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Herbs & Plants

Prunus canescens

Botanical Name : Prunus canescens
Family: Rosaceae
Subfamily: Prunoideae
Genus: Prunus
Subgenus: Cerasus
Section: Cerasus
Species :P. canescens
Kingdom : Plantae
Phylum/Division : Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Rosales

Common Name: Greyleaf Cherry

Habitat :Prunus canescens is native to E. Asia – W. China. It grows on the Cliffs.

Description:
Prunus canescens is a deciduous Shrub growing to 3 m (9ft 10in). It has lanceolate leaves that grow from 2-2 1/2 inches long. It is in flower from Apr to May. There are usually 2-5 white flowers together, and rarely ever grow alone. The fruit is small and red, like most fruits of the Cerasus subgenus.

CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

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. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.
Cultivation:
Thrives in a well-drained moisture-retentive loamy soil, growing well on limestone. Prefers some lime in the soil but is likely to become chlorotic if too much lime is present. Succeeds in sun or partial shade though it fruits better in a sunny position. Most members of this genus are shallow-rooted and will produce suckers if the roots are damaged. Plants in this genus are notably susceptible to honey fungus.
Propagation:
Seed – requires 2 – 3 months cold stratification and is best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe. Sow stored seed in a cold frame as early in the year as possible. Protect the seed from mice etc. The seed can be rather slow, sometimes taking 18 months to germinate. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle. Grow them on in a greenhouse or cold frame for their first winter and plant them out in late spring or early summer of the following year. Cuttings of half-ripe wood with a heel, July/August in a frame. Softwood cuttings from strongly growing plants in spring to early summer in a frame. Layering in spring.
Edible Uses:
Edible Parts: Fruit; Seed.

Fruit – raw or cooked. A pleasant cherry-like flavour. The fruit is about 10mm in diameter and contains one large seed. Seed – raw or cooked. Do not eat the seed if it is too bitter – see the notes below on toxicity.

Medicinal Uses:
Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, all members of the genus contain amygdalin and prunasin, substances which break down in water to form hydrocyanic acid (cyanide or prussic acid). In small amounts this exceedingly poisonous compound stimulates respiration, improves digestion and gives a sense of well-being.
Other Uses:
Dye; Rootstock.

Used as a rootstock for cherries. It is compatible with most sweet cherry cultivars and produces small trees with an open growth habit. Suitable for planting at 300 – 500 trees per hectare. The fruit yield tends to be very good. A green dye can be obtained from the leaves. A dark grey to green dye can be obtained from the fruit.

Known Hazards: Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, it belongs to a genus where most, if not all members of the genus produce hydrogen cyanide, a poison that gives almonds their characteristic flavour. This toxin is found mainly in the leaves and seed and is readily detected by its bitter taste. It is usually present in too small a quantity to do any harm but any very bitter seed or fruit should not be eaten. In small quantities, hydrogen cyanide has been shown to stimulate respiration and improve digestion, it is also claimed to be of benefit in the treatment of cancer. In excess, however, it can cause respiratory failure and even death.

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://plantspedia.wikia.com/wiki/Prunus_canescens
http://www.pfaf.org/User/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Prunus+canescens

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Herbs & Plants

Kalmia angustifolia

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Botanical  Name: Kalmia angustifolia
Family: Ericaceae
Genus: Kalmia
Species:K. angustifolia
Kingdom:Plantae
Order: Ericales

Synonyms: K. angustifolium, K. intermedia

Common Name: Sheep Laurel

Habitat :Kalmia angustifolia is native to Eastern N. America – Newfoundland to Hudson Bay, south to Georgia and Michigan. Nat in Britain. It grows on acidic bogs and swamps.

Description:
Kalmia angustifolia is an evergreen Shrub. The wild the plant may vary in height from 15–90 cm (6–35 in). The attractive small, deep crimson-pink flowers are produced in early summer. Each has five sepals, with a corolla of five fused petals, and ten stamens fused to the corolla. They are pollinated by bumble bees and solitary bees. Each mature capsule contains about 180 seeds.

CK & CLISEE THE PICTURES

New shoots arise from dormant buds on buried rhizomes. This process is stimulated by fire. The narrow evergreen leaves, pale on the underside, have a tendency to emerge from the stem in groups of three. A peculiarity of the plant is that clusters of leaves usually terminate the woody stem, for the flowers grow in whorls or in clusters below the stem apex.

Numerous cultivars have been selected for garden use, of which K. angustifolia f. rubra has gained the Royal Horticultural Society‘s Award of Garden Merit.
It is in leaf 12-Jan It is in flower in June, and the seeds ripen in September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid soils and can grow in very acid soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.
Cultivation:
Requires an acid humus-rich soil, succeeding in part shade or in full sun in cooler areas. Prefers almost full sun. Dislikes dry soils, requiring cool, permanently moist conditions at the roots. Succeeds in open woodland or along the woodland edge. Plants are very cold-hardy, tolerating temperatures down to about -30°c. A very ornamental and variable plant, there are many named varieties. The flowers are produced at the end of the previous years growth. Plants spread slowly by means of suckers. Pruning is not normally necessary, though if older plants become bare at the centre they can be cut back hard and will regrow from the base.
Propagation:
Seed – surface sow in late winter in a cool greenhouse in light shade. Prick out the young seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle. The seedlings are rather sensitive to damping off, so water them with care, keep them well-ventilated and perhaps apply a fungicide such as garlic as a preventative. Grow the young plants on in light shade and overwinter them in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in early summer. The seed is dust-like and remains viable for many years. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, August in a frame. Very poor results unless the cuttings are taken from very young plants. Layering in August/September. Takes 18 months. The plants can also be dug up and replanted about 30cm deeper in the soil to cover up some of the branches. The plant can then be dug up about 12 months later when the branches will have formed roots and can be separated to make new plants.

Medicinal Uses:
Sheep laurel is a very poisonous narcotic plant the leaves of which were at one time used by some native North American Indian tribes in order to commit suicide. It is little, if at all, used in modern herbalism. The leaves are usually used externally as a poultice and wash in herbal medicine and are a good remedy for many skin diseases, sprains and inflammation. They can also be applied as a poultice to the head to treat headaches. The singed, crushed leaves can be used as a snuff in the treatment of colds. Used internally, the leaves are analgesic, astringent and sedative and have a splendid effect in the treatment of active haemorrhages, headaches, diarrhoea and flux. This species is said to be the best for medicinal use in the genus. The plant should be used with great caution however, see the notes below on toxicity.

Known Hazards : The foliage is poisonous to animals. The whole plant is highly toxic.

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/Kalmia_angustifolia
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Kalmia+angustifolia
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_RST.htm

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Herbs & Plants

Rubus illecebrosus

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Botanical Name: Rubus illecebrosus
Family: Rosaceae
Genus: Rubus
Subgenus: Idaeobatus
Species: R. illecebrosus
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Rosales

Synonyms :Rubus commersonii illecebrosus.Rubus rosaefolius coronarius.Rubus sorbifolius.

Common Name : Strawberry-Raspberry , Balloon berry

Habitat :Rubus illecebrosus is native to E. Asia – Japan. It grows in thickets and waste ground.

Description:
Rubus illecebrosus is a thorny deciduous shrub up to 150 cm (5 feet) tall. Leaves are pinnately compound. Flowers are produced either one at a time or in clumps of 2-3, each with 5 petals up to 18 mm (0.72 inches) long (longer than those of most related species). Fruits are also unusually large for the genus, each oblong, red, up to 2 cm (0.8 inches) long with 50–100 drupelets. It is not frost tender. It is in flower in July, and the seeds ripen in August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects....CLICK & SEE THE  PICTURES
Cultivation:
Easily grown in a good well-drained loamy soil in sun or semi-shade. Sometimes cultivated for its edible fruit and occasionally naturalized in Europe. Plants spread freely when in a suitable site and are apt to become invasive. The plant adopts an almost herbaceous habit and is botanically a sub-shrub, only a small amount of woody stem persists overwinter. Plants in this genus are notably susceptible to honey fungus.

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 or cooked. Fairly large and sweet but insipid raw. The fruit is said to develop more flavour when it is cooked. Another report says that the fruit is sour, bitter and unpalatable raw, though this does not agree with the plants we are growing. The fruit is about 30mm in diameter.
Medicinal Uses: None known

Other Uses: A purple to dull blue dye is obtained from the fruit. A good ground cover plant for a sunny position or light shade. It spreads freely once established, but dies down over the winter and thus can allow other species to invade

Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rubus_illecebrosus
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Rubus+illecebrosus

Categories
Fruits & Vegetables Herbs & Plants

Blackcurrant

Botanical Name: Ribes nigrum
Family: Grossulariaceae
Genus: Ribes
Species:R. nigrum
Kingdom:Plantae
Order:Saxifragales

Common Name: Blackcurrant

Other Names: European Black Currant, Quinsy Berries

Habitat : Black Currant is native to temperate parts of central and northern Europe and northern Asia where it prefers damp fertile soils and is widely cultivated both commercially and domestically. It is cultivated throughout Finland, and other places of the world. It also grows in the wild.

Description:   Blackcurrant is a medium sized shrub, growing to 1.5 metres (4.9 ft) by 1.5 metres (4.9 ft). The leaves are alternate, simple, 3 to 5 cm (1.2 to 2.0 in) broad and long with five palmate lobes and a serrated margin. All parts of the plant are strongly aromatic. The flowers are produced in racemes known as “strig”s up to 8 cm (3 in) long containing ten to twenty flowers, each about 8 mm (0.3 in) in diameter. Each flower has a hairy calyx with yellow glands, the five lobes of which are longer than the inconspicuous petals. There are five stamens surrounding the stigma and style and two fused carpels. The flowers open in succession from the base of the strig and are mostly insect pollinated, but some pollen is distributed by the wind. A pollen grain landing on a stigma will germinate and send a slender pollen tube down the style to the ovule. In warm weather this takes about 48 hours but in cold weather it may take a week, and by that time, the ovule may have passed the stage where it is receptive. If fewer than about 35 ovules are fertilised, the fruit may not be able to develop and will fall prematurely. Frost can damage both unopened and open flowers when the temperature falls below -1.9 °C (28.5 °F). The flowers at the base of the strig are more protected by the foliage and are less likely to be damaged.

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In midsummer the green fruit ripens to an edible berry up to 1 cm in diameter, very dark purple in colour, almost black, with a glossy skin and a persistent calyx at the apex, and containing several seeds dense in nutrients (notably Vitamin C). An established bush can produce about 4.5 kilograms (10 pounds) of fruit each year.


Cultivation and uses

The fruit have a high natural vitamin C content. Like the other true currants (not to be confused with the Zante currant, a type of grape which is often dried), it is classified in the genus Ribes.

In addition to the high levels of vitamin C, studies have also shown concentrated blackcurrant to be an effective Monoamine oxidase inhibitor (Bormann, et al. 1991.) Fifty grams of 5.5X concentrate was found to inhibit 92% of the Monoamine oxidase enzymes. Blackcurrant seed oil is a rich source of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), a very rare essential fatty acid.

When not in fruit, the plant looks very similar to the redcurrant shrub; they may be distinguished by the strong odour of the leaves and stems of the blackcurrant.

In Russia, it is common to infuse slightly sweetened vodka with blackcurrant leaves, making a deep yellowish-green beverage with a sharp flavour and an astringent taste[citation needed]. Blackcurrant berries can also be used to flavour vodka. In the UK, blackcurrant juice is often mixed with Cider to make a drink called Cider Black. This drink can be ordered at most pubs. It is also believed that adding a small amount of blackcurrant to Guinness will bring out a sweeter taste in the beer, making it a better beverage in some beer-drinkers’ opinions.

Blackcurrants have a very sweet and sharp taste. They are made into jelly, jam, juice, ice cream, cordial and liqueur. In the UK, Europe and Commonwealth countries, some types of confectionery include a blackcurrant flavour, but this is generally missing in the United States, even within the same brand. Instead grape flavour in candy (including grape jelly) almost mirrors the use of blackcurrant in both its ubiquity in the USA, and its rarity on the eastern side of the Atlantic.

The juicy berry is dark, purple-black in colour and highly fragrant and aromatic. It tastes slightly sour, but much sweeter (and better) than red or white currant. In Finland, blackcurrants are mainly used to make jellies, jams and juices, or used in various desserts. They are also eaten fresh, with sugar. The fragrant leaves are used to flavour vegetable preserves, especially pickled or salted cucumbers. Blackcurrants are high in vitamins C and B and hot blackcurrant juice is an old trusted cold remedy.

It may be small, but the mighty blackcurrant is bursting with more health promoting antioxidants than most other fruit and vegetables, including blueberries!

It’s the special antioxidants called anthocyanins, which give blackcurrants their distinctive dark colour. British blackcurrants are grown and bred especially for their deep colour, which makes them extra good for you. The Blackcurrant Foundation has been established by British growers to raise awareness of the numerous health benefits of British blackcurrants.

On this site you will find everything you need to know about this small, but great British fruit!

Blackcurrants are one of the richest sources of vitamin C – weight for weight they contain four times as much as oranges. Blackcurrants are also a rich source of potassium but very little sodium which makes them beneficial in the treatment of high blood pressure and water retention. Their skins contain anthocyanosides an anti-bacterial pigment which is good for sore throats.

Healthy Foods For Good Nutrition and Weight Control
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History:
During World War II most fruits rich in vitamin C, such as oranges, became almost impossible to obtain in the United Kingdom. Since blackcurrant berries are a rich source of vitamin C and blackcurrant plants are suitable for growing in the UK climate, blackcurrant cultivation was encouraged by the British government. Soon, the yield of the nation’s crop increased significantly. From 1942 on almost the entire British blackcurrant crop was made into blackcurrant syrup (or cordial) and distributed to the nation’s children free, giving rise to the lasting popularity of blackcurrant flavourings in Britain.

Blackcurrants were once popular in the United States as well, but they became extremely rare in the 20th century after currant farming was banned in the early 1900s. The ban was enacted when it was discovered that blackcurrants helped to spread the tree disease White Pine Blister Rust, which was thought to threaten the then-booming U.S. lumber industry .

The federal ban on growing currants was shifted to individual States’ jurisdiction in 1966. The ban was lifted in New York State in 2003 as a result of the efforts of Greg Quinn and The Currant Company and currant growing is making a comeback in several states including Vermont, New York, Connecticut and Oregon.[2] However, several statewide bans still exist including Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Since the federal ban ceased currant production anywhere in the U.S., the fruit is not well-known and has yet to reach the popularity that it had in the U.S. in the 19th century or that it currently has in Europe and the UK. The first nationally available black currant beverage in the U.S. since the ban was lifted in many states is a powerful health-food nectar under the brand name CurrantC. Since black currants are a strong source of antioxidants and vitamins (much like pomegranate juice), awareness and popularity are once again growing in the U.S.

Cooking

Other than being juiced and used in jellies, syrups, and cordials, blackcurrants are used in cooking because their astringent nature brings out the flavour in many sauces and meat dishes and lends them to desserts. It was once thought that currants needed to be “topped and tailed” (the stalk and flower-remnants removed) before cooking. This however is not the case as these parts are easily assimilated during the cooking process. If one prefers to do this, however, the blackcurrants can be frozen, then shaken vigorously. The tops and tails are broken off and can be separated easily from the fruit.

Meditional Uses:

Blackcurrant fruits are a good source of minerals and vitamins, especially vitamin C. They have diuretic and diaphoretic actions, help to increase bodily resistance to infections and are a valuable remedy for treating colds and flu. The juice, especially when fresh or vacuum-sealed, helps to stem diarrhea and calms indigestion.

The leaves are cleansing, diaphoretic and diuretic. By encouraging the elimination of fluids they help to reduce blood volume and thereby lower blood pressure. An infusion is used in the treatment of dropsy, rheumatic pain and whooping cough, and can also be used externally on slow-healing cuts and abscesses. It can be used as a gargle for sore throats and mouth ulcers. The leaves are harvested during the growing season and can be used fresh or dried. French research has shown that blackcurrant leaves increase the secretion of cortisol by the adrenal glands, and thus stimulate the activity of the sympathetic nervous system. This action may prove useful in the treatment of stress-related conditions.

An infusion of the young roots is useful in the treatment of eruptive fevers. A decoction of the bark has been found of use in the treatment of calculus, dropsy and hemorrhoidal tumors. The seed is a source of gamma-linolenic acid, an unsaturated fatty acid which assists the production of hormone-like substances. This process is commonly blocked in the body, causing disorders that affect the uterine muscles, nervous system and metabolism. There are no records of the oil from this species being used medicinally, though it is used in cosmetic preparations.

In Europe the leaves have traditionally been used for arthritis, spasmodic cough, diarrhea, as a diuretic and for treating a sore throat. The berries were made into a drink thought to be beneficial for treatment of colds and flu, for other fevers, for diaphoresis and as a diuretic. In traditional Austrian medicine, Ribes nigrum fruits have been used internally (consumed whole or as a syrup) for treatment of infections and disorders of the gastrointestinal tract, the locomotor system, the respiratory tract and the cardiovascular system.

Blackcurrants prevent heart disease, cancer

Other uses:
The plant has various other uses. Blackcurrant seed oil is an ingredient in cosmetics and skin preparations, often in combination with vitamin E. The leaves can be extracted to yield a yellow dye and the fruit is a source for a blue or violet dye. The leaves have been used to assist in keeping vegetables fresh.

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:

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