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Herbs & Plants

Epigaea repens

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Botanical Name: Epigaea repens
Family:    Ericaceae
Genus:    Epigaea
Species:    E. repens
Kingdom:    Plantae
Order:    Ericales

Synonyms:  Mountain Pink. May Flower. Gravel Plant. Ground Laurel. Winter Pink.

Common Names: Mayflower or Trailing arbutus

Habitat:  Epigaea repens   is found from Newfoundland to Florida, west to Kentucky and the Northwest Territories. It is found in sandy soil in many parts of North America, in the shade of pines. Its natural home is under trees, and it will thrive in this country only in moist, sandy peat in shady places. It has long been known in cultivation here as an ornamental plant, having been introduced into Great Britain in 1736. Like the common Arbutus, or the Strawberry Tree and the Bearberry, it belongs to the order Ericacece, the family of the heaths.Slow growing, it prefers moist, acidic (humus-rich) soil, and shade. It is often part of the heath complex in an oak-heath forest.

Description:
Epigaea repens is a small evergreen creeping shrub, It grows but a few inches high, with a trailing, shrubby stalk, which puts out roots at the joints, and when in a proper soil and situation multiplies very fast. The evergreen leaves are stalked, broadly ovate, 1 to 1 1/2 inches long, rough and leathery, with entire, wavy margins and a short point at the apex. Branches, leaf-stalks and nerves of the leaves are very hairy. The flowers are produced at the end of the branches in dense clusters. They are white, with a reddish tinge and very fragrant, divided at the top into five acute segments, which spread open in the form of a star. The plant flowers in April and May, but rarely produces fruit in England. It is stated to be injurious to cattle when eaten by them.

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The species flowers are pink, fading to nearly white, very fragrant, about .5 inches (1.3 cm) across when expanded, few or many in clusters at ends of branches. Calyx of five dry overlapping sepals; corolla salver-shaped, the slender, hairy tube spreading into five equal lobes; 10 stamens; one pistil with a column-like style and a five-lobed stigma. Stem: Spreading over the ground (Epigaea = on the earth); woody, the leafy twigs covered with rusty hairs. Leaves: Alternate, oval, rounded at the base, smooth above, more or less hairy below, evergreen, weather-worn, on short, rusty, hairy petioles.

Cultivation:       
Landscape Uses:Rock garden, Woodland garden. Requires an open lime-free humus-rich soil and shade from direct sunlight. Grows well in the shade of other calcifuge plants such as rhododendrons and also under pine trees. A very cold-hardy plant but it is often excited into premature growth by mild winter weather and is then subject to damage by frost. The flower buds require a period of chilling to about 2°c before they will open. The flowers are deliciously and strongly scented with a rich spicy perfume. There are some named varieties, selected for their ornamental value. A difficult plant to grow in cultivation and very hard to transplant successfully. Another report says that although the genus is generally difficult to cultivate, this species is relatively easy to grow. Special Features:Attractive foliage, Fragrant flowers.

Propagation :  
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a shady position in a cold frame. Another report says that the seed requires no pre-treatment and can be sown in late winter in a cold frame. Surface sow and place the pot in light shade, do not allow it to dry out. The seed usually germinates in 3 – 5 weeks. As soon as they are large enough to handle, pot up the seedlings into individual pots. Be very careful since they strongly resent root disturbance. Grow them on in light shade in the greenhouse and plant them out in their permanent positions in the late spring of their second years growth. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame.Take the cutting with a part of the previous year’s growth. (This report is unclear as to whether it means a heel of older wood or just a small section of older wood) Plants self-layer and can be divided in the spring but this must be done with great care since they deeply resent root disturbance.

Edible Uses:   Flowers – raw. Fragrant, with a spicy slightly acid flavour, they are eaten as a wayside nibble or are added to salads. Thirst quenching.

Medicinal Uses:
Astringent;  Diuretic;  Tonic.
Mayflower is rarely used medicinally, even in folk medicine, though it is a strong urinary antiseptic and is one of the most effective remedies for cystitis, urethritis, prostatitis, bladder stones and particularly acute catarrhal cystitis. The leaves are astringent, diuretic and tonic. An infusion is made from the dried leaves, or a tincture from the fresh leaves. A tea made from the leaves is used in the treatment of kidney disorders, stomach aches, bladder disorders etc. It is of special value when the urine contains blood or pus. Use with caution, the plant contains arbutin and, although this is an effective urinary disinfectant, it hydrolyzes to hydroquinone which is toxic. The leaves can be used fresh or can be harvested in the summer and dried for later use

Other Uses:
Plants can be grown for ground cover, they should be spaced about 25cm apart each way and form a carpet of growth. This species is probably not very worthwhile for ground cover in Britain because of its difficulty to cultivate.

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://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epigaea_repens
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Epigaea+repens

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Categories
Herbs & Plants

Duchman’s Breeches

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Botanical Name:Dicentra cucullaria
Family : Fumariaceae
Other Name: Dicentra cucullaria
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Ranunculales
Genus: Dicentra
Species: D. cucullaria

Syninyms:Bicuculla cucullaria[B,P] Corydalis cuccularia[H] D. cuccularia[H] D. cucullaria var. occidentalis[B,P] D. occidentalis[B,P] Fumaria cucullaria[G]

Common Names: Dicentra cucullaria , Dutchman’s breeches (derives from their white flowers that look like white breeches.)

Habitat :Woodland, Dappled Shade, Shady Edge, Deep Shade. Native to North America.It occurs mainly in the eastern half of the continent, from Nova Scotia and southern Quebec west to eastern North Dakota, and south to northern Georgia and eastern Oklahoma; there is also a disjunct population in Idaho, Oregon and Washington. It typically grows in rich woods. The common name Dutchman’s breeches derives from their white flowers that look like white breeches.

Description: It is a perennial herbaceous plant, reaching a height of 15-40 cm. The leaves are 10-36 cm long and 4-18 cm broad, with a petiole up to 15 cm long; they are trifoliate, with finely divided leaflets. The flowers appear during spring; they are white, 1-2 cm long, and are born on flower stalks 12-25 cm long. Both the leaf stalks and the flower stalks rise from an underground, scaly bulb.

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Dutchman’s breeches is one of many plants whose seeds are spread by ants, a process called myrmecochory. The seeds have a fleshy organ called an elaiosome that attracts ants. The ants take the seeds to their nest, where they eat the elaiosomes, and put the seeds in their nest debris, where they are protected until they germinate. They also get the added bonus of growing in a medium made richer by the ant nest debris.

This delicate spring flower is well know to those who visit the southern mountains in the early spring. It is sometimes found in abundance on a northern slope or shaded blank that has remained undisturbed for a very long time. It is very rare in the south except for the mountains and in bloom for a very short time.
Lore: Among some northern tribes it may have been used as a love charm or for seduction. Imagine a young man chewing the root and circling the intended female breathing out the fragrance in the belief that once she smells it she will follow him even against her will.(Erichsen-Brown)Flowering time: April to May

Medical Uses: Alterative; Diaphoretic; Diuretic; Poultice; Tonic; VD.

Alterative, tonic.

The dried tubers were used as a tonic and were recommended in the treatment of VD.

A tea made from the roots is diaphoretic and diuretic.

A poultice made from the leaves has been used in the treatment of skin ailments and as a muscle rub to make them more limber.

The plant contains an alkaloid that depresses the central nervous system – it is used in the treatment of paralysis and tremors.

Native Americans and early white practitioners considered this plant useful for several conditions including syphilis, skin conditions and as a blood purifier. There are several alkaloids that may have effects on the brain and heart. Warning: May be toxic and may cause contact dermatitis in some people.

Native Americans and early white practitioners considered this plant useful for syphilis, skin conditions and as a blood purifier. Dutchman’s breeches contains several alkaloids that may have effects on the brain and heart.

However, D. cucullaria may be toxic and may cause contact dermatitis in some people.The plant is potentially poisonous and can also cause skin rashes.

Similar Species: Squirrel Corn (Dicentra canadensis) has more rounded flowers. Turkey Corn or Wild Bleeding heart (Dicentra eximia) has pink rounded flowers.

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/Dicentra_cucullaria
http://2bnthewild.com/plants/H289.htm
http://www.ibiblio.org/pfaf/cgi-bin/arr_html?Dicentra+cucullaria