Herbs & Plants

Taxus cuspidata

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Botanical Name: Taxus cuspidata
Family: Taxaceae
Genus: Taxus
Species: T. cuspidata
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pinophyta
Class: Pinopsida
Order: Pinales

Common Names: Japanese yew or Spreading yew

Habitat :Taxus cuspidata is native to Japan, Korea, northeast China and the extreme southeast of Russia. It grows on mountains throughout Japan. Acid soils in cold, humid places at elevations of 500 – 1000 metres in Heilongjiang, E Jilin, Liaoning and Shaanxi provinces, China.
It is an evergreen tree or large shrub growing at a slow rate to 10–18 m tall, with a trunk up to 60 cm diameter. The leaves are lanceolate, flat, dark green, 1–3 cm long and 2–3 mm broad, arranged spirally on the stem, but with the leaf bases twisted to align the leaves in two flattish rows either side of the stem except on erect leading shoots where the spiral arrangement is more obvious.

The seed cones are highly modified, each cone containing a single seed 4–8 mm long partly surrounded by a modified scale which develops into a soft, bright red berry-like structure called an aril, 8–12 mm long and wide and open at the end. The arils are mature 6–9 months after pollination. Individual trees from Sikhote-Alin are known to have been 1,000 years old.


It is not frost tender. It is in leaf 12-Jan, and the seeds ripen from Sep to November. The flowers are dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required) and are pollinated by Wind.The plant is not 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 and very alkaline soils.

It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure. It can tolerate atmospheric pollution.

Thrives in almost any soil, acid or alkaline, as long as it is well-drained[1, 200]. Succeeds in dry soils. Very shade tolerant. The dormant plant is hardy to about -35°c but it requires more summer heat and humidity than T. baccata and is rarely more than a shrub in Britain. Young shoots can be damaged by late spring frosts. The foliage may turn reddish-brown in cold winters[81]. There are several named varieties selected for their ornamental value. Plants produce very little fibrous root and should be planted in their final positions when still small. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if fruit and seed is required. Female plants fruit freely in Britain if they are pollinated. Special Features:Not North American native, All or parts of this plant are poisonous, Inconspicuous flowers or blooms.

Seed – can be very slow to germinate, often taking 2 or more years. It is best sown as soon as it is ripe in the autumn when it should germinate 18 months later. Stored seed may take 2 years or more to germinate. 4 months warm followed by 4 months cold stratification may help reduce the germination time. Harvesting the seed ‘green’ (when fully developed but before it has dried on the plant) and then sowing it immediately has not been found to reduce the germination time because the inhibiting factors develop too early[80]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots once they are large enough to handle and grow them on in pots in a cold frame. The seedlings are very slow-growing and will probably require at least 2 years of pot cultivation before being large enough to plant out. Any planting out is best done in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe terminal shoots, 5 – 8cm long, July/August in a shaded frame. Should root by late September but leave them in the frame over winter and plant out in late spring. High percentage. Cuttings of ripe terminal shoots, taken in winter after a hard frost, in a shaded frame.

Edible Uses:
Fruit – raw or made into jam. Very sweet and gelatinous, most people find it delicious though some find it sickly. The fruit is a fleshy berry about 8mm in diameter and containing a single seed. All other parts of this plant, including the seed, are highly poisonous. When eating the fruit you should spit out the large seed found in the fruit’s centre. Should you swallow the whole seed it will just pass straight through you without harm, if the seed has been bitten into, however, it could cause some problems.
Medicinal Uses:
Modern research has shown that yew trees contain the substance ‘taxol’ in their shoots and bark. Taxol has shown exciting potential as an anti-cancer drug, particularly in the treatment of ovarian cancers. This remedy is very toxic and, even when used externally, should only be used under the supervision of a qualified practitioner. See also the notes below on toxicity. A compound used to treat diabetes is extracted from the wood, bark, leaves, and roots.

Other Uses :
A brown dye is obtained from the heartwood. Red according to another report. An oil is extracted from the seeds. Wood – hard, strong, elastic, fine grained, takes a beautiful polish. Used for furniture, bows etc. The wood is used in building construction, furniture manufacture and as a carving material.

Landscape Uses:Hedge, Screen, Superior hedge, Specimen. It is widely grown in eastern Asia and eastern North America as an ornamental plant.
Known Hazards: All parts of the plant, except the flesh of the fruit, are highly poisonous. The entire yew bush is toxic enough to kill a horse, except for the fleshy berry surrounding the seed. For dogs, 2/5ths of an oz per 10 pounds of body weight is lethal. It is therefore advisable to keep domestic animals away from the 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.

Fruits & Vegetables Herbs & Plants

Chinese Kale

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Botanical Name: Brassica oleracea alboglabra
Family : Brassicaceae or Cruciferae
Species: Brassica oleracea
Cultivar group: Alboglabra Group

Common Name : Chinese Kale , Chinese broccol, Kai-lan, Gai-lan

Habitat : Not known in the wild, it probably originated in the Mediterranean and is very close to B. oleracea costata, the Couve tronchuda.

Brassica oleracea alboglabra is a perennial plant growing to 0.5 m (1ft 8in) at a fast rate.
It is not frost tender. It is in flower from May to August, and the seeds ripen from Jul to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.The plant is self-fertile.

Chinese kale is recognized as an interesting and a delicious vegetable in China. This vegetable is similar to western broccoli in appearance, so it is also known as Chinese broccoli. Two varieties of Chinese kale can be found in the present world. However, both these varieties are heat resistant and they will grow through winter in most areas. Therefore people can grow them with less hassle at any part of the world.

An easily grown plant, it succeeds in full sun in a well-drained but moisture-retentive fertile preferably alkaline soil. Prefers a heavy soil. Plants prefer a pH in the range 5.5 – 6.5. Succeeds in any reasonable soil. Plants tolerate several degrees of frost once they are past the seedling stage. They also tolerate higher summer temperatures than most members of this genus. Closely related to broccoli (B. oleracea italica), this species is often cultivated in the Orient for its edible leaves and flowering stems. There are several named forms. A perennial plant, it is usually cultivated as an annual . It is fairly slow-growing, but it provides a crop over a long period in the summer and autumn. In a suitable climate they can crop for a period of six months. Most cultivars have been developed in the warmer parts of China and are best suited to warmer conditions than usually occur in Britain, though some forms have been developed that are more suitable for cooler conditions. Plants can be transplanted, if moved under cover in the autumn they will continue to grow slowly and provide a crop all winter.
Seed – sow in succession from late spring to late summer or even early autumn in favoured areas. The heaviest yields are from the mid to late summer sowings. Early sowings may bolt if there is a period of cold weather. Cuttings of lateral shoots root easily and can be used to produce more plants
Edible Uses: ….Young flowering shoots and small leaves- raw or cooked. Delicious if used when fairly young though they can become tough with age. Older stems should be peeled. All parts of the growing plant are used, including the developing inflorescence. Plants take about 3 months from sowing to their first harvest. Either the whole plant can be harvested, or, if a further harvest is required, just the terminal shoot is harvested which encourages the development of lateral shoots. Yields of 2 kg per square metre can be obtained

Medicinal Uses:
Chinese Kale has high iron content with low calories & high fiber content . It is filled with high nutrients, vitamins & magnesium .It is a great food which helps digestion. It is filled with antixodients like carotenoids and flavonoids which helps to protect against various types of cancers.Kale is a great cardiovascular support, eating this vegetable regularly reduces cholesterol.

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

Melampyrum pratense

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Botanical Name : Melampyrum pratense
Family: Orobanchaceae
Genus: Melampyrum
Species: M. pratense
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Lamiales

Synonyms: Horse Floure. Triticum vaccinium.

Common Name :Cow-Wheat or common cow-wheat

Local Names:
dansk: Almindelig Kohvede · Deutsch: Wiesen-Wachtelweizen · eesti: Palu-härghein · suomi: Kangasmaitikka · français: Mélampyre des prés · hornjoserbsce: L?sny sparik · lietuvi?: Pievinis k?polis · Nederlands: Hengel · norsk bokmål: Stormarimjelle · polski: Pszeniec zwyczajny · sámegiella: Gieddesáhpal · svenska: Ängskovall ·

The name of Cow-wheat is said to be derived from an extraordinary notion prevalent in some country districts among the peasantry of the Middle Ages, that the small seeds were capable of being converted into wheat, a supposition probably originating in the sudden appearance of the plants among corn, on land that had been recently cleared of wood.

Another reason for the meaning of Melampyrum is given in Lindley’s Treasury of Botany, i.e. it refers to an ancient belief that the seeds, when mixed with grains of wheat and ground into flour tended to make the bread black.

The seeds, which bear some little resemblance to wheat, are generally eaten by swine, though they will not touch the herb. Cows and sheep are extremely fond of the plant, and Dr. Prior explains the name of the plant on the score that though its seed resembles wheat, it is only fit for cows. In old Herbals, we find it named ‘Horse Floure’ and also Triticum vaccinium. The generic name is derived from the Greek melas (black) and pyros (wheat), because the seeds made bread black when mixed with them.

Habitat :Melampyrum pratense is found throughout the UK and Ireland. It is also found throughout many countries in northern and central Europe including Slovenia.I grow in Woods, moorlands, pastureland and meados

Melampyrum pratense is an annual, with slender, branched stems, about a foot high, bearing stalkless, narrow, tapering, smooth leaves in distant pairs, each pair at right angles to those that are next to it, and long-tubed, pale yellow flowers which are placed in the axils of the upper leaves in pairs, all turning one way.Height c 20-50 cm.  Flower c 12-18 mm long. The corolla is four times as long as the calyx, and the lower lip longer than the upper standing sharply out instead of hanging downwards as in most labiate flowers. The colour is somewhat between the delicate pale yellow of the primrose and the rich bright yellow of the buttercup. The plant is in flower from June to September.
Click to see the pictures
Medicinal Uses:
M. pratense herb has been used in the traditional Austrian medicine internally as tea or externally as pillow filling for treatment of rheumatism and blood vessels calcification.

Other Uses:   Cow-wheat is said to afford fodder for cattle, though not cultivated in this country for that purpose. Linnaeus states that when cows are fed in fields where the Meadow Cow-wheat is abundant, the butter yielded by their milk is peculiarly rich and of a brilliant yellow colour, but in England the plant grows more frequently in the undergrowth of woods and thickets than in meadows, abounding in nearly all copses and woods throughout Great Britain.
The seed of the plant has an elaiosome, which is attractive to wood ants (Formica spp.). The ants disperse the seeds of the plant when they take them back to their nests to feed their young. The plant is an Ancient Woodland indicator, as the ants rarely carry the seeds more than a few yards, seldom crossing a field to go to a new woodland.

M. pratense is a food plant of the caterpillars of the Heath Fritillary (Melitaea athalia), a butterfly.

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


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