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Herbs & Plants

Ulex europaeus

Botanical Name: Ulex europaeus
Family:Fabaceae
Subfamily:Faboideae
Genus:Ulex
Species:U. europaeus
Kingdom:    Plantae
Order:Fabales

Synonyms:  Furze. Broom. Whin. Prickly Broom. Ruffet. Frey. Goss.
Common Names: Gorse, Common gorse, Furze

Habitat: Ulex europaeus is  native to portions of Europe from the northern United Kingdom south to Galicia in Spain and Portugal, and from the western Republic of Ireland east to Galicja in Poland and Ukraine. There is probably hardly a heath in the country which lacks a patch, however small, of the dry-soil-loving Furze.

Description:
Ulex europaeus is a deciduous Shrub growing to 1.5 m (5ft) by 1.5 m (5ft) at a fast rate, growing to 2–3 metres (7–10 ft) tall. The young stems are green, with the shoots and leaves modified into green spines, 1–3 centimetres (0.39–1.18 in) long. Young seedlings produce normal leaves for the first few months; these are trifoliate, resembling a small clover leaf.

The flowers are yellow, 1–2 centimetres (0.39–0.79 in) long, with the pea-flower structure typical of the Fabaceae; they are produced throughout the year, but mainly in early spring. The fruit is a legume (pod) 2 centimetres (0.79 in) long, dark purplish-brown, partly enclosed by the pale brown remnants of the flower; the pod contains 2-3 small blackish, shiny, hard seeds, which are ejected when the pod splits open in hot weather. Seeds remain viable for 30 years.

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Like many species of gorse, it is often a fire-climax plant, which readily catches fire but re-grows from the roots after the fire; the seeds are also adapted to germinate after slight scorching by fire. It has a tap root, lateral and adventious roots. An extremely tough and hardy plant, it can live for about thirty years.

Cultivation:
An easily grown plant, it requires a poor soil and a sunny position to be at its best. It does well on dry sunny banks or in poor gravelly soils. It is intolerant of shade, nor does it do well on rich soils. Prefers a neutral to slightly acid soil, disliking alkaline soils. Plants are very intolerant of root disturbance. Very tolerant of maritime exposure and, once established, drought. Although native to Britain and said to be hardy to about -20°c, gorse often suffers badly in severe winters, but the plants usually recover. They often accumulate dry dead spines at their centre, this can be a fire risk in dry summers. The plants often resprout from the base after a fire and, even if killed, numerous seedlings will soon spring up to replace the dead plants. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus. The flowers are strongly scented of coconut. Another report says that the flowers have a smell of vanilla with undertones of orange or pineapple. It is one of the most refreshing of all flower scents. A food plant for the caterpillars of several lepidoptera species. Plants often form dense thickets and these are ideal nesting areas for many species of birds. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus. 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.

Propagation: 
Seed – pre-soak 24 hours in hot water and sow in individual pots in a greenhouse in late winter to early spring. Germination should take place within 2 weeks. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Plants are very intolerant of root disturbance and so should be planted into their permanent positions as soon as possible, though not until after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 7cm with a heel, July/August in a frame. Pot up in spring as soon as rooting commences and plant out into their permanent positions as soon as possible

Edible Uses: The flower buds are pickled in vinegar and then used like capers in salads. A tea is made from the shoot tips

Parts Used:  Flowers, seed.

Medicinal Uses:
Gorse has never played much of a role in herbal medicine, though its flowers have been used in the treatment of jaundice and as a treatment for scarlet fever in children. The seed is said to be astringent and has been used in the treatment of diarrhoea and stones. The plant is used in Bach flower remedies – the keywords for prescribing it are ‘Hopelessness’ and ‘Despair’

Other Uses:
Bruised gorse was used in some areas for feeding to horses and other livestocks.

Lectin extracted from seeds of this species binds to, is remarkably specific for, and is the standard method for identification of H-substance (absent in the hh antigen system) on human red blood cells. The vast majority of humans express H-substance, which is the basis for the ABO blood group system, but a few rare individuals (“Bombay phenotype“) do not—and a chemical isolated from Ulex europaeus is used to identify these individuals.
It fixes nitrogen into the soil.

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/Ulex_europaeus
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/g/gorgol31.html
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Ulex+europaeus

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Herbs & Plants

Ononis arvensis

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Botanical Name : Ononis arvensis
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Faboideae
Tribe:     Trifolieae
Genus:     Ononis
Kingdom: Plantae
Order:     Fabales

Synonyms: Wild Liquorice. Cammock. Stinking Tommy. Ground Furze. Land Whin.

Common Names :  Field Restharrow, Rest-harrow

Habitat : Ononis arvensis is native to    Western Europe in Britain, France and Belgium.It grows on dry grassland on calcareous soils near shore-side meadows, waste ground.

Description:
Ononis arvensis is a Perennial herb, growing to 0.6 m (2ft) by 1 m (3ft 3in). Rootstock short, taproot strong. Stem with long and sticky hairs, also with glandular hairs, smells unpleasant.

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Flower: Corolla zygomorphic, light red, 15–20 mm (0.6–0.8 in.) long, fused at base. Petals 5; the upstanding the ‘standard’, the lateral two the ‘wings’, the lower two united to form the ‘keel’, overall shape of corolla being butterfly-like. Keel white. Calyx 5-lobed, lobes long. Stamens 10. A single carpel. Inflorescence a lax, leafy terminal raceme or flowers axillary in pairs.

Leaves: Alternate, stalked, stipulate. Blade with 3 leaflets, sometimes with 1 leaflet; leaflets elliptic–quite round, with serrated margin, terminal leaflet stalked. Stipules large, united with stalks.

Flowering time: July–August.The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.
Fruit: The seeds ripen from Aug to October.Opening, same length as calyx, 6–9 mm (0.24–0.36 in.) long, 1–3-seeded pod (legume).
It is hardy to zone 6.

Edible Uses:
Eadle part is root – eaten  raw or cooked. A liquorice substitute. Soaked in cold water it makes a refreshing cold drink. The young shoots were at one time much used as a vegetable, being boiled, pickled or eaten in salads

Medicinal Uses:
The whole herb has been used in the treatment of bladder stones and to subdue delirium.

Other Uses:
It is noted for attracting wildlife.

It is a favourite food of the donkey, from which the generic name is derived, onos being the Greek word for an ass.

A tradition exists that this was the plant from which the crown of thorns was plaited for the Crucifixion.

The plant is obnoxious to snakes.

It can fix Nitrogen.

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/Ononis
http://www.luontoportti.com/suomi/en/kukkakasvit/restharrow
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Ononis+repens
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/r/restha11.html

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Herbs & Plants

Ononis spinosa

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Botanical Name : Ononis spinosa
Family: Fabaceae
Genus: Ononis
Species: O. spinosa
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Fabales

Common Name :Spiny restharrow or just Restharrow

Other Names; Finweed, Ground Furze, Harrow Rest, Horse’s Breath, Lady-whin, Wild Liquorice,  Rassels,  Whin, Cat Whin.

Habitat :Ononis spinosa is native to the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere.It is found throughout much of Europe but seldom as far north as Scotland. It can usually be found on rough and scrubby pastures, on hillsides and sandy shores.

Description:
Ononis spinosa is a perennial subshrub (usually lower than 1 meter). It has spiny, prostrate stems and tough roots. Leaves are lance-shaped, coarsely toothed. Flowers appear in June, July and August. Solitary or paired flowers are borne in axils. They are either stalkless or on small, short stalks.  Flowers are pink, purple or white in color, being similar to Lotus flower.

You may click to see the pictures of Ononis spinosa

Chemical Constituents: Onocerin, sitosterol, isoflavones, ononin, essential oil

Medicinal use: The plant is considered to be antitussive, diuretic, laxative and lithontripic. Traditionally Rest Harrow had been used in treatment of skin ulcers. A decoction made from the leaves and stem is used in treatment of various skin conditions, and also as a revitalizing skin toner. An infusion made from the root is used in treatment of dropsy, kidney and bladder inflammations. Rest Harrow root is beneficial in treatment of urinary tract infections, gout, joint and muscle pain.
Safety: Rest Harrow shouldn’t be used during pregnancy and breastfeeding, and in cases of fluid retention and edema. Some herbs could react with certain medication. Therefore it is advisable to contact your doctor/herbalist before consumption of any herb.

For excess fluid retention, Ononis spinosa is best taken as a short-term treatment, in the form of an infusion.  The root contains a fixed oil that is anti-diuretic and an essential oil that is diuretic. If the diuretic action is required then the root should be infused and not decocted or the essential oil will be evaporated. It is also of value in treating gout and cystitis.  An infusion is used in the treatment of dropsy, inflammation of the bladder and kidneys, rheumatism and chronic skin disorders.  A cough mixture is made from

Safety Features:: Ononis spinosa shouldn’t be used during pregnancy and breastfeeding, and in cases of fluid retention and edema. Some herbs could react with certain medication. Therefore it is advisable to contact your doctor/herbalist before consumption of any herb

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/Ononis_spinosa
http://health-from-nature.net/Rest_Harrow.html
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_RST.htm