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Herbs & Plants

Echium vulgare

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Botanical Name: Echium vulgare
Family: Boraginaceae
Genus: Echium
Species: E. vulgare
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Boraginales

Synonym: Blueweed.

Common Names : Viper’s Bugloss or Blueweed, Common viper’s bugloss

Habitat: Echium vulgare is native to southern and western Europe and Western Asia. It has been introduced to North America and is naturalised in parts of the continent, being listed as an invasive species in Washington. It grows in calcareous and light dry soils, especially on cliffs near the sea is also found on walls, old quarries and gravel pits.
Description:
Echium vulgare is a biennial or monocarpic perennial plant growing to 30–80 cm (12–31 in) tall, with rough, hairy, lanceolate leaves. The flowers start pink and turn vivid blue and are 15–20 mm (0.59–0.79 in) in a branched spike, with all the stamens protruding. The pollen is blue but the filaments of the stamens remain red, contrasting against the blue flowers. It flo wers between May and September. It is found in dry, bare and waste places…..CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

Cultivation: Succeeds in any good garden soil but flowers best when the soil is not too rich. Requires a sunny position. The plant is very deep rooted. A good bee plant.

Propagation: : Seed sow February-May or August-November in situ. Germination usually takes place within 2 – 3 weeks at 15°c. If the seed is in short supply then it can be sown in pots in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer.

Edible Uses: Young leaves – raw or cooked. They can be used as a spinach substitute. Mild and mucilaginous. Although somewhat hairy, when chopped up finely they are an acceptable part of a mixed salad. Eating the leaves is said to stimulate sexual desire. Use with caution, there is an unconfirmed report of toxicity.

Part Used in medicine: The whole Herb.

Medicinal Uses:
Antitussive; Aphrodisiac; Demulcent; Diaphoretic; Diuretic; Emollient; Pectoral; Vulnerary.

Viper’s bugloss was once considered to be a preventative and remedy for viper bites. It is related to borage, Borago officinalis, and has many similar actions, especially in its sweat-inducing and diuretic effects. In recent times, however, it has fallen out of use, partly due to lack of interest in its medicinal potential and partly to its content of pyrrolizidine alkaloids which are toxic in isolation. The leaves and flowering stems are antitussive, aphrodisiac, demulcent, diaphoretic, diuretic, pectoral and vulnerary. An infusion of the plant is taken internally as a diuretic and in the treatment of fevers, headaches, chest conditions etc. The juice of the plant is an effective emollient for reddened and delicate skins, it is used as a poultice or plaster to treat boils and carbuncles. The leaves are harvested in the summer and can be dried for later use. The roots contain the healing agent allantoin. The plant is said to be efficacious in the treatment of snake bites. When chopped up finely, the fresh flowering heads can be made into a poultice for treating whitlows and boils.
Known Hazards: The leaves are poisonous. No cases of poisoning have ever been recorded for this plant. The bristly hairs on the leaves and stems can cause severe dermatitis.

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/Echium_vulgare
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/b/bugvip85.html
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Echium+vulgare

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Herbs & Plants

Barosma betulina

Botanical Name : Barosma betulina
Family: Rutaceae
Genus: Agathosma
Species: A. betulina
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Sapindales

Synonym: Agathosma betulina, Diosma betulina, Agathosma  crenulata

Common Names: Round leaf buchu , oval leaf buchu

Habitat: Barosma betulina is native to the lower elevation mountains of western South Africa, where it occurs near streams in fynbos habitats.

Description:
Barosma betulina is an evergreen shrub and a flowering plant growing to 2 m tall. The leaves are opposite and of pale green colour, 1/2 to 3/4 inch long, 1/2 inch or less wide, leathery and glossy, with a blunt, strongly-curved tip and finely-toothed margin, with round oil glands scattered through the leaf. Frequently the small white or pae pink flowers, with five petals, and the brownish fruits may be found mixed with the drug. The leaves have a strongly aromatic taste and a peppermint-like odour. ; the fruit is a five-parted capsule which splits open to release the seeds……..click & see the pictures

Edible Use:
Wild plants of this species are still plentiful but are being harvested faster than they can reproduce. The threat of their becoming scarce has led to efforts to cultivate them. The essential oils and extracts of the leaves are used as flavoring for teas, candy, and a liquor known as buchu brandy in South Africa. The two primary chemical constituents of the oils of A. betulina are isomenthone and diosphenol. The extract is said to taste like blackcurrant.

Constituents: The principal constituents of Buchu leaves are volatile oil and mucilage, also diosphenol, which has antiseptic properties, and is considered by some to be the most important constituent of Buchu its absence from the variety known as ‘Long Buchu’ has led to the exclusion of the latter leaves from the British Pharmacopoeia.

Medicinal Uses:
The plant has been used by the indigenous people of South Africa to as a folk remedy for various disorders. Dutch settlers in early times used Agathosma betulina commonly called buchu to make a brandy tincture. The tincture is still used today. In gravel, inflammation and catarrh of the bladder it is specially useful.

The leaves are used locally for antiseptic purposes and to ward off insects.  In western herbalism, the leaves are used for infections of the genito-urinary system, such as cystitis, urethritis and prostates.  Internally used for urinary tract infections (especially prostates and cystitis), digestive problems, gout, rheumatism, coughs, and colds, often combined with Althaea officinalis.  Externally used in traditional African medicine as a powder to deter insects and in a vinegar-based lotion for bruises and sprains.

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/Agathosma_betulina
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/b/buchu-78.html

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

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Herbs & Plants

Bryonia dioica

Botanical Nam:  Bryonia dioicae

Family: Cucurbitaceae
Subfamily: Cucurbitoideae
Tribe: Benincaseae
Subtribe: Benincasinae
Genus: Bryonia
Species: B. dioica
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Cucurbitales
Synonyms: English Mandrake. Wild Vine. Wild Hops. Wild Nep. Tamus. Ladies’ Seal. Tetterbury.
(French) Navet du diable.

Common Names: Red bryony and White bryony

Habitat: Bryonia dioica is indigenous to Central and Southern Europe.It is rarer in the Midland counties, and not often found in the north of England. It grows in Scrub and woodland, especially on well-drained soils, avoiding acid soils.

Description:
Bryonia dioica is a perennial climber growing to 3.5 m (11ft) by 3 m (9ft) at a fast rate.The leaves are stalked, with the stalk curved, shorter than the blade, which is divided into five lobes, of which the middle one is the longest – all five are slightly angular.

The flowers, which bloom in May, are small, greenish, and produced, generally three or four together, in small bunches springing from the axils of the leaves. Stamens and pistils are never found in the same flower, nor are the flowers which have them individually ever met with on the same plant in this species, whence the name dioica, signifying literally ‘two dwellings.’ The male flowers are in loose, stalked bunches, 3 to 8 flowers in a bunch, or cyme, the stamens having one-celled, yellow anthers. The fertile flowers, easily distinguished from the barren by the presence of an ovary beneath the calyx, are generally either stalkless (sessile) or with very short stalks – two to five together. The corollas in each case consist of five petals, cohering only at the base. The outer green calyx is widely bell-shaped and five-toothed.

The berries, which hang about the bushes after the stem and leaves are withered, are almost the size of peas when ripe, a pale scarlet in colour. They are filled with juice of an unpleasant, foetid odour and contain three to six large seeds, greyish-yellow, mottled with black, and are unwholesome to eat....CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

The whole plant is rather succulent, bright green and somewhat shining.

It is in flower from May to June. 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 Bees.The plant is not self-fertile.

The plant, Bryonia dioicais is sometimes used in herbalism. The root, which can be 75 cm (30 in) long and 75 mm (3.0 in) thick, can be used fresh at any time of the year. It can also be harvested in the autumn and be dried for later use.

Cultivation:
A rapid grower, it is of easy cultivation succeeding in most soils that are well drained, avoiding acid soils in the wild. Prefers a sunny position. A very deep-rooted climbing plant, attaching itself to other plants by means of tendrils. The plant is not eaten by rabbits. Plants can be easily encouraged by scattering ripe seed along the base of hedgerows. Dioecious, male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.

Propagation:  Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. Sow stored seed in late winter in a cold frame. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter, planting them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Division in early spring.

Edible Uses: Young shoots – must be cooked . They are eaten in spring. Caution is advised in the use of this plant, see the notes above regarding toxicity.
Medicinal Uses:
Cathartic; Cytotoxic; Diaphoretic; Expectorant; Hydrogogue; Irritant; Pectoral; Purgative; Vermifuge.

A powerful cathartic and purgative, bryony is used with great caution in present-day herbalism. It is primarily prescribed for painful rheumatic conditions. The root is cathartic, cytotoxic, diaphoretic, expectorant, hydrogogue, irritant, pectoral, purgative and vermifuge. It is used in small quantities internally in the treatment of various inflammatory conditions, bronchial complaints, asthma, intestinal ulcers, hypertension and arthritis. Externally, it is applied as a rubefacient to muscular and joint pains and pleurisy. The root, which can be 75cm long and 75mm thick, can be used fresh at any time of the year, it can also be harvested in the autumn and be dried for later use. This plant should be used with great caution and only under the supervision of a qualified practitioner.  The whole herb has an antiviral effec

Known Hazards: All parts of the plant are poisonous. One report says it is very toxic, another says it is of very low toxicity. The fresh root is a severe skin irritant.
Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bryonia_dioica
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/b/brywhi77.html
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Bryonia+dioica

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Herbs & Plants

Tamus communis

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Botanical Name:  Tamus communis
Family: Dioscoreaceae
Genus: Dioscorea
Species: D. communis
Kingdom:    Plantae
Order: Dioscoreales

Synonyms:
*Dioscorea communis
*Tamus cretica L.
*Tamus racemosa Gouan
*Smilax rubra Willd.
*Tamus cordifolia Stokes
*Tamus edulis Lowe
*Tamus norsa Lowe
*Dioscorea canariensis Webb & Berthel.
*Tamus canariensis Willd. ex Kunth
*Tamus parviflora Kunth
*Tamus baccifera St.-Lag.
*Tamus cirrhosa Hausskn. ex Bornm.

Common Names:  Black bryony, Lady’s-seal, and Black bindweed

Habitat: Tamus communis  is a native spontaneous species widespread throughout southern and central Europe, northwest Africa and western Asia, from Ireland to the Canary Islands, east to Iran and Crimea. It  is a typical plant of the forest understory, from the sea to the mountains, usually in dense woods, but it can also be found in meadows and hedges.

Description:
Tamus communis is a climbing perennial  herbaceous plant growing to 2–4 m tall, with twining stems. The leaves are spirally arranged, heart-shaped, up to 10 cm long and 8 cm broad, with a petiole up to 5 cm long. It is dioecious, with separate male and female plants. The flowers are individually inconspicuous, greenish-yellow, 3–6 mm diameter, with six petals; the male flowers produced in slender 5–10 cm racemes, the female flowers in shorter clusters. The fruit is a bright red berry, 1 cm diameter. Its fairly large tuber is, like the rest of the plant, poisonous. The large, fleshy root is black on the outside and exceedingly acrid, and, although an old cathartic medicine, is a most dangerous remedy when taken internally. It is like that of the yam, thick and tuberous and abounding in starch, but too acrid to be used as food in any manner……..CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

Cultivation:    
Requires a moist well-drained fertile soil. A climbing plant, the weak stems support themselves by twining around other plants and are capable of growing quite high up into shrubs and trees. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.

Propagation:  
Seed – sow in a cold frame in early spring or as soon as the seed is ripe in the autumn. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots once they are large enough to handle, and plant out in the summer or in late spring of the following year.

Edible Uses: Young shoots  are cooked & eaten. A decidedly bitter flavour. An asparagus substitute, it is best if the water is changed once whilst cooking.

Constituents:  The rhizome contains phenanthrenes (7-hydroxy-2,3,4,8-tetramethoxyphenanthrene, 2,3,4-trimethoxy-7,8-methylenedioxyphenanthrene, 3-hydroxy-2,4,-dimethoxy-7,8-methylenedioxyphenanthrene, 2-hydroxy-3,5,7-trimethoxyphenanthrene and 2-hydroxy-3,5,7-trimethoxy-9,10-dihydrophenanthrene).

Medicinal Uses:
Antiecchymotic;  Antirheumatic;  Cathartic;  Diuretic;  Emetic;  Haemolytic;  Poultice;  Rubefacient.

Rubifacient, diuretic. The expressed juice of the fresh root, mixed with a little white wine, has been used as a remedy for gravel, being a powerful diuretic, but it is not given internally now, and is not included in the British Pharmacopoeia. Death in most painful form is the result of an overdose, while the effect of a small quantity, varying not with the age only, but according to the idiosyncrasies of the patient, leaves little room for determining the limit between safety and destruction. The expressed juice of the root, with honey, has also been used as a remedy for asthmatic complaints, but other remedies that are safer should be preferred.

The berries act as an emetic, and children should be cautioned against eating them.

As an external irritant, Black Bryony has, however, been used with advantage, and it was formerly much employed. The scraped pulp was applied as a stimulating plaster, and in gout, rheumatism and paralysis has been found serviceable in many instances.

A tincture made from the root proves a most useful application to unbroken chilblains, and also the fruits, steeped in gin, are used for the same remedy.

Black Bryony is a popular remedy for removing discoloration caused by bruises and black eyes, etc. The fresh root is scraped to a pulp and applied in the form of a poultice.

For sores, old writers recommend it being made into an ointment with ‘hog’s grease or wax, or other convenient ointment.’

Known Hazards:    The whole plant is poisonous due to its saponin content. Although toxic, saponins are very poorly absorbed by the body and so tend to pass through without causing harm. They are also broken down by thorough cooking. Saponins are found in many plants, including several that are often used for food, such as certain beans. It is advisable not to eat large quantities of food that contain saponins. Saponins are much more toxic to some creatures, such as fish, and hunting tribes have traditionally put large quantities of them in streams, lakes etc in order to stupefy or kill the fish. The toxic effect of this plant is not caused by saponins, but by calcium oxalate crystals which are found mainly in the fruit.

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/Dioscorea_communis
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/b/brybla75.html
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Tamus+communis

Categories
Herbs & Plants

Fallopia convolvulus

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Botanical Name: Fallopia convolvulus
Family:    Polygonaceae
Genus:    Fallopia
Species:    F. convolvulus
Kingdom:    Plantae
Order:    Caryophyllales

Synonyms: Polygonum convolvulus L. (basionym), Bilderdykia convolvulus (L.) Dumort, Fagopyrum convolvulus (L.) H.Gross, Fagopyrum carinatum Moench, Helxine convolvulus (L.) Raf., Reynoutria convolvulus (L.) Shinners, and Tiniaria convolvulus (L.) Webb & Moq.

Common Names: Black-bindweed

Other  names:  Bear-bind, Bind-corn, Climbing bindweed, Climbing buckwheat, Corn-bind, Corn bindweed, Devil’s tether, and Wild buckwheat

Habitat : Fallopia convolvulus  is  native throughout Europe, Asia and northern Africa. It is an arable plant.   It   grows  in  typically on warm, sunny, well-drained sandy or limestone soil types, but in hotter, drier areas like Pakistan, on moist shady sites. It ranges from sea level in the north of its range, up to 3600 m altitude in the south in the Himalaya.  It grows most commonly on disturbed or cultivated land.

Description:
Fallopia convolvulus  is a fast-growing annual flowering plant. It is a herbaceous vine growing to 1–1.5 m long, with stems that twine clockwise round other plant stems. The alternate triangular leaves are 1.5–6 cm long and 0.7–3 cm broad with a 6–15 (–50) mm petiole; the basal lobes of the leaves are pointed at the petiole. The flowers are small, and greenish-pink to greenish white, clustered on short racemes. These clusters give way to small triangular achenes, with one seed in each achene.
CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES
While it superficially resemble bindweeds in the genus Convolvulus there are many notable differences; it has ocrea (stipule-sheath at nodes), which Convolvulus does not; and Convolvulus has conspicuous trumpet-shaped flowers while Black-bindweed has flowers that are unobtrusive and only about 4 mm long.

Edible Uses: The seeds are edible, and were used in the past as a food crop, with remains found in Bronze Age middens.

The seeds are too small and low-yielding to make a commercial crop, and it is now more widely considered a weed, occurring in crops, waste areas and roadsides. It can be a damaging weed when it is growing in a garden or crop, as it can not only damage the plant it entwines itself around, but can also hinder mechanised harvesting. It is also an invasive species in North America.

Medicinal Uses:  Could not get much in the internet.

Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallopia_convolvulus