Herbs & Plants

Rudbechia hirta

Botanical Name: Rudbechia hirta
Family: Asteraceae
Genus: Rudbeckia
Species: R. hirta
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asterales

Common Names: Black-Eye-Susan, Brown-eyed susan, Brown betty, Gloriosa daisy, Golden Jerusalem, Poorland daisy, Yellow daisy, and Yellow ox-eye daisy
Habitat: Rudbechia hirta native to the Eastern and Central North America and naturalized in the Western part of the continent as well as in China. It has now been found in all 10 Canadian Provinces and all 48 of the states in the contiguous United States.

Rudbeckia hirta is an upright annual (sometimes biennial or perennial) growing 30–100 cm (12–39 in) tall by 30–45 cm (12–18 in) wide. It has alternate, mostly basal leaves 10–18 cm long, covered by coarse hair, with stout branching stems and daisy-like, composite flower heads appearing in late summer and early autumn. In the species, the flowers are up to 10 cm (4 in) in diameter, with yellow ray florets circling conspicuous brown or black, dome-shaped cone of many small disc florets. However, extensive breeding has produced a range of sizes and colours, including oranges, reds and browns

There are four varieties

*Rudbeckia hirta var. angustifolia – southeastern + south-central United States (South Carolina to Texas)
*Rudbeckia hirta var. floridana – Florida
*Rudbeckia hirta var. hirta – Eastern United States (Maine to Alabama).
*Rudbeckia hirta var. pulcherrima. Widespread in most of North America (Newfoundland to British Columbia, south to Alabama and New Mexico; naturalized Washington to California).

Rudbeckia hirta is widely cultivated in parks and gardens, for summer bedding schemes, borders, containers, wildflower gardens, prairie-style plantings and cut flowers. Numerous cultivars have been developed, of which ‘Indian Summer’ and ‘Toto’ have gained the Royal Horticultural Society‘s Award of Garden Merit. Other popular cultivars include ‘Double Gold’ and ‘Marmalade’.

Gloriosa daisies are tetraploid cultivars having much larger flower heads than the wild species, often doubled or with contrasting markings on the ray florets. They were first bred by Alfred Blakeslee of Smith College by applying colchicine to R. hirta seeds; Blakeslee’s stock was further developed by W. Atlee Burpee and introduced to commerce at the 1957 Philadelphia Flower Show. Gloriosa daisies are generally treated as annuals or short-lived perennials and are typically grown from seed, though there are some named cultivars.

Medicinal Uses:
Certain parts of the plant contains anthocyanins a class of antioxidant with several known health benefits.

Traditional Native American medicinal uses:
American Indians used root tea to treat parasitic infestations such as pinworm. They used it externally to treat snake bits, superficial wounds and earaches.

*The roots but not the seedheads of Rudbeckia hirta can be used much like the related Echinacea purpurea to boost immunity and fight colds, flu and infections.
*It is also an astringent when used in a warm infusion as a wash for sores and swellings.
*The Ojibwa people used it as a poultice for snake bites and to make an infusion for treating colds and worms in children.
*The plant is also diuretic and was used by the Menominee and Potawatomi peoples.
*Juice from the roots has been used as drops for earaches

Other Uses:
*Butterflies are attracted to Rudbeckia hirta when planted in large color-masses, creating a beautiful spectacle.
* The black-eyed Susan which also traditionally symbolizes “Justice” makes a very nice cut-flower with a vase life up to 10 days

Known Hazards: The species is known to be toxic to cats when ingeste
As with any wild plant, it is usually recommended to research carefully before consuming as not all parts of the plant may be edible and to avoid mis-identification with other plants that may look similar to the Black eyed Susan.
It is widely recommended always to consul

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

Astragalus gummifer

Botanical Name: Astragalus gummifer
Family: Fabaceae
Genus: Astragalus
Species: A. gummifer
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Fabales

Synonyms: Gum Tragacanth. Syrian Tragacanth. Gum Dragon (known in commerce as Syrian Tragacanth).

Common Names:Tragacanth, Gum tragacanth milkvetch
Habitat: Astragalus gummifer is native to temperate regions of Western Asia centralized in Iraq, Kurdistan, Iran, Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey but also found in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Russia. It finds dry sub-alpine slopes and valleys habitable typically 1200–2600 metres below the tree line in Iraq. The shrub grows in highlands and deserts. The shrub tolerates a pH range between 3.2 and 7.8 and temperatures as low as -5 to -10 Celsius. Standard environment consists of low water supply, full sun, no shade, and well-drained sandy/loamy soil. The plant adheres to a perennial life cycle (living for more than two years) and is an evergreen retaining its leaves throughout all seasons. Plant also known to have symbiotic relationship with soil bacteria, which fix nitrogen used by the plant.

Astragalus gummifer is an evergreen Shrub growing to 0.3 m (1ft) by 0.3 m (1ft in). The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, lepidoptera.It can fix Nitrogen. It is a small branching thorny shrub, the stem of which exudes a gum, vertical slits giving flat ribbon-shaped pieces and punctures giving tears; these have a horny appearance, are nearly colourless or faintly yellow, marked with numerous concentric ridges; the flakes break with a short fracture, are odourless and nearly tasteless; soaked in cold water, they swell and form a gelatinous mass 8 or 10 per cent only dissolving. This species is shrubby, with small branches and short woody gray stem surrounded by thorns. The compound leaves are stipulate with elliptical leaflets (pinnae) borne in opposite pairs. The rachis of the leaf is extended into a sharp thorn…...CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

Requires a dry well-drained soil in a sunny position. Succeeds in poor soils. Tolerates a pH in the range 3.2 to 7.8. This species is not hardy in the colder areas of the country, it tolerates temperatures down to between -5 and -10°c. Whilst it is likely to tolerate low temperatures it may not be so happy with a wet winter. Plants are intolerant of root disturbance and are best planted in their final positions whilst still small. This plant is a sub-shrub and although it produces woody stems these tend to die back almost to the base each winter. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby. Many members of this genus can be difficult to grow, this may be due partly to a lack of their specific bacterial associations in the soil.

Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. A period of cold stratification may help stored seed to germinate. Stored seed, and perhaps also fresh seed, should be pre-soaked for 24 hours in hot water before sowing – but make sure that you do not cook the seed. Any seed that does not swell should be carefully pricked with a needle, taking care not to damage the embryo, and re-soaked for a further 24 hours. Germination can be slow and erratic but is usually within 4 – 9 weeks or more at 13°c if the seed is treated or sown fresh. As soon as it is large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter, planting them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts.

Edible Uses:
Dried sap containing gum can be extracted from the plants root and stem, and used as a food additive mainly a thickener for salad dressings and sauces. The gum is also an excellent emulsifier and can be used in ice cream to provide its texture.

Part Used: Gummy exudation.

Constituents: The portion soluble in water contains chiefly polyarabinan-trigalaetangeddic acid; the insoluble part is called bassorin. Tragacanth also contains water, traces of starch, cellulose, and nitrogenous substances, yielding about 3 per cent ash.

Medicinal Uses:
The gum obtained from the roots and stem of the plant also bears many medicinal properties and is often referred to as tragacanth gum. The gum acts as a demulcent, which soothes irritated tissues making it helpful in treating burns. The gum acts as an antitumor as well stimulating the immune system in order to treat cancer. The plant also serves as an adaptogen fighting against chronic degenerative diseases by helping the body get to normal stress levels.

Demulcent, but owing to its incomplete solubility is not often used internally. It is much used for the suspension of heavy, insoluble powders to impart consistence to lozenges, being superior to gum arabic, also in making emulsions, mucilago, etc. Mucilage of Tragacanth has been used as anapplication to burns; it is also employed by manufacturers for stiffening calico, crape, etc.

Other Uses:
Tragacanth gum works as a thickening agent for several dyes, dressing fabrics, glues, watercolors, and ink as well as a binding agent in paper making and lozenges. Incense can be derived from the burning of the stems or gum.

Known Hazards: Many members of this genus contain toxic glycosides. All species with edible seedpods can be distinguished by their fleshy round or oval seedpod that looks somewhat like a greengage. A number of species can also accumulate toxic levels of selenium when grown in soils that are relatively rich in that element

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

Saxifraga stolonifera

Botanical Name : Saxifraga stolonifera
Family: Saxifragaceae
Genus: Saxifraga
Species: S. stolonifera
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Saxifragales

Synonyms : Saxifraga sarmentosa.

Common Names:  Strawberry Saxifrage, Creeping Saxifrage, Strawberry Geranium, Strawberry Begonia, Creeping Rockfoil

Habitat : Saxifraga stolonifera is native to Asia but has been introduced to other continents. Range: E. Asia – W. China, Japan. Naturalized in C. and S. Europe. It grows in Shady cliffs and mossy rocks at low altitudes. Occasionally naturalized on walls in C. and S. Europe.

Saxifraga stolonifera is an evergreen Perennial plant, growing to 0.2 m (0ft 8in) by 0.3 m (1ft) at a medium rate. The plant spreads via threadlike stolon (runners), with plantlets taking root in the vicinity of the mother plant. It is not frost tender. It is in leaf 12-Jan It is in flower from Jul to August…..….CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES
Cultivation :
Landscape Uses:Alpine garden, Container, Ground cover, Massing, Rock garden, Woodland garden. Prefers a cool position in a moist humus-rich soil. Prefers an acid soi. Thrives on heavy soils in the milder areas of the country. Usually thrives in a poor soil with a northerly aspect. Grows well in light woodland or in a shady position in a rock garden. The plant is hardy to about -10°c. The leaves and the flowers, however, are liable to be damaged by autumn frosts. A very ornamental plant, it is sometimes grown as a house plant. A polymorphic species, it is closely related to S. cortusifolia, differing in having runners. Special Features:Attractive foliage, Not North American native, Naturalizing, Inconspicuous flowers or blooms.
Propagation :
Seed – we have no information for this species but suggest sowing the seed in a cold frame in the spring. Surface sow, or only just cover the seed, and make sure that the compost does not dry out. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse or cold frame for their first winter. Plant them out in late spring after the last expected frosts. Division in spring. 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.
Edible Uses: The foliage is occasionally used fresh or cooked in Japanese cuisine. It was also used as an herbal remedy in Classical Japan. It contains Quercetin which has been shown to have anti-cancer activity in vitro.

Medicinal Uses:
Antibacterial; Antiphlogistic; Depurative; Febrifuge.

Antibacterial, antiphlogistic. There are growth-promoting substances in the leaves. The whole plant is depurative, febrifuge and suppurative. Its use promotes the drainage of pus. A decoction is used in the treatment of boils and abscesses, poisonous snakebites, otitis media, acute attacks of convulsions and haematemesis. The leaf juice is applied to aching ears, abscesses and inflammations

Other Uses: This plant is mainly used as an ornamental plant. A popular garden flower, it has attractive white blossoms with distinctive pointed petals and bright yellow ovary. S. stolonifera also sees use as a houseplant. Its creeping green foliage makes a good groundcover.
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

Columbine(Aquilegia canadensis)

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Close-up of flowers
Image via Wikipedia


Botanical Name:Aquilegia canadensis
Family: Ranunculaceae
Genus: Aquilegia
Species: A. canadensis
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Ranunculales
Common Name: Canadian or Canada columbine, Eastern red columbine, Wild columbine
Habitat: Rocky woods.  Avaible  from Ontario as far south as Georga.

Plant Type: This is a herbaceous plant, it is a perennial which can reach 90cm in height (35inches).
Leaves: The leaves are alternate. . Each leaf is deeply lobed or divided.
Flowers: The flowers have 5 Regular Parts and are up to 5cm long (2 inches) and are up to 5cm wide (2 inches). They are red, orange and yellow. Blooms first appear in mid spring and continue into early summer. The flower hangs and the lower part is yellowish. The shape of the flower is very distinct.
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Grows easily in full sun to part shade. Tolerates a wide range of soils except heavy, poorly drained ones. Will grow in rocky, dry soil in shaded areas and on slopes.

Keep soils uniformly moist after bloom to prevent the foliage from dying back. If foliage deteriorates, cut plants to the ground. Fresh new foliage will emerge and look good all season.

Collect dried seed pods and sow them where you want more plants or simply let the plants self-sow.
Cultivation: The plant is easily propagated from seed and blooms the second year. It is relatively long lived in the garden. It grows well in shade, and in sun with proper moisture. The plant has gained the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit. The cultivar ‘Little Lanterns’ is half the height of the species.

Historical Lore: Young Native American men mixed the seeds with their smoking tobacco to give it a more pleasant aroma and this may have been considered a love charm. It was considered to possess a persuasive power and was so used in council meetings.

Constituents:The root contains aquilegunine, berberine, magnoflorine and other alkaloids.

Medical Properities: —As stated before the medical properties of the plant have never been investigated. They are no doubt analogous to the Aquilegia vulgaris of Europe, which has been used in cutaneous diseases and in jaundice. It is said to be a “diuretic, emmenagogue sudorific, antiscorbutic and aperitive. The seeds are acrid and are taken in vinous infusions for jaundice.”

Medical Uses: Preparations of this plant are used as an astringent, analgesic, and a diuretic. American Indians used crushed seeds to relieve headaches.

The root tea or chewed root and sometimes the leaves, has been used as a diuretic and to treat diarrhea and other stomach troubles.

Warning: The plant could be toxic if taken in large amounts especially to children.(as Aquilegia canadensis contains a cyanogenic glycoside, which releases poisonous hydrogen cyanide when the plant is damaged.)

Similar Species: European Columbine (A. vulgaris) which has shorter spurs on the flowers which may be blue, violet, white or pink has become naturalized in some areas.

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

American Cranesbill (Geranium maculatum)

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Botanical Name : Geranium maculatum
Family:    Geraniaceae
Kingdom:    Plantae
Order:    Geraniales
Genus:    Geranium
Species:    G. maculatum

Popular Name(s): Alumroot, Storksbill, Wild Geranium

Common Names: Spotted Cranesbill, Spotted geranium, Crowfoot, Wild Geranium, Cranesbill

Other Names: Alumroot, storksbill, spotted geranium, wild geranium, wild cranesbill, spotted cranesbill, alum bloom, crowfoot, dove’s foot, old maid’s nightcap, shameface, tormentil.
Flowers: April – June
Parts Used: Root & rhizome
Habitat: Geranium maculatum  is native to Canada and Eastern United States; Maine to Georgia; Arkansas and Kansas to Manitoba. It grows  on  wet places in woods, wet rocks and in swamps. Woodlands, thickets and meadows.

Description & Identification:: American Cranesbill is a perennial herbaceous plant growing to 60 cm tall, producing upright usually unbranched stems and flowers in spring to early summer. The leaves are palmately lobed with five or seven deeply cut lobes, 10–12.5 cm broad, with a petiole up to 30 cm long arising from the rootstock. They are deeply parted into three or five divisions, each of which is again cleft and toothed. The flowers are 2.5–4 cm diameter, with five rose-purple, pale or violet-purple (rarely white) petals and ten stamens; they appear from April to June in loose clusters of two to five at the top of the stems. The fruit capsule, which springs open when ripe, consists of five cells each containing one seed joined to a long beak-like column 2–3 cm long (resembling a crane’s bill) produced from the center of the old flower. The rhizome is long, and 5 to 10 cm thick, with numerous branches. The rhizomes are covered with scars, showing the remains of stems of previous years growth. When dry it has a somewhat purplish color internally. Plants go dormant in early summer after seed is ripe and dispersed.

click to see the pictures

The stem is erect and unbranched, the leaves 5-parted, deeply divided, and toothed.
The 5-petaled pink to purple flowers grow in pairs on axillary peduncles. Distinct “crane’s bill” in center of flower enlarges into seedpod, divided into five cells with a seed in each cell.

History: Native Americans used a decoction of Wild Grape and Cranesbill as a mouthwash for children with thrush. Once used to stop bleeding, diarrhea, dysentery, relieve piles, hum diseases, kidney and stomach ailments. Powdered root applied to canker sores. Externally, used as a folk remedy for cancer.

Constituents: 12-25% tannins including gallic acid, with the level being highest just before flowering.

Medicinal Properties & Uses:

Astringent, antihaemorrhagic, anti-inflammatory, styptic, tonic, vulnerary.Cranesbill reduces inflammation in peptic ulcers, duodenal ulcers, enteritis, and bowel disease and is gentle enough for children and the elderly. It is also used to treat melaena, menorrhagia (blood loss during menstruation), and metrorrhagia (uterine hemorrhage). As a douche, it can be used in leucorrhoea.

An effective astringent used in diarrhea, dysentery, and hemorrhoids. When bleeding accompanies duodenal or gastric ulceration, this remedy is used in combination with other relevent herbs.
The powdered root is an effective blood coagulant and can be used to stem external bleeding.
Combinations: In peptic ulcers it may be used with Meadowsweet, Comfrey, Marshmallow, or Agrimony. In leucorrhoea it can be combined with Trillium.

Preparation & Dosages:
Decoction – Put 1 to 2 teaspoonfuls of the root in a cup of cold water and bring to boiling. Let simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. This should be drunk three times a day.
Root Tincture – [1:5, 45% alcohol], 1/2 to 1 teaspoon, up to 3 times a day.
Liquid Extract – [1:1, 45% alcohol], 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon, up to 3 times a day.

The herb is often prescribed for irritable bowel syndrome and hemorrhoids, and it is used to staunch wounds.  It may also be used to treat heavy menstrual bleeding and excessive vaginal discharge.  As a douche it can be used in leucorrhea.  Its powerful astringent action is used in secondary dysentery, diarrhea, and infantile cholera (Boil with milk to which a little cinnamon has been added and the milk cooked down to half its liquid volume.).  Troublesome bleeding from the nose, wounds or small vessels, and from the extraction of teeth may be checked effectively by applying the powder to the bleeding orifice and, if possible, covering with a compress of cotton.  For Diabetes and Brights disease a decoction taken internally has proven effective of Unicorn root and Cranesbill.   One of the safest and most effective astringent herbs for gastrointestinal problems.

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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