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Populus balsamifera

Botanical Name : Populus balsamifera
Family: Salicaceae
Genus: Populus
Section: Tacamahaca
Species: P. balsamifera
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Malpighiales

Common Names : Balsam Poplar, Black cottonwood, Bam, Bamtree, Eastern balsam poplar, Hackmatack, Tacamahac poplar, Tacamahaca

Other common names :    Heartleaf balsam poplar, and Ontario balsam poplar.

The black cottonwood, Populus trichocarpa, is sometimes considered a subspecies of P. balsamifera and may lend its common name to this species, although the black poplars and cottonwoods of Populus sect. Aigeiros are not closely related.

Habitat : Populus balsamifera is native to northern N. America – Newfoundland to Alaska, south to New England, Iowa and Colorado. It grows in deep moist sandy soils of river bottomlands, stream banks, borders of lakes and swamps.

Description:
Populus balsamifera is a deciduous medium to large-sized, averaging 23 – 30 m (75 – 100 ft) high, broadleaved hardwood. Crown narrow, pyramidal with thick, ascending branches. Branchlets moderately stout, round, shiny reddy-brown, orange lenticels, buds are reddish-brown to brown, 2.5 cm (1 inch) long, curved, resinous and fragrant. Twig has a bitter aspirin taste. Trunk bark greenish gray with lighter lenticels when young, later becoming darker and furrowed with long, scaly ridges.

Leaves – alternate, simple, ovate, finely serrated, shiny dark green, paler and often blotchy orange below, petiole long with glands at the leaf base.

Flowers – dioecious, male and female as hanging, long pale yellow green catkins, appearing in May.

Fruit – small, 2-valved, dry capsule containing numerous small seeds. Capsules are a lustrous green during development but turn dull green at time of dispersal. Male flowers are shed promptly and decay; female catkins are shed shortly after dispersal is completed but remain identifiable for the remainder of the summer.

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Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in heavy clay soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

Cultivation :
An easily grown plant, it does well in a heavy cold damp soil, though it prefers a deep rich well-drained circumneutral soil, growing best in the south and east of Britain. Growth is much less on wet soils, on poor acid soils and on thin dry soils. Does not do well in exposed upland sites. Dislikes shade, it is intolerant of root or branch competition A fast-growing and generally short-lived tree, though specimens 150 – 200 years old have occasionally been recorded. This is a pioneer species, invading cleared land, old fields etc, but unable to tolerate shade competition and eventually being out-competed by other trees. It is not fully satisfactory in Britain. In spring and early summer the buds and young leaves have a strong fragrance of balsam. Poplars have very extensive and aggressive root systems that can invade and damage drainage systems. Especially when grown on clay soils, they should not be planted within 12 metres of buildings since the root system can damage the building’s foundations by drying out the soil. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.

Propagation:
Seed – must be sown as soon as it is ripe in spring. Poplar seed has an extremely short period of viability and needs to be sown within a few days of ripening. Surface sow or just lightly cover the seed in trays in a cold frame. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the old frame. If sufficient growth is made, it might be possible to plant them out in late summer into their permanent positions, otherwise keep them in the cold frame until the following late spring and then plant them out. Most poplar species hybridize freely with each other, so the seed may not come true unless it is collected from the wild in areas with no other poplar species growing. Cuttings of mature wood of the current season’s growth, 20 – 40cm long, November/December in a sheltered outdoor bed or direct into their permanent positions. Very easy. Suckers in early spring[

Edible Uses:…The inner bark is often dried, ground into a powder and then used as a thickener in soups etc or added to cereals when making bread. Catkins – raw or cooked. A bitter flavour. It is best used in spring.
Medicinal Uses:
Anodyne; Antiinflammatory; Antiscorbutic; Antiseptic; Cathartic; Diuretic; Expectorant; Febrifuge; Stimulant; Tonic.

Balsam poplar has a long history of medicinal use. It was valued by several native North American Indian tribes who used it to treat a variety of complaints, but especially to treat skin problems and lung ailments. In modern herbalism it is valued as an expectorant and antiseptic tonic. The buds are used as a stimulating expectorant for all conditions affecting the respiratory functions when congested. In tincture they have been beneficially employed in affections of the stomach and kidneys and in scurvy and rheumatism, also for chest complaints.

The leaf buds are covered with a resinous sap that has a strong turpentine odor and a bitter taste. They are boiled in order to separate the resin and the resin is then dissolved in alcohol. The resin is a folk remedy, used as a salve and wash for sores, rheumatism, wounds etc. It is made into a tea and used as a wash for sprains, inflammation, muscle pains etc.

The bark is cathartic and tonic. Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, the bark of most, if not all members of the genus contain salicin, a glycoside that probably decomposes into salicylic acid (aspirin) in the body. The bark is therefore anodyne, anti-inflammatory and febrifuge. It is used especially in treating rheumatism and fevers, and also to relieve the pain of menstrual cramps. A tea made from the inner bark is used as an eye wash and in the treatment of scurvy.

It is an excellent hemorrhoid treatment. For burns it lessens pain, keeps the surface antiseptic and also stimulates skin regeneration. The tincture is a very effective therapy for chest colds, increasing protective mucus secretions in the beginning, when the tissues are hot, dry and painful. Later, it increases te softening expectorant secretions when the mucus is hard and impacted on the bronchial walls, and coughing is painful. Are aromatics are secreted as volatile gases in expiration. This helps to inhibit microorganisms and lessen the likelihood of secondary, often more serious, infections.

Other Uses:
Pioneer; Repellent; Resin; Rooting hormone; Wood.

An extract of the shoots can be used as a rooting hormone for all types of cuttings. It is extracted by soaking the chopped up shoots in cold water for a day. The resin obtained from the buds was used by various native North American Indian tribes to waterproof the seams on their canoes. The resin on the buds has been used as an insect repellent. The bark has been burnt to repel mosquitoes. A pioneer species, capable of invading cleared land and paving the way for other woodland trees. It is not very shade tolerant and so it is eventually out-competed by the woodland trees. Wood – soft, light, rather woolly in texture, without smell or taste, of low flammability, not durable, very resistant to abrasion. It weighs 23lb per cubic foot, and is used for pulp, boxes etc. The wood is also used as a fuel, it gives off a pleasant odour when burning.
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:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Populus_balsamifera
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Populus+balsamifera
http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/volume_2/populus/balsamifera.htm

http://www.borealforest.org/trees/tree11.htm

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Barberry (Berberis vulgaris)/Jaundice Berry

Botanical Name:Berberis vulgaris
Family: Berberidaceae
Genus: Berberis
Species: B. vulgaris
Kingdom:    Plantae
Order: Ranunculales

Other Names: Berbery, Common Barberry, Jaundice berry, Mahonia,Barberry

Common Names/Synonyms :- Oregon Grape Root, Rocky Mountain Grape, Mahonia, Pepperidge, Pepperidge Bush, Holy Thorn, Sowberry, Oregon Grape, Berberry, Jaundice Berry, and Daruharidra.
Pepperidge, Pepperidge bush, Pipperidge bush, Sowberry

Habitat : Barberry is  native to central and southern Europe, northwest Africa and western Asia;  it is also naturalised in northern Europe, including the British Isles and Scandinavia, and North America. In the United States and Canada, it has become established in the wild over an area from Nova Scotia to Nebraska, with additional populations in Colorado, Idaho, Washington State, Montana, and British Columbia.  Although not naturalised, in rural New Zealand it has been widely cultivated as a hedge on farms. It is cultivated for its fruits in many countries. It grows in hard, gravelly soil in the northeastern states, and sometimes in rich soils in the western states.Hard, gravelly soil in the northeastern states, and sometimes in rich soils in the western state.

Description:
Berberis is a deciduous shrub growing up to 4 m high. The leaves are small oval, 2–5 cm long and 1–2 cm broad, with a serrated margin; they are borne in clusters of 2-5 together, subtended by a three-branched spine 3–8 mm long. The flowers are yellow, 4–6 mm across, produced on 3–6 cm long panicles in late spring. The fruit is an oblong red berry 7–10 mm long and 3–5 mm broad, ripening in late summer or autumn; they are edible but very sour, and rich in Vitamin C.
Flowers: The flowers are small, pale yellow, arranged in pendulous racemes, 10 to 20 per raceme, towards the ends of the branches. Petals are not notched. Flowers: April – June
Berries: About 1/2 inch long, the bright red, oblong and slightly curved berries ripen in August and September. Bark: Has a slight odor and a bitter taste; colors the saliva yellow when chewed.
Leaves: Alternate or in rosettes
from previous year’s leaf axils; spatula shaped, with numerous spiny teeth; veins on the underside are prominent.
Root Bark: Yellow.

Parts Used: Bark of root or stem.

Harvest: Gather the Barberry root and stem bark in spring or fall, around March and November.

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History: Barberry has been used in herbal healing for more than 2,500 years. The ancient Egyptians used it to prevent plagues. India‘s Ayurveda healers used it for dysentery.
During the middle ages, European herbalists used Barberry to treat liver and gallbladder ailments, infections, stomach problems and skin conditions. Russian healers used it for inflammations, high blood pressure, and for abnormal uterine bleeding.
Native American Indians made a bitter brew from the yellow root. Used in small doses, Barberry tonic was used as an effective treatment for heartburn, stomach upset and ulcers. It was also used to stimulate appetite.

Edible Uses:
The berries are edible and rich in vitamin C, though with a very sharp flavor; the thorny shrubs make harvesting them difficult, so in most places, they are not widely consumed. They are an important food for many small birds, which disperse the seeds in their droppings.

A widely available Russian candy called  Barberis is made using extract from the berries, which are pictured on the wrapper.

In Europe, the berries have been traditionally used as an ingredient in making jam. The berries are high in pectin which makes the jam congeal as it cools after having been boiled. In southwestern Asia, especially Iran, the berries are used for cooking, as well as for jam-making. In Iran, barberries are commonly used as a currant in rice pilaf.

Constituents: Berberine (a yellow crystalline, bitter alkaloid), oxyacanthine, berbamine (another bitter alkaloid), tannin, wax, resin, fat, albumin, gum, and starch.

Medicinal Properties and Uses :- Barberry is believed to be an excellent remedy for correcting liver function and promoting the flow of bile. Indicated for inflammation of the gall bladder, gall stones and jaundice (when due to a congested state of the liver). As a bitter tonic with mild laxative effects, it is believed to strengthen and cleanse the system. Also said to be effective in reducing an enlarged spleen The root-bark contains berberine, a bitter alkaloid, that aids in the secretion of bile and is good for liver problems, acts as a mild purgative, and helps regulate the digestive processes. The antibacterial properties of the alkaloid berbamine have shown activity against Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, Salmonella, Shigella and Eschorichia Coli. It has anti-microbial properties that are especially beneficial for the skin and intestinal tract. Barberry has a beneficial effect on the blood pressure by causing a dilatation of the blood vessels. This herb is also good for hepatitis, colic, diabetes and consumption. Historically, Barberry was used as a bitter tonic to stimulate digestion, and in the treatment of inflammatory arthritic, sciatica, and rheumatic complaints. Use of this botanical decreases heart rate, depresses the breathing, stimulates intestinal movement, reduces bronchial constriction, and kills bacteria on the skin. External applications have included use for sores, burns, ulcers, acne, itch, tetters, ringworm, cuts, bruises. Berberine is highly bactericidal, amoeboidal and trypanocidal. Bitter tonic, cholagogue, hepatic, laxative, antibilious, anti-emetic.

Its main Properties are Anti-emetic, Antiseptic, Astringent, Bitter, Cholagogue, Hepatic, Laxative, Purgative, Refrigerant, Stomachic, and Tonic.

Barberry acts on the gallbladder to improve bile flow and ameliorate conditions such as gallbladder pain, gallstones, and jaundice.  Barberry’s strongly antiseptic property is of value in cases of amebic dysentery, cholera and other similar gastrointestinal infections.  Barberry is one of the mildest and best liver tonics known, good for jaundice, hepatitis and diabetes.
The berberine in barberry has remarkable infection-fighting properties.  Studies around the world show it kills microorganisms that cause wound infections (Staphylococci, Streptococci), diarrhea (Salmonella, Shigella), dysentery (Endamoeba histolytica), cholera (Vibrio cholerae), giardiasis Giardia lamblia), urinary tract infections (Escherichia coli) and vaginal yeast infections (Candida albicans).  Berberine may also fight infection by stimulating the immune system.  Studies show that it activates the macrophages, white blood cells that devour harmful microorganisms.  In Germany, a berberine preparation, Ophthiole, is used to treat sensitive eyes, inflamed lids, and pinkeye (conjunctivitis).  Barberry contains chemicals that may help reduce elevated blood pressure by enlarging blood vessels.
The bark is astringent, antidiarrheal, and healing to the intestinal wall—in short, barberry has a strong, highly beneficial effect on the digestive system as a whole.  It helps in the treatment of chronic skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. The decoction makes a gentle and effective wash for the eyes, although it must be diluted sufficiently before use.  Liquid of the chewed root was placed on injuries and on wounds, while cuts and bruises were washed with a root decoction.  A preparation of the bark or berries will be useful as a gargle for sore mouth and chronic opthalmia.    It has been successfully used to treat Leishmaniasis (infections transmitted by sandflies).  It has the ability to reduce an enlarged spleen and acts against malaria.

Main Uses: Barberry is mainly used today as a tonic to improve the flow of bile in such conditions as gallbladder pain, gallstones and jaundice. Barberry tinctures are used as a treatment for liver problems such as hepatitis and jaundice. It is also considered effective in lowering blood pressure, reducing heart rate and respiration, reducing bronchial constriction, and for menstrual irregularities.
Berberine has strong anti-microbial and fungicidal properties. It is also astringent and anti-inflammatory. It is said to make a good eyewash. Inflamed eyelids or conjunctivitis can benefit from the application of a compress.
Barberry is one of the best remedies for correcting liver function and promoting the flow of bile. It is indicated when there is an inflammation of the gall bladder or in the presence of gallstones. Barberry is also used when jaundice occurs due to a congested state of the liver.
Barberry tea is used as a gargle to soothe sore throats.

Preparation And Dosages:
Tincture: [1:5, 50% alcohol] 3 to 7 drops, 3 to 4 times a day.

Decoction: Use 1/2 to 1 teaspoon root bark with 1 cup water. Boil briefly, then steep for 5 minutes. Take 1/2 to 1 cup during the day, a mouthful at a time.
Ointment: An ointment made from a 10% extract of Barberry can be applied to the skin three times a day.

Combinations: In gall-bladder diseases Barberry combines well with Fringe Tree Bark and Culver’s Root.

Caution! Avoid during pregnancy; Barberry may stimulate the uterus. In high doses, it can cause nausea, vomiting, convulsions, drop in blood pressure, and lowered heart rate and breathing. If you suffer from heart disease or chronic respiratory problems, do not take large doses of this herb and use only with the approval of your physician.

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.midwestherbs.com/bulk_herbs/barberrybark.htm

http://www.indianspringherbs.com/Barberry.htm

http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_AB.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berberis_vulgaris

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