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Herbs & Plants

Prunus persica

Botanical Name: Prunus persica
Family: Rosaceae
Genus: Prunus
Subgenus: Amygdalus
Species: P. persica
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Rosales

Synonyms: Amygdalis Persica (Linn.). Persica vulgaris Null.
(Chinese and Japanese) ‘Too’.

Common Name: Peach,Nectarine

Habitat: Prunus persica is native to Northwest China, in the region between the Tarim Basin and the north slopes of the Kunlun Shan mountains, where it was first domesticated and cultivated.

Description:
Prunus persica is a decidous tree. It grows to 4–10 m (13–33 ft) tall and 6 in. in diameter. The leaves are lanceolate, 7–16 cm (2.8–6.3 in) long, 2–3 cm (0.79–1.18 in) broad, pinnately veined. The flowers are produced in early spring before the leaves; they are solitary or paired, 2.5–3 cm diameter, pink, with five petals. The fruit has yellow or whitish flesh, a delicate aroma, and a skin that is either velvety (peaches) or smooth (nectarines) in different cultivars. The flesh is very delicate and easily bruised in some cultivars, but is fairly firm in some commercial varieties, especially when green. The single, large seed is red-brown, oval shaped, approximately 1.3–2 cm long, and is surrounded by a wood-like husk. Peaches, along with cherries, plums and apricots, are stone fruits (drupes). There are various heirloom varieties, including the Indian peach, which arrives in the latter part of the summer…….CLICK  &  SEE  THE  PICTURES

Cultivated peaches are divided into clingstones and freestones, depending on whether the flesh sticks to the stone or not; both can have either white or yellow flesh. Peaches with white flesh typically are very sweet with little acidity, while yellow-fleshed peaches typically have an acidic tang coupled with sweetness, though this also varies greatly. Both colours often have some red on their skin. Low-acid white-fleshed peaches are the most popular kinds in China, Japan, and neighbouring Asian countries, while Europeans and North Americans have historically favoured the acidic, yellow-fleshed kinds
Parts Used: Bark, leaves.

Cultivation:
The soil best suited for the Peach is three parts mellow, unexhausted loam, mixed with vegetable mould or manure. Peaches require a lighter soil than pears or plums.

To perpetuate and multiply the choicer varieties, both the Peach and the newly-allied nectarine are budded upon plums or almond stocks. For dry soil, the almond stocks are preferable; for damp or clayey loam, it is better to use certain kinds of plums.

The fruit is produced on the ripened shoots of the preceding year, and the formation of young shoots in sufficient abundance, and of requisite strength, is the great object of peach training and pruning.

In cold soils and bleak situations, it is considered best to cover the walls upon which the trees are trained with a casing of glass, so that the trees may be under shelter during uncongenial spring weather.

Various kinds of Aphis and the Acarus, or Red Spider, infest the leaves of the Peach.

Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Flowers; Fruit; Oil; Oil; Seed.
Edible Uses: Gum; Oil; Oil; Tea.

Fruit – raw, cooked or dried for later use. The fruit is often used in ice creams, pies, jams etc. When fully ripe, the fruits of the best forms are soft and juicy with a rich delicious flavour. The size of fruit varies between cultivars but can be up to 7cm in diameter and contains one large seed. Flowers – raw or cooked. Added to salads or used as a garnish. They can also be brewed into a tea. The distilled flowers yield a white liquid which can be used to impart a flavour resembling the seed. Seed – raw or cooked. Do not eat if it is too bitter, seed can contain high concentrations of hydrocyanic acid which is highly toxic. A semi-drying oil is obtained from the seed. Although the report does not mention edibility it can be assumed that it is edible. A gum is obtained from the stem. It can be used for chewing.

Medicinal Uses:
Alterative; Antiasthmatic; Antitussive; Astringent; Demulcent; Diuretic; Emollient; Expectorant; Febrifuge; Haemolytic; Laxative;
Sedative.

Antihalitosis. The leaves are astringent, demulcent, diuretic, expectorant, febrifuge, laxative, parasiticide and mildly sedative. They are used internally in the treatment of gastritis, whooping cough, coughs and bronchitis. They also help to relieve vomiting and morning sickness during pregnancy, though the dose must be carefully monitored because of their diuretic action. The dried and powdered leaves have sometimes been used to help heal sores and wounds. The leaves are harvested in June and July then dried for later use. The flowers are diuretic, sedative and vermifuge. They are used internally in the treatment of constipation and oedema. A gum from the stems is alterative, astringent, demulcent and sedative. The seed is antiasthmatic, antitussive, emollient, haemolytic, laxative and sedative. It is used internally in the treatment of constipation in the elderly, coughs, asthma and menstrual disorders. The bark is demulcent, diuretic, expectorant and sedative. It is used internally in the treatment of gastritis, whooping cough, coughs and bronchitis. The root bark is used in the treatment of dropsy and jaundice. The bark is harvested from young trees in the spring and is dried for later use. The seed contains ‘laetrile’, a substance that has also been called vitamin B17. This has been claimed to have a positive effect in the treatment of cancer, but there does not at present seem to be much evidence to support this. The pure substance is almost harmless, but on hydrolysis it yields hydrocyanic acid, a very rapidly acting poison – it should thus be treated with caution. In small amounts this exceedingly poisonous compound stimulates respiration, improves digestion and gives a sense of well-being.

Other Uses
Adhesive; Cleanser; Dye; Gum; Oil; Oil.

A green dye can be obtained from the leaves. A dark grey to green dye can be obtained from the fruit. A semi-drying oil is obtained from the seed. It is used as a substitute for almond oil in skin creams. The bruised leaves, when rubbed within any container, will remove strong odours such as garlic or cloves so long as any grease has first been fully cleaned off. A gum obtained from the stem is used as an adhesive.

Cultural Significance:
Peaches are not only a popular fruit, but are symbolic in many cultural traditions, such as in art, paintings and folk tales such as Peaches of Immortality.

Peach blossoms are highly prized in Chinese culture. The ancient Chinese believed the peach to possess more vitality than any other tree because their blossoms appear before leaves sprout.

The Chinese also considered peach wood (t’ao-fu) protective against evil spirits, who held the peach in awe. In ancient China, peach-wood bows were used to shoot arrows in every direction in an effort to dispel evil. Peach-wood slips or carved pits served as amulets to protect a person’s life, safety, and health.

Aroma: Some 110 chemical compounds contribute to peach aroma, including alcohols, ketones, aldehydes, esters, polyphenols and terpenoids.

Known Hazards:
The seed can contain high levels of hydrogen cyanide, a poison that gives almonds their characteristic flavour. This toxin is readily detected by its bitter taste. Usually present in too small a quantity to do any harm, 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 supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peach
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/p/peach-17.html
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Prunus+persica+nucipersica

Categories
Herbs & Plants

Black Haw (Viburnum prunifolum )

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Botanical Name :Viburnum prunifolum
Family: Adoxaceae/CAPRIFOLIACEAE Honeysuckle
Genus: Viburnum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Dipsacales
Species: V. prunifolium

Common Names
Black Haw , Stagbush, sweet viburnum, guelder-rose, water elder, arrowwood

Habotat :Native to southeastern North America, from Connecticut west to eastern Kansas, and south to Alabama and Texas.

Description:
It is a deciduous shrub or small tree growing to 2–9 m tall with a short crooked trunk and stout spreading branches; in the northern parts of its range, it is a shrub, becoming a small tree in the southern parts of its range. The bark is reddish-brown, very rough on old stems. The branchlets are red at first, then green, finally dark brown tinged with red. The winter buds are coated with rusty tomentum. The flower buds ovate, 1 cm long, much larger than the axillary buds. The leaves are simple, up to 9 cm long and 6 cm broad, oval, ovate or orbicular, wedge-shaped or rounded at base, serrate, acute, with serrated edges with a grooved and slightly winged red petiole 1.5 cm long; they turn red in fall. The leaves are superficially similar to some species of Prunus (thus “prunifolium”); they come out of the bud involute, shining, green, tinged with red, sometimes smooth, or clothed with rusty tomentum; when full grown dark green and smooth above, pale, smooth or tomentose beneath.
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The flowers are creamy white, 9 mm diameter; the calyx is urn-shaped, five-toothed, persistent; the corolla is five-lobed, with rounded lobes, imbricate in bud; the five stamens alternate with the corolla lobes, the filaments slender, the anthers pale yellow, oblong, two-celled, the cells opening longitudinally; the ovary is inferior, one-celled, with a thick, pale green style and a flat stigma and a single ovule. The flowers are borne in flat-topped cymes 10 cm in diameter in mid to late spring. The fruit is a drupe 1 cm long, dark blue-black with glaucous bloom, hangs until winter, becomes edible after being frosted, then eaten by birds; the stone is flat and even, broadly oval. Wherever it lives, black haw prefers sunny woodland with well-drained soil and adequate water.

Uses :
It has both value in the pleasure garden, providing good fall color and early winter provender for birds, and medicinal properties.

It has hybridized with Viburnum lentago in cultivation, to give the garden hybrid Viburnum × jackii.

The wood is brown tinged with red; heavy, hard, close-grained with a density of 0.8332.

Benefits:

•Flowers provide nectar for butterflies and other pollinators
•Plants provide excellent nesting sites and cover for birds
•Red-purple foliage contrasts with blue-black fruit in the fall
•Berries are a great source of food for birds and other wildlife in fall
•Grows well in dry soil

Cultivation:
*Easy to grow in full sun or part shade.
*Plant in well-drained, dry to average soil. Tolerates drought.
*Prune immediately after flowering since flower buds form in summer for the following year.
*Can be grown as a large, multi-stemmed shrub or small tree.

Medicinal uses:
For centuries, black haw has been used for medical purposes, mainly for gynecological conditions. The bark is the part of the plant used in treatments.

The active components include scopoletin, aesculetin, salicin, 1-methyl-2,3 clibutyl hemimellitate, and viburnin. Tannin is another chemical component of black haw.

Native Americans used a decoction of black haw to treat gynecological conditions, including menstrual cramps, aiding recovery after childbirth, and in treating the effects of menopause. As a folk remedy, black haw has been used to treat menstrual pain, and morning sickness. Due to its antispasmodic properties, the plant may also be of use in treating cramps of the digestive tract or the bile ducts.

Black haw’s primary use was to prevent miscarriages. American slaveholders also used the plant to prevent abortions. Slaves were a valuable asset, and their owner also owned their offspring, so ensuring that female slaves gave birth was of paramount importance. In defiance, some slave women would attempt to use cotton seeds to cause a miscarriage. The slaveowners would therefore force pregnant slaves to drink an infusion of black haw to prevent that.

The primary use of black haw today is to prevent menstrual cramps. The salicin in black haw may also be of use in pain relief.

Black haw Viburnum prunifolum and cramp bark V. opulus act in similar ways and both have a long history of use by Native and pioneer women to prevent threaten miscarriage, relieve uterine cramps, and painful periods. Black haw is a stronger uterine relaxant than cramp bark, and large or frequent doses may lower blood pressure. The herb is also included in herbal mixtures for treating asthma. These tradition uses are born out with modern chemical analysis, both viburnums contain phytochemicals that facilitate uterine relaxation, two of which (aesculetin and scopoletin) also work against muscle spasms, and the pain-relieving salicin in the herb is also closely related to aspirin.

Side Effects:

Some evidence suggests black haw may aggrevate tinnitus. Not recommend for use for those with kidney stones

Safety issues
Like many other plants, including many food plants and those used as culinary herbs, black haw contains salicin, a chemical relative of aspirin. Those who are allergic to that substance should not use black haw. In addition, due to the connection between aspirin and Reye’s syndrome, young people or people afflicted with a viral disease should not use black haw.

The chemicals in black haw do relax the uterus and therefore probably prevent miscarriage; however, the salicin may be teratogenic. Consequently, pregnant women should not use black haw in the first two trimesters.Furthermore, anyone using herbs for medical reasons should only use them under the supervision of a qualified medical professional.

Black haw is not on the “generally recognized as safe list” of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

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.anniesremedy.com/herb_detail71.php
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viburnum_prunifolium
http://www.abnativeplants.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/plants.plantdetail/plant_ID/20/index.htm
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=VIPR&photoID=vipr_006_avp.jpg

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Herbs & Plants

Spice Bush (Lindera benzoin)

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Botanical Name :Lindera benzoin

Family: Lauraceae
Genus : Lindera
Synonyms: Benzoin aestivale – Nees.,  Laurus benzoin – L.
Other Names :Wild Allspice, Spicebush, Common Spicebush, Northern Spicebush or Benjamin Bush
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Laurales
Species: L. benzoin

Habitat :Native to eastern North America, ranging from Maine to Ontario in the north, and to Kansas, Texas and northern Florida in the south. Eastern N. America – Maine and Ontario to Kentucky, Missouri and Kansas.Wet woods and by streams on sandy or peaty soils. Stream banks, low woods, margins of wetlands; uplands, especially with exposed limestone, from sea level to 1200 metres

Description:
Spicebush is a medium-sized deciduous shrub growing to 5 m tall, typically found only in the understory of moist thickets. The leaves are alternate, simple, 6–15 cm long and 2–6 cm broad, oval or obovate and broadest beyond the middle of the leaf. They are very aromatic when crushed, hence the common names and the specific epithet “benzoin.” The flowers grow in showy yellow clusters that appear in early spring, before the leaves begin to grow. The fruit is a berrylike red drupe about 1 cm long and is highly prized by birds. It has a peppery taste and scent, and contains a large seed.

CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

It is hardy to zone 5. It is in flower in April, and the seeds ripen from August to September. The flowers are dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required)The plant is not self-fertile.
The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. The plant prefers acid and neutral soils and can grow in very acid soil. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland). It requires moist soil.

Edible Uses
Edible Uses: Condiment; Tea.

The young leaves, twigs and fruit contain an aromatic essential oil and make a very fragrant tea. The twigs are best gathered when in flower as the nectar adds considerably to the flavour. The dried and powdered fruit is used as a substitute for the spice ‘allspice’. The fruit is about the size of an olive. The leaves can also be used as a spice substitute. The new bark is pleasant to chew.

Medicinal Actions & Uses

Aromatic; Astringent; Diaphoretic; Febrifuge; Stimulant; Tonic.

Spice bush has a wide range of uses as a household remedy, especially in the treatment of colds, dysentery and intestinal parasites. It warrants scientific investigation. The bark is aromatic, astringent, diaphoretic, febrifuge, stimulant and tonic. It is pleasant to chew. It is used in the treatment of coughs and colds. The bark can be harvested at any time of the year and is used fresh or dried. The fruits are carminative. The oil from the fruits has been used in the treatment of bruises and rheumatism. A tea made from the twigs was a household remedy for colds, fevers, worms and colic. A steam bath of the twigs is used to cause perspiration in order to ease aches and pains in the body. The young shoots are harvested during the spring and can be used fresh or dried. The bark is diaphoretic and vermifuge. It was once widely used as a treatment for typhoid fevers and other forms of fevers.

Other Uses
Disinfectant; Repellent.

The leaves contain small quantities of camphor and can be used as an insect repellent and disinfectant. An oil with a lavender-like fragrance is obtained from the leaves. The fruit, upon distillation, yield a spice-scented oil resembling camphor. An oil smelling of wintergreen is obtained from the twigs and bark.

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/Lindera_benzoin

http://www.pfaf.org/database/plants.php?Lindera+benzoin

http://www.mobot.org/gardeninghelp/PlantFinder/Plant.asp?code=D890

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