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Herbs & Plants

Yucca filamentosa

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Botanical Name : Yucca filamentosa

Family: Asparagaceae

Subfamily: Agavoideae

Genus: Yucca

Species: Y. filamentosa

Kingdom: Plantae

clade: Angiosperms

clade: Monocots

Order: Asparagales

Common Names : Adam’s needle, bear grass, weak-leaf yucca

Habitat : Yucca filamentosa is native to the southeastern United States, as far west as Louisiana and as far north as Virginia. However, it is widely cultivated and can be found naturalized outside its native range.

Description:

Usually trunkless, Yucca filamentosa is a multisuckering plant with heads of 30 inch (75 cm) long, filamentous, blue green strappy leaves. The plant is fully hardy. Yucca filamentosa is readily identified from other Yucca species by white threads (filaments) on the leaf margins (as seen in the image).

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Flower stems up to 10 ft (3 m) tall bear masses of pendulous cream flowers in early summer.

Leaf: Evergreen, stiff and sword-like to slightly flexible and strap-like, up to 2 1/2 feet long and 1 to 3 inches wide, parallel veins, the leaf margins of younger leaves bearing fibrous white strands or filaments.

Flower: Very attractive, creamy white, bell-shaped, 6-petaled, approximately 2 1/2 inch-wide, borne on a 3-6 foot tall upright woody inflorescence. Flowers appearing once between June and August.

Fruit: Capsules borne upright on the woody inflorescence, approximately 2 inches long, initially green and drying to

Form: Dense, mounded clumps of leaves that reach 4 feet in height, but with upright inflorescences much taller.

Hardiness: USDA Zones 5-10

Y. filamentosa is closely related to Yucca flaccida and it is possible they should in fact be classified as a single species.

Propagation: By seed, root cuttings and offshoots. When one digs up a yucca to transplant, about a year later one may  often find the site ringed with baby yuccas growing from pieces of root left behind!

Medicinal Uses:

Yucca filamentosa is used for arthritis, rheumatism, gout, urethritis and prostates.  At one time it was considered an important source of phytosterols and used in the manufacturing of steroidal hormones.  Y glauca has been shown to have some activity against one strain of melanoma.  The amino acids in  Yucca filamentosa leaves have been shown to inhibit viruses, namely herpes simplex viruses 1 and 2, and cytomegalovirus.  One possible biochemical mechanism responsible for  Yucca filamentosa’s anti-inflammatory benefits lies in the plant’s steroidal saponins interacting with steroid receptors in the body, altering prostaglandin synthesis. Another possibility is that these chemicals may induce the production of anti-inflammatory steroidal compounds in the human body.

Other Uses:

Yucca filamentosa sometimes used as fish toxins or fish stupifying plants that have historically been used by many hunter gatherer cultures to stun fish, so that the fish become easy to collect by hand. Some of these toxins paralyse fish, others work by reducing oxygen content in water. The process of documenting many fish toxins and their use is ongoing, with interest in potential uses from medicine, agriculture, and industry.

Yucca filamentosas are useful garden perennials because they bloom at night (nyctinasty). The creamy-white flowers fill with sap and lift petals to the darkening sky then release a sweet odor (which reminds some viewers as smelling of a toilet soap) that attracts the very small pollinator, the yucca moth.

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://dendro.cnre.vt.edu/dendrology/syllabus2/factsheet.cfm?ID=822

http://www.floridata.com/ref/y/yucc_fil.cfm

http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_UZ.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yucca_filamentosa

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Categories
Herbs & Plants

Catsear

 


Image via Wikipedia

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Botanical Name:Hypochaeris radicata
Family: Asteraceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Asterales
Tribe: Cichorieae
Genus: Hypochaeris
Species: H. radicata
Other Names:cat’s ear, false dandelion,long-rooted cat’s-ear, long-rooted hypochoere, spotted cat’s-ear

Etymology and differences from dandelions:
Catsear is derived from the words cat’s ear, and refers to the shape and fine-hair on the leaves resembling that of the ear of a cat.

The plant is also known as false dandelion, as it is commonly mistaken for true dandelions. Both plants carry similar flowers which form into windborne seeds. However, catsear flowering stems are forked and solid, whereas dandelions possess unforked stems that are hollow. Both plants have a rosette of leaves and a central taproot. The leaves of dandelions are jagged in appearance, whereas those of catsear are more lobe-shaped and hairy. Both plants have similar uses.

Habitat:The plant is native to Europe, but has also been introduced to the Americas, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.Found in the eastern United States as far north as New Jersey and as far west as Mississippi.

Description:
It is a perennial, low-lying edible herb often found in lawns.The leaves, which may grow up to eight inches, are lobed and covered in fine hairs, forming a low-lying rosette around a central taproot.Cat’s ear dandelion is similar to common dandelion. It has a basal rosette of densely hairy leaves with rounded lobes. This rosette arises from a prominent taproot. If broken, the leaves and flower stalks will emit a milky white sap. Most striking are the bright yellow flowers that are borne on the ends of long stems. Common dandelion plants can be distinguished because young leaves do not have hairs, whereas cat’s ear dandelion leaves have dense hairs. In addition, the leaves of common dandelion are more deeply notched than those of cat’s ear dandelion. On common dandelion, the leaf notches extend almost to the midrib of each leaf.

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When mature these form seeds attached to windborne “parachutes”. All parts of the plant exude a milky sap when cut.Typical stems do not occur, however leafless flower stalks (scapes) are present with 2 to 7 flowers on each stalk. Flower stalks also emit a milky sap when broken.

Hypochaeris species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including The Shark.

Culinary uses:
All parts of the catsear plant are edible; however, the leaves and roots are those most often harvested. The leaves are bland in taste but can be eaten raw in salads, steamed, or in stir-fries. Older leaves can become tough and fibrous, but younger leaves make for good eating. Some bitterness in the leaves may be apparent but is rare.

The root can be roasted and ground to form a coffee substitute.

Medicinal Uses:

Catsear is rich in nutrients and antioxidants – hence its popularity in recipes around the world – and this also means it has long been used for medicinal purposes. Uses include acting as a diuretic for kidney problems, and treating urinary infections, gallstones, rheumatism, constipation and liver infections.

Toxicity:
Catsear is considered a noxious weed for livestock and horses. Ingestion of large amounts of catsear can cause a neurological disorder in horses called stringhalt. Stringhalt causes involuntary twitching in the rear legs of the animal and other problems. The symptoms of catsear exposure may clear out of the system in a few years once grazing on the plant has been eliminated from the horse’s diet.

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/Catsear
http://ipm.ppws.vt.edu/scott/weed_id/hryra.htm
http://www.turffiles.ncsu.edu/Weeds/Dandelion_Cats_Ear.aspx

.http://www.meadowmat.com/wildflower-species/catsear

 

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Categories
Herbs & Plants

Wolf’s bane (Indian aconite)

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Botanical Name: Aconitum ferox Wall
Family: Ranunculaceae
Genus: Aconitum
Species:A. ferox
Kingdom:Plantae
Order: Ranunculales

Syn: Aconitum virosum Don., A. napellus var. rigidum Hook, f & T.

English names: Wolf’s bane, Indian aconite.

Sanskrit names: Vatsanabha, Visa.

Vernacular names: Hin: Bish, Mahoor; Guj and Mar: Vachang; Kas: Mohra; Tam: Vasnumbi; Tel: Vasnabhi.

Trade name: Bish.

Habitat : Wolf’s bane  is  abundant at Sandakphu, which is the highest point of the Darjeeling Hills in the Indian State of West Bengal.
Alpine Himalaya including Nepal; endemic.

Descriptions: 

Wolf’s bane is  a deciduous perennial plant  . It is an erect herb growing up to 2 m in height; roots look like the navel of children; leaves alternate, simple, rounded or oval, may be palmately 5-lobed; flowers borne on branched racemes, bracts and bracteoles present, large helmet-type, helmet vaulted with short sharp beak, pale dirty blue in colour, zygomorphic, floral parts arranged spirally on an elongated receptacle; follicles erect, usually densely villose-sometimes glabrous.

Phenology: Flowering and Fruiting: July-November.
Ecology and cultivation: Temperate to alpine regions of the Himalaya in the altitude of 3300-5000 m…..CLICK & SEE

Cultivation:-
Thrives in most soils and in the light shade of trees[1]. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Prefers a moist soil in sun or semi-shade. Prefers a calcareous soil. Grows well in open woodlands. If the flower stems are removed after flowering the plant will normally flower again later in the season. Members of this genus seem to be immune to the predations of rabbits and deer. A greedy plant, inhibiting the growth of nearby species, especially legumes. A polymorphic species. The nomenclature is very confused for this species, A. lycoctonum. L. is treated as A. septentrionale by many botanists whilst A. lycoctonum. Auct. is A. vulparia.

Propagation:-
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. The seed can be stratified and sown in spring but will then be slow to germinate. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a cold frame for their first winter. Plant them out in late spring or early summer. Division – best done in spring but it can also be done in autumn. Another report says that division is best carried out in the autumn or late winter because the plants come into growth very early in the year

Chemical contents: Root: pseudoaconitine (a toxic alkaloid), indactonitine, chasmaconitine, bikhaconitine.
Medicinal Actions &  Uses:

Alterative; Anaesthetic; Antiarthritic; Antitussive; Deobstruent; Diaphoretic; Diuretic; Sedative; Stimulant.

The root is alterative, anaesthetic, antiarthritic, antitussive, deobstruent, diaphoretic, diuretic, sedative and stimulant. This is a very poisonous plant and should only be used with extreme caution and under the supervision of a qualified practitioner

Traditional use: AYURVEDA : Root: used in the mrityunjaya rasa (used to treat the fever supposed to be caused by deranged vayu, i.e., wind, sannipatika jvara, i.e., remittent fever, hingulesware-rasa, anandabhairav agnitundi vati, etc.

Vatsanabha has been used in medicine from a very remote period. It is regarded as healing and stimulant. It is used in a great variety of affections, but is specially recommended in fever, cephalagia, affections of throat, dyspepsia and rheumatism. HOMOEOPATHY: remedy for clotting of blood in heart or in lungs, pneumonia, Iymptisis, pleurisy, eye trouble, earache, toothache and urinary trouble.

Modern use: Extremely poisonous; used in leprosy, fever, cholera, nasal catarrah, tonsillitis, sore throat, gastric disorders, debility, etc., also used as a sedative and diaphoretic; applied in the form of paste in cases of neuralgia and rheumatism.

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Adulterants: Indian aconite root is known as ‘bikh’ or ‘bish’, the name which is applied to aconite from more than one species, and different authors have ascribed it to different species.

Remarks: Vulnerable due to excessive collection for medicinal uses. Collection in wild state should be banned and measures for cultivation should be initiated.

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

Reources:

http://www.bsienvis.org/medi.htm#Aconitum%20ferox

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aconitum_ferox

http://www.pfaf.org/database/plants.php?Aconitum+lycoctonum

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