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Herbs & Plants

Solanum dulcamara

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Botanical Name:Solanum dulcamara
Family:    Solanaceae
Genus:    Solanum
Species:    S. dulcamara
Kingdom:    Plantae
Order:    Solanales

Synonyms:  Dulcamara. Felonwood. Felonwort. Scarlet Berry. Violet Bloom

Other Names : Bittersweet, Bittersweet nightshade, Bitter nightshade, Blue bindweed, Amara Dulcis, Climbing nightshade, Fellenwort, Felonwood, Poisonberry, Poisonflower, Scarlet berry, Snakeberry, Trailing bittersweet, Trailing nightshade, Violet bloom, or Woody nightshade

Habitat : Solanum dulcamara  is native to Europe and Asia, and widely naturalised elsewhere, including North America, where it is an invasive problem weed.

Description:
Bittersweet is a semi-woody herbaceous perennial vine, which scrambles over other plants, capable of reaching a height of 4 m where suitable support is available, but more often 1–2 meters high. The leaves are 4–12 cm long, roughly arrowhead-shaped, and often lobed at the base. The flowers are in loose clusters of 3–20, 1–1.5 cm across, star-shaped, with five purple petals and yellow stamens and style pointing forward. The fruit is an ovoid red berry about 1 cm long, soft and juicy, with the aspect and odor of a tiny tomato, and edible for some birds, which disperse the seeds widely. However, the berry is poisonous to humans and livestock,  and the berry’s attractive and familiar look make it dangerous for children.It spreads via underground stems.
CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES
The plant is relatively important in the diet of some species of birds such as European thrushes that feed on its fruits and are immune to its poisons, scattering the seeds abroad. It grows in all types of terrain with a preference for wetlands  and the understory of riparian forests. Along with other climbers, it creates a dark and impenetrable shelter for varied animals. The plant grows well in dark areas in places where it can receive the light of morning or afternoon. An area receiving bright light for many hours reduces their development. It grows more easily in rich wet soils with plenty of nitrogen.

Medicinal Uses:
It has been used in folk medicine across Europe for hundreds of years. But Michel Felix Dunal, who worked on Solanum in the 1800s, realised that many of the powers attributed to this plant were spurious.

Woody nightshade was used to treat skin conditions, circulatory conditions and breathing problems like asthma. It was included in the official British Pharamcopeia until 1907, but was taken out of later editions.

The older physicians valued Bittersweet highly and applied it to many purposes in medicine and surgery, for which it is no longer used. It was in great repute as far back as the time of Theophrastus, and we know of it being in use in this country in the thirteenth century.
Gerard says of it: ‘The juice is good for those that have fallen from high places, and have been thereby bruised or beaten, for it is thought to dissolve blood congealed or cluttered anywhere in the intrals and to heale the hurt places.’ Boerhaave, the celebrated Dutch physician, considered the young shoots superior to Sarsaparilla as a restorative, and Linnaeus, who at first had an aversion to the plant, later spoke of it in the highest terms as a remedy for rheumatism, fever and inflammatory diseases of all kinds. There are few complaints for which it has not been at some time recommended.

Known Hazards:
It carries the bacterium – Ralstonia solanacearum – that causes brown rot in potatoes. The disease can be spread to potatoes from infected woody nightshade growing on riverbanks if the river water is used to irrigate potato fields.

Solanum dulcamara contains solanine, an alkaloid glycoside. It increases bodily secretions and leads to vomiting and convulsions. The strength of its actions is said to be very dependent on the soil in which it grows with light, dry soils increasing its effects.

Though the berries are very attractive the bitter taste is a disincentive for the majority of people, especially children.

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://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solanum_dulcamara
http://www.nhm.ac.uk/nature-online/species-of-the-day/collections/collecting/solanum-dulcamara/index.html
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/n/nighwo06.html
http://www.thepoisongarden.co.uk/atoz/solanum_dulcamara.htm

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Herbs & Plants

Abies Procera (Noble Fir)

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Botanical Name : Abies procera
Family : Family Pinaceae
Synonyms: Abies nobilis – (Douglas. Ex D.Don.)Lindl., Pinus nobilis – D.Don.
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pinophyta
Class: Pinopsida
Order: Pinales
Species: A. procera
Genus: Abies
Synonyms : Abies nobilis. Pinus nobilis.

Common Names: Noble Fir,  Red fir, Christmastree

Habitat:–     Native to the Cascade Range and Coast Range mountains of extreme northwest California and western Oregon and Washington in the United States.   Western N. America – Washington to N. California. Self-sows in Britain – in Scotland.  Deep forests at elevations between 600 – 1500 metres. The best specimens are found in deep rich soils with a short cool growing season and abundant annual precipitation, mainly as snow.

Description:
A Perennial  evergreen Tree growing to 60m by 5m at a medium rate.
It is hardy to zone 5. It is in leaf all year, and the seeds ripen in September. 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 Wind.

You may click to see the pictures of Abies Procera (Noble Fir)
click for picture
It is a large evergreen tree typically up to 40-70 m (130-230 ft.) tall and 2 m (6.5 ft.) trunk diameter, rarely to 90 m (295 ft.) tall and 2.7 m (8.9 ft.) diameter[1], with a narrow conic crown. The bark on young trees is smooth, grey, and with resin blisters, becoming red-brown, rough and fissured on old trees. The leaves are needle-like, 1-3.5 cm long, glaucous blue-green above and below with strong stomatal bands, and a blunt to notched tip. They are arranged spirally on the shoot, but twisted slightly s-shaped to be upcurved above the shoot. The cones are erect, 11-22 cm long, with the purple scales almost completely hidden by the long exserted yellow-green bract scales; ripening brown and disintegrating to release the winged seeds in fall.

Cultivation:-
Prefers a good moist but not water-logged soil. Succeeds in cold exposed positions and in poor mountain peats. Succeeds in poor thin soils so long as sufficient moisture is present. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Plants are very shade tolerant, especially when young, but they grow more slowly in dense shade. Intolerant of atmospheric pollution. Prefers slightly acid conditions with a pH down to about 5. Grows well on a north-facing slope. A long-lived tree in the wild, with specimens more than 600 years old recorded. It is a very ornamental tree, but is very susceptible to damage by aphis in some areas of the country. Planted for timber in W. and N. Europe, in Britain it grows best in wetter parts of the country such as the Perthshire valleys of Scotland[. Trees do not grow well in the drier areas of Britain. In a suitable site it can make new growth of 1 metre a year until it is 25 metres tall when growth slows. Exposure seems to severely limit growth in height in southern and eastern regions but less so in areas of high rainfall such as N. Wales and Argyll. New growth takes place from early June to August. Trees should be planted into their permanent positions when they are quite small, between 30 and 90cm in height. Larger trees will check badly and hardly put on any growth for several years. This also badly affects root development and wind resistance. Trees are sometimes used as ‘Christmas trees‘. Plants are strongly outbreeding, self-fertilized seed usually grows poorly. They hybridize freely with other members of this genus.

Propagation:-
Seed – sow early February in a greenhouse or outdoors in March. Germination is often poor, usually taking about 6 – 8 weeks. Stratification is said to produce a more even germination so it is probably best to sow the seed in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe in the autumn. The seed remains viable for up to 5 years if it is well stored. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on for at least their first winter in pots. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Alternatively, if you have sufficient seed, it is possible to sow in an outdoor seedbed. One report says that it is best to grow the seedlings on in the shade at a density of about 550 plants per square metre whilst another report says that they are best grown on in a sunny position

Medicinal Actions & Uses

Pectoral.…..A decoction of the leaves has been used as a cough medicine.

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.

Other Uses:-
Noble Fir is a popular Christmas tree. Wood – light, hard, strong, close grained, works easily. Used for lumber, interior work, pulp etc. It is used for general structural purposes and paper manufacture.
Resources:
http://www.pfaf.org/database/plants.php?Abies+procera
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=ABPR&photoID=abpr_010_ahp.tif
http://www.biolib.cz/en/taxonimage/id22221/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abies_procera

 

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Herbs & Plants

Subalpine Fir

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Botanical Name: Abies lasiocarpa – (Hook.)Nutt.
Family: Pinaceae
Genus: Abies
Synonyms : Abies subalpina – Engelm.,Pinus lasiocarpa – Hook.
Habitat: Western N. America – Alaska to Arizona and New Mexico.   Often found in poor and rocky soils, it is rarely seen below 600 metres. It grows in forests right up to the timber line where it is no more than a shrub on exposed slopes at high altitudes.

Description:
An evergreen Perennial Tree growing to 20m by 4m at a slow rate.Trees to 20m; trunk to 0.8m diam.; crown spirelike. Bark gray, thin, smooth, furrowed in age. Branches stiff, straight; twigs opposite to whorled, greenish gray to light brown, bark splitting as early as 2 years to reveal red-brown layer, somewhat pubescent; fresh leaf scars with red periderm. Buds hidden by leaves or exposed, tan to dark brown, nearly globose, small, resinous, apex rounded; basal scales short, broad, equilaterally triangular, glabrous or with a few trichomes at base, not resinous, margins crenate to dentate, apex sharp-pointed. Leaves 1.8–3.1cm ´ 1.5–2mm, spiraled, turned upward, flexible; cross section flat, prominently grooved adaxially; odor sharp (ß-phellandrene); abaxial surface with 4–5 stomatal rows on each side of midrib; adaxial surface bluish green, very glaucous, with 4–6 stomatal rows at midleaf, rows usually continuous to leaf base; apex prominently or weakly notched to rounded; resin canals large, ± median, away from margins and midway between abaxial and adaxial epidermal layers. Pollen cones at pollination ± purple to purplish green. Seed cones cylindric, 6–12 ´ 2–4cm, dark purple, sessile, apex rounded; scales ca. 1.5 ´ 1.7cm, densely pubescent; bracts included (specimens with exserted, reflexed bracts are insect infested). Seeds 6 ´ 2mm, body brown; wing about 1.5 times as long as body, light brown; cotyledon number 4–5. 2 n =24.
.click & see the pictures.> tree…… Seedpod.….& seed
It is hardy to zone 5 and is frost tender. It is in leaf all year, and the seeds ripen in September. 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 Wind.

Cultivation details:-
Prefers a good moist but not water-logged soil. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Very shade tolerant, especially when young, but growth is slower in dense shade. Intolerant of atmospheric pollution. Prefers slightly acid conditions down to a pH of about 5. Prefers growing on a north-facing slope. Occasionally planted for timber in N. Europe but this species does not thrive in Britain. It is a very cold-hardy tree but the milder winters of this country make it susceptible to damage by aphis and late frosts. The sub-species A. lasiocarpa arizonica. (Merriam.)Lemmon. is growing somewhat better here. Trees should be planted into their permanent positions when they are quite small, between 30 and 90cm in height. Larger trees will check badly and hardly put on any growth for several years. This also badly affects root development and wind resistance. Plants are strongly outbreeding, self-fertilized seed usually grows poorly. They hybridize freely with other members of this genus. The crushed foliage has a balsam aroma.

Propagation:-
Seed – sow early February in a greenhouse or outdoors in March. Germination is often poor, usually taking about 6 – 8 weeks. Stratification is said to produce a more even germination so it is probably best to sow the seed in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe in the autumn. The seed remains viable for up to 5 years if it is well stored. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on for at least their first winter in pots. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Alternatively, if you have sufficient seed, it is possible to sow in an outdoor seedbed. One report says that it is best to grow the seedlings on in the shade at a density of about 550 plants per square metre whilst another report says that they are best grown on in a sunny position

Edible Uses:-
Edible Parts: Inner bark; Seed; Seedpod.

Edible Uses: Gum; Tea.

The shoot tips are used as a tea substitute. The cones can be ground into a fine powder, then mixed with fat and used as a confection. It is said to be a delicacy and an aid to the digestion. The resin from the trunk is used as a chewing gum. It is said to treat bad breath. Inner bark. No more information is given, but inner bark is often dried, ground into a powder and then used with cereal flours when making bread etc[K]. Seeds. No more information is given, but the seeds are very small and fiddly to use. Seeds of this genus are generally oily with a resinous flavour and can be eaten raw or cooked[K].

Medicinal Action & Uses :-

Antihalitosis; Antiseptic; Emetic; Foot care; Laxative; Poultice; TB; Tonic.

Antiseptic. The gummy exudate that appears on the bark was soaked in water until soft and then applied to wounds. An infusion of the resin has been used as an emetic to cleanse the insides. The resin has also been chewed to treat bad breath. A decoction of the bark is used as a tonic and in the treatment of colds and flu. A poultice of the leaves has been used to treat chest colds and fevers. An infusion has been taken to treat the coughing up of blood, which can be the first sign of TB, and as a laxative.

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.

Other Uses
Baby care; Deodorant; Gum; Hair; Incense; Miscellany; Repellent; Wood.

The wood is white, soft, brittle, and quick to decay, used for rough construction and boxes, doors, frames, poles, and fuel. Small trees are extensively used for Christmas trees. Subalpine fir is a forest pioneer on severe and disturbed sites. By providing cover, it assists in rehabilitating the landscape and protecting watersheds. Subalpine fir grows in forests that occupy the highest water yield areas in much of the western United States and are thus highly significant in water management and conservation.

The native North American Indians used pitch and bark preparations for wounds and the wood, bark, and boughs for roof shingles, baskets and bedding. The pitch was also used to coat canoe seams and rubbed on bowstrings as a sealant and protectant.They  used it for making chairs and insect-proof storage boxes. It was also used as a fuel and was said to burn for a long time.

The fragrant young leaves and twigs are used to repel moths or are burnt as an incense . They were also ground into a powder and used to make a baby powder and perfumes . A gum is obtained from the bark. It is antiseptic  and was chewed by the N. American Indians in order to clean the teeth. It was also used to plug holes in canoes. An infusion of the leaves is used as a hair tonic. The leaves can also be placed in the shoes as a foot deodorant. Wood – light, soft, not strong. It is little used except as a fuel and for pulp.

Scented Plants
Leaves: Crushed
The crushed foliage has a balsam aroma.

Resources:
http://www.pfaf.org/database/plants.php?Abies+lasiocarpa
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=ABLAL&photoID=ablal_005_ahp.tif
http://www.eol.org/pages/1061728

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Herbs & Plants

Balsam Fir

Botanical Name :Abies balsamea
Family:    Pinaceae
Genus:    Abies
Species:    A. balsamea
Kingdom: Plantae
Division:    Pinophyta
Class:    Pinopsida
Order:    Pinales

Synonyms: Pinus balsamea – L.

Common Name: Abies balsamea

Habitat:
North-eastern N. America – Newfoundland to Virginia, west to Alberta, Michigan and Ohio.    Low swampy grounds where it is often the major component of forests. Also found on well-drained hillsides.


Description:

An evergreen Tree. It grows  to 23m; trunk to 0.6m diam.; crown spirelike. Bark gray, thin, smooth, in age often becoming broken into irregular brownish scales. Branches diverging from trunk at right angles, the lower often spreading and drooping; twigs mostly opposite, greenish brown, pubescence sparse. Buds hidden by leaves or exposed, brown, conic, small, resinous, apex acute; basal scales short, broad, nearly equilaterally triangular, glabrous, resinous, margins entire, apex sharp-pointed. Leaves 1.2–2.5cm ´ 1.5–2mm, 1-ranked (particularly on lower branches) to spiraled, flexible; cross section flat, grooved adaxially; odor pinelike (copious ß-pinene); abaxial surface with (4–)6–7(–8) stomatal rows on each side of midrib; adaxial surface dark green, slightly or not glaucous, with 0–3 stomatal rows at midleaf, these more numerous toward leaf apex; apex slightly notched to rounded; resin canals large, ± median, away from margins, midway between abaxial and adaxial epidermal layers. Pollen cones at pollination red, purplish, bluish, greenish, or orange. Seed cones cylindric, 4–7 ´ 1.5–3cm, gray-purple, turning brown before scale shed, sessile, apex round to obtuse; scales ca. 1–l.5 ´ 0.7–1.7cm (relationship reversed in more western collections), pubescent; bracts included or exserted and reflexed over scales. Seeds 3–6 ´ 2–3mm, body brown; wing about twice as long as body, brown-purple; cotyledons ca. 4. 2 n =24.
It is hardy to zone 2 and is frost tender. It is in leaf all year, in flower in May, and the seeds ripen from September 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 Wind.
…...CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires moist soil. The plant is not wind tolerant.

Cultivation:-
Prefers a good moist but not water-logged soil. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Very shade tolerant, especially when young, but growth is slower in dense shade. Intolerant of atmospheric pollution. Prefers slightly acid conditions down to a pH of about5[200], though the cultivar ‘Hudsonia’ is more tolerant of alkaline conditions. Prefers growing on a north-facing slope[200]. A shallow-rooted plant, making it vulnerable to high winds. Balsam fir is estimated to tolerate an annual precipitation of 60 to 150cm, an annual temperature range of 5 to 12°C, and a pH of 4.5 to 7.5. The balsam fir is a fast-growing tree in its native environment, but it is fairly short-lived and slow growing in Britain, becoming ungainly after about 20 years. It grows best in the Perthshire valleys of Scotland. New growth takes place from late May to the end of July. Trees are very cold hardy but are often excited into premature growth in mild winters and this new growth is susceptible to damage by late frosts. Female strobili may be wholly or partially aborted up to 6 to 8 weeks after bud burst by late spring frosts. Pollen dispersal can be reduced by adverse weather. Trees should be planted into their permanent positions when they are quite small, between 30 and 90cm in height. Larger trees will check badly and hardly put on any growth for several years. This also badly affects root development and wind resistance. Trees have a thin bark and are therefore susceptible to forest fires. This species is closely related to A. fraseri. Plants are strongly outbreeding, self-fertilized seed usually grows poorly. They hybridize freely with other members of this genus. The cones break up on the tree and if seed is required it should be harvested before the cones break up in early autumn. Whilst the typical species is too large for most gardens, there are some named slow-growing dwarf forms that can be grown. Whilst these will not provide the resin, their leaves can be used medicinally. The leaves are strongly aromatic of balsam when crushed. The tree is sometimes grown and used as a ‘Christmas tree‘.

Propagation:-
Seed – sow early February in a greenhouse or outdoors in March[78]. Germination is often poor, usually taking about 6 – 8 weeks. Stratification is said to produce a more even germination so it is probably best to sow the seed in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe in the autumn[80, 113]. Stored seeds should be moist stratified 14 – 28 days at 1 – 5°C, though fresh seed may be sown in autumn without stratification, with target seedling densities in the nursery ca 450 – 500/m2, often mulched with sawdust. The seed remains viable for up to 5 years if it is well stored. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on for at least their first winter in pots. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Of slow initial growth, the stock is usually outplanted as 2- to 3-year-old seedlings or 3- to 4-year-old transplants Alternatively, if you have sufficient seed, it is possible to sow in an outdoor seedbed. One report says that it is best to grow the seedlings on in the shade at a density of about 550 plants per square metre[78] whilst another report says that they are best grown on in a sunny position[80]. Trees often self-layer in the wild[226], so this might be a means of increasing named varieties in cultivation[K].

Cultivars:-
There are many named forms for this species, but these have been developed for their ornamental value and not for their other uses. Unless you particularly require the special characteristics of any of these cultivars, we would generally recommend that you grow the natural species for its useful properties. We have, therefore, not listed the cultivars in this database

Edible Uses:-
Edible Parts: Inner bark.

Edible Uses: Condiment; Gum; Tea.

Inner bark – cooked. It is usually dried, ground into a powder and then used as a thickening in soups etc or mixed with cereals when making bread. Fir bark is a delight to chew in winter or early spring, slightly mucilaginous and sweetish, better raw than cooked[269]. Another report says that it is an emergency food and is only used when all else fails. An aromatic resinous pitch is found in blisters in the bark[64]. When eaten raw it is delicious and chewy. Another report says that the balsam or pitch, in extreme emergency, forms a highly concentrated, though disagreeable, food. An oleoresin from the pitch is used as a flavouring in sweets, baked goods, ice cream and drinks. Tips of young shoots are used as a tea substitute.

Medicinal Uses:-
Analgesic; Antiscorbutic; Antiseptic; Diuretic; Poultice; Stimulant; Tonic; VD.

The resin obtained from the balsam fir  has been used throughout the world and is a very effective antiseptic and healing agent. It is used as a healing and analgesic protective covering for burns, bruises, wounds and sores. It is also used to treat sore nipples and is said to be one of the best curatives for a sore throat. The buds, resin, and/or sap are used in folk remedies for treating cancers, corns, and warts. The resin is also antiscorbutic, diaphoretic, diuretic, stimulant and tonic. It is used internally in propriety mixtures to treat coughs and diarrhoea, though taken in excess it is purgative. A warm liquid of the gummy sap was drunk as a treatment for gonorrhoea. A tea made from the leaves is antiscorbutic. It is used in the treatment of coughs, colds and fevers. The leaves and young shoots are best harvested in the spring and dried for later use. This plant was widely used medicinally by various North American Indian tribes. The resin was used as an antiseptic healing agent applied externally to wounds, sores, bites etc., it was used as an inhalant to treat headaches and was also taken internally to treat colds, sore throats and various other 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.

Other Uses:-
Adhesive; Fibre; Kindling; Microscope; Repellent; Resin; Stuffing; Waterproofing; Wood.

The balsamic resin ‘Balm of Gilead’ or ‘Canada Balsam’ according to other reports is obtained during July and August from blisters in the bark or by cutting pockets in the wood. Another report says that it is a turpentine. The term Canada Balsam is a misnomer because balsams are supposed to contain benzoic and cinnamic acids, both absent from the Canada oleoresin. Turpentine is also a misnomer, implying that the oleoresin is entirely steam volatile. Actually it contains 70 – 80% resin, only 16 – 20% volatile oil. Canada Balsam yields 15 – 25% volatile oil, the resin being used for caulking and incense. It is used medicinally and in dentistry, also in the manufacture of glues, candles and as a cement for microscopes and slides – it has a high refractive index resembling that of glass. The pitch has also been used as a waterproofing material for the seams of canoes. The average yield is about 8 – 10 oz per tree. The resin is also a fixative in soaps and perfumery. “Turpentine” is usually collected during July-August by breaking the turpentine blisters into small metal cans with sharp-pointed lids. Trees are then allowed to recuperate for 1 – 2 years before being harvested again. The leaves and young branches are used as a stuffing material for pillows etc – they impart a pleasant scent and also repel moths. The leaves contain an average of 0.65% essential oil, though it can go up to 1.4% or even higher. One analysis of the essential oils reports 14.6% bornyl acetate, 36.1% b-pinene, 11.1% 3-carene, 11.1% limonene, 6.8% camphene, and 8.4% a-pinene. To harvest the oil, it would appear that the branches should be snipped off younger trees in early spring. Fifteen year old trees yield 70% more leaf oil than 110-year-old trees; oil yields are highest in January – March and September, they are lowest from April to August. A thread can be made from the roots. Wood – light, soft, coarse grained, not strong, not very durable. Weighs 24lb per cubic foot. Used mainly for pulp, it is not used much for lumber except in the manufacture of crates etc. The wood is commercially valuable for timber even though it is relatively soft, weak, and perishable[26. Balsam fir is used in the US for timber and plywood, and is the mainstay of the pulp wood industry in the Northeast. The wood, which is rich in pitch, burns well and can be used as a kindling.

Scented Plants:-
Leaves: Crushed
The leaves are strongly aromatic of balsam when crushed.


Resources:

http://www.pfaf.org/database/plants.php?Abies+balsamea
http://forestry.about.com/library/silvics/blsilabibal.htm
http://www.eol.org/pages/1061732

http://wisplants.uwsp.edu/scripts/detail.asp?SpCode=ABIBAL

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abies_balsamea

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Abies alba

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Botnical Name: Abies alba – Mill.
Family :
Pinaceae
Genus:
Abies
Species:
A. alba
Kingdom:
Plantae
Division:
Pinophyta
Class:
Pinopsida
Order:
Pinales

Synonyms: Abies pectinata – DC.
Common Name: Silver Fir, European Silver fir


Habitat:  Central and Southern Urope.   Forests in mountains, 1000 – 1600 metres. Woodland Garden; Canopy;

Description:
An evergreen Tree growing to 45m by 15m at a fast rate. Columnar tree having dark green leaves, the undersides of which are silver, up to 1 inch (2.5cm) long. The leaves are in a v-shape arrangement on the shoots. Cones are cylindrical and yellow-green, then turn brown as they ripen to 4-6 inches (10-15cm) with protruding bracts.

You may click to  see the pictures of Abies alba

It is hardy to zone 4 and is frost tender. It is in leaf all year, in flower from April to May, and the seeds ripen from September 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 Wind.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay soil. The plant prefers acid and neutral soils. It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires moist soil. It cannot tolerate atmospheric pollution.


Cultivation:-

Prefers a good moist but not water-logged soil though it tolerates most soils except infertile sands and peats. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Prefers a slightly acid soil, with a pH down to about 5, and a north-facing slope. Plants are very shade tolerant and this species has often been used to underplant in forests, but growth is slower in dense shade. Intolerant of atmospheric pollution. Requires a generous rainfall and a sheltered position. Intolerant of windy sites. The silver fir is a very hardy plant when dormant but it comes into growth in April and is then susceptible to damage by late frosts and aphis. This species is particularly subject to aphis infestation in many parts of the country, and is also prone to dieback and rust caused by fungal infections. Trees are slow growing for the first few years but from the age of around 6 years growth accelerates and height increases of 1 metre a year are not uncommon. Grows best in moist valleys in Scotland and in S.W. England where it often self-sows. This species also thrives in E. Anglia. Another report says that this species is not happy in the hot, dry, Lower Thames Valley, and does not thrive in many low-lying and frosty parts of southern England. It has been planted as a timber tree in northern and western Europe. It is also commonly used as a ‘Christmas tree‘. This tree is notably resistant to honey fungus. Trees should be planted into their permanent positions when they are quite small, preferably between 30 and 90cm in height. Larger trees will check badly and hardly put on any growth for several years. This also badly affects root development and wind resistance. Unlike most species of conifers, this tree can be coppiced and will regenerate from the stump. Plants are strongly outbreeding, self-fertilized seed usually grows poorly. They hybridize freely with other members of this genus. The cultivar ‘Pendula’ used to be widely planted for ornament, shelter and timber but because it is now susceptible to damage by Adelges nordmannianae it is seldom planted. Research is going on (1975) to find provenances that are resistant.

Propagation:-

Seed – sow early February in a greenhouse or outdoors in March. Germination is often poor, usually taking about 6 – 8 weeks. Stratification is said to produce a more even germination so it is probably best to sow the seed in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe in the autumn. The seed remains viable for up to 5 years if it is well stored. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on for at least their first winter in pots. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Alternatively, if you have sufficient seed, it is possible to sow in an outdoor seedbed. One report says that it is best to grow the seedlings on in the shade at a density of about 550 plants per square metre[78] whilst another report says that they are best grown on in a sunny position[


Uses:


Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Inner bark.

Inner bark – cooked. It is dried, ground into a powder and then used as a thickening in soups etc or mixed with cereals when making bread


Medicinal Action & Uses:

Antibiotic; Antirheumatic; Antiseptic; Astringent; Balsamic; Diuretic; Expectorant; Vasoconstrictor; Vulnerary.

The buds are antibiotic, antiseptic and balsamic. The bark is antiseptic and astringent. It can be harvested as required throughout the year. The leaves are expectorant and a bronchial sedative. They are best harvested in the spring and can be dried for later use. The resin is antiseptic, balsamic, diuretic, eupeptic, expectorant, vasoconstrictor and vulnerary. Both the leaves and the resin are common ingredients in remedies for colds and coughs, either taken internally or used as an inhalant. The leaves and/or the resin are used in folk medicine to treat bronchitis, cystitis, leucorrhoea, ulcers and flatulent colic. The resin is also used externally in bath extracts, rubbing oils etc for treating rheumatic pains and neuralgia. Oil of Turpentine, which is obtained from the trunk of the tree, is occasionally used instead of the leaves or the resin. The oil is also rubefacient and can be applied externally in the treatment of neuralgia.

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.

Other Uses:-
Essential; Lacquer; Paint; Resin; Tannin; Wood.

An oleo-resin is obtained from blister-like swellings in the bark[64, 100]. It is harvested in the summer and used fresh, dried or distilled for oil. The resin extracted from it is used in perfumery, medicine and for caulking ships. It is called ‘Strasburg Turpentine'[46]. Oil of turpentine is an important solvent in the paint industry. The residue, known as ‘rosin oil’, is used in making varnishes, lacquers and carbon black (for pigments and ink). Resin is tapped from trees about 60 – 80 years old in the spring and used for the distillation of oil. An essential oil obtained from the leaves is used as a disinfectant and also in medicine and perfumery. It is a common ingredient in many bath products, giving them their familiar pine scent. The bark is a source of tannin. Wood – light, soft, durable, elastic. The timber of this tree is especially sought after for its lightness, it is used for construction, furniture, boxes, pulp etc

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Resources:
http://www.pfaf.org/database/plants.php?Abies+alba
http://www.gardenology.org/wiki/Abies_alba
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=ABAL3&photoID=abal3_002_avp.jpg

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