sedative. An infusion of the plant is used as a hair conditioner and dandruff treatment.

Other Uses: Wood – close-grained, light, strong, hard, tough. It makes a good fuel, whilst the bark makes a good kindling.

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.