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Herbs & Plants (Spices)

Aloe vaera

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Botanical NameAloe Perryi, Aloe vaera (LINN)

Family: Asphodelaceae
Subfamily: Asphodeloideae
Genus: Aloe
Species: A. perryi
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Order: Asparagales

Common Name: Socotrine aloe.

Habitat: –Aloes are indigenous to East and South Africa, but have been introduced into the West Indies (where they are extensively cultivated) and into tropical countries, and will even flourish in the countries bordering on the Mediterranean. These plants are mainly found in dry areas; on flat or gentle slopes, primarily on limestone pavement but occasionally on sandy plains or granite mountains; at elevations from sea-level to 900 metres.

Description:
Aloe Perryi or Aloveras are succulent plants belonging to the Lily family, with perennial, strong and fibrous roots and numerous, persistent, fleshy leaves, proceeding from the upper part of the root, narrow, tapering, thick and fleshy, usually beset at the edges with spiney teeth. Many of the species are woody and branching. In the remote districts of S.W. Africa and in Natal, Aloes have been discovered 30 to 60 feet in height, with stems as much as 10 feet in circumference.

The flowers are produced in erect, terminal spikes. There is no calyx, the corolla is tubular, divided into six narrow segments at the mouth and of a red, yellow or purplish colour. The capsules contain numerous angular seeds.

The true Aloe is in flower during the greater part of the year and is not to be confounded with another plant, the Agave or American Aloe (Agave Americana), which is remarkable for the long interval between its periods of flowering. This is a succulent plant, without stem, the leaves being radical, spiney, and toothed. There is a variety with variegated foliage. The flower-stalk rises to many feet in height, bearing a number of large and handsome flowers. In cold climates there is usually a very long interval between the times of its flowering, though it is a popular error to suppose that it happens only once in a hundred years for when it obtains sufficient heat and receives a culture similar to that of the pineapple, it is found to flower much more frequently. Various species of Agave, all of which closely resemble each other, have been largely grown as ornamental plants since the first half of the sixteenth century in the south of Europe, and are completely acclimatized in Spain, Portugal and Southern Italy, but though often popularly called Aloes all of them are plants of the New World whereas the true Aloes are natives of the Old World. From a chemical point of view there is also no analogy at all between Aloes and Agaves.

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Although the Agave is not employed medicinally, the leaves have been used in Jamaica as a substitute for soap, the expressed juice (a gallon of the juice yields about 1 lb. of the soft extract), dried in the sun, being made into balls with wood ash. This soap lathers with salt water as well as fresh. The leaves have also been used for scouring pewter and kitchen utensils. The inner spongy substance of the leaves in a decayed state has been employed as tinder and the fibres may be spun into a strong, useful thread.

The fleshy leaves of the true Aloe contain near the epidermis or outer skin, a row of fibrovascular bundles, the cells of which are much enlarged and filled with a yellow juice which exudes when the leaf is cut. When it is desired to collect the juice, the leaves are cut off close to the stem and so placed that the juice is drained off into tubs. This juice thus collected is concentrated either by spontaneous evaporation, or more generally by boiling until it becomes of the consistency of thick honey. On cooling, it is then poured into gourds, boxes, or other convenient receptacles, and solidifies.

Aloes require two or three years’ standing before they yield their juice. In the West Indian Aloe plantations they are set out in rows like cabbages and cutting takes place in March or April, but in Africa the drug is collected from the wild plants.

Cultivation:
A plant of mainly arid and semi-arid lowland areas in the tropics. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 22 – 27°c, but can tolerate 12 – 31°c. It can be killed by temperatures of 5°c or lower It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 400 – 700mm, but tolerates 250 – 1,400mm. Tolerant of poor soils. Requires a well-drained, light to medium soil and a position in full sun. Prefers a pH in the range 6.5 – 7, tolerating 6 – 7.5.

Aloe species follow the Crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM). CAM plants can fix carbon dioxide at night and photosynthesize with closed stomata during the day, thus minimizing water loss. This, plus their succulent leaves and stems, and the presence of a thick cuticle, makes them well adapted to dry conditions.

Propagation:
Seed – we have no specific information on this species – in general Aloes are sown in a sandy, well-drained potting soil in a warm, shady position in standard seed trays. Germination takes about three weeks. Cover the seed with a thin layer of sand (1 – 2mm), keep moist. The seedlings can be planted out in individual bags or containers as soon as they are large enough to handle.

Constituents:
The most important constituents of Aloes are the two Aloins, Barbaloin and Isobarbaloin, which constitute the so-called ‘crystalline’ Aloin, present in the drug at from 10 to 30 per cent. Other constituents are amorphous Aloin, resin and Aloe-emodin. The proportion in which the Aloins are present in the respective Aloes is not accurately known.

The manner in which the evaporation is conducted has a marked effect on the appearance of the Aloes, slow and moderate concentration tending to induce crystallization of the Aloin, thus causing the drug to appear opaque. Such Aloes is termed ‘livery’ or hepatic, and splinters of it exhibit minute crystals of Aloin when examined under the microscope. If, on the other hand, the evaporation is carried as far as possible, the Aloin does not crystallize and small fragments of the drug appear transparent; it is then termed ‘glassy,’ ‘vitreous,’ or ‘lucid’ Aloes and exhibits no crystals of Aloin under the microscope.

Medicinal Uses:
Used medicinally in the same ways as Aloe vera Aloe vera is used in the following ways:-

The clear gel contained within the leaf makes an excellent treatment for wounds, burns and a host of other skin disorders, placing a protective coat over the affected area, speeding up the rate of healing and reducing the risk of infection. The gel is also applied externally to cure haemorrhoids. These actions are in part due to the presence of aloectin B, which stimulates the immune system. To obtain this gel, the leaves can be cut in half along their length and the inner pulp rubbed over the affected area of skin. This has an immediate soothing effect on all sorts of burns and other skin problems.
The use of the gel has been approved in the United States for the treatment of leukaemia in cats, of fibrosarcoma in dogs, for wound healing in humans and to prevent dry socket (‘alveolar osteitis’) in humans.
The peeled leaves are eaten to relieve sore throat and coughs and as a mild laxative. As a food supplement, the leaf gel is said to facilitate digestion, and to improve blood and lymphatic circulation, as well as kidney, liver and gall bladder functions. There are claims of beneficial activity of Aloe vera products in cases of AIDS, arthritis, or other chronic and debilitating conditions. However, these claims have not been substantiated by scientific studies. There is also no evidence that topical Aloe vera gel is effective in preventing or minimizing radiation-induced skin reactions in cancer patients. In large amounts, the gel has anti-irritant properties.

A bitter substance is obtained from the yellow sap at the base of the leaf. Known as ‘bitter aloes’, it contains anthraquinones which are a useful digestive stimulant and a strong laxative. It also has vermicidal properties. It is taken internally in the treatment of chronic constipation, poor appetite, digestive problems etc. Mixed with other ingredients to mask its bitter taste, it is taken against asthma and to treat coughs. Similar mixtures are taken to cure dysentery, kidney problems or against dyspepsia. It should be administered preferably in combination with an antispasmodic to moderate its griping action.

It is applied externally as a refrigerant to treat acne or cuts.
‘Curaçao aloe’ should contain at least 28% hydroxy-anthraquinone derivatives; it is almost entirely soluble in 60% alcohol and for more than 70% in water. It should not contain more than 12% moisture and 3% ash.The plant is strongly purgative so great care should be taken over the dosage.
Anthraquinone-based laxatives, such as bitter aloes, should not be used longer than 8 – 10 days, nor by children younger than 12 years. Contra-indications include pregnancy, breastfeeding, intestinal inflammations and haemorrhoids.
When plants are grown in pots the anthraquinone content is greatly reduced.

The word Aloes, in Latin Lignum Aloes, is used in the Bible and in many ancient writings to designate a substance totally distinct from the modern Aloes, namely the resinous wood of Aquilaria agallocha, a large tree growing in the Malayan Peninsula. Its wood constituted a drug which was, down to the beginning of the present century, generally valued for use as incense, but now is esteemed only in the East.

A beautiful violet colour is afforded by the leaves of the Socotrine Aloe, and it does not require a mordant to fix it.
Known Hazards: The sap of Aloe species contains anthraquinones. These compounds have several beneficial medicinal actions, particularly as a laxative, and many species of Aloe are thus employed in traditional medicine. Whilst safe in small doses and for short periods of time, anthraquinones do have potential problems if used in excess. These include congestion and irritation of the pelvic organs.

Long term use of anthraquinone laxatives may also play a role in development of colorectal cancer as they have genotoxic potential, and tumorigenic potential.

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:
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/a/aloes027.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aloe_perryi
http://tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Aloe+perryi

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Categories
Herbs & Plants

Rubus spectabilis

Botanical Name : Rubus spectabilis
Family: Rosaceae
Genus: Rubus
Species:R. spectabilis
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Rosales

Common Names: Salmonberry

Habitat:Rubus spectabilis is native to the west coast of North America from west central Alaska to California, inland as far as Idaho. Occasionally naturalized in Britain. It grows on Moist spots in and about woods below 300 metres in California.

Description:
Rubus spectabilis is a deciduous shrub growing to 1–4 m (40-160 inches or 1.3-13.3 feet) tall, with perennial, not biennial woody stems that are covered with fine prickles. The leaves are trifoliate (with three leaflets), 7–22 cm (2.8-8.8 inches) long, the terminal leaflet larger than the two side leaflets. The leaf margins are toothed. It is in flower in April, and the seeds ripen from Jun to July. The flowers are 2–3 cm (0.8-1.2 inches) in diameter, with five pinkish-purple petals; they are produced from early spring to early summer. The fruit matures in late summer to early autumn, and resembles a large yellow to orange-red raspberry 1.5–2 cm (0.6-0.8 inches) long with many drupelets.

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The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.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 soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.
Cultivation:
Easily grown in a good well-drained loamy soil in sun or semi-shade. Grows well in the shade of trees though it is less likely to fruit well in such a position. Hardy to about -25°c. A very ornamental plant, but it is invasiv. It does not fruit well in Britain, but has become naturalized in Surrey and Cumbria in cool acid woodland soils. This species is a raspberry with biennial stems, it produces a number of new stems each year from the perennial rootstock, these stems fruit in their second year and then die. Plants in this genus are notably susceptible to honey fungu.
Propagation:
Seed – requires stratification and is best sown in early autumn in a cold frame. Stored seed requires one month stratification at about 3°c and is best sown as early as possible in the year. Prick out the seedlings when they are large enough to handle and grow on in a cold frame. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring of the following year. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame. Tip layering in July. Plant out in autumn. Division in early spring or just before leaf-fall in the autumn
Edible Uses:
Fruit raw, cooked or dried for later use. Juicy with a very good flavour. The fruit can be made into jams and jellies. This species is not of much value in Britain, it does not fruit freely in the cooler summers of this country and the fruits do not always develop their full flavour. The fruit can range in colour from yellow, through orange to red, it is about the size of a cultivated raspberry but is rather inferior in flavour and often has a distinctive bitterness, especially in cooler summers. Another report says that it fruits freely in Britain. Young shoots – peeled and eaten raw or cooked like asparagus. They are harvested in the spring as they grow above the soil and whilst they are still tender. Flowers – raw. The leaves are used as a tea substitute.
Medicinal Uses:

Analgesic; Astringent; Disinfectant; Odontalgic; Poultice; Stomachic.

The leaves and the root are astringent. A poultice of the chewed leaves has been used as a dressing on burns. The root bark is analgesic, astringent, disinfectant and stomachic. A decoction is used in the treatment of stomach complaints. A decoction has been used to lessen the pains of labour. The powdered bark has been used as a dusting powder on burns and sores. A poultice of the bark has been applied to wounds and aching teeth to ease the pain. A poultice of the chewed bark has been used as a dressing to relive pain and clean burns and wounds.

Other Uses:
Disinfectant; Dye; Pipes.
A purple to dull blue dye is obtained from the fruit. The hollowed stems are used as pipes. (The report does not specify what type of pipes)

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:
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Rubus+spectabilis
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rubus_spectabilis

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Herbs & Plants

Osmorhiza longistylis

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Botanical Name; Osmorhiza longistylis
Family: Apiaceae
Genus: Osmorhiza
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Apiales

Common Names; Aniseroot, Longstyle sweetroot, American sweet cicely, Licorice root, Wild anise, or Simply sweet cicely

Habitat : Osmorhiza longistylis is native to Eastern N. America – Nova Scotia to Ontario, Alabama, Tennessee, Kansas and Colorado. It grows in rich, often alluvial woods and thickets. Woods, often along the sides of streams in Texas.

Description:
Osmorhiza longistylis is a herbaceous perennial plant is about 1.2 m (4ft) ‘ tall, branching occasionally. The stems are light green to reddish purple, terete, and glabrous (var. longistylis) to hairy (var. villicaulis). The alternate leaves are ternately compound; the lower compound leaves are up to 9″ long and 9″ across, while the upper compound leaves are much smaller in size. Each compound leaf is divided into 3 compound leaflets; the terminal compound leaflet is the largest. Each compound leaflet is further divided into 3 subleaflets; the terminal subleaflet is the largest, sometimes appearing to be divided into 3 even smaller subleaflets. The subleaflets are 1-4″ long, ½-1½” across, and lanceolate to oval-ovate shape in shape; their margins are coarsely serrated-crenate or shallowly cleft. The upper subleaflet surface is yellowish green to green and nearly glabrous (var. longistylis) to moderately covered with appressed hairs (var. villicaulis).

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The petioles of compound leaves are light green to reddish purple and up to 6″ in length. The petiolules of leaflets are light green to reddish green and up to 2″ long, while those of subleaflets are nearly sessile to ¼” (6 mm.) long. The foliage of this plant releases a mild anise fragrance when it is rubbed. The upper stems terminate in compound umbels of white flowers about 1½-3″ across. There are about 3-6 umbellets per compound umbel on rays (floral stalks) up to 2″ long. An umbellet has 7-16 flowers that are clustered together on rays (floral stalklets) up to ¼” (6 mm.) long. Each flower (about 3 mm. across) has 5 white petals with incurved tips, 5 white stamens, a pistil with a divided white style (stylopodium), and an insignificant calyx that is light green. At the base of each compound umbel, there are several linear-lanceolate bracts with ciliate margins; they are up to 8 mm. in length. At the base of each umbellet, there are several linear-lanceolate bractlets with ciliate margins; they are also up to 8 mm. in length.

The blooming period occurs during the late spring or early summer, lasting about 2-3 weeks. Afterwards, the flowers are replaced by 2-seeded fruits (schizocarps). While these fruits are still immature, the persistent divided style is 2.0-3.5 mm. in length (it is smaller than this when the flowers are still in bloom). The small seeds are narrowly ellipsoid-oblanceoloid, 5-ribbed, and slightly bristly along their ribs. The root system consists of a cluster of fleshy roots with a strong anise fragrance.

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Cultivation:
Succeeds in any deep moisture-retentive soil in sun or dappled shade. Plants are hardy to about -20°c. Well suited to naturalistic plantings in a woodland or wild garden. A sweetly aromatic plant.

Propagation:
Seed – we have no information on this species but suggest sowing the seed in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe if this is possible, otherwise sow it in early spring. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts.

Edible Uses :
Edible Parts: Leaves; Root.
Edible Uses: Condiment; Tea.

Root – raw or cooked. Very sweet, aromatic and fleshy. A spicy flavour similar to anise, the roots are chewed, made into a tea or used as a flavouring. Leaves and young shoots – raw. An anise flavour, they are added to salads. The green seeds have an anise flavour and are used as a flavouring in salads, the dry seeds are added to cakes etc.
Medicinal Uses:

Osmorhiza longistylis  was used extensively by Native American Indian tribes to treat digestive disorders and as an antiseptic wash for a range of problems. Sweet Cicely is medicinal and edible, the root being the strongest for use in alternative medicine it is antiseptic, aromatic, febrifuge, oxytocic, pectoral, stomachic, carminative, tonic, ophthalmic, and expectorant. Medicinal tea made from the root is a very good digestive aid and is a gentle stimulant for debilitated stomachs. A weak herb tea is used to bath sore eyes. A strong infusion has been used to induce labor in a pregnant woman and to treat fevers, indigestion, flatulence, stomach aches. The crushed root is an effective antiseptic poultice for the treatment of boils and wounds. A medicinal cough syrup can be made of the fresh juice and honey, it is very effective and quite tasty, children take it readily.


Folklore:
 A decoction of the herb was used as nostril wash to increase dog’s sense of smell. A valuable tonic for girls from 15 to 18 years of age, according to an old herbal. The aromatic scent is said to be an aphrodisiac, used as a love medicine.

In use it should not be confused with species of poison hemlock, water hemlock, or baneberry.

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/Osmorhiza_longistylis
http://www.illinoiswildflowers.info/woodland/plants/aniseroot.htm
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Osmorhiza+longistylis

http://altnature.com/gallery/sweetcicely.htm

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Herbs & Plants

Cinnamodendron corticosum

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 Botanical Name : Cinnamodendron corticosum
Family: Canellaceae
Genus: Cinnamodendron
Species: C. corticosum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Canellales

Synonyms: Red Canella. Mountain Cinnamon.

Part Used: Dried bark. 

Habitat: Cinnamodendron corticosum is native to Jamaica.

Description:
Cinnamodendron corticosum is a species of flowering plant.The bark is pungent like Winter’s Bark, but a much paler brown colour, resembling canella bark, but without its chalky white inner surface. It has a ferruginous grey-brown colour, darker externally, with scars of the nearly circular subereous warts smooth and finely striated on the inner surface. Like canella bark in odour and pungent taste but is not bitter.

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Constituents & Medicinal Uses :
Volatile oil and tannic acid, it may be distinguished from canella bark by its decoction becoming blackened by a persalt of iron, can be used for the same diseases as Winter’s Bark. In South America it is much used for diarrhoea, etc.
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/Cinnamodendron_corticosum
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/w/winfal26.html

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Herbs & Plants

Euonymus americanus

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Botanical Name : Euonymus americanus
Family: Celastraceae
Genus: Euonymus
Species: E. americanus
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Celastrales

Common Names: Strawberry bush, American strawberry bush,700 Series, Bursting-heart, and hearts-bustin’-with-love

Habitat : Euonymus americanus is native to the eastern United States, its distribution extending as far west as Texas. It has also been recorded in Ontario. It grows in the Woodland Garden Dappled Shade; Shady Edge.

Description:
Euonymus americanus is a deciduous Shrub growing up to 2 meters tall. The oppositely arranged leaves are leathery or papery in texture and measure up to 10 centimeters long. Flowers are borne in the leaf axils on peduncles up to 2.2 centimeters long. The yellow-green sepals are 1 or 2 centimeters long and the greenish or reddish petals above are smaller. It is in flower in June. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects. The fruit capsule is about 1.5 centimeters wide with a red warty or spiny covering. The capsule splits into five sections, revealing seeds covered in bright red arils.

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Cultivation:
Thrives in almost any soil, including chalk, it is particularly suited to dry shaded areas. Prefers a well-drained loamy soil. Requires shade from the midday sun.

Propagation:
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. Stored seed requires 8 – 12 weeks warm followed by 8 – 16 weeks cold stratification and can then be sown in a cold frame. 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. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 5 – 8cm long taken at a node or with a heel, July/August in a frame. Very easy

Medicinal Uses:
Cathartic; Diuretic; Emmenagogue; Expectorant; Laxative; Tonic.

The seed is strongly laxative. A tea made from the roots is used in cases of uterine prolapse, vomiting of blood, painful urination and stomach aches. The bark is diuretic, expectorant, laxative and tonic. It was used as a tea in the treatment of malaria, liver congestion, constipation etc. The powdered bark, applied to the scalp, was believed to eliminate dandruff. An infusion of the plant has been used to stimulate menstruation and so should not be used by pregnant women.

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/Euonymus_americanus
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Euonymus+americanus