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Herbs & Plants

Helminthia echioides

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Botanical Name :  Helminthia echioides
Family: Asteraceae
Tribe:     Cichorieae
Genus:     Helminthotheca
Species: H. echioides
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class:     Magnoliopsida
Order:     Asterales

Synonyms : Picris echioides

Common Names ;Ox-Tongue, Bristly ox-tongue

Habitat : Helminthotheca echioides is native to the Mediterranean Basin, but has become widely naturalised outside that range. In the British Isles, it is widely distributed in the south and east, but more patchily distributed to the north and west. In Northern Ireland, H. echioides is only found on the north side of Belfast Lough.

It has been introduced to North America, where it can now be found from Nova Scotia to British Columbia and California.

Description:
Helminthia echioides is an annual/biennial plant growing to 0.9 m (3ft) by 0.4 m (1ft 4in), with a thick, furrowed stem and spreading branches. The leaves are 10–20 cm (4–8 in) long, oblanceolate with a short petiole. The leaves, branches and stem are all covered in thick bristles. The inflorescences are 2–3.5 cm (0.8–1.4 in) wide and subtended by between 3 and 5 large ovate-cordate involucral bracts. These large bracts are the defining feature of the genus Helminthotheca.
CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES
A number of infraspecific taxa are recognised, varying in their leaf shape.

It is somewhat stout and coarse, the sturdy stems attaining a height of from 2 to 3 feet, branching freely and covered with short, stiff hairs, each of which springs from a raised spot and is hooked at the end.

The lower leaves are much longer than the upper, of lanceolate or spear-head form, with their margins coarsely and irregularly toothed and waved. The upper leaves are small and stalkless, heart-shaped and clasping the stem with their bases. All the leaves are of a greyish-green hue and very tough to the touch.

The flower-heads are ordinarily somewhat clustered together on short stalks and form an irregular, terminal mass at the ends of the main stems. The involucre, or ring of bracts from which the florets spring, is doubled outside the ring of eight to ten narrow and nearly erect scales, simple in form and thin in texture, is an outer ring composed of a smaller number of spiny bracts of a broad heart-shape, in their roughness of surface and general character resembling the leaves of the plant. The combination of the inner and outer bracts may be roughly compared to a cup and saucer, and gives the plant a singular appearance.

The Ox Tongue is in blossom during June and July; all the florets of the flower-heads, as in the Dandelion, are of a rich golden yellow.

Cultivation:    
Succeeds in most soils. Dislikes shade. Wild plants are an indicator of calcareous soils. Seed is often produced apomictically. Any seedlings from this seed will be genetically identical to the parent plant.

Propagation:   
Seed – sow spring in situ, only just covering the seed. Germination should take place quite quickly.

Medicinal Uses:
Information is not available.

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.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helminthotheca_echioides
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/o/oxtong17.html
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Picris+echioides

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Herbs & Plants

Malva meschata

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Botanical Name :Malva meschata
Family: Malvaceae
Subfamily: Malvoideae
Genus: Malva
Species: M. moschata
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Malvales

Common Names : Musk-mallow

Habitat :Malva meschata is native to Europe and southwestern Asia, from Spain north to the British Isles and Poland, and east to southern Russia and Turkey.It has been introduced to and become naturalised in several areas with temperate climates away from its native range, including Scandinavia, New Zealand, and North America.It occurs on dry, but fertile soils at altitudes from sea level up to 1,500 m. Natural hybrids with the closely related Malva alcea are occasionally found.

Description:
Malva meschata is a herbaceous perennial plant growing to 80 cm tall, with hairy stems and foliage. The leaves are alternate, 2–8 cm long and 2–8 cm broad, palmately lobed with five to seven lobes; basal leaves on the lower stem are very shallowly lobed, those higher on the stems are deeply divided, with narrow, acuminate lobes. The flowers are produced in clusters in the leaf axils, each flower 3.2–5 cm diameter, with five bright pink petals with a truncated to notched apex; they have a distinctive musky odour. The fruit is a disc-shaped schizocarp 3–6 mm diameter, containing 10–16 seeds, the seeds individually enclosed in a mericarp covered in whitish hairs. It has a chromosome count of 2n=42.The flowers are usually pollinated by bees. CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

Cultivation:   
A very easily grown plant, succeeding in ordinary garden soil, though it prefers a reasonably well-drained and moderately fertile soil in a sunny position. Hardy to about -25°c. A very ornamental plant. It is very variable in form, especially with regard to the degree of laciniation of the leaves. The crushed leaves have a musk-like smell. Plants are generally quite short-lived though they can self-sow freely when in a suitable position and usually more than maintain themselves. If the plant is pruned back to the main branches as it comes into flower, then it will produce a fresh flush of leaves in late summer for salad use. A good plant for the summer meadow. Plants seem to be immune to the predations of rabbits. Prone to infestation by rust fungus.

Propagation:                                            
Seed – best sown in early spring in a cold frame. The seed germinates quickly and easily. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant them out in their permanent positions in the early summer. If you have sufficient seed then it can be sown outdoors in situ in the middle to late spring. Basal cuttings in late spring. Harvest the shoots with plenty of underground stem when they are about 8 – 10cm above the ground. Pot them up into individual pots and keep them in light shade in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the summer. Cuttings of side shoots, July/August in a cold frame

Edible Uses:

Leaves – raw or cooked. A mild pleasant flavour. The leaves are mucilaginous and fairly bland, we use them in bulk in summer salads. They make a very good perennial substitute for lettuce in a salad, producing fresh leaves from spring until the middle of summer, or until the autumn from spring germinating plants. Flowers – raw. A very decorative addition to the salad bowl, they have a very mild flavour. Seed – raw. Best used before it is fully mature, the seed has a pleasant nutty taste but it is rather small and fiddly to harvest.

Medicinal Uses:

Antiphlogistic;  Astringent;  Demulcent;  Diuretic;  Emollient;  Expectorant;  Laxative;  Poultice;  Salve.

All parts of the plant are antiphlogistic, astringent, demulcent, diuretic, emollient, expectorant, laxative, salve. The leaves and flowers can be eaten as part of the diet, or a tea can be made from the leaves, flowers or roots. The leaves and flowers are the main part used, their demulcent properties making them valuable as a poultice for bruise, inflammations, insect bites etc, or taken internally in the treatment of respiratory system diseases or inflammation of the digestive or urinary systems. They have similar properties, but are considered to be inferior, to the common mallow (M. sylvestris) and the marsh mallow (Althaea officinalis) and are seldom used internally. The plant is an excellent laxative for young children.

Other Uses  :
Dye;  Fibre.

Cream, yellow and green dyes can be obtained from the plant and the seed heads. A fibre obtained from the stems is used for cordage, textiles and paper making.

It is often grown as an ornamental plant for its attractive scented flowers, produced for a long period through the summer. Several cultivars have been selected for variation on flower colour, including ‘Rosea’ with dark pink flowers. The form ‘Alba’ (white flowered) has gained the Royal Horticultural Society‘s Award of Garden Merit.

Known Hazards :When grown on nitrogen rich soils (and particularly when these are used inorganically), the plant tends to concentrate high levels of nitrates in its leaves. The leaves are perfectly wholesome at all other times.

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.

Resources:
http://www.pfaf.org/user/plant.aspx?LatinName=Malva+moschata
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malva_moschata
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/m/mallow07.html

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Herbs & Plants

Asplenium trichomanes

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Botanical Name :  Asplenium trichomanes
Family: Aspleniaceae
Genus:     Asplenium
Species: A. trichomanes
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pteridophyta
Class:     Polypodiopsida
Order:     Polypodiales

Common Names : Maidenhair spleenwort,Dense spleenwort, Toothed spleenwort, Brightgreen spleenwort

Habitat : It is widespread in temperate and subarctic areas and also occurs in mountainous regions in the tropics. Its range includes most of Europe and much of Asia south to Turkey, Iran and the Himalayas with a population in Yemen. It occurs in northern, southern and parts of eastern Africa and also in eastern Indonesia, south-east Australia, Tasmania, New Zealand and Hawaii. It is found in North America and Central America and Cuba, and the northern and western regions of South America such as Chile.

It grows in rocky habitats such as cliffs, scree slopes, walls and mine waste, the type of rock used as a substrate depending on the subspecies. It grows from sea-level up to 3000 metres in North America while in the British Isles it reaches 870 metres.

Description:
Asplenium trichomanes is an evergreen Fern growing to 0.4 m (1ft 4in).

It grows in tufts from a short rhizome. The fronds are long and narrow, gradually tapering towards the tip. They are simply divided into small, yellow-green to dark-green pinnae. The stipe and rachis of the frond are dark all along their length. The fronds can reach 40 cm in length but are more commonly 8-20 cm. They bear long, narrow sori which contain the spores.

CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

Rhizome: short-creeping, often branched, scales clathrate, black, or sometimes with brown borders, to 5 mm , lanceolate.

Frond: 20 cm high by 1.5 cm wide, evergreen, monomorphic or nearly so, but the sterile fronds are earlier and prostrate, blade/stipe ratio: 3:1 to 5:1.

Stipe: a diagnostic feature (10x hand lens) is a narrow wing running the length of the stipe and rachis; brown-black or coppery, lustrous all the way to the end of the rachis , dark brown to black, filiform scales at base, then glabrous above, vascular bundles: 2 c-shaped, back to back, uniting to 1 upwards in an x-shape.

Blade: 1-pinnate, linear, widest above the middle, tapering to either end, thin, glabrous or minutely hairy.

Pinnae: 20 to 35 pair, opposite to subopposite, oblong, round at apex; margins finely dentate; veins free, evident.
Sori: oblong to linear, about 1.5 mm long, , 2–5 pairs per pinna, indusium: translucent, pale tan, hidden by sporangia at maturity, on one side of the sorus, sporangia: brown, maturity: late summer to early fall.

Dimensionality: spreading.

It is hardy to zone 6. It is in leaf 12-Jan, and the seeds ripen from May to October.

Cultivation:      
Requires a well-drained position and lots of old mortar rubble in the soil[1]. Requires a humid atmosphere and some shade. A good plant for growing on a shady part of an old dry-stone or brick wall. Plants are hardy to about -30°c. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer.

Propagation:   
Spores – best sown as soon as they are ripe on the surface of a humus-rich sterilized soil. Keep the compost moist, preferably by putting a plastic bag over the pot. The spores usually germinate in the spring. Spring sown spores germinate in 1 – 3 months at 15°c. Pot on small clumps of plantlets as soon as they are large enough to handle and grow them on in light shade in a greenhouse. Keep the plants humid until they are well established. Once the plants are 15cm or more tall, plant them out into their permanent positions in the spring.

Edible Uses :  
Edible Uses: Tea.

The dried fronds have been used as a tea substitute

Medicinal Uses:
A tea made from the fronds is sweet, demulcent, expectorant and laxative. It has been used in the treatment of chest complaints and to promote menstruation

Known Hazards:  Although it is  found that no reports of toxicity for this species, a number of ferns contain carcinogens so some caution is advisable. Many ferns also contain thiaminase, an enzyme that robs the body of its vitamin B complex. In small quantities this enzyme will do no harm to people eating an adequate diet that is rich in vitamin B, though large quantities can cause severe health problems. The enzyme is destroyed by heat or thorough drying, so cooking the plant will remove the thiaminase.

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.

Resourcs:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asplenium_trichomanes
http://hardyfernlibrary.com/ferns/listSpecies.cfm?Auto=146
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Asplenium+trichomanes

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Ligusticum Scoticum

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Botanical Name : Ligusticum Scoticum
Family: Apiaceae
Genus: Ligusticum
Species: L. scoticum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Apiales

Synonym: Sea Lovage.

Common Name :Scottish Lovage

Habitat :Ligusticum Scoticum is found near the coasts of northern Europe and north-eastern North America. It is primarily an Arctic plant, with a disjunct range extending from northern Norway to the more northerly shores of the British Isles, and from western Greenland to New England. A related species, Ligusticum hultenii, which was described by Merritt Lyndon Fernald in 1930 and may be better treated as a subspecies of L. scoticum, occurs around the northern Pacific Ocean, from Japan to Alaska. The southernmost occurrence of L. scoticum is at Ballyhalbert in Northern Ireland.

Description:
Ligusticum scoticum is a herbaceous perennial plant which typically grows 15–60 centimetres (6–24 in) tall. It has triangular, twice-ternate leaves, 5–20 cm (2.0–7.9 in) long, with each lobe 2–5 cm (0.8–2.0 in) long. The edges of the leaves may be toothed, lobed or serrated, and are typically either a paler green or magenta. The stem branches infrequently, and bears 2–5 inflorescences, each of which is a compound umbel 4–6 cm (1.6–2.4 in) in diameter. There are typically 8–12 rays in both the primary and secondary umbels. Each individual flower is around 2 mm (0.08 in) in diameter and greenish-white in colour.The fruit are 4–6 mm (0.16–0.24 in) long, with five prominent ridges on each carpel…..CLICK  &  SEE THE  PICTURES

Cultivation:  
Succeeds in any well-drained soil in a sunny position. Dislikes shade. Succeeds in dry soils. Plants are hardy to at least -15°c. Scottish lovage has occasionally been cultivated as a pot herb, though it has been largely supplanted by celery. All parts of the plant are aromatic when bruised, the aroma being likened to a mixture of parsley, angelica and pear skin.

Propagation:
Seed – the seed only has a short period of viability and so is best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame in the autumn. Stored seed should be sown as early in the year as possible in a greenhouse or cold frame. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant them out into their permanent positions in the summer if they have grown large enough. Otherwise, keep them in a cold frame for the first winter and plant them out in early summer. Division of the rootstock in early spring. Make sure that each section of root has at least one growth bud. Very easy, larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the spring.

Ediable Uses:
Leaves, flowers and young shoots ..eaten raw or cooked. Strong and not very pleasant. Superb in salads. The leaves are usually blanched in order to make the flavour milder, though this also reduces the nutritional value. A celery-like flavour, it is used as a seasoning in salads, soups etc. Another report says that the flavour is more like parsley. Stem – used as a flavouring in soups, stews etc. A celery-like flavour. The green stem is peeled and eaten. Root – raw or cooked. A sweet flavour. Seed – ground into a powder and used as a flavouring in soups and stews. A sharp, hot taste it is used in the same ways as pepper. The young shoots and roots are occasionally candied like angelica.

Medicinal Uses:
The root is aromatic and carminative. It is used in the treatment of hysterical and uterine disorders. The seeds are sweetly aromatic and have been used as a carminative, deodorant and stimulant. They are also sometimes used for flavouring other herbal remedies.

Other Uses:  
Deodorant.

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.

 Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ligusticum_scoticum
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/l/lovsco45.html
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Ligusticum+scoticum

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Sea Holly

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Botanical Name :  Eryngium campestre /Eryngium maritinum
Family: Apiaceae
Genus: Eryngium
Species: E. campestre
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Apiales

Synonyms: Eryngo. Sea Hulver. Sea Holme.

Common Names:Sea Holly,Field eryngo
(French): Panicaut.
(German): Krausdistel

Habitat :Sea Holly grows Mainly in Central and southern Europe, north to Germany and Holland. Rare in the British Isles. It abounds on most of our sandy seashores(Dry grassy areas near the coast) and is very plentiful on the East Coast, also on the sands of Mounts Bay, Cornwall, but is rare in Scotland. CLICK & SEE

Description:
Sea Holly  is a hairless, thorny perennial plant. The stems, 6 to 12 inches high, thick and solid, are branched at the summit. The radical leaves are on stalks, 2 to 7 inches long, the blades cut into three broad divisions at the apex, coarsely toothed, the teeth ending in spines and undulated.They  are tough and stiff, whitish-green. The basal leaves are long-stalked, pinnate and spiny. The leafs of this plant are mined by the gall fly which is called Euleia heraclei. The margin of the leaf is thickened and cartilaginous. The lower stem-leaves are shortly stalked, resembling the radical ones, but the upper ones are sessile and half embracing the stem, which terminates in a shortly-stalked head, below which it gives off two or three spreading branches, all from one point, which is surrounded by a whorl of three leaves, spreading like the rays of the sun.
CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES
The heads of flowers appear in July and are at first round, afterwards egg-shaped, 3/4 to 1 inch across, the flowers stalkless, whitish-blue, 1/8 inch across. The calyx tube is thickly covered with soft, cartilaginous bristles; the calyx teeth end in a spine.

CLICK & SEE

The plant is intensely glaucous tinged with blue towards the top, especially on the flowerheads and the leaves immediately below them.

Cultivation:
Requires a well-drained soil and a sunny position. Prefers a light sandy soil but tolerates most soil types including lime and poor gravels. The plant has deep and wide-ranging roots, it can spread freely in the garden and become difficult to eradicate. Plants should be put in their final position whilst small since they resent root disturbance. The plant is often used in dried flower arrangements since it retains its colour for a long time.

Propagation:   
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in early autumn on the surface of a well-drained compost in a cold frame. The seed can also be sown in spring. It usually germinates in 5 – 90 days at 20°c. 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. Division in early spring or autumn. Take care since the plant resents root disturbance. Root cuttings in autumn or winter.

Edible Uses:
Young shoots are cooked as an asparagus substitute. Root – cooked and Used as a vegetable or candied and used as a sweetmeat. Easily digested

Medicinal Uses:
Part Used: The root, dug in autumn, from plants at least two years old.

The root is antispasmodic, aromatic, diaphoretic, diuretic, expectorant, galactofuge and stimulant. It should be harvested in the autumn from plants that are at least 2 years old. The root promotes free expectoration and is very useful in the treatment of debility attendant on coughs of chronic standing in the advanced stages of pulmonary consumption. Drunk freely it is used to treat whooping cough, diseases of the liver and kidneys and skin complaints.

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.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eryngium_campestre
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Eryngium+campestre
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/h/holsea29.html

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