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.


Herbs & Plants

Equisetum arvense

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Botanical Name ; Equisetum arvense
Family: Equisetaceae
Genus: Equisetum
Species: E. arvense
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pteridophytes
Class: Equisetopsida
Order: Equisetales

*Allosites arvense Brogn.
*Equisetum arvense fo. arcticum (Rupr.) M. Broun
*Equisetum arvense fo. boreale (Bong.) Klinge
*Equisetum arvense fo. campestre (Schultz) Klinge
*Equisetum arvense fo. ramulosum (Rupr.) Klinge ex Scoggan
*Equisetum arvense subsp. boreale (Bong.) Á. Löve
*Equisetum arvense subsp. ramulosum (Rupr.) W.F. Rapp
*Equisetum arvense var. arcticum Rupr.
*Equisetum arvense var. campestre (Schultz) Rupr.
*Equisetum arvense var. ramulosum Rupr.
*Equisetum boreale Bong.
*Equisetum calderi B. Boivin
*Equisetum campestre Schultz
*Equisetum saxicola Suksd.

Common Names: Field horsetail or Common horsetail

Habitat : Equisetum arvense is native to Arctic and temperate regions of Europe, including Britain, N. America and Asia. It grows on open fields, arable land, waste places, hedgerows and roadsides, usually on moist soils.

Equisetum species – horsetail family are Creeping, perenial, Branching rootstocks, rooted at the nodes. The Arial stems may be annual or Perennial, are cylindrical, fluted, simple or with whorled branches at the jointed nodes. The internodes are usually hollow. The Surfaces of the stems are covered with Silica. The Cones are terminal. Equisetum avense is a Perennial from creeping rhizomes, often forming large colonies; to 2 1/2 ft. Stems hollow, riged, jointed. Sterile stems green, with whorled branches ar nodes; leaves reduced to brownish, papery, toothed sheath around node; sheath with fewer then 14 teeth. Fertile stems brownish to whitish, with large “cone” at tip, formed by spore-producing scales; cone produced in early spring.

The sterile stems are 10–90 cm tall and 3–5 mm diameter, with jointed segments around 2–5 cm long with whorls of side shoots at the segment joints; the side shoots have a diameter of about 1 mm. Some stems can have as many as 20 segments. The fertile stems are succulent-textured, off-white, 10–25 cm tall and 3–5 mm diameter, with 4–8 whorls of brown scale leaves, and an apical brown spore cone 10–40 mm long and 4–9 mm broad.


It has a very high diploid number of 216 (108 pairs of chromosomes).

The specific name arvense is derived from the Latin arvensis, meaning “from the meadow, field or grassland.”

Prefers poor dusty ground. This rather contradicts another report which says that the presence of this plant indicates underground water. Prefers a moist but well-drained fertile soil with a pH between 6.5 and 7.5. A very cold-hardy species tolerating temperatures down to about -30°c. Plants have a deep and penetrating root system and can be invasive. If grown in the garden they are best kept in bounds by planting them in a large container which can be sunk into the ground.

Propagation :
Spores – best collected as soon as they are ripe in the spring and surface-sown immediately on a sterile compost. Keep moist and pot up as soon as the plants are large enough to handle. Very difficult. Division. The plants usually spread very freely when well sited and should not really need any assistance.
Edible Uses:
Strobil (the fertile shoots in spring) – cooked and used as an asparagus substitute. They should be used when young but even so it is probably best to change the water, perhaps 3 – 4 times. One report says that they can be eaten raw, they are peeled and the shoot tip is discarded. It is said to be a very tedious operation and they should not be eaten raw in any quantity, see the notes above on toxicity. Some native tribes liked to eat the young vegetative shoots, picked before they had branched out, and would often collect them in great quantity then hold a feast to eat them. The leaf sheaths were peeled off and the stems eaten raw – they were said to be ‘nothing but juice’. Roots – raw. The tuberous growths on the rhizomes are used in the spring. The black nodules attached to the roots are edible. It takes considerable effort to collect these nodules so it is normally only done in times of desperation. However, native peoples would sometimes raid the underground caches of roots collected by lemmings and other rodents in order to obtain these nodules. A further report says that the peeled stems, base of the plant, root and tubers were eaten raw by the N. American Indians, the report went on to say that this may be inadvisable.

Medicinal Uses:
Horsetails have an unusual chemistry compared to most other plants. They are rich in silica, contain several alkaloids (including nicotine) and various minerals. Horsetail is very astringent and makes an excellent clotting agent, staunching wounds, stopping nosebleeds and reducing the coughing up of blood. It helps speed the repair of damaged connective tissue, improving its strength and elasticity. The plant is anodyne, antihaemorrhagic, antiseptic, astringent, carminative, diaphoretic, diuretic, galactogogue, haemostatic and vulnerary. The green infertile stems are used, they are most active when fresh but can also be harvested in late summer and dried for later use. Sometimes the ashes of the plant are used. The plant is a useful diuretic when taken internally and is used in the treatment of kidney and bladder problems, cystitis, urethritis, prostate disease and internal bleeding, proving especially useful when there is bleeding in the urinary tract. A decoction applied externally will stop the bleeding of wounds and promote healing. It is especially effective on nose bleeds. A decoction of the herb added to a bath benefits slow-healing sprains and fractures, as well as certain irritable skin conditions such as eczema. The plant contains equisetic acid, which is thought to be identical to aconitic acid. This substance is a potent heart and nerve sedative that is a dangerous poison when taken in high doses. This plant contains irritant substances and should only be used for short periods of time. It is also best only used under the supervision of a qualified practitioner. A homeopathic remedy is made from the fresh plant. It is used in the treatment of cystitis and other complaints of the urinary system . The German Commission E Monographs, a therapeutic guide to herbal medicine, approve Equisetum arvense for urinary tract infections, kidney & bladder stones, wounds & burns.

Other  Uses:     Dye; Fungicide; Liquid feed; Musical; Paper; Polish; Sandpaper; Scourer.


The stems contain 10% silica and are used for scouring metal and as a fine sandpaper. They can also be used as a polish for brass, hardwood etc. The infused stem is an effective fungicide against mildew, mint rust and blackspot on roses. It also makes a good liquid feed. A light pink dye is obtained from the stem. It is yellow-gray according to another report. The plant has been used for making whistles.

Equisetum is used in biodynamic farming (preparation BD 508) in particular to reduce the effects of excessive water around plants (such as fungal growth). The high silica content of the plant reduces the impact of moisture.

Known Hazards:
Large quantities of the plant can be toxic. This is because it contains the enzyme thiaminase, a substance that can rob the body of the vitamin B complex. In small quantities this enzyme will do no harm to people eating an adequate diet that is rich in vitamin B, though large quantities can cause severe health problems. The enzyme is destroyed by heat or thorough drying, so cooking the plant will remove the thiaminase. The plant also contains equisetic acid – see the notes on medicinal uses for more information. Avoid in patients with oedema due to heart failure or impaired kidney function
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

Tinospora sagittata


Botanical Name : Tinospora sagittata
Family :Menispermaceae
Genus: Tinospora
Domain: Eukaryotes
Kingdom: Plants
Division: Vascular plants
Class:Dicotyledonous flowering plants
Order: Ranunculales

*Tinospora szechuanensis SY Hu
*Tinospora imbricata SY Hu
*Tinospora capillipes Gagnep.
*Limacia sagittata Olive.

Tinospora sagittata is an evergreen Perennial Climber growing to 20 m (65ft 7in). It is in leaf 12-Jan It is in flower in May, and the seeds ripen from Oct to November. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs)


It is a herbaceous vines. Roots with small and yellow tuberous swelling. Stems slender, striate, often puberulent. Petiole 2.5-6 cm, puberulent or subglabrous, striate; leaf blade lanceolate-sagittate or sometimes lanceolate-hastate, rarely ovate or elliptic-sagittate, 7-15(-22) × 2-7.5 cm, papery to thinly leathery, usually abaxially puberulent on veins, sometimes adaxially or both surfaces glabrous, base often with deep sinus, basal lobes rounded, obtuse or mucronate, often extending backward, sometimes incurved into 2 folded lobes, rarely extending outside, apex acuminate, sometimes caudate, palmately 5-veined, reticulation prominent or not abaxially. Inflorescences axillary, often a few or many flowers fascicled, cymes, sometimes pseudopanicles, 2-10(-15) cm or sometimes longer; peduncles and pedicels filamentous; bracteoles 2, closely annexed with sepals. Male flowers: sepals 6, sometimes more, often unequal, outermost whorl minute, often ovate or lanceolate, 1-2 mm, inner whorl conspicuously larger, elliptic to broadly elliptic, obovate to broadly obovate, or narrowly lanceolate to narrowly oblong-lanceolate, to 5 mm; petals 6, lobe subrounded or broadly obovate, rarely rhomboidal, often with claw, basal margin often reflexed, 1.4-2 mm. Female flowers: sepals similar to male; petals cuneate, ca. 0.4 mm; staminodes 6, ?oblong, ca. 0.4 mm; carpels 3, subglabrous. Drupes semiglobose, 6-8 mm wide; endocarp 5-8 × 5-8 mm, abaxially rounded or obscurely ridged, smooth or sparsely weakly papillose, adaxial aperture large, broadly elliptic; condyle deeply intrusive.

Cultivation & propagation: The plant grows well in light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil. It is propagated through seeds.

Medicinal Uses:
The roots are anodyne, antiphlogistic, depurative and febrifuge. A decoction is used internally, or the mashed root is used as a poultice, in the treatment of laryngitis, dysentery, boils and abscesses, poisonous snakebites

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

Aristolochia manshuriensis

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Botanical Name : Aristolochia manshuriensis
Family: Aristolochiaceae
Subfamily: Aristolochioideae
Genus: Aristolochia
Species : Aristolochia manshuriensis
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Piperales

*Hocquartia Dum.
*Holostylis Duch., Ann. Sci. Nat., Bot. sér. 4, 2: 33, t. 5. 1854.
*Isotrema Raf. (disputed)

Common Names; Manchurian pipevine, Chinese Aristolochia, Guan Mu Tong , Birthwort

Habitat : Aristolochia manshuriensis is native to Manchuria and Korea. It grows on the mixed forests in Korea, eastern Siberia and northeastern China including the area formerly known as Manchuria.
Aristolochia manshuriensis is a deciduous, woody, twining climber that produces unusual apetulous flowers, each of which features a calyx which resembles a dutchman’s pipe suspended on a thin stalk. . It has simple alternate leaves. This vine will typically grow to as much as 15-20’ long (to 8′ in one growing season). Large, leathery, orbicular, cordate, palmately-veined, light green leaves (to 11″ x 11″) are abaxilly covered with white hairs. Each creamy white flower is densely mottled with yellow-green and features a contrasting 3-lobed bronze-red limb at the apex of the corolla-like calyx. Flowers bloom singly or in pairs from the leaf axils in June-July. Each flower acts as a flytrap for insects (flowers are primarily pollinated by flies) that are lured by potent fragrance into entering the calyx where they are dusted with pollen before leaving. Flowers give way to cylindrical dehiscent seed capsules (to 4″ long) containing winged seeds which ripen in late summer. Capsules open basipetally when ripe, releasing the seed for distribution by wind…….... CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

Cultivation & Propagation : Seed – best sown in a greenhouse as soon as it is ripe in the autumn. Pre-soak stored seed for 48 hours in hand-hot water and surface sow in a greenhouse. Germination usually takes place within 1 – 3 months at 20  Degree C. Stored seed germinates better if it is given 3 months cold stratification at 5 Degree C. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant out in late spring or early summer after the last expected frosts. Division in autumn. Root cuttings in winter.
Medicinal Uses:
The flowers are diuretic. The whole plant is anodyne, antiphlogistic and carminative. A decoction is used in the treatment of rheumatoid aches and pains. The plant contains aristolochic acid, which is an active antitumour agent but is too toxic for clinical use. The stem treats fever, diabetes; increases flow or urine; induces menstruation; stimulates milk flow in women after labor.

Known hazards: Not much specific details for this species are available but most members of this genus have poisonous roots and stems. The plant contains aristolochic acid, this has received rather mixed reports on its toxicity. According to one report aristolochic acid stimulates white blood cell activity and speeds the healing of wounds, but is also carcinogenic and damaging to the kidneys. Another report says that it is an active antitumour agent but is too toxic for clinical use. Another report says that aristolochic acid has anti-cancer properties and can be used in conjunction with chemotherapy and radiotherapy and that it also increases the cellular immunity and phagocytosis function of the phagocytic cells.

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

Solidago leavenworthii

Botanical Name : Solidago leavenworthii
Family: Asteraceae
Tribe: Astereae
Genus: Solidago
Species: S. leavenworthii
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asterales

Common Name: Leavenworth‘s goldenrod

Habitat : Solidago leavenworthii is native to southeastern United States from Florida north to Mississippi and the Carolinas. It grows on damp soil of the coastal plain.

Solidago leavenworthii is a perennial herb up to 200 cm (80 inches or 6 2/3 feet) tall, spreading by means of underground rhizomes. Leaves are crowded together, with as many as 75 leaves on one stem, though none gathered around the base of the stem as in some related species. One plant can produce as many as 350 small yellow flower heads in a tall, branching array at the top of the plant. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.It is noted for attracting wildlife…...CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

We have very little information on this species and do not know if it will succeed in Britain, though judging by its native range it should succeed outdoors at least in the milder parts of the country. The following notes are based on the general needs of the genus. Succeeds in any moderately fertile moisture retentive soil in sun or semi-shade. Grows well in heavy clay soils. A rather greedy plant, it is apt to impoverish the soil. The plant attracts various beneficial insects such as ladybirds, lacewings and hoverflies to the garden, these insects will help to control insect pests in the garden.

Seed – sow spring in a cold frame. Only just cover the seed and do not allow the compost to become dry. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle, and grow them on for their first winter in pots. Plant them out into their permanent positions in spring or early summer. Division in spring or autumn. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found it best to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in a lightly shaded position in a cold frame, planting them out once they are well established in the summer.

Medicinal Uses: Antiseptic. An infusion of the dried powdered herb can be used.
Other Uses:…...Dye; Latex…..A good quality rubber can be made from a latex that is obtained from the leaves. This species is the most promising source of latex in this genus, it has commercial possibilities. Mustard, orange and brown dyes can be obtained from the whole plant.

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.