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Herbs & Plants

Juniperus communis

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Botanical Name :Juniperus communis
Family: Cupressaceae
Genus:     Juniperus
Species: J. communis
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pinophyta
Class:     Pinopsida
Order:     Pinales

Synonyms: Genévrier. Ginepro. Enebro. Gemeiner Wachholder.

Common Name:Juniper Berries

Parts Used: The ripe, carefully dried fruits, leaves.

Habitat:Juniperus communis is native to  Europe. North Africa. North Asia. North America. It grows throughout the cool temperate Northern Hemisphere from the Arctic south in mountains to around 30°N latitude in North America, Europe and Asia.

Description:
Juniperus communis is a shrub or small coniferous evergreen tree, very variable and often a low spreading shrub, but occasionally reaching 10 m tall. It has needle-like leaves in whorls of three; the leaves are green, with a single white stomatal band on the inner surface. It is dioecious, with male and female cones on separate plants, which are wind pollinated.

Leaf: Persistent, linear-lanceolate (sword-like), about 1/3 to 1/2 inch long, and ternate (arranged in whorls of 3); white stomatal bloom above and green below; sessile (no petiole).

Flower: Species is mostly dioecious, rarely monoecious; male cones small, yellow and solitary; female cones small, round and solitary.

Fruit: Cones are small (about 1/4 inch diameter) and round with smooth, leathery scales; green when young and bluish black when mature, but always covered with white bloom, require 3 growing seasons to mature.

Twig: Slender, smooth, and often shiny; triangular between the nodes.

Bark: Mature bark is thin (less than 1/4 inch thick), shreddy, and red- to gray-brown.

Form: Most commonly grow as prostrate, mat-forming shrubs, but sometimes as upright shrubs or small trees.
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The seed cones are berry-like, green ripening in 18 months to purple-black with a blue waxy coating; they are spherical, 4–12 mm diameter, and usually have three (occasionally six) fused scales, each scale with a single seed. The seeds are dispersed when birds eat the cones, digesting the fleshy scales and passing the hard seeds in their droppings. The male cones are yellow, 2–3 mm long, and fall soon after shedding their pollen in March–April.

Edible Uses:
Its astringent blue-black seed cones, commonly known as “juniper berries“, are too bitter to eat raw and are usually sold dried and used to flavour meats, sauces, and stuffings. They are generally crushed before use to release their flavour. Since juniper berries have a strong taste, they should be used sparingly. They are generally used to enhance meat with a strong flavour, such as game, including game birds, or tongue.

The cones are used to flavour certain beers and gin (the word “gin” derives from an Old French word meaning “juniper”).   In Finland, juniper is used as a key ingredient in making sahti, a traditional Finnish ale. Also the Slovak alcoholic beverage Borovi?ka and Dutch Genever are flavoured with juniper berry or its extract.

Medicinal Uses:
Constituents:  The principal constituent is the volatile oil, with resin, sugar, gum, water, lignin, wax and salines. The oil is most abundant just before the perfect ripeness and darkening of the fruit, when it changes to resin. The quantity varies from 2.34 to 0.31 per cent Juniper Camphor is also present, its melting-point being 1.65 to 1.66 degrees C.

The tar is soluble in Turpentine oil, but not in 95 per cent acetic acid.

Junol is the trade name of a hydroalcoholic extract.

Oil of Juniper is given as a diuretic, stomachic, and carminative in indigestion, flatulence, and diseases of the kidney and bladder. The oil mixed with lard is also used in veterinary practice as an application to exposed wounds and prevents irritation from flies.

Spirit of Juniper has properties resembling Oil of Turpentine: it is employed as a stimulating diuretic in cardiac and hepatic dropsy.

The fruit is readily eaten by most animals, especially sheep, and is said to prevent and cure dropsy in the latter.

The chief use of Juniper is as an adjuvant to diuretics in dropsy depending on heart, liver or kidney disease. It imparts a violet odour to the urine, and large doses may cause irritation to the passages. An infusion of 1 oz. to 1 pint of boiling water may be taken in the course of twenty-four hours.

Juniper berries have long been used as medicine by many cultures. Juniper berries act as a strong urinary tract disinfectant if consumed, and were used by Navajo people as an herbal remedy for diabetes. Western American tribes combined the berries of Juniperus communis with Berberis root bark in a herbal tea. Native Americans also used juniper berries as a  contraceptive.(Dioscorides’ De materia medica also lists juniper berries, when crushed and put on the penis or vagina before intercourse, as a contraceptive.)

Other Uses:
The berries are used for the production of the volatile oil which is a prime ingredient in Geneva or Hollands Gin, upon which its flavour and diuretic properties depend.

Crafts:
It is too small to have any general lumber usage. In Scandinavia, however, juniper wood is used for making containers for storing small quantities of dairy products such as butter and cheese, and also for making wooden butter knives. It was also frequently used for trenails in wooden shipbuilding by shipwrights for its tough properties.

In Estonia juniper wood is valued for its long lasting and pleasant aroma, very decorative natural structure of wood (growth rings) as well as good physical properties of wood due to slow growth rate of juniper and resulting dense and strong wood. Various decorative items (often eating utensils) are common in most Estonian handicraft shops and households.

According to the old tradition, on Easter Monday Kashubian (Northern Poland) boys chase girls whipping their legs gently with juniper twigs. This is to bring good fortune in love to the chased girls.

Adulteration by oil of Turpentine can be recognized by the lowering of the specific gravity.

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/Juniperus_communis
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/j/junipe11.html
http://dendro.cnre.vt.edu/dendrology/syllabus/factsheet.cfm?ID=212

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Herbs & Plants

Amelanchier arborea

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Botanical Name :Amelanchier arborea
Family : Rosaceae
Genus Amelanchier
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Rosales
Species: A. arborea

Synonyms:   Amelanchier canadensis – Wiegand. non (L.)Med.,Mespilus arborea – F.Michx.
Other Names : Downy Serviceberry, Juneberry, Shadbush, Servicetree, Sarvis-tree


Habitat
: Eastern N. AmericaNew Brunswick to Florida, west to Minnesota and Texas. ,Rich woods, thickets and slopes.Woodland Garden; Canopy; Secondary; Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade;

Description:
It is hardy to zone 4 and is not frost tender. It is in flower in April, and the seeds ripen from June to July. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees. The plant is self-fertile.

Amelanchier arborea is generally 5-12 m tall. Occasionally, it can grow up to 20 m tall and reach into the overstory. The trunk can be up to 15 cm diameter (rarely to 40 cm diameter). The bark is smooth and gray

CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES
The buds are slender with a pointed tip, and usually more than two scales visible. The leaves are ovate or elliptical, 4-8 cm (rarely 10 cm) long and 2.5-4 cm wide, with pointed tips and finely serrated margins. A characteristic useful for identification is that the young leaves emerge downy on the underside. The fall color is variable, from orange-yellow to pinkish or reddish.

It has perfect flowers (so the plant is monoecious) that are 15-25 mm diameter, with 5 petals, emerging during budbreak in early spring. The petals are white. Flowers are produced on pendulous racemes 3-5 cm long with 4-10 flowers on each raceme. The flowers are pollinated by bees. The fruit is a reddish-purple pome, resembling a small apple in shape. They ripen in summer and are very popular with birds.]

It also commonly hybridizes with other species of Amelanchier, and identification can be very difficult as a result.

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 semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires moist soil.

Cultivation :
Prefers a rich loamy soil in a sunny position or semi-shade but thrives in any soil that is not too dry or water-logged. Grows well in heavy clay soils. All members of this genus have edible fruits and, whilst this is dry and uninteresting in some species, in many others it is sweet and juicy. Many of the species have potential for use in the garden as edible ornamentals. The main draw-back to this genus is that birds adore the fruit and will often completely strip a tree before it is fully ripe. The plant becomes dwarfed when growing in sterile (poor and acid) ground. Hybridises with A. bartramiana, A. canadensis, A. humilis and A. laevis. Grafting onto seedlings of A. lamarckii or Sorbus aucuparia is sometimes practised in order to avoid the potential problem of hybridizing.

Propagation:
Seed – it is best harvested ‘green’, when the seed is fully formed but before the seed coat has hardened, and then sown immediately in pots outdoors or in a cold frame. If stored seed is obtained early enough in the autumn, it can be given 4 weeks warm stratification before being left out in the winter and it should then germinate in the spring. Otherwise seed can be very slow to germinate, perhaps taking 18 months or more. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a sheltered outdoor position, planting them out once they are 20cm or more tall. If there is sufficient seed it is best to sow it thinly in an outdoor seedbed. Grow the seedlings on for two years in the seedbed before planting them out into their permanent positions during the winter. Layering in spring – takes 18 months. Division of suckers in late winter. The suckers need to have been growing for 2 years before you dig them up, otherwise they will not have formed roots. They can be planted out straight into their permanent positions if required.

Edible Uses:
Edible Parts: Fruit.
Edible fruit – raw or cooked. The fruit has a few small seeds at the centre, some forms are dry and tasteless whilst others are sweet and juicy. The fruit ripens unevenly over a period of 2 – 3 weeks and is very attractive to birds, this makes harvesting them in quantity rather difficult. The fruit is borne in small clusters and is up to 10mm in diameter. It is rich in iron and copper.

Medicinal Actions &  Uses

Anthelmintic; Astringent; Tonic; VD.
A compound infusion of the plant has been used as an anthelmintic, in the treatment of diarrhoea and as a spring tonic. An infusion of the bark has been used in the treatment of gonorrhoea.

Other Uses
Soil stabilization.
The trees have an extensive root system and can be planted on banks etc for erosion control. Wood – close-grained, hard, strong, tough and elastic. It is one of the heaviest woods in N. America, weighing 49lb per cubic foot. Too small for commercial interest, it is sometimes used for making handles.

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/database/plants.php?Amelanchier+arborea
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amelanchier_arborea
http://www.mobot.org/gardeninghelp/images/low/H290-0901020.jpg
http://www.hort.uconn.edu/plants/a/amearb/amearb1.html

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Featured Herbs & Plants

Garlic Tales

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Scientists are continuously trying to unvail  the secrets of the garlic, to zero in on what makes the herb so beneficial.

…………………………..CLICK & SEE.

A herb that is a part of almost every Indian kitchen continues to make news. Garlic, or Allium sativum, one of the oldest medicinal herbs known to human beings, is now in laboratories, while scientists look at what makes it so beneficial.

Indeed, garlic seems to possess near-magical health properties. Yet science has not found it an easy herb to understand. Despite tall claims from practitioners of alternative medicine, no one clearly knows how good garlic is and why it is considered to be so beneficial. But now scientists are rapidly unravelling its secrets.

Over the years, people with varying backgrounds have claimed that the bulb is good for controlling blood pressure and reducing cholesterol. It is supposed to have anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antiviral, antioxidant and anticoagulant properties, apart from a few other benefits. There is now good evidence that most of these claims are true. And scientists have recently discovered new properties as well: it can reduce blood sugar levels, and is thus good for controlling diabetes. Yet conventional wisdom is not always right: it may not, after all, reduce cholesterol.

While evidence on the utility mounts, scientists are also beginning to understand why. For example, garlic’s antioxidant properties have been a mystery to scientists. It has been known to be a powerful antioxidant (a compound that destroys damaging free radicals); in fact a bit too powerful for comfort. It has a compound called allicin that is an antioxidant, but its structure could not explain its power. Till now, that is.

Derek Pratt, professor of chemistry at Queen’s University in Canada, has found out why garlic is so powerful.

A compound akin to allicin is found in other plants of the family alliaceae — such as shallots, onions and leeks. However, none of these plants has garlic’s beneficial powers. This is because the allicin found in garlic breaks down into another compound called sulphenic acid, which rapidly cleans up free radicals in its path. Without this breakdown, allicin cannot be so effective an antioxidant.

“This compound is the most powerful antioxidant known to us,” says Pratt, who published his results last week in the journal Angewandte Chemie.

While its efficacy in dealing with free radicals is now beyond doubt, garlic is probably not so effective in reducing bad cholesterol, the Low Density Lipoproteins (LDL). Several studies on its effect on blood cholesterol led to conflicting results, but one in Stanford University more than a year ago was probably the most conclusive. This six-month-long study found no correlation between consumption of garlic and reduction of LDL. “We are convinced now that garlic does not reduce bad cholesterol,” Christopher Gardner, the Stanford professor who led the research, had told Knowhow soon after publishing the results of the study.

But that does not mean it is not useful in treating high cholesterol. Its antioxidant properties are useful in treating cardiovascular diseases in general, and even for treating high cholesterol. This is because garlic suppresses the oxidation of LDL in the blood. LDL is called bad cholesterol because it sticks to the artery walls and clogs the arteries. However, it is not LDL that actually does the damage but oxidised LDL. Several studies have shown that garlic suppresses oxidation of LDL and thus prevents the formation of plaques in the arteries. It makes bad cholesterol not so bad.

“Garlic does reduce LDL oxidation,” stresses Khalid Rahman, reader in the physiological biochemistry at Liverpool University in the UK, who has conducted several lab and clinical studies on the herb.

There is increasing evidence that it can lower blood pressure, particularly when BP is elevated only mildly. A recent meta-analysis (analysis of all published literature) by scientists at the University of Adelaide showed that it does lower blood pressure. However, the scientists also warn that the evidence is not strong enough to use garlic as the only means of therapy.

These results are from clinical studies, which mean that they have been done on people. The results are equally encouraging in pre-clinical studies done in the laboratory. There, the herb has been shown to be anti-inflammatory and anticoagulant. It may be able to help dissolve clots and improve blood circulation. A few months ago, Japanese scientists (at the RIKEN and other institutions) showed that it could lower blood glucose levels in rats.

The list of beneficial properties is actually lengthening every day, but the topic is not without its controversy either.

This is because there are some studies showing that garlic had no effect on lowering blood pressure or reducing cholesterol, while some others showed that it did do so. This variability, fortunately, is not hard to explain. Scientists explain this contradiction through differences in the duration of the trials, and also on the variability in the properties of garlic. “The factors influencing a clinical study with garlic are difficult to control,” says Pratt.

Although we know that it is beneficial, not all kinds of garlic may act in the same manner. “In my view there is a group of people who are non-responders to garlic, like to any other medication,” says Rahman.

However, garlic has caught the attention of hundreds of scientists throughout the world. We will learn more about this wonder herb in the coming years.

Sources: The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

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Herbs & Plants

Taxus Brevifolia (Yew)


Botanical Name:
Taxus baccata
Family
: Taxaceae
Genus:
Taxus
Species:
T. brevifolia
Kingdom:
Plantae
Phylum:
Pinophyta
Class:
Pinopsida
Order:
Pinales


Common Names:
Yew, English yew, Common Yew

Other Names:Taxus brevifolia, Pacific Yew or Western Yew
Poisonous Parts: Leaves, seed and fruit.

Habitat :Taxus Brevifolia  is native to  Europe, incl Britain, from Scandanavia south and east to N. Africa, the Caucasus, Iran, Himalayas.   It grows in woods and scrub, usually on limestone. It sometimes forms pure stands in sheltered sites on chalk in the south-east and on limestone in the north-west.  

Description: It is a small to medium-sized evergreen tree, growing 10-15 m tall and with a trunk up to 50 cm diameter, rarely more. forming with age a very stout trunk covered with red-brown, peeling bark and topped with a rounded or wide-spreading head of branches; leaves spirally attached to twigs, but by twisting of the stalks brought more or less into two opposed ranks, dark, glossy, almost black-green above, grey, pale-green or yellowish beneath, 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches long, 1/16 to 1/12 inch wide. Flowers unisexual, with the sexes invariably on different trees, produced in spring from the leaf axils of the preceding summer’s twigs. Male, a globose cluster of stamens; female, an ovule surrounded by small bracts, the so-called fruit bright red, sometimes yellow, juicy and encloses the seed.

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Bloom Color: Green, Yellow. Main Bloom Time: Early spring, Late spring, Mid spring. Form: Rounded.

It has thin scaly brown bark. The leaves are lanceolate, flat, dark green, 1-3 cm long and 2-3 mm broad, arranged spirally on the stem, but with the leaf bases twisted to align the leaves in two flat rows either side of the stem except on erect leading shoots where the spiral arrangement is more obvious.

The seed cones are highly modified, each cone containing a single seed 4-7 mm long partly surrounded by a modified scale which develops into a soft, bright red berry-like structure called an aril, 8-15 mm long and wide and open at the end. The arils are mature 6-9 months after pollination, and with the seed contained are eaten by thrushes and other birds, which disperse the hard seeds undamaged in their droppings; maturation of the arils is spread over 2-3 months, increasing the chances of successful seed dispersal. The male cones are globose, 3-6 mm diameter, and shed their pollen in early spring. It is mostly dioecious, but occasional individuals can be variably monoecious, or change sex with time.

No tree is more associated with the history and legends of Great Britain than the Yew. Before Christianity was introduced it was a sacred tree favoured by the Druids, who built their temples near these trees – a custom followed by the early Christians. The association of the tree with places of worship still prevails.

Many cases of poisoning amongst cattle have resulted from eating parts of the Yew.

Click to read about The Yew ,Sacred Tree of Transformation and Rebirth

Cultivation:
Landscape Uses:Espalier, Firewood, Hedge, Screen, Standard, Superior hedge, Specimen. A very easy plant to grow, it is extremely tolerant of cold and heat, sunny and shady positions, wet and dry soils, exposure and any pH[200]. Thrives in almost any soil, acid or alkaline, as long as it is well-drained. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Sensitive to soil compaction by roads etc. Very shade tolerant. Tolerates urban pollution.  In general they are very tolerant of exposure, though plants are damaged by severe maritime exposure. A very cold hardy plant when dormant, tolerating temperatures down to about -25°c. The fresh young shoots in spring, however, can be damaged by frosts. Plants are dioecious, though they sometimes change sex and monoecious trees are sometimes found. Male and female trees must be grown if fruit and seed is required. The fruit is produced mainly on the undersides of one-year old branches. A very long lived tree, one report suggests that a tree in Perthshire is 1500 years old, making it the oldest plant in Britain. Another report says that trees can be up to 4000 years old. It is, however, slow growing and usually takes about 20 years to reach a height of 4.5 metres. Young plants occasionally grow 30cm in a year but this soon tails off and virtually no height increase is made after 100 years. A very ornamental tree, there are many named varieties. Very resistant to honey fungus, but susceptible to phytopthera root rot. The bark is very soft and branches or even the whole tree can be killed if the bark is removed by constant friction such as by children climbing the tree. Plants produce very little fibrous root and should be planted in their final positions when still small. The fruit is greatly relished by thrushes. Special Features: Not North American native, All or parts of this plant are poisonous, Inconspicuous flowers or blooms.

Propagation:
Seed – can be very slow to germinate, often taking 2 or more years. It is best sown as soon as it is ripe in the autumn when it should germinate 18 months later. Stored seed may take 2 years or more to germinate. 4 months warm followed by 4 months cold stratification may help reduce the germination time. Harvesting the seed ‘green’ (when fully developed but before it has dried on the plant) and then sowing it immediately has not been found to reduce the germination time because the inhibiting factors develop too early. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots once they are large enough to handle and grow them on in pots in a cold frame. The seedlings are very slow-growing and will probably require at least 2 years of pot cultivation before being large enough to plant out. Any planting out is best done in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe terminal shoots, 5 – 8cm long, July/August in a shaded frame. Should root by late September but leave them in the frame over winter and plant out in late spring. High percentage. Cuttings of ripe terminal shoots, taken in winter after a hard frost, in a shaded frame.

Edible Uses:

Fruit – raw. Very sweet and gelatinous, most people find it delicious though some find it sickly. A number of people who like the flavour do not like the texture which is often described as being ‘snotty’. All other parts of this plant, including the seed, are highly poisonous. When eating the fruit you should spit out the large seed found in the fruit’s centre. Should you swallow the whole seed it will just pass straight through you without harm (UPDATE: this is probably not true: unfortunately, the digestive system of most mammals, including humans, is robust enough to break down the seeds. This will release the toxic taxanes. Birds are able to eat the whole “berry” because they cannot digest the seeds). If it is bitten into, however, you will notice a very bitter flavour and the seed should immediately be spat out or it could cause some problems. The fruit is a fleshy berry about 10mm in diameter and containing a single seed. Some reports suggest using the bark as a tea substitute, this would probably be very unwise.

Constituents: The fruit and seeds seem to be the most poisonous parts of the tree. An alkaloid taxine has been obtained from the seeds; this is a poisonous, white, crystalline powder, only slightly soluble in water; another principle, Milossin, has also been found.

Medicinal Uses:

The yew tree is a highly toxic plant that has occasionally been used medicinally, mainly in the treatment of chest complaints. Modern research has shown that the plants contain the substance ‘taxol’ in their shoots. Taxol has shown exciting potential as an anti-cancer drug, particularly in the treatment of ovarian cancers. Unfortunately, the concentrations of taxol in this species are too low to be of much value commercially, though it is being used for research purposes. This remedy should be used with great caution and only under the supervision of a qualified practitioner. See also the notes below on toxicity. All parts of the plant, except the fleshy fruit, are antispasmodic, cardiotonic, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, narcotic and purgative. The leaves have been used internally in the treatment of asthma, bronchitis, hiccup, indigestion, rheumatism and epilepsy. Externally, the leaves have been used in a steam bath as a treatment for rheumatism. A homeopathic remedy is made from the young shoots and the berries. It is used in the treatment of many diseases including cystitis, eruptions, headaches, heart and kidney problems, rheumatism etc. Ingestion of 50-100g of needles can cause death.

(In homoeopathy a tincture of the young shoots and also of the berries is used in a variety of diseases: cystitis, eruptions, headache and neuralgia, affections of the heart and kidneys, dimness of vision, and gout and rheurmatism. – EDITOR) .

The chemotherapy drug paclitaxel, used in breast, ovarian and lung cancer treatment, is derived from Taxus brevifolia. Over-harvesting for production of this drug has resulted in the Pacific Yew becoming a rare species, despite the fact the drug can be produced semi-synthetically from cultivated yews. Pharmaceutical use of closely-related wild yew species in India and China threatens some of those species as well.

Click to read Taxol, an Anticancer Drug, is found in the Pacific Yew tree

Other Uses:  
Very tolerant of trimming, this plant makes an excellent hedge. The plants are often used in topiary and even when fairly old, the trees can be cut back into old wood and will resprout. One report says that trees up to 1000 years old respond well to trimming. A decoction of the leaves is used as an insecticide. Some cultivars can be grown as a ground cover when planted about 1 metre or more apart each way. ‘Repandens’ has been recommended. Wood – heavy, hard, durable, elastic, takes a good polish but requires long seasoning.  Highly esteemed by cabinet makers, it is also used for bows, tool handles etc. It makes a good firewood. The wood is burnt as an incense

Known Hazards :  All parts of the plant, except the flesh of the fruit, are highly poisonous, having a paralyzing affect on the heart. Poisoning symptoms are dry mouth, vomiting, vertigo, abdominal pain, dyspnoea, arrhythmias, hypotension & unconsciousness.

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 c

Yew may refer to various other species, click to read about them:
Any of various coniferous trees and shrubs in the genus Taxus:
European Yew or Common Yew (Taxus baccata)
Canadian Yew (Taxus canadensis)
Chinese Yew (Taxus chinensis)
Japanese Yew (Taxus cuspidata)
Florida Yew (Taxus floridana)
Mexican Yew (Taxus globosa)
Sumatran Yew (Taxus sumatrana)
Himalayan Yew (Taxus wallichiana)
Any of various coniferous plants in the families Taxaceae and Cephalotaxaceae:
White-berry Yew (Pseudotaxus chienii)
New Caledonian Yew or Southern Yew (Austrotaxus spicata)
Catkin-yew (Amentotaxus sp.)
Plum-yew (Cephalotaxus sp.)
Any of the various coniferous plants in the family Podocarpaceae which are superficially similar to other yews:
Prince Albert’s Yew (Saxegothaea conspicua)
Plum-yew (Prumnopitys sp.)

Fortigall Yew

Resources:
http://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/y/yew—08.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taxus_brevifolia

.http://www.pfaf.org/user/plant.aspx?LatinName=Taxus+baccata

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Fruits & Vegetables Herbs & Plants

Pineapple

Botanical Name :Ananas comosus
Bromeliaceae
Common Names: Pineapple, Ananas, Nanas, Pina.
Related Species: Pina de Playon (Ananas bracteatus).

Distant affinity: Pingwing (Aechmea magdalenae), Pinguin (Bromelia pinguin), Pinuela (Karatas plumier).

The pineapple (Ananas comosus) is a tropical plant and fruit (multiple), probably native to Brazil or Paraguay. It is a tall (1–1.5 m) herbaceous perennial plant with 30 or more trough-shaped and pointed leaves 30–100 cm long, surrounding a thick stem. The leaves of the Smooth Cayenne cultivar mostly lack spines except at the leaf tip, but the Spanish and Queen cultivars have large spines along the leaf margins. Pineapples are the only bromeliad fruit in widespread cultivation.

The name pineapple in English (or piña in Spanish) comes from the similarity of the fruit to a pine cone.

The word “pineapple”, first recorded in 1398, was originally used to describe the reproductive organs of conifer trees (now termed pine cones). When European explorers discovered this tropical fruit, they called them “pineapples” (term first recorded in that sense in 1664) because it resembled what we know as pine cones. The term “pine cone” was first recorded in 1695 to replace the original meaning of “pineapple”.

In the binomial “ananas comosus”, ananas comes the original (Peruvian) Tupi word for pineapple nanas, as recorded by André Thevenet in 1555 and comosus means “tufted” and refers to the stem of the fruit.

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Description Of Plant:
The pineapple plant is a terrestrial herb 2 1/2 to 5 ft (.75-1.5 m) high with a spread of 3 to 4 ft (.9-1.2 m); a very short, stout stem and a rosette of waxy, straplike leaves, long-pointed, 20 to 72 in (50-180cm) 1ong; usually needle tipped and generally bearing sharp, upcurved spines on the margins. The leaves may be all green or variously striped with red, yellow or ivory down the middle or near the margins. At blooming time, the stem elongates and enlarges near the apex and puts forth a head of small purple or red flowers, each accompanied by a single red, yellowish or green bract. The stem continues to grow and acquires at its apex a compact tuft of stiff, short leaves called the “crown” or “top”. Occasionally a plant may bear 2 or 3 heads, or as many as 12 fused together, instead of the normal one.

Fruit:
The fruitlets of a pineapple are arranged in two interlocking spirals, eight spirals in one direction, thirteen in the other; each being a Fibonacci number. This is one of many examples of Fibonacci numbers appearing in nature.

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The natural (or most common) pollinator of the pineapple is the hummingbird. Pollination is required for seed formation; the presence of seeds negatively affects the quality of the fruit. In Hawaii, where pineapple is cultivated on an agricultural scale, importation of hummingbirds is prohibited for this reason.

At one time, most canned and fresh pineapples were produced on Smooth Cayenne plants. Since about 2000, the most common fresh pineapple fruit found in U.S. and European supermarkets is a low-acid hybrid that was developed in Hawaii in the early 1970s. Pineapple is commonly used in desserts and other types of fruit dishes, or served on its own. Fresh pineapple is often somewhat expensive as the tropical fruit is delicate and difficult to ship. It will not ripen once harvested, so must be harvested ripe and brought to the consumer without delay. Pineapple is therefore most widely available canned. The pineapple juice has been fermented into an alcoholic beverage commonly called pineapple wine, which is a type of fruit wine, most commonly produced in Hawaii. Pineapples are also used as topping for American and European pizza, most commonly in the “Hawaiian” type pizza (where it is paired with ham or Canadian bacon).

Truly ripe pineapples are not found in the supermarket because almost all pineapple fruits are harvested at the mature-green stage of maturity. Fruit of the low-acid hybrid, usually containing “gold” in the brand name, are of good and consistent quality. Fruit of the best quality will have a fresh crown and little or no obvious shrinkage or wrinkling of the shell.

Food Uses
In Puerto Rico and elsewhere in the Caribbean, Spaniards found the people soaking pineapple slices in salted water before eating, a practice seldom heard of today.

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Field ripe fruits are best for eating fresh, and it is only necessary to remove the crown, rind, eyes and core. In Panama, very small pineapples are cut from the plant with a few inches of stem to serve as a handle, the rind is removed except at the base, and the flesh is eaten out-of-hand like corn on the cob. The flesh of larger fruits is cut up in various ways and eaten fresh, as dessert, in salads, compotes and otherwise, or cooked in pies, cakes, puddings, or as a garnish on ham, or made into sauces or preserves. Malayans utilize the pineapple in curries and various meat dishes. In the Philippines, the fermented pulp is made into a popular sweetmeat called nata de pina. The pineapple does not lend itself well to freezing, as it tends to develop off flavors.

Canned pineapple is consumed throughout the world. The highest grade is the skinned, cored fruit sliced crosswise and packed in sirup. Undersize or overripe fruits are cut into “spears”, chunks or cubes. Surplus pineapple juice used to be discarded after extraction of bromelain (q.v.). Today there is a growing demand for it as a beverage. Crushed pineapple, juice, nectar, concentrate, marmalade and other preserves are commercially prepared from the flesh remaining attached to the skin after the cutting and trimming of the central cylinder. All residual parts cores, skin and fruit ends are crushed and given a first pressing for juice to be canned as such or prepared as sirup used to fill the cans of fruit, or is utilized in confectionery and beverages, or converted into powdered pineapple extract which has various roles in the food industry. Chlorophyll from the skin and ends imparts a greenish hue that must be eliminated and the juice must be used within 20 hours as it deteriorates quickly. A second pressing yields “skin juice” which can be made into vinegar or mixed with molasses for fermentation and distillation of alcohol.

In Africa, young, tender shoots are eaten in salads. The terminal bud or “cabbage” and the inflorescences are eaten raw or cooked. Young shoots, called “hijos de pina” are sold on vegetable markets in Guatemala.

Dietary effects
Pineapple contains a proteolytic enzyme bromelain, which digests food by breaking down protein. Pineapple juice can thus be used as a marinade and tenderizer for meat. The enzymes in pineapples can interfere with the preparation of some foods, such as jelly or other gelatin-based desserts. There is significant evidence pointing to the anti-inflammatory benefits of bromelain. Some have claimed that pineapple has benefits for some intestinal disorders while others claim that it helps to induce childbirth when a baby is overdue. These enzymes can be hazardous to someone suffering from certain protein deficiencies or disorders, such as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.

It can also be used to enhance digestion. Despite these benefits, fresh pineapple may cause irritation of the tip of the tongue in some cases. Some may describe this sensation as a raw tingling of Vitamin C or a charge from a nine volt battery. This condition is only temporary and will most likely resolve itself within an hour.

Pineapple is a good source of manganese, as well as containing significant amounts of Vitamin C and Vitamin B1.

Other Uses
Fiber: Pineapple leaves yield a strong, white, silky fiber which was extracted by Filipinos before 1591. Certain cultivars are grown especially for fiber production and their young fruits are removed to give the plant maximum vitality. The ‘Perolera’ is an ideal cultivar for fiber extraction because its leaves are long, wide and rigid. Chinese people in Kwantgung Province and on the island of Hainan weave the fiber into coarse textiles resembling grass cloth. It was long ago used for thread in Malacca and Borneo. In India the thread is prized by shoemakers and it was formerly used in the Celebes. In West Africa it has been used for stringing jewels and also made into capes and caps worn by tribal chiefs. The people of Guam hand-twist the fiber for making fine casting nets. They also employ the fiber for wrapping or sewing cigars. Pina cloth made on the island of Panay in the Philippines and in Taiwan is highly esteemed. In Taiwan they also make a coarse cloth for farmers’ underwear.

The outer, long leaves are preferred. In the manual process, they are first decorticated by beating and rasping and stripping, and then left to ret in water to which chemicals may be added to accelerate the activity of the microorganisms which digest the unwanted tissue and separate the fibers. Retting time has been reduced from 5 days to 26 hours. The rested material is washed clean, dried in the sun and combed. In mechanical processing, the same machine can be used that extracts the fiber from sisal. Estimating 10 leaves to the lb (22 per kg), 22,000 leaves would constitute one ton and would yield 50-60 lbs (22-27 kg) of fiber.

Juice: Pineapple juice has been employed for cleaning machete and knife blades and, with sand, for scrubbing boat decks.

Animal Feed: Pineapple crowns are sometimes fed to horses if not needed for planting. Final pineapple waste from the processing factories may be dehydrated as “bran” and fed to cattle, pigs and chickens. “Bran” is also made from the stumps after bromelain extraction. Expendable plants from old fields can be processed as silage for maintaining cattle when other feed is scarce. The silage is low in protein and high in fiber and is best mixed with urea, molasses and water to improve its nutritional value.

Health Benefits:

A Digestive Aid and A Natural Anti-Inflammatory
Fresh pineapple is rich in bromelain, a group of sulfur-containing proteolytic (protein-digesting) enzymes that not only aid digestion, but can effectively reduce inflammation and swelling, and has even been used experimentally as an anti-cancer agent. A variety of inflammatory agents are inhibited by the action of bromelain. In clinical human trials, bromelain has demonstrated signifcant anti-inflammatory effects, reducing swelling in inflammatory conditions such as acute sinusitis, sore throat, arthritis and gout, and speeding recovery from injuries and surgery. To maximize bromelain’s anti-inflammatory effects, pineapple should be eaten alone between meals or its enzymes will be used up digesting food. Bromelain is found in both the flesh and stem of pineapple. Since it is deactivated by heat, pineapple juice and canned pineapple are not good sources of this health-promoting enzyme. In terms of getting bromelain from pineapple, fresh is definitely the way to go.

Fresh pine apple 60 g daily is useful for the cure of Kidney stone.

Anti-Tumor Compounds Found in Pineapple Stems
Two molecules found in pineapple stems have shown anti-tumor activity in research done at Australia’s Queensland Institute of Medical Research (QIMR). One of the molecules, called CCS, blocks the Ras protein, which is defective in approximately 30% of all cancers, while the other molecule, CCZ, stimulates the immune system to target and eliminate cancer cells.

Manganese and Thiamin (Vitamin B1) for Energy Production and Antioxidant Defenses
Pineapple is an excellent source the trace mineral manganese, which is an essential cofactor in a number of enzymes important in energy production and antioxidant defenses. For example, the key oxidative enzyme superoxide dismutase, which disarms free radicals produced within the mitochondria (the energy production factories within our cells), requires manganese. Just one cup of fresh pineapple supplies 128.0% of the DV for this very important trace mineral. In addition to manganese, pineapple is a good source of thiamin, a B vitamin that acts as a cofactor in enzymatic reactions central to energy production.
Protection against Macular Degeneration
In this study, which involved over 110,000 women and men, researchers evaluated the effect of study participants’ consumption of fruits; vegetables; the antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E; and carotenoids on the development of early ARMD or neovascular ARMD, a more severe form of the illness associated with vision loss. While, surprisingly, intakes of vegetables, antioxidant vitamins and carotenoids were not strongly related to incidence of either form of ARMD, fruit intake was definitely protective against the severe form of this vision-destroying disease. Three servings of fruit may sound like a lot to eat each day, but pineapple can help you reach this goal. Add fresh pineapple to your morning smoothie, lunch time yogurt, any fruit and most vegetable salads. For example, try adding chunks of pineapple to your next coleslaw or carrot salad.

Medicinal Uses:

Bromelain: The proteolytic enzyme, bromelain, or bromelin, was formerly derived from pineapple juice; now it is gained from the mature plant stems salvaged when fields are being cleared. The yield from 368 lbs (167 kg) of stern juice is 8 lbs (3.6 kg) of bromelain. The enzyme is used like papain from papaya for tenderizing meat and chill proofing beer; is added to gelatin to increase its solubility for drinking; has been used for stabilizing latex paints and in the leather-tanning process. In modern therapy, it is employed as a digestive and for its anti-inflammatory action after surgery, and to reduce swellings in cases of physical injuries; also in the treatment of various other complaints.
The root and fruit are either eaten or applied topically as an anti-inflammatory and as a proteolytic agent. It is traditionally used as an antihelminthic agent in the Philippines.

A root decoction is used to treat diarrhea.

Folk Medicine: Pineapple juice is taken as a diuretic and to expedite labor, also as a gargle in cases of sore throat and as an antidote for seasickness. The flesh of very young (toxic) fruits is deliberately ingested to achieve abortion (a little with honey on 3 successive mornings); also to expel intestinal worms; and as a drastic treatment for venereal diseases. In Africa the dried, powdered root is a remedy for edema. The crushed rind is applied on fractures and the rind decoction with rosemary is applied on hemorrhoids. Indians in Panama use the leaf juice as a purgative, emmenagogue and vermifuge.

You may click to see:->The Health Benefits of Pineapple

->Health Facts on Pineapple

->Pineapple stem may combat cancer

Ornamental Value:-

The pineapple fruit with crown intact is often used as a decoration and there are variegated forms of the plant universally grown for their showiness indoors or out. Since 1963, thousands of potted, ethylene treated pineapple plants with fruits have been shipped annually from southern Florida to northern cities as indoor ornamentals.

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.

References:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pineapple http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/pineapple.html#Food%20Uses

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=34

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