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Herbs & Plants

Cornus sericea

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Botanical Name : Cornus sericea
Family: Cornaceae
Genus:     Cornus
Subgenus: Swida
Species: C. sericea
Kingdom: Plantae
Order:     Cornales

Synonyms: Swamp’s Dogwood. Red Willow. Silky Cornel. Female Dogwood. Blueberry. Kinnikinnik. Rose Willow.
(French) Cornouille.

Common Names:Red Osier Dogwood, Western dogwood, Red willow, Redstem dogwood, Redtwig dogwood, Red-rood, American dogwood, Creek dogwood.

Habitat: Cornus sericea is native throughout northern and western North America from Alaska east to Newfoundland, south to Durango and Nuevo León in the west, and Illinois and Virginia in the east.It grows on Shores and thickets. Along streams, rivers and moist sites, 450 – 2700 metres

Desciption:
In the wild, it commonly grows in areas of damp soil, such as wetlands. It is a medium to tall deciduous shrub, growing 1.5–4 m tall and 3–5 m wide, spreading readily by underground stolons to form dense thickets. The branches and twigs are dark red, although wild plants may lack this coloration in shaded areas. The leaves are opposite, 5–12 cm long and 2.5–6 cm broad, with an ovate to oblong shape and an entire margin; they are dark green above and glaucous below; fall color is commonly bright red to purple. The flowers are small (5–10 mm diameter), dull white, in clusters 3–6 cm diameter. The fruit is a globose white berry 5–9 mm diameter.
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The Latin specific epithet sericea means “silky”, referring to the texture of the leaves.

Cultivation:  
An easily grown plant, it succeeds in any soil of good or moderate fertility, ranging from acid to shallow chalk. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Prefers a moist soil and a position in sun or partial shade. Succeeds in poorly drained soils. Plants are hardy to about -35°c. A rampant suckering shrub. A number of cultivars have been developed for their ornamental value. This species is closely allied to C. alba. The flowers are very attractive to bees. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus.

Propagation:  
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame or in an outdoors seedbed if there is sufficient seed. The seed must be separated from the fruit flesh since this contains germination inhibitors. Stored seed should be cold stratified for 3 – 4 months and sown as early as possible in the year. Scarification may also help as may a period of warm stratification before the cold stratification. Germination, especially of stored seed, can be very slow, taking 18 months or more. Prick out the seedlings of cold-frame sown seeds into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle and grow the plants on for their first winter in a greenhouse, planting out in the spring after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe side shoots, July/August in a frame. Cuttings of mature wood of the current year’s growth, taken with a heel if possible, autumn in a cold frame. High percentage. Layering of new growth in June/July. Takes 9 months

Edible Uses          
Edible Parts: Fruit;  Oil;  Oil;  Seed.
Edible Uses: Oil;  Oil.

Fruit – raw or cooked. Juicy. Bitter and unpalatable according to some reports, it was mixed with other fruits such as juneberries (Amelanchier spp) and then dried for winter use by native North Americans. The fruit can cause nausea. The fruit is up to 9mm in diameter. Seed. No more details are given, but the seeds are quite small and woody, looking rather less than edible. An edible oil is obtained from the seed.

Medicinal Uses:
Parts Used: Root-bark and bark.

Constituents: The active properties are similar to those found in Peruvian Bark, except that there is more gum mucilage and extractive matter and less resin quinine and tannin.

It is tonic astringent and slightly stimulant, used in periodical and typhoid fever. Taken internally it increases the strength and frequency of the pulse, elevating the temperature of the body. It should be used in the dried state, the fresh bark being likely to upset the stomach.

The powdered bark has been used as toothpowder, to preserve the gums and make the teeth white; the flowers have been used in place of chamomile.

Other Uses:
Cornus sericea is a popular ornamental shrub that is often planted for the red coloring of its twigs in the dormant season. The cultivar ‘Flaviramea’, with lime green stems, has gained the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.

Like most dogwood species native to North America, C. sericea can be parasitized by the dogwood sawfly, possibly leaving much of the plant devoid of leaves. A variety of pesticides are effective; however, hand-picking the larvae is also an option.

C. sericea is frequently used for waterway bank erosion protection and restoration in the United States and Canada. Its root system provides excellent soil retention, it is hardy and provides an attractive shrub even when bare in winter, and its ability to be reproduced by cuttings makes it a low cost solution for large scale plantings.

Some Plateau Indian tribes ate the berries to treat colds and to slow bleeding.

Known as cansasa in Lakota, the inner bark was also used by the Lakota and other Native Americans as “traditional tobacco”, either by itself or in a mixture with other plant materials. Among the Algonquian peoples such as the Ojibwe, the smoking mixtures, known as kinnikinnick, blended the inner bark with tobacco, while more western tribes added it to the bearberry leaf to improve the taste.

The Ojibwe used red osier dogwood bark as a dye by taking the inner bark, mixing it with other plants or minerals.

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/o/osierr14.html
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Cornus+sericea
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cornus_sericea

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Categories
Herbs & Plants

Hollyhocks (Alcea Roses)

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Botanical Name: Alcea rosea
Family: Malvaceae
Genus: Alcea
Kingdom: Plantae
Order:     Malvales

The scientific name for Hollyhocks is Alcea rosea but used to go by the scientific name Althaea and is still seen that way in garden catalogs on occasion.

Common Name:Hollyhocks

Habitats: Holyhock is native to Eurasia.It grows in Woodland Garden; Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; and in  Cultivated Beds.Hollyhocks prefer rich, well-drained soil and full sun. Light shade is tolerated but wet winter soil is not….click & see

Description:
Holyhock  is a biennial or short-lived perennial plant about 4-8′ tall. The stout central stem is unbranched or sparingly branched; it is light green, terete, and more or less hairy. The blades of the alternate leaves are up to 8″ long and across; they are palmately lobed (with 3-7 blunt lobes each) and crenate along their margins. Each leaf blade is orbicular or oval in outline and indented at the base where the petiole joins the blade. The upper surface of each leaf blade is medium green, slightly pubescent to hairless, and wrinkled from fine veins; the lower surface is light green and pubescent. The petioles of the leaves are as long or a little longer than their blades; they are light green and hairy..
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The central stem terminates in a spike-like raceme of flowers; axillary flowers are produced from the axils of the upper leaves as well. These flowers occur individually or in small clusters along the central stem; they nod sideways from short hairy pedicels. Each flower spans about 3-5″ when it is fully open; it has 5 petals, 5 sepals, 6-9 sepal-like bracts, and a columnar structure in the center with the reproductive organs (stamens toward the tip, thread-like stigmas below). The overlapping petals provide the flower with a funnelform shape; they are usually some shade of white, pink, or purplish red. The sepals are light green, ovate, and much smaller than the petals. The bracts of each flower are located underneath the sepals; they are light green, hairy, ovate, and joined together at the base. The blooming period occurs from mid-summer into the fall; a colony of plants will bloom for about 2 months. Each flower is replaced by a fruit containing a ring of 15-20 seeds (technically, a schizocarp). These seeds are oval, flattened, and notched on one side. The root system consists of a taproot. This plant spreads by reseeding itself.

Species: There are about 60 species of Alcea, including:

Alcea acaulis
Alcea biennis (syn. A. pallida)
Alcea calvertii
Alcea ficifolia — Antwerp hollyhock
Alcea flavovirens
Alcea grossheimii — Grossheim’s alcea
Alcea heldreichii
Alcea kurdica
Alcea lavateriflora
Alcea litwinowii
Alcea longipedicellata
Alcea nudiflora
Alcea pallida
Alcea rhyticarpa
Alcea rosea — common hollyhock
Alcea rugosa
Alcea setosa — bristly hollyhock
Alcea sosnovskyi
Alcea striata
Alcea sulphurea

Hardiness Zones: Hollyhocks are hardy in zones 2-10.

Uses in the Garden: Perfect for planting in the back of borders, for old cottage gardens, cut flower gardens, humming bird beds or fence borders.

Cultivation details:
Succeeds in most soils. Poor soils should be enriched with organic matter. Prefers a heavy rich soil and a sheltered sunny position.Plants are hardy to about -15°c.A very ornamental plant, it is usually grown as a biennial due to its susceptibility to the fungal disease ‘rust’. There are many named varieties.Young plants, and also the young growth in spring, are very attractive to slugs. The preference is full to partial sun, moist to mesic conditions, and a fertile loamy soil. Lower leaves will wither away during hot dry weather. Hollyhock is vulnerable to foliar disease, including rust.

Propagation:
Seed – sow April/May or August/September in pots or in situ[200, 238]. Easily grown from seed, which usually germinates in about 2 – 3 weeks at 20°c[133, 268]. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer.Division after flowering. Only use rust-free specimens.Root cuttings in December.Basal cuttings at almost any time of year

Medicinal Uses:
Antiinflammatory; Astringent; Demulcent; Diuretic; Emollient; Febrifuge.

Hollyhock is stated to be an emollient and laxative. It is used to control inflammation, to stop bed-wetting and as a mouthwash in cases of bleeding gums .

The flowers are demulcent, diuretic and emollient. They are useful in the treatment of chest complaints, and a decoction is used to improve blood circulation, for the treatment of constipation, dysmenorrhoea, haemorrhage etc. The flowers are harvested when they are open and are dried for later use.
The shoots are used to ease a difficult labour. The root is astringent and demulcent. It is crushed and applied as a poultice to ulcers. Internally, it is used in the treatment of dysentery. The roots and the flowers are used in Tibetan medicine, where they are said to have a sweet, acrid taste and a neutral potency. They are used in the treatment of inflammations of the kidneys/womb, vaginal/seminal discharge, and the roots on their own are used to treat loss of appetite.
The seed is demulcent, diuretic and febrifuge.The flowers are used in the treatment of repiratory and inflammatory ailments and the root extracts to produce marshmallow sweets.

Other Uses
Compost; Dye; Litmus; Oil; Paper.
A fibre obtained from the stems is used in papermaking. The fibres are about 1.9mm long. The stems are harvested in late summer, the leaves are removed and the stems are steamed until the fibres can be removed. The fibres are cooked with lye for 2 hours and then ball milled for 3 hours or pounded with mallets. The paper is light tan in colour.

The flowers are an alternative ingredient of ‘Quick Return’ herbal compost activator. This is a dried and powdered mixture of several herbs that can be added to a compost heap in order to speed up bacterial activity and thus shorten the time needed to make the compost.The seed contains 12% of a drying oil.The red anthocyanin constituent of the flowers is used as a litmus.A brown dye is obtained from the petals.
Hollyhocks are tolerant of black walnut toxins and, like Polemonium plants, can be planted near and around black walnut trees where other plants will not grow.

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.ibiblio.org/pfaf/cgi-bin/arr_html?Alcea+rosea
http://plantsbulbs.suite101.com/article.cfm/hollyhock_alcea_plant_profile
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcea
http://www.illinoiswildflowers.info/weeds/plants/hollyhock.htm