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Herbs & Plants

Solanum scabrum

Botanical Name: Solanum scabrum
Family: Solanaceae
Genus: Solanum
Species: S. scabrum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Solanales

Synonyms: S. intrusum. S. melanocerasum. All. S. scabrum.

Common Name: Garden Huckleberry

Habitat: The origin of the species is uncertain, although Linnaeus attributed it to Africa, but it also occurs in North America, and is naturalized in many countries. In Africa it is cultivated as a leaf vegetable and for dye from the berries. It grows in cultivated bed.

Description:
Solanum scabrum is an annual or short-lived perennial herb to 1 m tall, hairless or sparsely hairy. The leaves are usually ovate, 7–12 cm long and 5–8 cm wide, with petioles 1.5–7 cm long. The inflorescence is simple or sometimes branched with 9–12 flowers. The white corolla is stellate, 15–20 mm diam., and sometimes tinged purple and with yellow/green basal star. The berries are globular, 10–17 mm diam., purple-black. The seeds are 1.8–2.2 mm long, pale or stained purple.

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It is in flower from Jul to September, and the seeds ripen from Aug to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

Cultivation:
Succeeds in most soils. Dislikes shade. Caterpillars and slugs are particularly fond of this plant and can totally destroy it. This is a cultivated form of S. nigrum, grown for its edible fruit. There is at least one named form. See notes about possible toxicity at the top of this page. There is some disagreement among taxonomists as to the correct name of this plant. It is also listed as S. melanocerasum. Grows well with clover. Does not grow well with wormwood or white mustard and, when these plants are growing Closely related to S. nigra, they increase its content of toxic alkaloids.
Propagation:
Seed – sow spring in situ. The seed can also be sown in a greenhouse during the spring if required since this will normally produce larger crops of fruit. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant out in late spring.
Edible Uses:
Edible Parts: Fruit; Leaves.

Solanum scabrum is grown as an edible leaf crop in Africa. It is the most intensively cultivated species for leaf cropping within the Solanum nigrum complex, and as such has undergone genetic selection by farmers for leaf size and other characteristics.

Fruit – cooked.. Used in preserves, jams and pies. A pleasant musky taste. Only the fully ripe fruits should be used, the unripe fruits contain the toxin solanine. Often cooked with some baking soda first in order to remove any bitterness. The fruit contains about 2.5% protein, 0.6% fat, 5.6% carbohydrate, 1.2% ash. The fruit is up to 12mm in diameter. Young leaves and new shoots – raw or cooked as a potherb or added to soups.

Medicinal Uses:

Antiperiodic; Antiphlogistic; Diaphoretic; Diuretic; Febrifuge; Narcotic; Purgative.

The whole plant is antiperiodic, antiphlogistic, diaphoretic, diuretic, emollient, febrifuge, narcotic, purgative and sedative. It is harvested in the autumn when both flowers and fruit are upon the plant, and is dried for later use. Use with caution, see notes above on toxicity. The leaves, stems and roots are used in the treatment of cancerous sores, leucoderma and wounds. Extracts of the plant are analgesic, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory and vasodilator. The plant has been used in the manufacture of locally analgesic ointments and the juice of the fruit has been used as an analgesic for toothaches.

Other Uses:
Dye:
In Africa a stocky form of Solanum scabrum is cultivated as a dye crop using the ripe berries.

Known Hazards: There is a lot of disagreement over whether or not the leaves or fruit of this plant are poisonous. Views vary from relatively poisonous to perfectly safe to eat. The plant is cultivated as a food crop, both for its fruit and its leaves, in some parts of the world and it is probably true to say that toxicity can vary considerably according to where the plant is grown and the cultivar that is being grown. The unripe fruit contains the highest concentration of toxins
Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solanum_scabrum
http://www.pfaf.org/user/plant.aspx?LatinName=Solanum+scabrum

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Categories
Herbs & Plants

Prunus canescens

Botanical Name : Prunus canescens
Family: Rosaceae
Subfamily: Prunoideae
Genus: Prunus
Subgenus: Cerasus
Section: Cerasus
Species :P. canescens
Kingdom : Plantae
Phylum/Division : Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Rosales

Common Name: Greyleaf Cherry

Habitat :Prunus canescens is native to E. Asia – W. China. It grows on the Cliffs.

Description:
Prunus canescens is a deciduous Shrub growing to 3 m (9ft 10in). It has lanceolate leaves that grow from 2-2 1/2 inches long. It is in flower from Apr to May. There are usually 2-5 white flowers together, and rarely ever grow alone. The fruit is small and red, like most fruits of the Cerasus subgenus.

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The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.
Cultivation:
Thrives in a well-drained moisture-retentive loamy soil, growing well on limestone. Prefers some lime in the soil but is likely to become chlorotic if too much lime is present. Succeeds in sun or partial shade though it fruits better in a sunny position. Most members of this genus are shallow-rooted and will produce suckers if the roots are damaged. Plants in this genus are notably susceptible to honey fungus.
Propagation:
Seed – requires 2 – 3 months cold stratification and is best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe. Sow stored seed in a cold frame as early in the year as possible. Protect the seed from mice etc. The seed can be rather slow, sometimes taking 18 months to germinate. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle. Grow them on in a greenhouse or cold frame for their first winter and plant them out in late spring or early summer of the following year. Cuttings of half-ripe wood with a heel, July/August in a frame. Softwood cuttings from strongly growing plants in spring to early summer in a frame. Layering in spring.
Edible Uses:
Edible Parts: Fruit; Seed.

Fruit – raw or cooked. A pleasant cherry-like flavour. The fruit is about 10mm in diameter and contains one large seed. Seed – raw or cooked. Do not eat the seed if it is too bitter – see the notes below on toxicity.

Medicinal Uses:
Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, all members of the genus contain amygdalin and prunasin, substances which break down in water to form hydrocyanic acid (cyanide or prussic acid). In small amounts this exceedingly poisonous compound stimulates respiration, improves digestion and gives a sense of well-being.
Other Uses:
Dye; Rootstock.

Used as a rootstock for cherries. It is compatible with most sweet cherry cultivars and produces small trees with an open growth habit. Suitable for planting at 300 – 500 trees per hectare. The fruit yield tends to be very good. A green dye can be obtained from the leaves. A dark grey to green dye can be obtained from the fruit.

Known Hazards: Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, it belongs to a genus where most, if not all members of the genus produce hydrogen cyanide, a poison that gives almonds their characteristic flavour. This toxin is found mainly in the leaves and seed and is readily detected by its bitter taste. It is usually present in too small a quantity to do any harm but any very bitter seed or fruit should not be eaten. In small quantities, hydrogen cyanide has been shown to stimulate respiration and improve digestion, it is also claimed to be of benefit in the treatment of cancer. In excess, however, it can cause respiratory failure and even death.

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:
http://plantspedia.wikia.com/wiki/Prunus_canescens
http://www.pfaf.org/User/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Prunus+canescens

Categories
News on Health & Science

Vegetables Aren’t as Good for You as They Used to Be

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According to new research, produce in the U.S. not only tastes worse than it did in your grandparents’ days, but also contains fewer nutrients. In fact, the average vegetable found in today’s supermarket is anywhere from 5 percent to 40 percent lower in minerals such as magnesium, iron, calcium and zinc than those harvested just 50 years ago.
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Today’s vegetables are larger, but do not contain more nutrients. Jumbo-sized produce actually contains more “dry matter” than anything else, which dilutes mineral concentrations.

An additional problem is the “genetic dilution effect,” in which selective breeding to increase crop yield has led to declines in protein, amino acids, and minerals. Breeders select for high yield, effectively selecting mostly for high carbohydrate content.

And finally, as a result of the growing rise of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, modern crops are being harvested faster than ever before, meaning that produce has less time to absorb nutrients either from synthesis or the soil.

Sources:
Time February 17, 2009
The Journal of HortScience February 1, 2009

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