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Herbs & Plants

Larix decidua

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Botanical Name : Larix decidua
Family: Pinaceae
Genus: Larix
Species: L. decidua
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pinophyta
Class: Pinopsida
Order: Pinales

Common Name :European larch,Larch

Habitat :Larix decidua is  native to the mountains of central Europe, in the Alps and Carpathians, with disjunct lowland populations in northern Poland and southern Lithuania.

Description;
Larix decidua is a medium-size to large deciduous coniferous tree reaching 25–45 m tall, with a trunk up to 1 m diameter (exceptionally, to 55 m tall and 2 m diameter). The crown is conic when young, becoming broad with age; the main branches are level to upswept, with the side branches often pendulous. The shoots are dimorphic, with growth divided into long shoots (typically 10–50 cm long) and bearing several buds, and short shoots only 1–2 mm long with only a single bud. The leaves are needle-like, light green, 2–4 cm long which turn bright yellow before they fall in the autumn, leaving the pale yellow-buff shoots bare until the next spring.

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The cones are erect, ovoid-conic, 2–6 cm long, with 30-70 erect or slightly incurved (not reflexed) seed scales; they are green variably flushed red when immature, turning brown and opening to release the seeds when mature, 4–6 months after pollination. The old cones commonly remain on the tree for many years, turning dull grey-black.

It is very cold tolerant, able to survive winter temperatures down to at least -50°C, and is among the tree line trees in the Alps, reaching 2400 m altitude, though most abundant from 1000–2000 m. It only grows on well-drained soils, avoiding waterlogged ground.

Medicinal Uses:
Tamarack was employed medicinally by a number of native North American Indian tribes who used it to treat a variety of complaints.  It is used in the treatment of jaundice, anemia, rheumatism, colds and skin ailments. It is gargled in the treatment of sore throats and applied as a poultice to sores, swellings and burns. A tea made from the leaves is used as an astringent in the treatment of piles, diarrhea etc. An infusion of the buds and bark is used as an expectorant. The needles and inner bark are disinfectant and laxative. A tea is used in the treatment of coughs. A poultice made from the warm, boiled inner bark is applied to wounds to draw out infections, to burns, frostbite and deep cuts. The resin is chewed as a cure for indigestion. It has also been used in the treatment of kidney and lung disorders, and as a dressing for ulcers and burns.

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Other Uses:
Larix decidua is cultivated as an ornamental tree for planting in gardens and parks.

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Wood
The wood is tough and durable, but also flexible in thin strips, and is particularly valued for yacht building; wood used for this must be free of knots, and can only be obtained from old trees that were pruned when young to remove side branches.

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Small larch poles are widely used for rustic fencing.

 

Bonsai
The European Larch is a popular Bonsai Species, with many unique specimens available in European Circles, and is popularly used in Bonsai Forest Groups

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Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larix_decidua
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_LMN.htm

http://eng.archinform.net/stich/686.htm

http://creativeurbanite.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/larix_decidua_p.jpg

http://fichas.infojardin.com/bonsai/larix-decidua-alerce-europeo-bonsai.htm

http://www.josefsteiner.si/upload/images/product_att/laerchenpfaehle_2_23.jpg

http://www.pracbrown.co.uk/media/1015992/80cm%20quercus%20robur%20(common%20oak)%20in%20parkland%20setting.jpg

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Herbs & Plants

Small-Leaved Knotweed

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Botanical Name : Polygonum arenastrum – Bor.
Family :                Polygonaceae
Genus  : Polygonum
Synonyms: Polygonum calcatum Lindman, Polygonum aequale Lindin, Polygonum aviculare subsp. depressum (Meissner) Arcang., Polygonum aviculare subsp. aequale (Lindman) A. et. Gr., Polygonum aviculare subsp. calcatum (Lindman) Thell.
Common Names :  mat grass, oval-leaf knotweed, stone grass, wiregrass, and door weed, as well as many others.

Habitat :Throughout Europe, including Britain. Waste places and roadsides, common throughout Britain .

Description:
Small-Leaved Knotweed is an annual herb growing to 0.3m.with prostrate or ascending bluish-green slender, terete stems, not sharply angled, 1-12 dm. long; lvs. lanceolate to almost oblong, 5-20 mm. long, blue-green, scattered to approximate, not much reduced upward, joined with the ocreae and 1-nerved, mostly 2 or more in the axils, short pedicelled; branch-lvs. much smaller than stem lvs.; stipule-sheaths silvery, soon torn; fls. 1-5 in axillary clusters; calyx 2-3 mm. long, greenish with pinkish to purplish margins, persistent, divided almost to base; stamens 8, rarely 5; aks. dull or slightly shiny, 2-2.5 mm. long, somewhat roughened.
It is hardy to zone 5. It is in flower from June to October, and the seeds ripen from August to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects. The plant is self-fertile. It is noted for attracting wildlife.

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The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid soil. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires moist soil. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.


Cultivation :

Succeeds in an ordinary garden soil but prefers a moisture retentive not too fertile soil in sun or part shade. Repays generous treatment, in good soils the plant will cover an area up to a metre in diameter. Prefers an acid soil. Dislikes shade. Knotweed is a common and invasive weed of cultivated ground. It is an important food plant for the caterpillars of many species of butterflies.  It also produces an abundance of seeds and these are a favourite food for many species of birds. Plants seem to be immune to the predations of rabbits. The flowers have little or no scent or honey and are rarely visited by pollinating insects. Self-fertilization is the usual method of reproduction, though cross-fertilization by insects does sometimes occur. The plant also produces cleistogomous flowers – these never open and therefore are always self-fertilized. The plant is very variable according to habitat and is seen by most botanists as part of an aggregate species of 4 very variable species, viz. – P. aviculare. L.; P. boreale. (Lange.)Small.; P. rurivacum. Jord. ex Box.; and P. arenastrum. Bor.

Propagation:
Seed – sow spring in a cold frame. Germination is usually free and easy. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer if they have reached sufficient size. If not, overwinter them in a cold frame and plant them out the following spring after the last expected frosts. Division in spring or autumn. Very easy, larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is better to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a cold frame until they are well established before planting them out in late spring or early summer.

Edible Uses
Young leaves and plants – raw or cooked. Used as a potherb, they are very rich in zinc. A nutritional analysis is available. Seed – raw or cooked. Rather small and fiddly to utilize, they can be used in all the ways that buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum) is used, either whole or dried and ground into a powder for use in pancakes, biscuits and piñole. The leaves are a tea substitute.

Medicinal Uses:

Knotweed is a safe and effective astringent and diuretic herb that is used mainly in the treatment of complaints such as dysentery and haemorrhoids. It is also taken in the treatment of pulmonary complaints because the silicic acid it contains strengthens connective tissue in the lungs. The whole plant is anthelmintic, astringent, cardiotonic, cholagogue, diuretic, febrifuge, haemostatic, lithontripic and vulnerary. It was formerly widely used as an astringent both internally and externally in the treatment of wounds, bleeding, piles and diarrhoea. Its diuretic properties make it useful in removing stones.  An alcohol-based preparation has been used with success to treat varicose veins of recent origin. The plant is harvested in the summer and early autumn and is dried for later use. The leaves are anthelmintic, diuretic and emollient. The whole plant is anthelmintic, antiphlogistic and diuretic. The juice of the plant is weakly diuretic, expectorant and vasoconstrictor. Applied externally, it is an excellent remedy to stay bleeding of the nose and to treat sores. The seeds are emetic and purgative. Recent research has shown that the plant is a useful medicine for bacterial dysentery. Of 108 people with this disease, 104 recovered within 5 days when treated internally with a paste of knotweed.

Other Uses
Yields a blue dye that is not much inferior to indigo. The part used is not specified, but it is likely to be the leaves. Yellow and green dyes are obtained from the whole plant. The roots contain tannins, but the quantity was not given.

Known Hazards :  Although no specific mention has been made for this species, there have been reports that some members of this genus can cause photosensitivity in susceptible people. Many species also contain oxalic acid (the distinctive lemony flavour of sorrel) – whilst not toxic this substance can bind up other minerals making them unavailable to the body and leading to mineral deficiency. Having said that, a number of common foods such as sorrel and rhubarb contain oxalic acid and the leaves of most members of this genus are nutritious and beneficial to eat in moderate quantities. Cooking the leaves will reduce their content of oxalic acid. People with a tendency to rheumatism, arthritis, gout, kidney stones or hyperacidity should take especial caution if including this plant in their diet since it can aggravate their condition.

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider


Resources:

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Polygonum+arenastrum

POLYGONUM ARENASTRUM Boreau – truskavec obecný / stavikrv pobrežný


http://digedibles.com/database/plants.php?Polygonum+arenastrum
http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/Polygonum_arenastrum

http://nathistoc.bio.uci.edu/Plants%20of%20Upper%20Newport%20Bay%20(Robert%20De%20Ruff)/Polygonaceae/Polygonum%20arenastrum.htm

Categories
Herbs & Plants

Alpine Bistort(Polygonum viviparum)

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Botanical Name : Polygonum viviparum
Family : Polygonaceae
Genus : Polygonum
Synonyms : Bistorta vivipara – (L.)S.F.Gray. Polygonum viviparum, Persicaria vivipara.
Comon Name ;     Alpine Bistort,
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Caryophyllales
Species: P. viviparum

Habitat : It is common all over the high Arctic and northern regions of Europe, including Britain, Asia and America.It stretches further south in high mountainous areas like the Alps, Carpathians, Pyrenees, Caucasus and the Tibetan Plateau. Mountain grassland and wet rocks.Meadow; Cultivated Beds;

Description:
It is Perennial  and grows to 5-15 cm tall with a thick rootstock. The basal leaves are longish-elliptical with long stalks; upper ones are linear and stalkless. The flowers are white or pink in the upper part of the spike; lower ones are replaced by bulbils. Flowers rarely produce viable seeds and reproduction is normally by the bulbils. Very often a small leaf develops when the bulbil is still attached to the mother plant. The bulbils are rich in starch and are a preferred food for Ptarmigan and Reindeer; they are also occasionally used by Arctic people.
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Alpine Bistort grows in many different plant communities, very often in abundance.

As with many other alpine plants, Alpine Bistort is slow growing, with an individual leaf or inflorescence taking 3-4 years to reach maturity from the time it is formed

It is hardy to zone 3. It is in flower from June to August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.
The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires moist soil.

Cultivation
Succeeds in an ordinary garden soil but prefers a moisture retentive not too fertile soil in sun or part shade. Repays generous treatment. Plants seem to be immune to the predations of rabbits. Plants do not often produce viable seed, reproducing by means of bulbils formed on the lower portion of the flowering stem.

Propagation

Seed – sow spring in a cold frame. Germination is usually free and easy. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer if they have reached sufficient size. If not, overwinter them in a cold frame and plant them out the following spring after the last expected frosts. Division in spring or autumn. Very easy, larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is better to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a cold frame until they are well established before planting them out in late spring or early summer.

Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Leaves; Root; Seed.

Leaves – raw or cooked. They have a pleasant tart taste when cooked. Seed – raw or cooked. The seed is not often produced and even when it is, it is rather small and fiddly to utilize. It is rich in starch. It is pickled in Nepal. Root – raw or cooked. Starchy and pleasant but rather small. Sweet, nutty and wholesome. They taste best when roasted. Bulbils from lower part of flowering stem – raw.

Medicinal Actions & Use
s
Astringent; Styptic.

The root is astringent and styptic. It is used in the treatment of abscesses, as a gargle to treat sore throats and spongy gums, and as a lotion for ulcers.

Known Hazards: Although no specific mention has been made for this species, there have been reports that some members of this genus can cause photosensitivity in susceptible people. Many species also contain oxalic acid (the distinctive lemony flavour of sorrel) – whilst not toxic this substance can bind up other minerals making them unavailable to the body and leading to mineral deficiency. Having said that, a number of common foods such as sorrel and rhubarb contain oxalic acid and the leaves of most members of this genus are nutritious and beneficial to eat in moderate quantities. Cooking the leaves will reduce their content of oxalic acid. People with a tendency to rheumatism, arthritis, gout, kidney stones or hyperacidity should take especial caution if including this plant in their diet since it can aggravate their condition.

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider


Resources:

http://www.pfaf.org/database/plants.php?Polygonum+viviparum
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polygonum_viviparum
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Polygonum_viviparum.jpg

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Herbs & Plants

Dwarf Birch (Betula nana )

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Botanical Name :Betula nana
Family : Betulaceae
Genus : Betula
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Fagales
Suenusbg: Chamaebetula
Species: B. nana
Synonyms: Betula exilis; Betula glandulosa; Betula glandulosa var. hallii; Betula glandulosa var. sibirica; Betula michauxii; Betula nana ssp. exilis; Betula nana var. sibirica; Betula terrae-novae Fern.
Other Names: : Bog birch; Scrub birch; Dwarf birch
Habitat : B. nana is native to arctic and cool temperate regions of northern Europe, including Britain, east to Siberia, northern Asia and northern North America and it will grow in a variety of conditions.It can be found in Greenland. Outside of far northern areas, it is usually found only growing in mountains above 300 m, up to 835 m in Scotland and 2200 m in the Alps. Its eastern range limit is on Svalbard, where it is confined to warm sites.

Description:
It is a decidious shrub growing to 1-1.2 m high. The bark is non-peeling and shiny red-copper colored. The leaves are rounded, 6-20 mm diameter, with a bluntly toothed margin. The fruiting catkins are erect, 5-15 mm long and 4-10 mm broad.
click to see the pictures..>.….(01)..(1).……(2)..……(3).……(4)..……(5)..…….(6)..……………….
It is hardy to zone 2 and is frost tender. It is in flower in May, and the seeds ripen in July. 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.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, requires well-drained soil and can grow in heavy clay and nutritionally poor soils. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires moist soil. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.

There are two subspecies:-

1.Betula nana subsp. nana. Canada (Baffin Island), Greenland, northern Europe (south to the Alps at high altitudes), northwestern Asia. Young twigs hairy, but without resin; leaves longer (to 20 mm), usually as long as broad.

2.Betula nana subsp. exilis
. Northeastern Asia, northern North America (Alaska, Canada east to Nunavut). Young twigs hairless or only with scattered hairs, but coated in resin; leaves shorter (not over 12 mm long), often broader than long.

Cultivation:

Succeeds in a well-drained loamy soil in a sheltered position. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Grows well in moist places or the heath garden. Shade tolerant. This species is native to areas with very cold winters and often does not do well in milder zones. It can be excited into premature growth in mild winters and this new growth is susceptible to frost damage. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus. Trees are notably susceptible to honey fungus.

Propagation:

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:
Edible Parts: Flowers; Leaves.

Edible Uses: Condiment.

Young leaves and catkins – raw. The buds and twigs are used as a flavouring in stews.

Medicinal  Actions & Uses
Antirheumatic; Astringent; Lithontripic; Miscellany; Salve; Sedative; Stomachic.

The bark is antirheumatic, astringent, lithontripic, salve and sedative. Moxa is prepared from the plant and is regarded as an effective remedy in all painful diseases. No more details are given, but it is likely that the moxa is prepared from yellow fungous excretions of the wood, since the same report gives this description when talking about other members of the genus. A compound decoction of the leaves has been used in the treatment of stomach ache and intestinal discomfort.

Other Uses

Dye; Ground cover; Hair; Tinder.

Plants can be used for ground cover, forming a spreading hummock up to 1.2 metres across. An infusion of the plant is used as a hair conditioner and dandruff treatment. A yellow dye is obtained from the leaves. The plant has been used as a tinder, even when wet, and for cooking fires when there is a lack of larger wood. It is likely that the bark was used for tinder.

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:

http://www.pfaf.org/database/plants.php?Betula+nana
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betula_nana
http://www.hortiplex.com/plants/p1/gw1005314.html
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Betula_nana

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Herbs & Plants

Houseleek

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Botanical Name:Sempervivum tectorum
Family:Crassulaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order:
Saxifragales
Genus: Sempervivum

Synonyms: Jupiter’s Eye. Thor’s Beard. Jupiter’s Beard. Bullock’s Eye. Sengreen. Ayron. Ayegreen.
(French) Joubarbe des toits.
(German) Donnersbart.

Common Name:    Houseleek, Common houseleek, Hen and Chickens
Part Used: Fresh leaves.

Habitat : Original habitat is not known but the plant is naturalized in Britain  &    occur from Morocco to Iran, through the mountains of Iberia, the Alps, Carpathians, Balkan mountains, Turkey, the Armenian mountains, in the northeastern part of the Sahara Desert, and the Caucasus.  Their ability to store water in their thick leaves allows them to live on sunny rocks and stony places in the montane, subalpine and alpine belts.
.

Description:
Houseleeks grow as tufts of perennial but monocarpic rosettes. Each rosette propagates Asexually by lateral rosettes (offsets, “hen and chicks“), by splitting of the rosette (only Jovibarba heuffelii) or sexually by tiny seeds.

CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES.
This plant has a fibrous root, with several tufts of oblong, acute, extremely succulent leaves. The stem from the centre of these tufts is about a foot high, erect, round, and downy; flowers large, pale rose-colored, and scentless. Offsets spreading.

Sempervivum arachnoideum.Typically, each plant grows for several years before flowering. Their hermaphrodite flowers have first a male stage. Then the stamens curve themselves and spread away from the carpels at the center of the flower, so Self-pollination is rather difficult. The colour of the flowers is reddish, yellowish, pinkish, or – seldom – whitish. In Sempervivum, the flowers are actinomorphic (like a star) and have more than six petals, while in Jovibarba, the flowers are campanulate (bell-shaped) and are pale green-yellow with six petals. After flowering, the plant dies, usually leaving many offsets it has produced during its life.

Cultivation:
Although their subtropical cousins are very frost-sensitive, Sempervivums are among the most frost-resistant succulents, making them popular garden plants. They require only moderate water and some protection from extreme exposure to the sun.

Sempervivums grow very well in dry conditions. Despite this if Sempervivums are grown in normal flower beds among other cultivated plants there can be a problem. If the flower beds are not particularly dry other plants may grow more strongly than the Sempervivums and overshadow them. Other plants may need to be removed, cut back or tied out of the way.

“Semp-lovers” are numerous and often have many different cultivars in their collections. Sempervivums are very variable plants and hence hundreds, maybe thousands of cultivars were created, but a lot of them are not much different from each other. The main interest of these cultivars are not their flowers, but form and colour of the rosette-leaves. The most colourful time is generally from March till June.


Culinary Use

A variety of this plant is commonly used in vegetarian cuisine in Taiwan. (Chinese name:  shi2 lian2 hua1, lit. stone lotus leaf.) They are eaten raw, one leaf at a time, much like celery.

Medicinal Uses:

It is also purported to have medicinal benefits. The fresh leaves are useful as a refrigerant when bruised, and applied as a poultice in erysipelatous affections, burns, stings of insects, and other inflammatory conditions of the skin. The leaves, sliced in two, and the inner surface applied to warts is a positive cure for them. It can be used for many skin diseases. The leaves also possess an astringent property, serviceable in many cases

Hens and Chicks can be used like a weaker version of Aloe Vera. The bruised or torn leaves can be applied to burns or skin inflammations for relief. Folklore also says this herb will remove warts and corns.

While some sources do list this plant as a “green herb,” or one cabable of being ingested, be cautioned that in large doses the juice of the leaves can be emetic and purgative.

The Latin botanical name has an historical reference. Charlemagne (742-814 A.D.) recommended that his subjects plant these hardy prolific plants on the roof of their houses to ward off lightening and fire. The leaves contain tannins and mucilage that are soothing to skin. It is used in the treatment of burns, skin wounds and infections.

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sempervivum
http://www.piam.com/mms_garden/plants.html
http://chestofbooks.com/health/herbs/O-Phelps-Brown/The-Complete-Herbalist/House-Leek-Sempervivum-Tectorum.html
http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/herbalism/91501

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Sempervivum+tectorum

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