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Herbs & Plants

Garrya elliptica

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Botanical Name: Garrya elliptica
Family: Garryaceae
Genus: Garrya
Species: G. elliptica
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Garryales

Common Names: Coast silk-tassel, Silk tassel bush or Wavyleaf silktassel

Habitat : Garrya elliptica is native to South-western N. America – California to Oregon. It grows in chaparral and forest on dry slopes and ridges below 600 metres.

Description:
Garrya elliptica is an evergreen Shrub growing to 4 m (13ft) by 4 m (13ft) at a medium rate. It has a multi-furcate branching structure yielding an almost spherical form. Like others of its genus, G. elliptica has opposite leaves with a tough leathery feel, glossy green on top, but paler and duller on the underside. It is in leaf 12-Jan It is in flower from Nov to February.

The dioecious flowers are concentrated in inflorescences which cascade downward as aments of 4–6 cm (1.6–2.4 in) in length. While it manifests separate male and female plants, the pendant male catkins are much more showy and are grey-green and up to 30 cm (12 in) long; the female ones are shorter and silver-grey. Although the flowers bloom in late winter and early spring, dried bracts remain on the plant well into summer as light gray decorations. The plant has smooth bark, dark-greenish when young, but roughening with age. New twigs are green and moderately stout.

For pistillate flowers, above each small bract there is a solitary flower inside the inflorescence. This plant produces tiny dark seeds. The ripened purplish black fruit of about 1 cm in diameter has a hard desiccated coating, but is rather fleshy on the interior. In the case of stamenate infloresences, there are a total of four stamens per flower; moreover, above each bract pair there is a triplet of flowers. The cultivar ‘James Roof’ has catkins up to 30 cm (12 in) in length.

The unique characteristics of Garrya elliptica are its waxy convex leaves with wavy leaf margins, coupled with dense individual hairs on the leaf undersides that are scarcely distinguishable with a hand lens. Its leaf blades are six to eight centimeters in length, and has petioles which range in length from six to twelve millimeters. For identification purposes Congdon silk-tassel (Garrya congdonii) is most closely related. Congdon silk-tassel has the same leaf appearance, but leaf hairs are distinguishable with a hand lens and both leaf blades and petioles are about two thirds the size of Coast silk-tassel. Both Fremont silk-tassel (Garrya fremontii) and Ashy silk-tassel (Garrya flavescens) have similar fruit characteristics, but have a flat leaf margin.

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Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.
It can tolerate atmospheric pollution.

Cultivation:
Prefers a sunny position succeeding in most well-drained fertile soils. Succeeds in a hot dry position. Succeeds in light shade, the plants are also tolerant of quite deep shade. Does not require a rich soil or abundant moisture, if the soil is too fertile the flowering will be delayed. Plants are resistant to urban pollution and maritime exposure, but they are subject to wind scorch from cold drying winds in colder areas. This species is hardy to about -15°c, it is best on a sunny wall in most parts of the country but does very well as a free standing shrub in Devon and Cornwall. In cold winters and springs the previous year’s leaves may fall before the new leaves are produced. A hedge in a relatively open area at Wisley in Surrey is growing well (1991), as is a plant in a friend’s garden in Stockton on Teesside(1998). All pruning should be carried out in spring before new growth starts but after flowering has ended. Plants are strongly resentful of root disturbance, they should be planted into their permanent positions as soon as possible. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.
Propagation:
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. Very slow, the seed can take 2 or more years to germinate. 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 10cm with a heel, August in a frame. Cuttings of mature wood 10 – 12 cm with a heel, December/January in a frame.

Medicinal Uses:
Abortifacient; Antiperiodic; Febrifuge.

The leaves are intensely bitter and are used as an antiperiodic and febrifuge. They can be used as a quinine substitute. An infusion has been used to induce menstruation, probably acting as an abortifacient.
Other Uses:
Dye; Hedge; Hedge; Repellent; Wood.

A hedge in a sheltered position at Wisley in 1991 was very healthy. Makes a good wind shelter. Grey to black dyes are obtained from the berries. The colour varies according to the ripeness of the fruit, green fruits are the best. The bark and leaves are very bitter, a possible insect repellent?. Wood – hard, close-grained. It has been used for fine cabinet work, though its small size and rarity limits its commercial usefulness.

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/Garrya_elliptica
http://www.pfaf.org/User/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Garrya+elliptica

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Categories
Herbs & Plants (Spices)

Astragalus crassicarpus

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Botanical Name : Astragalus crassicarpus
Family:Fabaceae
Kind:Astragalus
Reign:Plantae
Subkingdom:Tracheobionta
Division:Magnoliophyta
Class:Magnoliopsida
Subclass:Rosidae
Order:Fabales

Synonyms : A. caryocarpus. Ker-Gawl. A. mexicanus. A. succulentus. Geoprumnon succulentum.

Common Names: Ground Plum, Groundplum milkvetch

Habitat :Astragalus crassicarpus is native Western N. AmericaEastern Rocky mountains and eastward to Nebraska.It grows on prairies and plains.
Description:
Astragalus crassicarpus is a perennial herb growing to 0.5 m (1ft 8in). It’s leaves are compound in groups of 15 to 29. Leaflets are about 1/3 to ½ inch long, less than ¼ inch wide, generally elliptic with a pointed or blunt tip, hairy to varying degrees on both sides. Stems are hairy, sprawling along the ground and rising at the tip end (decumbent).

Racemes of 5 to 15 pea-shaped flowers. Flowers are about ¾ inch long with an erect broad egg-shaped upper petal, notched at the tip, and 2 small lower petals that are mostly horizontal. The tubular calyx holding the flower is purple tinged with several prong-like appendages at the tip end. Flower color ranges from pinkish purple to lavender to blue-violet. A plant has several to many clusters on stalks up to 4 inches long arising from the leaf axils.

The fruit is a smooth round pod ½ to 1 inch across that ripens to purple, and resembles a plum. Inside are 1/8-inch, somewhat kidney shaped black seeds.

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The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, lepidoptera.It can fix Nitrogen.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry soil.
Cultivation:
Requires a dry well-drained soil in a sunny position. Plants are intolerant of root disturbance and are best planted in their final positions whilst still small. The stems are sometimes prostrate. This species is somewhat polymorphic and is separated into a number of distinct species by some botanists. The form sometimes known as A. mexicanus has larger seedpods than the type, up to 35mm in diameter. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby. Many members of this genus can be difficult to grow, this may be due partly to a lack of their specific bacterial associations in the soil.

Propagation:
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. A period of cold stratification may help stored seed to germinate. Stored seed, and perhaps also fresh seed, should be pre-soaked for 24 hours in hot water before sowing – but make sure that you do not cook the seed. Any seed that does not swell should be carefully pricked with a needle, taking care not to damage the embryo, and re-soaked for a further 24 hours. Germination can be slow and erratic but is usually within 4 – 9 weeks or more at 13°c if the seed is treated or sown fresh. As soon as it is large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter, planting them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts.

Edible Uses:
The thick fleshy unripe seedpods, which resemble green plums, are eaten raw or cooked. They are highly esteemed. The pods are about 25mm in diameter.
Medicinal Uses:
A compound decoction or infusion of the root has been used to treat fits and convulsions and has been used on bleeding wounds. It has also been taken or used externally as a stimulant.

Known Hazards: Many members of this genus contain toxic glycosides. All species with edible seedpods can be distinguished by their fleshy round or oval seedpod that looks somewhat like a greengage. A number of species can also accumulate toxic levels of selenium when grown in soils that are relatively rich in that element.
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://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astragalus_crassicarpus
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Astragalus+crassicarpus
https://www.minnesotawildflowers.info/flower/ground-plum

Categories
Herbs & Plants

Dionaea muscipula

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Botanical Name : Dionaea muscipula
Family: Droseraceae
Genus: Dionaea
Species:D. muscipula
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Caryophyllales

Synonym:
Dionaea sensitiva Salisb., Dionaea corymbosa Raf., Dionaea sessiliflora Raf., Dionaea uniflora Raf., Drosera sessiliflora Raf., Drosera uniflora Raf.

Common Names: Venus’s flytrap or Venus’ flytrap. Historically, the plant was also known by the slang term “tipitiwitchet” or “tippity twitchet”, possibly an oblique reference to the plant’s resemblance to human female genitalia.

Habitat : Dionaea muscipula is native to subtropical wetlands on the East Coast of the United States in North Carolina and South Carolina
Description:
Dionaea muscipula is a carnivorous plant. It is a small plant whose structure can be described as a rosette of four to seven leaves, which arise from a short subterranean stem that is actually a bulb-like object. Each stem reaches a maximum size of about three to ten centimeters, depending on the time of year; longer leaves with robust traps are usually formed after flowering. Flytraps that have more than 7 leaves are colonies formed by rosettes that have divided beneath the ground.

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Leaves will reach up to 5 inches (13 cm) long with flat, winged petioles. The blades are reniform (kidney-shaped), 2 lobed with the lobes hinged and fringed with stiff cilia. The upper surface has 3 sensitive hairs that when stimulated by insects cause the lobes to close together quickly (much this closing happens within ~1/30 of a second). Plants are easy to grow and are great plants for terraria. They are hardy in USDA zone 8, but growing them in nature may be a challenge because of their need for low nutients and low pH — difficult unless you intend to simulate their natural bog environment.

Blooming Time: The small white flower is ¾ of inch (2 cm) across.

The leaf blade is divided into two regions: a flat, heart-shaped photosynthesis-capable petiole, and a pair of terminal lobes hinged at the midrib, forming the trap which is the true leaf. The upper surface of these lobes contains red anthocyanin pigments and its edges secrete mucilage. The lobes exhibit rapid plant movements, snapping shut when stimulated by prey. The trapping mechanism is tripped when prey contacts one of the three hair-like trichomes that are found on the upper surface of each of the lobes. The mechanism is so highly specialized that it can distinguish between living prey and non-prey stimuli, such as falling raindrops; two trigger hairs must be touched in succession within 20 seconds of each other or one hair touched twice in rapid succession, whereupon the lobes of the trap will snap shut, typically in about one-tenth of a second. The edges of the lobes are fringed by stiff hair-like protrusions or cilia, which mesh together and prevent large prey from escaping. These protrusions, and the trigger hairs (also known as sensitive hairs) are likely homologous with the tentacles found in this plant’s close relatives, the sundews. Scientists have concluded that the snap trap evolved from a fly-paper trap similar to that of Drosera.

The holes in the meshwork allow small prey to escape, presumably because the benefit that would be obtained from them would be less than the cost of digesting them. If the prey is too small and escapes, the trap will usually reopen within 12 hours. If the prey moves around in the trap, it tightens and digestion begins more quickly.

Speed of closing can vary depending on the amount of humidity, light, size of prey, and general growing conditions. The speed with which traps close can be used as an indicator of a plant’s general health. Venus flytraps are not as humidity-dependent as are some other carnivorous plants, such as Nepenthes, Cephalotus, most Heliamphora, and some Drosera.

The Venus flytrap exhibits variations in petiole shape and length and whether the leaf lies flat on the ground or extends up at an angle of about 40–60 degrees. The four major forms are: ‘typica’, the most common, with broad decumbent petioles; ‘erecta’, with leaves at a 45-degree angle; ‘linearis’, with narrow petioles and leaves at 45 degrees; and ‘filiformis’, with extremely narrow or linear petioles. Except for ‘filiformis’, all of these can be stages in leaf production of any plant depending on season (decumbent in summer versus short versus semi-erect in spring), length of photoperiod (long petioles in spring versus short in summer), and intensity of light (wide petioles in low light intensity versus narrow in brighter light).

When grown from seed, plants take around four to five years to reach maturity and will live for 20 to 30 years if cultivated in the right conditions.

Cultivation:
Venus flytraps are popular as cultivated plants, but have a reputation for being difficult to grow. Successfully growing these specialized plants requires recreating a close approximation to the plant’s natural habitat.

CLICK TO LEARN : Growing Dionaea muscipula ,   How  & where to get  the plant

 

Healthy Venus flytraps will produce scapes of white flowers in spring; however, many growers remove the flowering stems early (2–3 inches), as flowering consumes some of the plant’s energy and thereby reduces the rate of trap production. If healthy plants are allowed to flower, successful pollination will result in seeds.

Propagation:
Plants can be propagated by seed, although seedlings take several years to mature. More commonly, they are propagated by clonal division in spring or summer.

Cultivars:
Venus flytraps are by far the most commonly recognized and cultivated carnivorous plant, and they are frequently sold as houseplants. Various cultivars (cultivated varieties) have come into the market through tissue culture of selected genetic mutations, and these plants are raised in large quantities for commercial markets.
Medicinal Uses:
In alternative medicine
Venus flytrap extract is available on the market as an herbal remedy, sometimes as the prime ingredient of a patent medicine named “Carnivora”. According to the American Cancer Society, these products are promoted in alternative medicine as a treatment for a variety of human ailments including HIV, Crohn’s disease and skin cancer, but “available scientific evidence does not support the health claims made for Venus flytrap extract”

Immunodeficiency diseases. Adult malignant tumors. Ulcerative colitis. Crohn’s disease. Neurodermitis. Multiple sclerosis. Primary chronic polyarthritis.

Dr. Keller claims that partial to total remissions have been achieved in glioblastomas, hypernephroma with lung metastases (not bones), pancreas carcinoma, viral induced tumors in the ear, nose and throat, adenocarcinomas of the lung and colon. In CML and CLL, remission time is prolonged together with the use of chemotherapy. He says in all the other malignancies Venus’ Fly Trap extract decreases the suppresser cells, increases the helper and natural killer cells, and therefore improves the patient’s general condition.

Other Uses: It is an ornamental plant. It can be grown as a fly trap or cosquito trap.

Venus flytrap is commonly grown as a curiosity and is a source of wonder for children and adults alike. Indeed, it is likely that Venus flytrap has been the source of inspiration for many a horror film involving man-eating plants – a somewhat unique ‘use’ within the plant kingdom! .
For more information You may click…...(1) …...

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/Venus_flytrap
http://www.plantoftheweek.org/week252.shtml

http://www.kew.org/science-conservation/plants-fungi/dionaea-muscipula-venus-flytrap

http://www.herbaled.org/THM/Singles/venusflytrap.html

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Herbs & Plants

Pedicularis palustris

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Botanical Name : Pedicularis palustris
Family: Orobanchaceae
Genus: Pedicularis
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Lamiales
Tribes: Pedicularideae
Species: Pedicularis palustris

Common Names: Lousewort, Marsh, English name: Red Rattle and U.S. name: Red Rattle, Name also: European Purple Lousewort (USA)

Vernacular names:
English: Marsh Lousewort ceština: Všivec bahenní dansk: Eng-Troldurt Deutsch: Sumpf-Läusekraut español: Gallaritos eesti: Soo-kuuskjalg suomi: Luhtakuusio français: Pediculaire des marais, Tartarie rouge hornjoserbsce: Wulka wšowica italiano: Pediculare lietuviu: Pelkine glinde Nederlands: Moeraskartelblad, Moeras-Kartelblad norsk bokmål: Myrklegg polski: Gnidosz blotny slovenšcina: mocvirski ušivec svenska: Kärrspira

Habitat : Marsh lousewort is common in Finland, but rarely abundant. It grows on seashore and flood-influenced meadows, lake shores, riversides, moist meadows, boggy margins, rich swamps.

Description:
Pedicularis palustris grows as biennial herb. Taproot strong, straight. Hemiparasite. It grows to a height of 15–40(–80) cm (6–16(–32) in.). Stem almost glabrous, often brownish red, usually branched, branches often flowering.

Flower: Corolla zygomorphic, red, sometimes yellowish white, 15–22 mm (0.6–0.88 in.) long, fused, bilabiate, with long tube. Upper lip flat-sided, tip sharply convex; lower lip 3-lobed, central lobe smaller than lateral lobes, round. Calyx bowl-shaped, bilabiate, unclearly 5-lobed. Stamens 4. Gynoecium fused, single-styled. Inflorescence a long terminal spike, lax in the lower part.

Leaves: Alternate; with basal rosette. Rosette leaves long-stalked, blade triangular, 2 times pinnately lobed. Stem leaves short-stalked, blade ovate–linear, pinnately lobed, lobes toothed or lobed.

Fruit: Quite elliptic, with tapered tip, brown, capsule opening from one side.

Flowering time: June–August.

Its reddish brown, decorative shoots and red flowers stand out from a distance. Only the most powerful insects, such as bumble and honey bees, are able to get at its nectar. Bumble bees land on the corolla’s lower labellum, push their way inside and push the upper labellum forcefully in order to get at the nectar. In doing so the insect reveals its stamens and pollinates the plant while it loads up on nectar.

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Marsh lousewort is a hemiparasite, meaning that it sucks extra nutrition from its neighbour’s roots. The plant’s stem goes woody and stands up all through the winter. Marsh lousewort is divided in Finland into three subspecies, which can be differentiated from each other on the basis of the area they grow in and their flowering time. Ssp. palustris in quite low, abundantly branched, flowers in June, is large-flowered (18–22 mm, 0.72–0.88 in.), and grows in southern and central Finland; ssp. borealis grows in northern and northern parts of central Finland, is branchless, has a slightly smaller flower (approx. 15 mm, 0.6 in.) and it flowers in July; ssp. opsiantha is abundantly branched and quite tall, and its flowers are small (14–17 mm, 0.56–0.68 in.).

Medicinal Uses:
Lousewort is poisonous and a powerful insecticide. Formerly, an infusion of the plant was made to destroy lice and other insect parasites. The plant is now rarely used.
Known Hazards: Lousewort is poisonous.
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/Pedicularis
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Pedicularis_palustris
http://www.luontoportti.com/suomi/en/kukkakasvit/marsh-lousewort
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_LMN.htm

Categories
Herbs & Plants

Gypsophila struthium

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Botanical Name: Gypsophila struthium
Family: Caryophyllaceae
Genus: Gypsophila
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Caryophyllales

Common Name: Egyptian  Soapwort,  Baby’s-breath

Habitat : Gypsophila struthium is native to Eurasia, Africa, Australia, and the Pacific Islands.

Description:, 
Gypsophila struthium is a perennial herbaceous plant with a stem 1 to 2 feet in height.The leaves are variable in shape. The inflorescence is usually a cyme or a thyrse, branching intricately. Each small flower has a cup-like calyx of white-edged green sepals containing five petals in shades of white or pink. The fruit is a rounded or oval capsule opening at valves. It contains several brown or black seeds which are often shaped like a kidney or a snail shell.

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The root is generally in lengths of 4 to 6 inches, 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter; colour a yellowish white, furrowed down its length externally with lighter places where the cortex has been rubbed. The section is of a radiate and concentric structure. Taste bitter, then acrid; odour slight; powder irritating to the nostrils. This variety is rarely used medicinally, the Soapwort (Saponaria officinalis) being used as a substitute. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs)
Cultivation :
Requires a sunny position and a deep soil. Lime tolerant. Grows well in a dryish soil.
Propagation :
Seed – we have no information for this species but suggest sowing the seed in a greenhouse in spring. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and, if growth is sufficient, plant them out into their permanent positions in the summer. If the plants are too small to plant out, grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter and then plant them out in late spring or early summer. Division in spring or autumn. Larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the spring. Basal cuttings before the plant flowers. Harvest the shoots when they are about 10cm long with plenty of underground stem. Pot them up into individual pots and keep them in light shade in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the summer. Root cuttings.
Medicinal Uses:
Alterative; Diaphoretic; Purgative; Skin; Tonic.

Tonic, diaphoretic, alterative. A valuable remedy in the treatment of syphilitic, scrofulous and cutaneous diseases, also in jaundice, liver affections, rheumatism and gonorrhoea, the decoction is generally used. Saponin is produced from this plant. Although rarely used, this species can be employed in many of the same ways as soapwort, Saponaria officinalis. It is a valuable remedy, used as an external wash, for the treatment of many skin diseases.

Other Uses : The plant contains saponins. This may be used as soap substitute.

Known Hazards: Although no mention has been seen for this species, at least one member of this genus has a root that is rich in saponins. Although toxic, these substances are very poorly absorbed by the body and so tend to pass through without causing harm. They are also broken down by heat so a long slow baking can destroy them. Saponins are found in many plants, including several that are often used for food, such as certain beans. It is advisable not to eat large quantities of food that contain saponins. Saponins are much more toxic to some creatures, such as fish, and hunting tribes have traditionally put large quantities of them in streams, lakes etc in order to stupefy or kill the fish.

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/Gypsophila
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/s/soroeg62.html
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Gypsophila+struthium