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Herbs & Plants

Yucca filamentosa

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Botanical Name : Yucca filamentosa

Family: Asparagaceae

Subfamily: Agavoideae

Genus: Yucca

Species: Y. filamentosa

Kingdom: Plantae

clade: Angiosperms

clade: Monocots

Order: Asparagales

Common Names : Adam’s needle, bear grass, weak-leaf yucca

Habitat : Yucca filamentosa is native to the southeastern United States, as far west as Louisiana and as far north as Virginia. However, it is widely cultivated and can be found naturalized outside its native range.

Description:

Usually trunkless, Yucca filamentosa is a multisuckering plant with heads of 30 inch (75 cm) long, filamentous, blue green strappy leaves. The plant is fully hardy. Yucca filamentosa is readily identified from other Yucca species by white threads (filaments) on the leaf margins (as seen in the image).

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Flower stems up to 10 ft (3 m) tall bear masses of pendulous cream flowers in early summer.

Leaf: Evergreen, stiff and sword-like to slightly flexible and strap-like, up to 2 1/2 feet long and 1 to 3 inches wide, parallel veins, the leaf margins of younger leaves bearing fibrous white strands or filaments.

Flower: Very attractive, creamy white, bell-shaped, 6-petaled, approximately 2 1/2 inch-wide, borne on a 3-6 foot tall upright woody inflorescence. Flowers appearing once between June and August.

Fruit: Capsules borne upright on the woody inflorescence, approximately 2 inches long, initially green and drying to

Form: Dense, mounded clumps of leaves that reach 4 feet in height, but with upright inflorescences much taller.

Hardiness: USDA Zones 5-10

Y. filamentosa is closely related to Yucca flaccida and it is possible they should in fact be classified as a single species.

Propagation: By seed, root cuttings and offshoots. When one digs up a yucca to transplant, about a year later one may  often find the site ringed with baby yuccas growing from pieces of root left behind!

Medicinal Uses:

Yucca filamentosa is used for arthritis, rheumatism, gout, urethritis and prostates.  At one time it was considered an important source of phytosterols and used in the manufacturing of steroidal hormones.  Y glauca has been shown to have some activity against one strain of melanoma.  The amino acids in  Yucca filamentosa leaves have been shown to inhibit viruses, namely herpes simplex viruses 1 and 2, and cytomegalovirus.  One possible biochemical mechanism responsible for  Yucca filamentosa’s anti-inflammatory benefits lies in the plant’s steroidal saponins interacting with steroid receptors in the body, altering prostaglandin synthesis. Another possibility is that these chemicals may induce the production of anti-inflammatory steroidal compounds in the human body.

Other Uses:

Yucca filamentosa sometimes used as fish toxins or fish stupifying plants that have historically been used by many hunter gatherer cultures to stun fish, so that the fish become easy to collect by hand. Some of these toxins paralyse fish, others work by reducing oxygen content in water. The process of documenting many fish toxins and their use is ongoing, with interest in potential uses from medicine, agriculture, and industry.

Yucca filamentosas are useful garden perennials because they bloom at night (nyctinasty). The creamy-white flowers fill with sap and lift petals to the darkening sky then release a sweet odor (which reminds some viewers as smelling of a toilet soap) that attracts the very small pollinator, the yucca moth.

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://dendro.cnre.vt.edu/dendrology/syllabus2/factsheet.cfm?ID=822

http://www.floridata.com/ref/y/yucc_fil.cfm

http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_UZ.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yucca_filamentosa

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Categories
Herbs & Plants

Yellow Rattle

Rhinanthus minor
Rhinanthus minor (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Botanical Name : Rhinanthus minor
Family: Orobanchaceae
Genus: Rhinanthus
Species: R. minor
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Lamiales

Common Names ;Yellow Rattle or Cockscomb, Rhinanthus minor

Habitat : Rhinanthus minor is  native to Europe and Western Asia.Its preferred habitat is dry fields or meadows.In Ireland and Scotland, this species is often associated with Machair habitat.

Description:
Rhinanthus minor is a hemi-parasitic herbaceous annual plant that gains some of its nutrients from the roots of neighbouring plants. It grows to 25-50 cm tall, with opposite, simple leaves, with a serrated margin. The flowers are yellow, produced on a terminal raceme. The fruit is a dry capsule, which contain loose, rattling seeds when ripe; the plant’s name refers to these. Its flowering period is between June and September.

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Research at the UK’s Centre for Ecology and Hydrology has shown that encouraging Yellow Rattle to grow in hay meadows greatly increases biodiversity by restricting grass growth and thereby allowing other species to thrive. The seeds are spread very effectively by traditional hay-making practices.

It can be cultivated by scarifying the surface of the ground with a fork or similar, then sowing onto short grass, 0.5 to 1 gram of seed per square metre. Yellow Rattle seed is short-lived and should always be sown in the autumn, using seed harvested that year. Then, keep grass short for beginning of March when seedlings establish. Thereafter, the grass should not be cut until the end of July to allow the Yellow Rattle to flower and go to seed, then cut short.

Medicinal Uses:
The plant is ophthalmic.  Rhianthus has been reported to be an effective substitute for eyebright.  Used as an internal tea for colds and an external wash for the eyes.

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/Rhinanthus_minor
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_UZ.htm

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Categories
Herbs & Plants

Catsear

 


Image via Wikipedia

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Botanical Name:Hypochaeris radicata
Family: Asteraceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Asterales
Tribe: Cichorieae
Genus: Hypochaeris
Species: H. radicata
Other Names:cat’s ear, false dandelion,long-rooted cat’s-ear, long-rooted hypochoere, spotted cat’s-ear

Etymology and differences from dandelions:
Catsear is derived from the words cat’s ear, and refers to the shape and fine-hair on the leaves resembling that of the ear of a cat.

The plant is also known as false dandelion, as it is commonly mistaken for true dandelions. Both plants carry similar flowers which form into windborne seeds. However, catsear flowering stems are forked and solid, whereas dandelions possess unforked stems that are hollow. Both plants have a rosette of leaves and a central taproot. The leaves of dandelions are jagged in appearance, whereas those of catsear are more lobe-shaped and hairy. Both plants have similar uses.

Habitat:The plant is native to Europe, but has also been introduced to the Americas, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.Found in the eastern United States as far north as New Jersey and as far west as Mississippi.

Description:
It is a perennial, low-lying edible herb often found in lawns.The leaves, which may grow up to eight inches, are lobed and covered in fine hairs, forming a low-lying rosette around a central taproot.Cat’s ear dandelion is similar to common dandelion. It has a basal rosette of densely hairy leaves with rounded lobes. This rosette arises from a prominent taproot. If broken, the leaves and flower stalks will emit a milky white sap. Most striking are the bright yellow flowers that are borne on the ends of long stems. Common dandelion plants can be distinguished because young leaves do not have hairs, whereas cat’s ear dandelion leaves have dense hairs. In addition, the leaves of common dandelion are more deeply notched than those of cat’s ear dandelion. On common dandelion, the leaf notches extend almost to the midrib of each leaf.

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When mature these form seeds attached to windborne “parachutes”. All parts of the plant exude a milky sap when cut.Typical stems do not occur, however leafless flower stalks (scapes) are present with 2 to 7 flowers on each stalk. Flower stalks also emit a milky sap when broken.

Hypochaeris species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including The Shark.

Culinary uses:
All parts of the catsear plant are edible; however, the leaves and roots are those most often harvested. The leaves are bland in taste but can be eaten raw in salads, steamed, or in stir-fries. Older leaves can become tough and fibrous, but younger leaves make for good eating. Some bitterness in the leaves may be apparent but is rare.

The root can be roasted and ground to form a coffee substitute.

Medicinal Uses:

Catsear is rich in nutrients and antioxidants – hence its popularity in recipes around the world – and this also means it has long been used for medicinal purposes. Uses include acting as a diuretic for kidney problems, and treating urinary infections, gallstones, rheumatism, constipation and liver infections.

Toxicity:
Catsear is considered a noxious weed for livestock and horses. Ingestion of large amounts of catsear can cause a neurological disorder in horses called stringhalt. Stringhalt causes involuntary twitching in the rear legs of the animal and other problems. The symptoms of catsear exposure may clear out of the system in a few years once grazing on the plant has been eliminated from the horse’s diet.

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/Catsear
http://ipm.ppws.vt.edu/scott/weed_id/hryra.htm
http://www.turffiles.ncsu.edu/Weeds/Dandelion_Cats_Ear.aspx

.http://www.meadowmat.com/wildflower-species/catsear

 

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