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Herbs & Plants (Spices)

Portulaca grandiflora

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Botanical Name: Portulaca grandiflora
Family: Portulacaceae
Genus: Portulaca
Species:P. grandiflora
Kingdom:Plantae
Order:Caryophyllales

Synonyms:
*Portulaca hilaireana G. Don
*Portulaca immersostellulata Poelln.
*Portulaca mendocinensis Gillies ex Hook.
*Portulaca multistaminata Poelln.

Common Names: Rose moss, Eleven o’clock, Mexican rose, Moss rose, Sun rose, Rock rose, and Moss-rose purslane, 9’O Clock

Habitat:Portulaca grandiflora is native to S. America – Brazil. Occasionally established in S. and S.C. Europe. It is also seen in South Asia and widely spread in most of the cities with old 18th- and 19th-century architecture in the Balkans. In Pakistan it is called Gul Dopheri, meaning After Noon Flower, as flowers bloom whole after noon in summer’s heat. In Bangladesh, it is called “time fuul”, meaning “time flower”, because the flower has a specific time to bloom. In India, it is called “nau bajiya” or “9 o’clock flower” as it blooms in morning around 9:00 am. In the Philippines,it is called uru-alas dose or like twelve o’clock because it loses its bloom by noon. In Vietnam, it is called “hoa m??i gi?” meaning “ten o’clock flower”, because the flower is usually in full bloom at 10:00 in the morning. Its buds are often chewed by small birds like the house sparrow. It grows on roadsides and waste places in Europe.

Description:
Portulaca grandiflora is a small, but fast-growing annual plant growing to 30 cm tall, though usually less. However if it is cultivated properly it can easily reach this height. The leaves are thick and fleshy, up to 2.5 cm long, arranged alternately or in small clusters. The flowers are 2.5–3 cm diameter with five petals, variably red, orange, pink, white, and yellow.

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It is frost tender. It is in flower from Jun to July, and the seeds ripen from Jul to August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects, self.The plant is self-fertile.

Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil.

Cultivation:
Prefers a rather dry poor soil in full sun. Succeeds in a hot dry position, and dislikes wet soils. Although a perennial when grown in warmer climates than Britain, it is best treated as a half-hardy annual in this country. There are some named forms selected for their ornamental value.

Propagation:
Seed – sow early spring in a greenhouse, pricking out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle. Plant out after the last expected frosts. The seed can also be sown in situ in late spring, though the plants will not grow so large this way.

Edible Uses:
Leaves – raw or cooked. Seed – raw or cooked. It can be ground into a powder and used in soups etc, or can be added to cereals. The seed is very small and fiddly to utilize. Root – cooked.

Medicinal Uses:
The entire plant is depurative. It is used in the treatment of hepatitis, cirrhosis of the liver with ascites, swelling and pain in the pharynx. The fresh juice of the leaves and stems is applied externally as a lotion to snake and insect bites, burns, scalds and eczema.

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:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portulaca_grandiflora
http://www.pfaf.org/User/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Portulaca+grandiflora

Categories
Herbs & Plants

Dracunculus vulgaris

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Botanical Name:Dracunculus vulgaris
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Alismatales
Family: Araceae
Subfamily: Aroideae
Tribe: Areae
Genus: Dracunculus
Species: D. vulgaris

Common Names: Dragon Arum, the Black Arum, the Voodoo Lily, the Snake Lily, the Stink Lily, the Black Dragon, the Black Lily, Dragonwort, and Ragons.

Habitat:Dracunculus vulgaris is native to the Balkans, extending as far as Greece, Crete and the Aegean Islands, and also to the south-western parts of Anatolia.. It has been introduced to the United States and is currently present in the states of Oregon, California, Camano Island, Washington and Tennessee as well as the commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

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Description:

Dragon arum is a tuberous herbaceous perennial plant that is native to rocky areas and hillsides in the central to eastern Mediterranean areas from Greece to the Balkans to Turkey. It typically grows to 3′ tall and features large, erect, fan-shaped, palmately-divided, dark green leaves (to 12″ long) that are often streaked with white. Each leaf has 9-15 finger-like lobes reportedly resembling in appearance the claw of a dragon, hence the common name. Leaves appear in clusters on a stalk-like, black/purple-spotted pseudostem. Large, foul-smelling, maroon-purple spathes (each to as much as 20″ long and 8″ wide) appear above the leaves in late spring/early summer. The foul odor of the spathes, sometimes described as akin to the nauseous aroma of rotten meat, attracts flies for pollinating the flowers. Each spathe envelops a central, upright, nearly black, tail-like spike (spadix) which is nearly as long as the spathe, but sometimes longer, with a diameter of only 1/2 to 3/4″. The spathe contains inconspicuous, hidden, unisexual flowers. Flowers are followed by green berries which mature to orange-red in fall. This plant is synonymous with and formerly called Arum dracunculus.
The species is characterised by a large purple spathe and spadix has a very unpleasant smell reminiscent of a carcass. That is because the pollinators of this aroid are flies (Lucilia and others).

Cultivation:
Dracunculus vulgaris has been introduced to northern Europe, and North America, both to the United States, where it is present in the states of Kansas, Oregon, California, Washington, South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Michigan, the commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and to Canada, where it has been grown in the province of Ontario.The plant can tolerate some shade but prefers full sun; it can also withstand drought but benefits from a little watering. The plant prefers a humus-rich, well-drained soil.

The plant can be easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Prefers moist, rich soils. Spreads by self-seeding and bulb offsets. Plants are not reliably winter hardy throughout the St. Louis area where mulch should be applied in winter to help protect them from cold temperatures. In cold winter areas north of USDA Zone 6, tubers may be dug up in autumn, overwintered indoors and replanted in spring in somewhat the same manner as dahlias.

Medicinal Uses:
Dioscorides thought it resembled a dragon. In ancient medicine it was used for the eyes and ears, for ruptures, convulsions and coughs.  Dioscorides says, “But being beaten small with honey, and applied, it takes away the malignancie of ulcers.”

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/Dracunculus_vulgaris
http://www.cas.vanderbilt.edu/bioimages/species/drvu.htm
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_DE.htm

http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=d513

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Herbs & Plants

Asarum Europeaum, European Ginger

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Botanical  Name: Asarum europaeum
Family:Aristolochiaceae
Common Plant Family: Birthwort
Kingdom: Plantae
Genus: Asarum
Species:A. europaeum

Synonym:Hexastylis europaea

Common Name: European Wild Ginger,       Asarabacca,   Hazelwort, and Wild spikenard

Hasbitat:Asarum europaeum has a wide distribution in Europe. It ranges from southern Finland and northern Russia south to southern France, Italy, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republic of Macedonia. It is absent from the British Isles and Scandinavia with the exception of southern Finland, and also from northwestern Germany and the Netherlands. Within Europe, the plant is grown outside of its range in the United Kingdom, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and the Netherlands.The plant grows in open woodland and waterside thickets, especially in beech woodlands.

Description:
.Asarum europaeum (European Ginger)is not a flashy plant, but it always holds its own in the garden.The plant is an evergreen  perennial  one  and has prostrate stems that each bear 2 reniform (i.e. kidney-shaped) leaves with long petioles. The upper surface of the leaves is shiny and they have a pepper-like taste and smell. There are also 2 to 3 stipules present that occur in two rows opposite each other on the stem. the flowers are solitary, terminal and nodding. The flower tube is composed of fused tepals that ends with 3 petal-like projections that are brownish towards their ends and dark purple toward the centre. There are 12 stamens present. The flowers emerge in the late winter and spring.. Unlike American wild ginger, European ginger has glossy, shiny(heart shaped) leaves.Leaves are thick and extra glossy. It grows as a low, slow creeping ground cover that sweeps around other plants, catches the light and reflects it up. The leaves are so shiny, everyone wants to reach down and touch it.
click to see the pictures.>……..(01).......(1).…...(2)……..(3).….……
The stems are 10-15 cm long. The leaves are petiolate and reniform and about 10 cm wide. It occurs mostly in deciduous woodland or coniferous forests, especially in calcareous soils. There are two recognised subspecies other than the type, including A. europaeum ssp. caucasicum, which is confined to the southwestern Alps, and A. europaeum ssp. italicum, which is found in central and northern Italy as well as in the Crna Gora mountains in former Jugoslavia. In former days, it was used in snuff and also medicinally as an emetic and cathartic. It is quite shade-tolerant and is often employed as a ground cover in gardens where little else will grow.
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The newly emerging perennial  leaves are folded tightly in half and are a fresh green colour. The large, flat leaf in front is from last year. About half of the leaves remain on the plant from last season, some in good shape, and some not.

The purplish  brown flowers are usually hidden by the leaves and so are  not considered to be ornamental. Provide a moist soil with a pH in the 5.5 to 6.5 range.

Plant Height: 4-8 inches,
Environment: prefers full shade to partial shade or partial sun; soil should be moist
Bloom Colors: Purple

A handsome groundcover for shaded areas. Prefers rich organic soil that is slightly acidic.
Propagation: Propagation is by division in the spring.

Medicinal Uses:

Asarabacca has a long history of herbal use dating back at least to the time of the ancient Greeks, though it is little used in modern herbalism. The root, leaves and stems are cathartic, diaphoretic, emetic, errhine, sternutatory, stimulant and tonic. The plant has a strong peppery taste and smell. It is used in the treatment of affections of the brain, eyes, throat and mouth. When taken as a snuff, it produces a copious flow of mucous. The root is harvested in the spring and dried for later use. It is to be used with caution considering it’s toxicity. An essential oil in the root contains 50% asarone and is 65% more toxic than peppermint oil. This essential oil is the emetic and expectorant principle of the plant and is of value in the treatment of digestive tract lesions, silicosis, dry pharyngeal and laryngeal catarrh etc.

It has been substituted for Ipecac to produce vomiting. The French use it for this purpose after drinking too much wine. A little sniffed up the nostrils induces violent sneezing and a heavy flow of mucus. This has caused it to be used to remedy headache, drowsiness, giddiness, catarrhs, and other conditions caused by congestion. Asarabacca has been a component in many popular commercial medicinal snuffs.

Asarabacca has been extensively investigated, both chemically and pharmacologically. It is rich in flavonoids. The leaves contain a highly aromatic essential oil that contains constituents that verify the value of extracts as an errhine (for promotion of nasal secretion). Based on human experiments, the expectorant properties of both the roots and the leaves are quite good. In Rumania, human experiments where infusions of asarabacca were administered to people suffering pulmonary insufficiency, the preparations were said to have a beneficial effect on the heart condition, including a diuretic effect. From the types of irritant chemical compound known to be present in this plant, one would expect that catharsis would result from ingestion of extracts prepared from asarabacca. However, it is violent in its action.

Other Uses:....Dye.… A vibrant apple-green dye is obtained from plant. A useful ground cover for a shady position so long as it is not dry, spreading by its roots

Known Hazards: The plant is poisonous in large doses, the toxin is neutralized by drying.

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.aboutgardenplants.com/Asarum_europaeum.shtml
http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/fp.php?pid=503939
http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/showimage/10291/
http://northernshade.ca/2009/05/27/asarum-europaeum-with-glossy-foliage/
http://www.piam.com/mms_garden/plants.html
http://web1.msue.msu.edu/imp/modzz/00000156.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asarum_europaeum

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