Herbs & Plants

Cicely (Myrrhis odorata)

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Botanical Name:Myrrhis odorata
Family:    Apiaceae
Genus:    Myrrhis
Species: M. odorata
Order:    Apiales

Common Names: Cicely or Sweet Cicely,Myrhh

Habitat :Cicely is native to mountains of southern and central Europe, introduced and naturalized elsewhere in cultivated areas. I grows on woodland margins, roadside verges, river banks and grassland.

Cicely is an herbaceous perennial plant  growing to 2 m [6 ft 6 in] tall, depending on circumstances. The leaves are 2-4-pinnate, finely divided, feathery, up to 50 cm long, with whitish patches near the rachis. The plant is softly hairy and smells strongly of aniseed when crushed. It is in flower from May to June, and the seeds ripen from Jul to August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, flies, beetles.The plant is self-fertile. The flowers are white, about 2–4 mm across, produced in large umbels. The fruits are slender, 15–25 mm long and 3–4 mm broad.

Prefers a moist rich soil in a shady position. Thrives in all soils in sun or shade. This species is hardy to about -15°c according to one report whilst another says that it is hardy to at least -20°c. Plants often self-sow freely. Sweet cicely used to be quite widely cultivated as a food plant but is now only occasionally grown in the herb garden. This is a shame since it is an extremely useful and tasty plant to grow and can provide food all year round. A good bee plant.

Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe since stored seed is difficult to germinate. The seed can be sown in an outdoor seedbed or, if supplies are limited, it can be sown in pots in a cold frame. Thin the seedlings in the outdoor bed as necessary (eat the thinnings) and transplant the young plants into their final positions in the following spring. Prick out the pot-grown seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant them out in spring. Division in spring or autumn. Remove the tapering tap root and cut the remaining root into sections with at least one eye per section and replant in their permanent position.

Edible Uses:
Leaves – raw or cooked. Excellent raw, the leaves have a delicious sweet aniseed flavour and are liked by the majority of people who try them. They are also used as a flavouring for vegetables, and are an important ingredient of the herb mix ‘bouquet garni’. They can be cooked with tart fruits in order to reduce their acidity. The plant produces fresh leaves from late winter to early the following winter. The leaves can also be dried for later use. It is best to prevent the plant from flowering if the leaves are required for culinary use, because they lose their flavour when the plant is in flower. Root – raw or cooked. A similar flavour to the leaves. So long as it is not too old, the root can be boiled and mixed with other vegetables or added to salads. Seed – raw or cooked. An aniseed flavour, it is usually used as a flavouring but can also be eaten raw whilst it is still green and before the fibrous coat has formed. It makes an excellent mouth freshener. A tea is made from the leaves.

Medicinal Uses:
Cicely  has a history of use as a medicinal.The whole plant, including the seed, is aromatic, carminative, expectorant and stomachic. It is useful in the treatment of coughs and flatulence, and also as a gentle stimulant for the stomach. The root is antiseptic and a decoction has been used to treat snake and dog bites. An ointment made from the roots has been used to ease gout and soothe wounds.

Other Uses:
The leaves and the seed make good polishes for wood. You just rub them over the wood and then rub the wood with a clean cloth to remove any greenness. It is particularly good on oak panels, giving a lovely glossy finish and an aromatic smell.

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

Ranunculus acris

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Botanical Name :Ranunculus acris
Family: Ranunculaceae
Genus: Ranunculus
Species: R. acris
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Ranunculales

Synonyms: Gold Cup. Grenouillette.

Common names: Meadow buttercup, tall buttercup and giant buttercup.

Habitat:  This Buttercup is a native of meadows and pastures in all the northern parts of Europe, and is  more common buttercups across Europe and temperate Eurasia. This plant normally grows in damp meadows and pastures, usually on calcareous or circum-neutral soils. Also found on damp rock ledges, in gullies and occasionally on mountain top detritus

Ranunculus acris is a perennial flowering plant, growing to 1 m (3ft 3in).The leaves vary a good deal in form, according to their position on the plant: the lower leaves are on long petioles (foot-stalks) and are comprised of numerous wide-spreading and deeply divided segments; the upper leaves are small, composed of few segments, simple in form and few in number. The root is perennial, though the plant itself dies down each autumn, and has many long, white fibres.

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It is in flower from May to July. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, flies, beetles, lepidoptera. The petals of the flower are bright, shining yellow; the calyx is composed of five greenish-yellow spreading sepals. The centre of the flower, as in other Buttercups, is a clustering mass of stamens round the smooth, green immature seed-vessels, which develop into a round head of numerous small bodies called achenes. It is not frost tender.

Prefers a moist loamy soil. Grows well in marshy soils. Plants are hardy to at least -20°c. A good plant for the summer meadow. It spreads rapidly by means of runners and is often a weed in lawns or gardens. A polymorphic species, there is at least one named variety. ‘Flore Pleno‘ is a double-flowered form that does not spread by runners and so is unlikely to become a nuisance in the garden. A greedy plant, inhibiting the growth of nearby plants, especially legumes.

Seed – sow spring in situ. You are very unlikely to need to encourage this plant. Division in spring. Very easy, though probably totally unnecessary, larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions.

Edible Uses:Leaves are cooked and used as greens. Some caution is advised, see the notes on Known Hazards below.

Medicinal Uses:

Part Used-: Whole herb.
The whole plant is acrid, anodyne, antispasmodic, diaphoretic and rubefacient. The plant has been crushed and applied as a poultice to the chest to relieve colds and chest pains. The fresh leaves have been used as a rubefacient in the treatment of rheumatism etc. The flowers and the leaves have been crushed and sniffed as a treatment for headaches. An infusion of the roots has been used in the treatment of diarrhoea. The poulticed root is also rubefacient and was applied to boils and abscess. The plant sap has been used to remove warts. The sap has also been used as a sedative. The flowers are used in Tibetan medicine, where they are considered to have an acrid taste and a heating potency. Their use is said to promote heat, dissolve tumours and draw out serous fluids. They are used in the treatment of disorders brought about by rotting sores or wounds. Use with caution, the whole plant is extremely acrid and can cause intense pain and burning of the mouth, mucous membranes etc.

The juice of the leaves takes away warts, and bruised together with the roots will act as a caustic. In violent headaches where pain is confined to one part, a plaster made of them often affords instant relief, and they have been used in gout with great success.

The fresh leaves formed part of a famous cure for cancer, practised by a Mr. Plunkett in 1794.

Thornton, in his Herbal of 100 years ago, says if a decoction of the plant be poured on ground containing worms, ‘they will be forced to rise from their concealment.’

Known Hazards:   All parts of the plant are poisonous, the toxins can be destroyed by heat or by drying. The plant has a strongly acrid juice that can cause blistering to the skin.

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

Centaurium erythraea

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Botanical name :Centaurium erythraea
Family: Gentianaceae
Genus: Centaurium
Species: C. erythraea
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Gentianales

Synonyms:  Centaurium minus. Centaurium umbellatum. Erythraea centaurium.

Common Names: common centaury and European centaury.

Habitat :
This centaury is a widespread plant of Europe and parts of western Asia and northern Africa. It has also naturalised in parts of North America and throughout eastern Australia, where it is an introduced species.

This herb  grows in Open woods, meadows and dry grasslands, often on chalky soilsOpen woods, meadows and dry grasslands, often on chalky soilsOpen woods, meadows and dry grasslands, often on chalky soils.

This is an erect biennial herb which reaches half a meter in height. It grows from a small basal rosette and bolts a leafy, s herb grows in erect stem which may branch. The triangular leaves are arranged oppositely on the stem and the erect inflorescences emerge from the stem and grow parallel to it, sometimes tangling with the foliage.It is in flower from Jun to October, and the seeds ripen from Aug to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, flies, beetles, self.The plant is self-fertile. Each inflorescence may contain many flowers. The petite flower is pinkish-lavender and about a centimeter across, flat-faced with yellow anthers. The fruit is a cylindrical capsule.
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Prefers a well-drained sandy loam with some peat and a sunny position. It avoids wet or rich soils. Plants are not easy to grow in a garden. The flowers only open in fine weather and close at midday. Although the growing plant is scentless, if the cut stems are immersed in warm water for 24 hours a most penetrating odour will be observed on distillation. A very variable plant, some botanists divide it into a number of separate species.

Seed – sow February to May in situ or as soon as it is ripe in situ. Germination is usually rapid.

Edible Uses:
The plant is used as a flavouring in bitter herbal liqueurs and is an ingredient of vermouth

Medicinal Uses:
Appetizer;  Aromatic;  Bach;  Bitter;  Cholagogue;  Diaphoretic;  Digestive;  Emetic;  Febrifuge;  Hepatic;  Homeopathy;
Poultice;  Stomachic;  Tonic.

One of the most useful bitter herbs, centaury strengthens digestive function, especially within the stomach. By increasing stomach secretions it hastens the breakdown of food, it also stimulates the appetite and increases bile production. The plant needs to be take over a number of weeks and an infusion should be slowly sipped so that the components (their bitterness can be detected at a dilution of 1:3,500) can stimulate reflex activity throughout the upper digestive tract. The whole herb is appetizer, aromatic, bitter, cholagogue, diaphoretic, digestive, emetic, weakly febrifuge, hepatic, stomachic and tonic. It acts on the liver and kidneys, purifies the blood and is an excellent tonic for the digestive system. Externally, the fresh green herb is said to be a good application to wounds and sores. It is often used in combination with other herbs such as camomile (Chamaemelum nobile), meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) and marshmallow (Althaea officinalis). The whole plant is harvested when in flower and can be dried for later use. The plant is used in Bach flower remedies – the keywords for prescribing it are ‘Weak willed’, ‘Too easily influenced’ and ‘Willing servitors’. A homeopathic remedy is made from the plant. It is used in the treatment of liver and gall bladder ailments[9]. The German Commission E Monographs, a therapeutic guide to herbal medicine, approve Centaurium erythraea for dyspeptic complaints, loss of appetite

Other Uses  

A long-lasting bright yellowish-green dye is obtained from the flowers.

Known Hazards :  May cause mild abdominal discomfort and cramps. Contraindicated in patients with peptic ulcers. Safety during pregnancy and lactation has not been established

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