Herbs & Plants

Sea Holly

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Botanical Name :  Eryngium campestre /Eryngium maritinum
Family: Apiaceae
Genus: Eryngium
Species: E. campestre
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Apiales

Synonyms: Eryngo. Sea Hulver. Sea Holme.

Common Names:Sea Holly,Field eryngo
(French): Panicaut.
(German): Krausdistel

Habitat :Sea Holly grows Mainly in Central and southern Europe, north to Germany and Holland. Rare in the British Isles. It abounds on most of our sandy seashores(Dry grassy areas near the coast) and is very plentiful on the East Coast, also on the sands of Mounts Bay, Cornwall, but is rare in Scotland. CLICK & SEE

Sea Holly  is a hairless, thorny perennial plant. The stems, 6 to 12 inches high, thick and solid, are branched at the summit. The radical leaves are on stalks, 2 to 7 inches long, the blades cut into three broad divisions at the apex, coarsely toothed, the teeth ending in spines and undulated.They  are tough and stiff, whitish-green. The basal leaves are long-stalked, pinnate and spiny. The leafs of this plant are mined by the gall fly which is called Euleia heraclei. The margin of the leaf is thickened and cartilaginous. The lower stem-leaves are shortly stalked, resembling the radical ones, but the upper ones are sessile and half embracing the stem, which terminates in a shortly-stalked head, below which it gives off two or three spreading branches, all from one point, which is surrounded by a whorl of three leaves, spreading like the rays of the sun.
The heads of flowers appear in July and are at first round, afterwards egg-shaped, 3/4 to 1 inch across, the flowers stalkless, whitish-blue, 1/8 inch across. The calyx tube is thickly covered with soft, cartilaginous bristles; the calyx teeth end in a spine.


The plant is intensely glaucous tinged with blue towards the top, especially on the flowerheads and the leaves immediately below them.

Requires a well-drained soil and a sunny position. Prefers a light sandy soil but tolerates most soil types including lime and poor gravels. The plant has deep and wide-ranging roots, it can spread freely in the garden and become difficult to eradicate. Plants should be put in their final position whilst small since they resent root disturbance. The plant is often used in dried flower arrangements since it retains its colour for a long time.

Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in early autumn on the surface of a well-drained compost in a cold frame. The seed can also be sown in spring. It usually germinates in 5 – 90 days at 20°c. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Division in early spring or autumn. Take care since the plant resents root disturbance. Root cuttings in autumn or winter.

Edible Uses:
Young shoots are cooked as an asparagus substitute. Root – cooked and Used as a vegetable or candied and used as a sweetmeat. Easily digested

Medicinal Uses:
Part Used: The root, dug in autumn, from plants at least two years old.

The root is antispasmodic, aromatic, diaphoretic, diuretic, expectorant, galactofuge and stimulant. It should be harvested in the autumn from plants that are at least 2 years old. The root promotes free expectoration and is very useful in the treatment of debility attendant on coughs of chronic standing in the advanced stages of pulmonary consumption. Drunk freely it is used to treat whooping cough, diseases of the liver and kidneys and skin complaints.

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.


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Herbs & Plants

Ecballium elaterium

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Botanical Name :Ecballium elaterium
Family: Cucurbitaceae
Subfamily: Cucurbitoideae
Tribe: Benincaseae
Genus: Ecballium
Species: E. elaterium
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Cucurbitales

Synonyms:  Momordica Elaterium. Wild Cucumber.

Common Names : Squirting cucumber or exploding cucumber

Habitat: Ecballium elaterium is native to Europe, northern Africa, and temperate areas of Asia. It is grown as an ornamental plant elsewhere, and in some places it has naturalized.It grows in hot dry places on waste ground and roadsides, usually close to the coast.

Ecballium elaterium is a perennial plant(but in Britain it is  annual) growing to 0.3 m (1ft) by 1 m (3ft 3in) with a large fleshy root from which rise several round, thick stems, branching and trailing like the Common Cucumber but without tendrils; leaves heartshaped, rough; flower-stalks auxillary; male flowers in clusters with bell-shaped, yellow green veined corollas, females solitary; fruit a small elliptical greenish gourd covered with soft triangular prickles. The fruits forcibly eject their seeds together with a mucilaginous juice, a phenomenon due to endormosis. The plant flowers in July. The fruit is collected just before it ripens and is left until it matures and ejects the seeds and juice; this must not be artificially hastened or the product will be injured; the juice is then dried in flakes and sent to the market as Elaterium. The flakes often bear the impress of the muslin on which they were dried.

click to see the pictures

It is hardy to zone 9 and is frost tender. It is in flower from Jun to August, and the seeds ripen from Aug to 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 Insects.The plant is self-fertile.

Prefers a moist well-drained soil in a sunny position. Grows best in a rich soil. Another report says that it succeeds in poor soils. The foliage is fairly frost-tender, though the roots are much hardier and plants can survive quite cold winters in Britain. They are more likely to be killed by excessive winter wet. The squirting cucumber is sometimes cultivated for its use as a medicinal plant. The ripening fruit becomes pumped full of liquid, leading to an increase in pressure. As the seed becomes ripe, this pressure forces the fruit to break away explosively from the plant, ejecting its seed to a considerable distance in the opposite direction. The plant occasionally self-sows in our Cornwall trial ground and can become a weed in warmer climates than Britain. It is subject to statutory control as a weed in Australia.

Seed – sow early spring in rich compost in a greenhouse. Place 2 – 3 seeds per pot and thin to the strongest plant. The seed usually germinates in 10 – 21 days at 25°c. Grow the plants on fast and plant them out after the last expected frosts.

Medicinal Uses:

Constituents: Elaterin; a green resin, starch, lignin, and saline matter.

It is used in  Abortifacient;  Analgesic;  Antirheumatic;  Cardiac;  Kidney;  Purgative.

The squirting cucumber has been used as a medicinal plant for over 2,000 years, though it has a very violent effect upon the body and has little use in modern herbalism. The juice of the fruit is antirheumatic, cardiac and purgative. The plant is a very powerful purgative that causes evacuation of water from the bowels. It is used internally in the treatment of oedema associated with kidney complaints, heart problems, rheumatism, paralysis and shingles. Externally, it has been used to treat sinusitis and painful joints. It should be used with great caution and only under the supervision of a qualified practitioner. Excessive doses have caused gastro-enteritis and even death. It should not be used by pregnant women since it can cause an abortion. The fully grown but unripe fruits are harvested during the summer, they are left in containers until the contents are expelled and the juice is then dried for later use. The root contains an analgesic principle.

It is used to increases the flow of urine, and  sometimes in the treatment of dropsy, especially when oedema is due to disease of the kidney. There is a case on record of a French doctor who suffered severely from carrying some of the seeds in his hat from the Jardin des Plante to his Paris lodging.

Known Hazards :    Poisonous in large quantities(this probably refers to the fruit). The juice of the fruit is irritative to some types skins.

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.


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Herbs & Plants

Allium cernuum


Botanical Name : Allium cernuum
Family : Alliaceae
Genus : Allium
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asparagales
Species: A. cernuum

Common Names:  Nodding Onion, New Mexican nodding onion or  lady’s leek.

Habitat :N. America – Canada to Mexico. Ledges, gravels, rocky or wooded slopes and crests ascending to high altitudes . Widely distributed on moist soils in mountainous and cool regions to 3500 metres .Cultivated Beds;

It is a perennial plant. Bulb growing to 0.45m by 0.25m.
It  is not frost tender. It is in leaf from February to December, in flower from June to July. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, insects.

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Plants typically grow 12-18” (less frequently to 24”) tall. Features clumps of flat, narrow, grass-like leaves (to 12” tall) and tiny bell-shaped, pink to lilac pink (occasionally white) flowers which appear in loose, nodding clusters (umbels) atop erect, leafless scapes rising slightly above the foliage. Wild nodding onion is distinguished from most other native alliums by the fact that its scapes crook sharply downward at the top just below the flower so that the flower umbel nods (hence the common name). Blooms in summer. All parts of this plant have an oniony smell when cut or bruised. Although the bulbs and leaves of this plant were once used in cooking (stews) or eaten raw, nodding onion is not generally considered to be of culinary value today.

It has an unsheathed slender conic bulb which gradually tapers directly into several keeled grass-like leaves (2–4 mm wide). Each mature bulb bears a single flowering stem, which terminates in a downward nodding umbel of white or rose flowers. Nodding onion blooms in July or August. The flowers mature into spherical crested fruits which later split open to reveal the dark shiny seeds. This plant does not have bulblets in the inflorescence. This plant grows in dry woods, rock outcroppings, and prairies. It is native to North America from New York to British Columbia south to Virginia and Kentucky and south in the mountains. The bulb is edible and has a strong onion flavor.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and requires well-drained soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It requires moist soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.

Cultivation :
An easily grown plant, it prefers a sunny position in a light well-drained soil. Succeeds in clay soils. Established plants are fairly drought tolerant. Plants succeed in maritime gardens. A very ornamental plant, it makes a very decorative edging to flower beds. This species is self-sowing quite freely in our Cornwall garden. The bulbs should be planted fairly deeply. Most members of this genus are intolerant of competition from other growing plants, though this species has tolerated considerable neglect in our Cornwall garden. The cultivar ‘Major’ is a more vigorous form with larger flower clusters. Grows well with most plants, especially roses, carrots, beet and chamomile, but it inhibits the growth of legumes. This plant is a bad companion for alfalfa, each species negatively affecting the other. A widespread and very variable species. It is closely allied to A. stellatum. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer.

Seed – sow spring in a cold frame. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle – if you want to produce clumps more quickly then put three plants in each pot. Grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter and plant them out into their permanent positions in spring once they are growing vigorously and are large enough. Division in spring. Very easy, the plants divide successfully at any time in the growing season and the divisions can be planted straight out into their permanent positions if required.

This is a more vigorous form with larger flower clusters

Edible Uses:-
Edible Parts: Flowers; Leaves; Root.

Bulb – raw or cooked. Strongly flavoured, it is mainly used as a flavouring. The bulb is about 50mm tall and 15mm wide. Leaves – raw or cooked. A delicious, strong-onion flavour, they are very nice in salads. The leaves are available from spring until the autumn and are one of the most favourite onions we are growing on our Cornish trial grounds. Flowers – raw or cooked. A delicious strong onion flavour, somewhat stronger than the leaves especially if the seeds are starting to set. They make a very decorative and tasty addition to the salad bowl.

Medicinal Actions &  Uses
Lithontripic; Poultice.

The whole plant has mild medicinal activity similar to the action of garlic (Allium sativum). It is used specifically as a poultice on the chest for the treatment of respiratory ailments and the juice has been used in the treatment of kidney stones. The juice of the plant is used in treating colds, croup, sore throats etc. A poultice of the plant is applied externally to various infections such as sore throats, sores, swellings, chest and pleurisy pains.

Other Uses:-

The juice of the plant is used as a moth repellent. The whole plant is said to repel insects and moles. The juice can be applied to exposed skin in order to repel biting insects.


This is a more vigorous form with larger flower clusters.

Known Hazards: Although no individual reports regarding this species have been seen, there have been cases of poisoning caused by the consumption, in large quantities and by some mammals, of certain members of this genus. Dogs seem to be particularly susceptible.

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.



Herbs & Plants

Curry Plant

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Batanical Name:Helichyrsum italicum.
Family: Asteraceae.
Synonyms: Helichrysum angustifolium – (Lam.)DC.
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Asterales
Genus: Helichrysum
Species: H. italicum
Parts used:Dried Flower,
Habitat :  It grows on dry, rocky or sandy ground around the Mediterranean, South Europe.

Common Name : Curry plant

It is a Perennial herb.Curry Plant looks very similar to a Lavender in its leaf stage. But, as the picture to the right shows, it looks totally different in bloom. Curry Plant likes it warm and dry. It is native to Turkey and thrives on sunny slopes.The stems are woody at the base and can reach 60cm or more in height. The clusters of yellow flowers are produced in Summer, they retain their colour after picking and are used in dried flower arrangements.
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The plant is not frost tender. It is in leaf 12-Jan It is in flower from Jul to August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects

Related to the very popular dried Strawflower, Curry Plant proves once again that the useful plants in a genus don’t usually inherit the beauty genes.

While not very tasty, Curry Plant smells strongly like Curry spices. But, Curry Plant is not where Curry Seasoning comes from. Curry is actually a blend of many different herbs. The herbs used in real Curry vary from region to region.  When Curry Plant is mentioned with food, it is always used sparingly, a few leaves in a mayonnaise or a sprig tucked in a cavity of a chicken. The flavor is not Curry but is strong. It is also difficult to describe. However, trimming Curry Plant in the garden will leave you pleasantly reeking like an Indian restaurant the rest of the day.

Requires a light well-drained soil in a sunny sheltered position. Intolerant of excessive moisture. Established plants are drought resistant. Plants have proved to be fairly wind tolerant in an exposed site in Cornwall. This species is not hardy in the colder areas of the country, it tolerates temperatures down to about -10°c. Plants can be pruned back to the old wood in spring in order to maintain the shape of the plant and promote lots of new growth. The whole plant smells of curry, especially after rain. The flowering stems are often dried and used as ‘everlasting flowers’. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer.

Seed – sow February/March in a greenhouse. The seed usually germinates in 2 – 3 weeks at 20°c. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 5cm with a heel, June/July in a frame. Roots in 4 weeks. Good percentage.

Edible Uses: Condiment; Tea.
Leaves – used as a flavouring in salads and cooked foods. They have a slight flavour of curry, though they do not impart this very well to other foods. An essential oil (from the leaves?) is used as a flavouring to enhance fruit flavours in sweets, ice cream, baked goods, soft drinks and chewing gum. A tea is made from the flower heads.

Additional Uses:
Oils in flowers appear to be useful as moisturizers according to one of the comments here and in reducing scarring as noted on A Healing Essence’s website.
The plant tolerates low water and is useful for xeriscaping.  It is also said to be deer resistant
Can be trimmed into a small hedge-like border at the edge of an herb garden.
Flowers can be dried for use in arrangements.
Propagation: methods include division, stem cuttings, and seeds.

Medicinal Uses:
The antioxidant activity of carbon dioxide extracts are under investigation. Preparations are used as anticoagulant, anasthetic, antispasmodic agents and for their antiviral and anti-fungal properties.

Essential oils distilled from flowers are used in aromatherapy. The antioxidant activity of carbon dioxide extracts are under investigation. Preparations are used as anticoagulant, anasthetic, antispasmodic agents and for their antiviral and anti-fungal properties.

The plant produces an oil from its blossoms which is used for medicinal purposes. It is anti-inflammatory, fungicidal, and astringent. It soothes burns and raw chapped skin. It is used as a fixative in perfumes, and has an intense fragrance.

It has been claimed on some gardening forums that the curry plant is as effective a cat deterrent as the “scaredy-cat” plant, Plectranthus caninus (also known as Coleus canina). This may be not so much a recommendation for Helichrysum italicum as a comment on the efficacy of Plectranthus caninus.

The Anada Apothecary has a detailed entry listing the properties and uses of the oil of the flowers.  Here the plant is also referred to as “Everlasting Oil” and is referred to as “one of the most important essential oils in aromatherapy because of its healing properties.  Of special note to me was mention of the oil in treating joint pain.  Additional aromatherapy uses can be found at Nature’s Gifts, A Healing Essence, and Lavender Notes.

A more simplified entry is provided by Rocky Mountain Oils, where 15ml of the oil costs $35.00, lists the uses and properties of helichrysum italicum as:
“This species is much less expensive. Anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antiseptic used for cuts, wounds, bruises, ulcers, herpes, rheumatism, gingivitis, pyorrhea, gastritis, sore throat, and typhoid fever. Induces menstruation, aids painful menstruation and headaches, and induces milk formation.”

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.



The Way to a Man’s Heart is Through His Left Ear

If you’re thinking of asking your beloved to marry you, make sure that you utter your declaration of love into his or her left ear. New research suggests that declarations of love, jokes, or words of anger are best remembered when they are heard through the left ear. Instructions, directions and non-emotional messages, on the other hand, have more impact on the right side.

It has to do with how your brain processes information. Although the left and right hemispheres of the brain are similar structures, they have specialized functions. The left side is more logic-based and dominant, while the right is the more imaginative side.

Since the right side of the brain controls the left side of the body, and vice-versa the left ear has been shown in some research to be the route to the emotional side of the brain, and the right ear to the non-emotional, logical side.

The right eye has also been shown to be best for processing colors, and the right foot is the most vulnerable to tickling. The left cheek is the more favorable one to kiss, and the left side is the favored one for holding babies. Support for the idea comes from a number of psychological and brain scanning studies, and from research based on patients with brain injuries.

Test a Friend :-

Watch the direction of a friend’s gaze when you ask him or her these questions

1. Name a county that borders Cornwall.

2. Name three synonyms for “walking”.

3. What direction does the Queen face on a two pence piece?

4. Name three synonyms for “intelligence”.

Most people will look to the right when thinking about language-related questions (the even- numbered questions) and look to the left when thinking about the spatial questions (the odd- numbered questions). These eye movements are thought to be a consequence of the two sides of our brains processing different information.

Sources:The Times Online