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Herbs & Plants

Astragalus canadensis

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Botanical Name: Astragalus canadensis
Family: Fabaceae
Genus: Astragalus
Species: A. canadensis
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Fabales

Synonyms: Astragalus carolinianus. L.
Common Names : Canadian Milkvetch, Shorttooth Canadian milkvetch, Morton’s Canadian milkvetch
Habitat: Astragalus canadensis is native to Central and eastern N. America – Quebec to Saskatchewan, New York, Louisiana, Nebraska and Utah. IIt grows on shores and rich thickets. Rocky and sandy thickets in Texas.

Description:
Astragalus canadensis is a perennial herb growing to 1 m (3ft 3in). It sends out several thin, erect, green stems, bearing leaves that are actually made up of pairs of leaflets, each leaflet up to 3 centimeters in length. It has inflorescences of tubular, greenish-white flowers which yield beanlike fruits within pods that rattle when dry.

Pagoda-like towers of creamy yellow flowers rise above the dark green leaves in mid-summer, followed by scepters of bead-like seed pods in August. This striking member of the Pea family is an important food for birds, as it retains its seed late into the fall and early winter.

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The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, lepidoptera.It can fix Nitrogen.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry soil.

Cultivation:
Requires a dry well-drained soil in a sunny position. This species is not hardy in the colder areas of the country, it tolerates temperatures down to between -5 and -10°c. Plants are intolerant of root disturbance and are best planted in their final positions whilst still small. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby. Many members of this genus can be difficult to grow, this may be due partly to a lack of their specific bacterial associations in the soil.

Propagation:
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. A period of cold stratification may help stored seed to germinate. Stored seed, and perhaps also fresh seed, should be pre-soaked for 24 hours in hot water before sowing – but make sure that you do not cook the seed. Any seed that does not swell should be carefully pricked with a needle, taking care not to damage the embryo, and re-soaked for a further 24 hours. Germination can be slow and erratic but is usually within 4 – 9 weeks or more at 13°c if the seed is treated or sown fresh. As soon as it is large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter, planting them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts.

Edible Uses:

Root – raw or boiled. They were often used in a broth. The roots are gathered in spring or autumn. Some caution is advised, if the root is bitter it could be due to the presence of toxic alkaloids.
Medicinal Uses:
The root is analgesic and antihaemorrhagic. It can be chewed or used as a tea to treat chest and back pains, coughs and the spitting up of blood. A decoction of the root is used as a febrifuge for children. A poultice made from the chewed root has been used to treat cuts

Known Hazards: Many members of this genus contain toxic glycosides. All species with edible seedpods can be distinguished by their fleshy round or oval seedpod that looks somewhat like a greengage. A number of species can also accumulate toxic levels of selenium when grown in soils that are relatively rich in that element.

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/Astragalus_canadensis
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Astragalus+canadensis
http://www.prairienursery.com/store/native-wildflowers/canada-milk-vetch-seed-astragalus-canadensis#.V-3m8ySvE2w

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Herbs & Plants

Fagopyrum esculentum

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Botanical Name ; Fagopyrum esculentum
Family: Polygonaceae
Genus: Fagopyrum
Species: F. esculentum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Caryophyllales

Synonyms : Fagopyrum sagittatum. Fagopyrum vulgare.

Common Name:Buckwheat

Habitat : Fagopyrum esculentum is native to Central Asia.  It occurs  occasional casual in Britain. It grows in waste ground as an escape from cultivation. Its original habitat is obscure.

Description:
Fagopyrum esculentum is an annual plant, growing to 1.5 m (5ft) by 0.3 m (1ft in) at a fast rate.
It is frost tender. It is in flower from Jul to September, and the seeds ripen from Aug to October. The flowers are monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and are pollinated by Bees, flies.It is noted for attracting wildlife.

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It is a plant cultivated for its grain-like seeds, and also used as a cover crop. To distinguish it from a related species, Fagopyrum tataricum that is also cultivated as a grain in the Himalayas, and from the less commonly cultivated Fagopyrum acutatum, it is also known as Japanese buckwheat and silverhull buckwheat.

Despite the name, buckwheat is not related to wheat, as it is not a grass. Instead, buckwheat is related to sorrel, knotweed, and rhubarb. Because its seeds are eaten and rich in complex carbohydrates, it is referred to as a pseudocereal. The cultivation of buckwheat grain declined sharply in the 20th century with the adoption of nitrogen fertilizer that increased the productivity of other staples.

Cultivation:
A very easily grown plant, it prefers dry sandy soils but succeeds in most conditions including poor, heavy  or acid soils and even sub-soils. Prefers a cool moist climate, but it also succeeds in dry and arid regions. Buckwheat is frequently cultivated for its edible seed and leaves, it can produce a seed crop in 100 days from sowing and a crop of leaves in 8 weeks. There are some named varieties. The seed ripens irregularly over a period of several weeks so it is difficult to harvest. Plants have poor frost resistance but they are disease and insect resistant. They inhibit the growth of winter wheat. The flowers have a pleasant sweet honey scent and are extremely attractive to bees and hoverflies.

Propagation:
Seed – sow from the middle of spring to early summer in situ. The seed usually germinates in 5 days. The earlier sowings are for a seed or leaf crop whilst the later sowings are used mainly for leaf crops or green manure.

Edible Uses:
Edible Parts: Leaves;   Seed.

Leaves – raw or cooked like spinach. Not that wonderful raw, they improve somewhat with cooking. The leaves are rich in rutin (see below for more details) and so are a very healthy addition to the diet. Seed – raw or cooked. A nutty flavour, though it has a somewhat gritty texture. The seed can be soaked overnight in warm water then sprouted for a few days and added to salads. It can also be ground into a powder and used as a cereal when it can be made into pancakes, noodles, breads etc or be used as a thickening agent in soups etc. Rich in vitamin B6. An excellent beer can be brewed from the grain.

Medicinal Uses:

Acrid; Astringent; Galactogogue; Vasodilator.

Buckwheat is a bitter but pleasant tasting herb that is frequently used medicinally because the leaves are a good source of rutin. Rutin is useful in the treatment of a wide range of circulatory problems, it dilates the blood vessels, reduces capillary permeability and lowers blood pressure. The leaves and shoots of flowering plants are acrid, astringent and vasodilator. It is used internally in the treatment of high blood pressure, gout, varicose veins, chilblains, radiation damage etc. It is best used in conjunction with vitamin C since this aids absorption. Often combined with lime flowers (Tilia species), it is a specific treatment for haemorrhage into the retina. The leaves and flowering stems are harvested as the plant begins to flower and are dried for later use. They should be stored in the dark because the active ingredients rapidly degrade in the light. Some caution should be exercised in the use of this herb because it has been known to cause light-sensitive dermatitis. An infusion of the herb has been used in the treatment of erysipelas (an acute infectious skin disease). A homeopathic remedy has been made from the leaves. It is used in the treatment of eczema and liver disorders.

Buckwheat is used to treat a wide range of circulatory problems. It is best taken as a tea or tablet, accompanied by vitamin C or lemon juice to aid absorption. Buckwheat is used particularly to treat fragile capillaries, but also helps strengthen varicose veins and heal chilblains. Often combined with linden flowers, buckwheat is a specific treatment for hemorrhage into the retina. The leaves and shoots of flowering plants are acrid, astringent and vasodilator. It is used internally in the treatment of high blood pressure, gout, varicose veins, chilblains, radiation damage etc. A poultice made from the seeds has been used for restoring the flow of milk in nursing mothers. An infusion of the herb has been used in the treatment of erysipelas (an acute infectious skin disease).

Other Uses:
Dye; Green manure; Soil reclamation…………..A very good green manure plant, it can be used to reclaim badly degraded soils and subsoils.  A blue dye is obtained from the stems. A brown dye is obtained from the flowers.

Known Hazards : This plant has caused photosensitivity in some people, only the dehusked grain is considered to be safe.

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/Buckwheat
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_AB.htm
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Fagopyrum+esculentum

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Herbs & Plants

Rhododendron chrysanthum

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Botanical Name : Rhododendron chrysanthum
Family: Ericaceae
Subfamily: Ericoideae
Tribe: Rhodoreae
Genus: Rhododendron
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Ericales

Synonyms: Rosebay. Snow Rose. Rosage Alpenrose.
Part Used: Leaves.

Habitat: Rhododendron chrysanthum grows on the mountains of Siberia.

Description:
A small bush, stem 1 to 1 1/2 foot high, spreading, much branched, often concealed by moss, tips of shoots only being visible. Leaves alternate like laurel, ovate, somewhat acute, tapering to stalk, reticulated, rough above, paler and smoother underneath. Flowers large, showy, nodding, on clustered terminal, loose peduncles emerging from large downy scales. Corolla campanulate, five cleft, rounded segments, three upper largest and streaked with livid dots next the tube, lower unspotted. Stamens ten, unequal deflexed; anthers oblong, incumbent, without appendages, opening by two terminal pores, capsule ovate, rather angular,five-celled, five-valved, septicidal; seeds numerous, minute. The leaves should be gathered directly the capsules have ripened. They have a faint odour when first gathered and a bitter, acrid, astringent taste…...CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

Constituents: The leaves contain a stimulant narcotic principle, which they yield to water or alcohol.
Medicinal Uses:   (In homoeopathic medicine a tincture of the fresh leaves is said to be curative of diarrhoea, amenorrhoea, chorea, affections of the eyes and ears, and neuralgia. – EDITOR.) Much used in Siberia as a remedy for rheumatism. Also useful in gout and syphilis.

click & see…> Homeopathic Remedy – Rhododendron Chrysanthum…... (1) …....(2) 
Resources:
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/r/rhodod13.html

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Herbs & Plants

Onopordum acanthium

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Botanical Name: Onopordum acanthium
Family: Asteraceae
Subfamily: Carduoideae
Tribe: Cynareae
Genus: Onopordum
Species: O. acanthium
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asterales

Synonyms-: Woolly Thistle.

Common Names: Cotton thistle, Scotch thistle

Habitat : Cotton thistle is native to Europe and Asia. The plant prefers habitats with dry summers, such as the Mediterranean region, growing best in sandy, sandy clay and calcareous soils which are rich in ammonium salts. It grows in ruderal places, as well as dry pastures and disturbed fields. Its preferred habitats are natural areas, disturbed sites, roadsides, fields, and especially sites with fertile soils, agricultural areas, range/grasslands, riparian zones, scrub/shrublands valleys and plains along with water courses. Temperature and moisture, rather than soil nutrient concentrations determine the ecological performance of Onopordum species.

Description:
Onopordum acanthium is a biennial plant, producing a large rosette of spiny leaves the first year. The plants typically germinate in the autumn after the first rains and exist as rosettes throughout the first year, forming a stout, fleshy taproot that may extend down 30 cm or more for a food reserve.

In the second year, the plant grows (0.2–) 0.5–2.5 (–3) m tall and a width of 1.5 m. The leaves are 10–50 cm wide, are alternate and spiny, often covered with white woolly hairs and with the lower surface more densely covered than the upper. The leaves are deeply lobed with long, stiff spines along the margins. Fine hairs give the plant a greyish appearance. The massive main stem may be 10 cm wide at the base, and is branched in the upper part. Each stem shows a vertical row of broad, spiny wings (conspicuous ribbon-like leafy material), typically 2–3 cm wide, extending to the base of the flower head.

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The flowers are globe shaped, 2–6 cm in diameter, from dark pink to lavender, and are produced in the summer. The flower buds form first at the tip of the stem and later at the tip of the axillary branches. They appear singly or in groups of two or three on branch tips. The plants are androgynous, with both pistil and stamens, and sit above numerous, long, stiff, spine-tipped bracts, all pointing outwards, the lower ones wider apart and pointing downwards. After flowering, the ovary starts swelling and forms about 8,400 to 40,000 seeds per plant.
Edible Uses: Colouring; Oil; Oil.

Flower buds – cooked. A globe artichoke substitute, though they are much smaller and very fiddly to use. Stems – cooked. Used as a vegetable, they are a cardoon (Cynara cardunculus) substitute. The stems are cooked in water like asparagus or rhubarb. They are best if the rind is removed. Leaves and young plants – cooked. They are harvested before the flowers develop and the prickles must be removed prior to cooking. The petals are an adulterant for saffron, used as a yellow food colouring and flavouring. A good quality edible oil is obtained from the seed. The seed contains about 25% oil.

Parts Used in medicines: Leaves, root.

Medicinal Uses:
Astringent; Cancer; Cardiotonic.

Onopordum acanthium is a cardiotonic. It is used in some proprietary heart medicines. The juice of the plant has been used with good effect in the treatment of cancers and ulcers. A decoction of the root is astringent. It is used to diminish discharges from mucous membranes.

Other Uses:
Oil; Oil; Stuffing.

The cotton is occasionally collected from the stem and used to stuff pillows, and the oil obtained from the seeds has been used on the Continent for burning, both in lamps and for ordinary culinary purposes.

Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Onopordum_acanthium
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Onopordum+acanthium
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/t/thistl11.html#hol

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Herbs & Plants

Polygonum fagopyrum

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Botanical Name :Polygonum fagopyrum
Family: Polygonaceae
Genus: Polygonum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Caryophyllales

Synonyms:Brank. Beechwheat. Le Blé noir. Sarrasin. Buchweizen. Heidekorm. French. Wheat. Saracen Corn.

Habitat: Polygonum fagopyrum  is a native of Central Asia, cultivated in China and other Eastern countries as a bread-corn and was first brought to Europe from Asia by the Crusaders, and hence in France is called ‘Saracen Corn.

Description:
It is a herbaceous plant, with a knotted stem a foot or two in height, round and hollow, generally green, but sometimes tinged with red, lateral branches growing out of the joints, which give off alternately from opposite sides, heart-shaped, or somewhat arrowshaped leaves, and from July to September, spreading panicles of numerous light freshcoloured flowers, which are perfumed. They are dimorphic, i.e. there are two forms of flowers, one with long styles and short stamens, the other with short styles and long stamens and are very attractive to bees. It is frequently cultivated in the Middle United States of Arnerica and also in Brabant as food for bees, and an immense quantity of Buckwheat honey is also collected in Russia. It gives a particularly pleasant flavour to honey.

Click to see ..>...(01).....(1).….…………………………..

The nut (so-called ‘seed’) has a dark brown, tough rind, enclosing the kernel or seed, and is three-sided in form, with sharp angles, resembling the triangular Beech-nut, hence the name of the plant, Buckwheat, a corruption of Boek-weit, the Dutch form of the name, adopted with its culture from the Dutch, meaning ‘Beech-wheat’ (German Buchweizen), a translation of the Latin name Fagopyrum (Latin fagus, a beech).

By some botanists, the Buckwheat is separated from the Polygonums, receiving the name Fagopyrum esculentum (Moench).

The nut contains a floury endosperm, and though rarely employed in this country as human food is extensively cultivated for that purpose in Northern Europe, North America (where it also goes by the name of Indian Wheat) and in India and the East.

Buckwheat flour is occasionally used for bread, but more frequently employed for cakes, which when baked have an agreeable taste, with a darkish, somewhat violet colour and are a national dish throughout America in the winter. They are baked on gridirons and eaten with maple syrup as breakfast cakes. The meal of Buckwheat is also baked into crumpets, which are popular among Dutch children and are said to be nutritious and easily digested.

By the Hindus, Buckwheat, which is extensively cultivated in the Himalayas, is eaten on ‘bart’ or fast days, being one of the lawful foods for such occasions. Polygonum cymosum (Meism.), the Chinese perennial Buckwheat, and P. Tartaricum Ge.), the Tartary or Rough Buckwheat, also constitute an important source of flour in the East. In Japan, Buckwheat is called Soba, and its flour is prepared in various ways; kneaded with hot water to make a dough, Soba-neri; a kind of macaroni, Soba-kiri; and so on. The grains, steamed and dried, are eaten boiled or made into bread or Manju, a small cake. Its young leaves are eaten as a vegetable and its stalks are used to feed cattle.

In the Russian Army, Buckwheat groats are served out as part of the soldiers’ rations and cooked with butter, tallow or hemp-seed oil. In Germany it forms an ingredient in pottage, puddings and other food.

Beer may be brewed from the grain, and by distillation it yields an excellent spirit, in Danzig much used in the preparation of cordial waters.

The blossoms may be used for dyeing a brown colour.

Cultivation:  It is sown in May or June and ripens rapidly, thriving in the poorest soil. The flowers appear about July and the seeds ripen in October, but so tender are the plants that a single night’s frost will destroy a whole crop. As a grian, Buckwheat is chiefly cultivated in England to supply food for pheasants and to feed poultry, which devour the seeds with avidity and thrive on it – hence one of its local names: Fat Hen. Mixed with bran chaff or grain, its seeds are sometimes given to horses, either whole or broken. When used as food for cattle, the hard angular rind must first be removed. The meal is considered specially good for fattening pigs: 8 bushels of Buckwheat have been said to go as far as 12 bushels of barleymeal and a bushel of the seeds to go further than 2 bushels of oats, though all farmers do not quite agree as to the superior food value of Buckwheat. If it is given to pigs at first in too large quantities, they will show symptoms of intoxication. As compared with the principal cereal grains, it is poor in nitrogenous substances and fat, its nutritious properties are greatly inferior to wheat, though as a food it ranks much higher than rice; but the rapidity and the ease with which it can be grown renders it a fit crop for very poor, badly-tilled land which will produce scarcely anything else, its culture, compared with that of other grain, being attended with little expense.

When grown by the preservers of game as a food for pheasants, it is often left standing, as it affords both food and shelter to the birds during the winter. With some farmers it is the practice to sow Buckwheat for the purpose only of ploughing it into the ground as a manure for the land. The best time for ploughing it in is when it is in full blossom, allowing the land to rest till it decomposes.

Whilst green, it serves as food for sheep and oxen, and mixed with other provender it may also with advantage be given to horses. If sown in April, two green crops may be procured during the season.

The best mode of harvesting this grain is said to be by pulling it out of the ground like flax, stripping off the seeds with the hand and collecting these into aprons or cloths tied round the waist.

In the United States, Buckwheat is sown at the end of June or beginning of July, the amount of seed varying from 3 to 5 pecks to the acre. The crop matures rapidly and continues blooming till the frosts set in, so that at harvest, which is usually set to occur just before this period, the grain is in various stages of ripeness. There, after cutting, it is allowed to lie in swaths for a few days and then set up in shocks. Threshing is done on the field in most cases.

It grows so quickly that it will kill off any weeds.

Constituents: The leaves have been found by Schunch to contain a crystalline colouring principle (1 part in a thousand) identical with the Rutin or Rutic acid previously discovered by Weiss in the leaves of the common Rue and probably existing in the leaves of the Holly.

The seeds contain starch, sugar, gum, and various matters soluble in alcohol. A small amount of the glucoside Indican has been found.

Medicinal Uses: Astringent, acrid.

An infusion of the herb has been used in erysipelas, and a poultice made of the flour and buttermilk for restoring the flow of milk in nurses.

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.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/b/buckwh81.html

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