Herbs & Plants

Cynanchum atratum

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Botanical Name :Cynanchum atratum
Family: Apocynaceae
Genus: Cynanchum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Gentianales

Synonyms : Vincetoxicum atratum. (Bunge.)Morr.&Decne.
Common Name :Bai Wei

Habitat: Cynanchum atratum is native to E. Asia – Northern China, Japan. It grows in the mountains all over Japan. Sunny meadows from the lowlands to elevations of 500 metres.

Description :
Cynanchum atratum is al herbs or subshrubs, often growing to 0.6 m (2ft) from rhizomes. The leaves are usually oppositely arranged and sometimes are borne on petioles. It is in flower from May to June. The inflorescences and flowers come in a variety of shapes.
The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.


Like other species of the milkweed family, these plants bear follicles, which are podlike dry fruits.

Cynanchum is a genus of about 300 species including some swallowworts, belonging to the family Apocynaceae. The taxon name comes from Greek kynos (meaning “dog”) and anchein (“to choke”), referring to the toxicity of these plants. Hence the common name for several species is dog-strangling vine. Most species are non-succulent climbers or twiners.

Cynanchum louiseae, the black swallowwort, is a troublesome noxious weed in parts of the northern United States.

This species does not need any special process for cultivation as this is probably succeed in most soils in a sunny position.

Seed – sow spring in the greenhouse. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Division in spring.

Edible Uses:   Young stem and leaves – cooked. Some caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity. Young seedpods – thoroughly boiled. Some caution is advised.

Medicinal Uses:
The root of Cynanchum atratum is used in Chinese traditional medicine and called Bai wei. Several other species had traditional Chinese medicinal uses.

The roots are used to treat fever, coughs, blood in urine, inflammation of the urethra. Cardiac tonic ingredients of bai wei stimulate the heart muscle and improve contraction and slow down heart rate.  Bai wei can inhibit pneumococcus. Toxic amount: 30-40 grams.  Koreans use the root to treat women in pregnancy and parturition, for fever and micturition, and to apply externally to rounds..

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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Herbs & Plants

Nicotiana Sylvestris (Flowering tobacco)

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Botanical Name:Nicotiana sylvestris
Family: Solanaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Solanales
Genus: Nicotiana
Species: N. sylvestris

Habitat:Native to South America, but sometimes grown in gardens for its coarse form and strongly scented flowers.

This imposing half hardy annual seed has stout spikes bearing a cascading head of fragrant 3½in long white blooms. It grows to a height of 90-120cm (36-48in) making it an excellent subject for the border. Occasionally a short lived perennial in a warm sheltered site. Flowers summer to autumn. Height 90-120cm (36-48in).
The leaves are simple, with the blade partially surrounding the stem. Flowers are tubular, white, borne in large clusters above the foliage.

This plant is thought to be one of the parents of Nicotiana tabacum, the basis of most modern tobacco production. It is usually combined with Nicotiana rustica to lower the strength of N. rustica’s tobacco.

It can be grown from seeds.When the leaves first form in spring they are a beautiful clean green colour, with patterns in the veins highlighted in the sun.

Later the flowers form as skinny long white trumpets and at dusk they perfume the air. Hopefully there are no strong winds to blow them down!Their seed pods start to form from January on, along with new flowers. The leaves retain their clean green appearance, though they get quite sticky, trapping flying insects. Apparently the leaves resemble commercial tobacco, to which Nicotiana Sylvestris is related.

Flowers: Mid Summer to Autumn
Position: Sun or part shade
Soil: Well drained
Height: 6 feet
Germination: Easy
Aftercare: Easy
Ideal for: Bedding, Border, Cottage Garden

Medicinal Uses:
A member of a large family of Nicotianas whose leaves are used in making prepartions taken by mouth to induce vomiting and diarrhea, to relieve pain and to sedate. Preparations are used externally as a poultice in the treatment of joint swelling from arthritis, of skin diseases and of insect bites. Nicotine is a very effective biodegradable insecticide.

Harmful if eaten.

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.

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Herbs & Plants

Shapla: (Water Lily)

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Ninféia (Nymphaea caerulea)
Image by Vivi RS/RJ via Flickr

Botanical Name: Nymphaea Lotus
Family: Nymphaeaceae (Water Lily Family)
Part Used : Flowers, Roots, Leaves, Stem
Habitat : Through out warmer parts of india,Bangladesh Burma and Sreelanka in tanks, ponds and ditches. Widespread all over South Africa, Swaziland, Botswana and Namibia as well as further north in Zimbabwe, Zambia.

Other scientific names :Nymphaea pubescens Willd, Nymphaea lotus Blanco,Castalia pubescens Blume,Nymphaea nouchali

Common Names: Labas (Tag),Lauas (Tag.),Pulau (Tag.)Talailo (Bis.),Tunas (Bis., Tag.),Lotus lily (Engl), Water lily (Eng), Blue Water Lily, Blouwaterlelie, Kaaimanblom, Frog’s Pulpit, Paddapreekstoel, Blou Plomb, iZubu(Z) and Blue Lotus in Egypt

Synonyms: Nymphaea capensis Thunb., N. caerulea Sav., N. calliantha Conard,
N. mildbraedi Gilg., N. spectabilis Gilg., N. nelsonii Burtt Davy)

This lovely aquatic plant with sky-blue flowers is South Africa’s most commonly grown indigenous water lily.

It is a clump forming perennial with thick, black, spongy, tuberous rhizomes anchored in the pond mud by spreading roots. The water lily does not have true stems, the leaves are on long petioles (leaf stalks) that arise directly from the rhizome. The leaves are large and flat, rounded or oval in shape with notched margins, up to 40 cm in diameter, and cleft almost to the centre where the petiole is attached. They are relatively short lived and are replaced regularly throughout the growing season. They start out as a soft shiny green at the centre of the plant. As they age, the petiole lengthens, pushing the leaf towards the outer perimeter making room for the new growth, and they develop light brown or purple splashes which eventually cover the leaf, leaving only the veins green. They then start to die, turning yellow then brown and eventually disappearing under the water. One plant can spread over an area of about 1 m..

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The leaves show many interesting adaptations to their watery environment. The margins are slightly rolled inwards toward the uppermost side (involute) which helps keep the blades afloat. The underside of the leaf, which is continually wet, has a strong attraction to the water and this holds the leaf flat against the water. The veins act like a structural support for the leaves. The upper leaf surface is coated with a smooth waxy cuticle, which gives it the appearance of being leathery and shiny. This water-repellent waxy layer is of vital importance to the plant, not only to help prevent the leaf from sinking, but also to prevent the tiny stomatal pores, through which it breathes, from becoming clogged with dust. When water splashes onto the leaf surface, it forms rounded droplets that roll across the surface cleaning up the dust as they go. Clean dust free leaves are also better able to photosynthesise effectively.

The easiest method of propagation is division. Plants may be left in place for two years, but pot grown plants are best lifted, divided and planted in fresh soil each year for good results. The plants are best lifted and divided just before new growth commences in the spring (August). Pull or cut the fleshy roots (rhizomes) apart and replant immediately in fresh soil mixture. Each new plant should have at least one bud at the tip of the rhizome.

The blue water lily may be grown from seed, but this requires patience, for the plants take 3 to 4 years to flower. It is difficult to collect the seed, because the seed pods burst without much warning and the seeds disperse and sink quite soon. A common practice is to tie a muslin bag around the ripening pod. In this way after it bursts, the seeds cannot float away. The seed can be sown in spring and during summer (September-January). Finely sieved clean loam soil without any organic matter or fertiliser is best. Seed should be sown thinly, covered lightly with soil and then plunged into shallow water, no deeper than 2.5 cm, and placed in a sunny position. Germination should take 3-4 weeks The seedlings will look like fine grass at first, developing true leaves later. When the first two or three floating leaves appear the seedling should be pricked out and planted into individual containers and immersed back in the water. They may be submerged into deeper water and larger containers as they grow and lengthen.

Chemical constituents and characteristics:
The leaves and rhizomes contain an abundant amount of tannic acid; an alkaloid resembling nupharin; glucose; metaarabic acid; fat and ash.
The leaves contain myricitin, saccharose and phytosterin.
The juice is bitter and astringent has some narcotic properties.
Flowers are astringent and cardiotonic.

Uses : The rhizomes is cooling, sweet, bitter and tonic and is useful in diarrhoea, dysentery, dipsia and general debility. The flowers are astringent and cardiotonic. The seeds are sweet, cooling, constipating, aphrodisiac, stomachic and restorative. It has found uses both as a culinary delight and starchy food staple as well as being used internally as a treatment for gastrointestinal disorders and jaundice. Leaf is used in cutaneous, subcutaneous parasitic infection, eye treatments, and pregnancy. Seeds are used in sauces, condiments, spices and flavorings.

Decoction of the juice used for gonorrhea.
Plant juice rubbed on the forehead and temples to induce sleep.
Powdered roots used as demulcent for piles; also for dysentery and dyspepsia.

Nymphaea caerulea (Blue Lotus) was held in very high esteem by the ancient Egyptians. Nymphaea Caerulea was commonly worshipped as a visionary plant and used symbolically to depict the origin of life. The Egyptians believed that the world was originally covered by water and darkness. A Blue Lotus sprang up from the water and opened its petals to reveal a young god, a Divine Child. Light streamed from the Divine Child to banish universal darkness. This child god was the Creator, the Sun God, the source of all life. When the Pharaoh known as King Tut was entombed, his body was covered in Blue Lotus flowers.

Nymphaea caerulea was smoked or drank after being soaked in water or wine, it acted as an intoxicant, aphrodisiac; permitted use was used only among the elect class in Egypt. It was revered as sacred and a taboo for the common people. It is now available through us via wholesale or through our list of reputable dealers.

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.


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Healthy Tips

Fresh vs Frozen Vegetables

Are we giving up nutrition for convenience? The answer may surprise you.:
Americans typically eat only one-third of the recommended daily intake (three servings instead of nine) of fruits and vegetables, so if you are in a bind, a vegetable in any form is better than no vegetable at all.


And as winter approaches, fresh produce is limited  or expensive  in much of the country, which forces many of us to turn to canned or frozen options. While canned vegetables tend to lose a lot of nutrients during the preservation process (notable exceptions include tomatoes and pumpkin), frozen vegetables may be even more healthful than some of the fresh produce sold in supermarkets, says Gene Lester, Ph.D., a plant physiologist at the USDA Agricultural Research Center in Weslaco, Texas. Why? Fruits and vegetables chosen for freezing tend to be processed at their peak ripeness, a time when  as a general rule  they are most nutrient-packed.

While the first step of freezing vegetables  blanching them in hot water or steam to kill bacteria and arrest the action of food-degrading enzyme   causes some water-soluble nutrients like vitamin C and the B vitamins to break down or leach out, the subsequent flash-freeze locks the vegetables in a relatively nutrient-rich state.

On the other hand, fruits and vegetables destined to be shipped to the fresh-produce aisles around the country typically are picked before they are ripe, which gives them less time to develop a full spectrum of vitamins and minerals. Outward signs of ripening may still occur, but these vegetables will never have the same nutritive value as if they had been allowed to fully ripen on the vine. In addition, during the long haul from farm to fork, fresh fruits and vegetables are exposed to lots of heat and light, which degrade some nutrients, especially delicate vitamins like C and the B vitamin thiamin.

Bottom line:
When vegetables are in-season, buy them fresh and ripe. “Off-season,” frozen vegetables will give you a high concentration of nutrients. Choose packages marked with a USDA “U.S. Fancy” shield, which designates produce of the best size, shape and color; vegetables of this standard also tend to be more nutrient-rich than the lower grades “U.S. No. 1” or “U.S. No. 2.” Eat them soon after purchase: over many months, nutrients in frozen vegetables do inevitably degrade. Finally, steam or microwave rather than boil your produce to minimize the loss of water-soluble vitamins.

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Source:msn. health & fitness