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Herbs & Plants

Osmunda claytoniana

 

Botanical Name :Osmunda claytoniana
Family: Osmundaceae
Genus: Osmunda
Section: Claytosmunda
Species: O. claytoniana
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pteridophyta
Class: Polypodiopsida /Pteridopsida (disputed)
Order: Osmundales

Synonyms: Osmunda interrupta.

Common Name : Interrupted Fern

Habitat : Osmunda claytoniana is native to E. Asia – China, Japan, Himalayas. Eastern N. America. It grows on wet places in C. Japan. Open slopes, rarely in forests, 2800 – 3300 metres in Kashmir.

In eastern North America it occurs in: the Great Lakes region; eastern Canada – in southern Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec (north to tree line); and east to Newfoundland; eastern United States – upper New England south through the Appalachian Mountains and Atlantic seaboard, into the Southeastern United States in Georgia and Alabama; and west across the Southern United States to Mississippi River, and back up the Mississippi embayment through the Midwestern United States to the Great Lakes.
Description:
Osmunda claytoniana is a fern. It’s fronds are bipinnate, 40–100 cm (16–39 in) tall and 20–30 cm (8–12 in) broad, the blade formed of alternate segments forming an arching blade tightening to a pointed end. The lower end is also slightly thinner than the rest of the frond because the first segments are shorter. Three to seven short, cinnamon-colored fertile segments are inserted in the middle of the length, giving the plant its name.

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In their absence, the plant in all its stages appears similar to Osmundastrum cinnamomeum (cinnamon fern). The base of the segments distinguishes the two species: where O. cinnamomeum has typical felt-like hairs, the few hairs present on O. claytoniana are extremely short, usually requiring a magnifying glass to see well.

Like other species in the family Osmundaceae, it grows a very large rhizome, with persistent stipe bases from previous years. It forms small, dense colonies, spreading locally through its rhizome, and often forming fairy rings
Cultivation:
Likes a soil of swamp mud and loamy or fibrous peat, sand and loam. Succeeds in most moist soils, preferring acid conditions. Requires a constant supply of water, doing well by ponds, streams etc. Plants thrive in full sun so long as there is no shortage of moisture in the soil and also in shady situations beneath shrubs etc. Requires a shady position. Plants are hardy to at least -20°c, they are evergreen in warm winter areas but deciduous elsewhere. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer. A very ornamental plant.

Propagation:
Spores – they very quickly lose their viability (within 3 days) and are best sown as soon as they are ripe on the surface of a humus-rich sterilized soil in a lightly shaded place in a greenhouse. Keep the compost moist, preferably by putting a plastic bag over the pot. Plants develop very rapidly, pot on small clumps of plantlets as soon as they are large enough to handle and keep humid until they are well established. Do not plant outside until the ferns are at least 2 years old. Cultivars usually come true to type. Division of the rootstock in the dormant season. This is a very strenuous exercise due to the mass of wiry roots.

Edible Uses:
The young fronds are eaten. Cooked as a vegetable. The centre of the clump, below ground level, is the source of a small edible pith called ‘fernbutter’

Unlike those of the ostrich fern, the interrupted fern’s fiddleheads are not readily edible, due to their bitter taste and a tendency to cause diarrhea. The base of the stipe and very young buds are edible. Overuse may kill the crown.
Medicinal Uses: The roots are used as an adulterant for Dryopteris felix-mas in the treatment of internal worms.Resources The Iroquois used the plant as treatment for blood disorders and venereal diseases.

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/Osmunda_claytoniana
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Osmunda+claytoniana

Categories
Herbs & Plants

Lungwort (Pulmonaria officinalis)

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Botanical Name:Pulmonaria officinal
Family:  Boraginaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Genus: Pulmonaria
Species: P. officinalis

Synonyms :  P. maculosa.

Common Names: Lungwort,  Common lungwort,  Our Lady’s milk drops,  Jerusalem Sage, Jerusalem Cowslip (The plant is so called  lungwort  because the spotted leaves resemble lung tissue.)

Habitat:Pulmonaria officinal isis native to locations throughout Europe and the Caucasus.Habitats range from mountains and sub-alpine woodland to the banks of streams .

Description:
Pulmonaria officinalis is an evergreen perennial species of lungwort. It is a rhizomatous plant in the Borage family. In spring, it produces small bunches of pink flowers which turn to blue-purple. The plant has been cultivated for centuries as a medicinal herb, the ovate spotted leaves held to be representative of diseased lungs, following the Doctrine of Signatures.
This attractive plant is prized as a groundcover both for its striking, white-spotted green foliage and it’s pretty, tubular flowers that are pink when they first open, then fade to shades of blue and purple. It grows to a height of only 9 inches. This is a great choice for shady spots in zones 3-9 except in Florida and along the Gulf Coast.

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This is a genus of about 18 species, from Europe and Asia, of deciduous or evergreen, low-growing perennials with spreading rhizomes.

Pulmonarias are grown for their early flowers and attractively spotted leaves. They are good ground cover for a shady area and can be grown in woodland, the front of a shrub border or in a wild garden.

The leaves are simple, basal, ovate to elliptic or oblong, hairy and often spotted with white or silver.

The few stem leaves are smaller and stalkless. The leaves that develop after flowering have the best markings.

Flowers are borne in terminal cymes and may be pink, red, violet, purple, blue or white. They are funnel-shaped, 5-10mm (0.25 – 0.5in) across with five petals.

The leaves are simple, basal, ovate to elliptic or oblong, hairy and often spotted with white or silver.

The few stem leaves are smaller and stalkless. The leaves that develop after flowering have the best markings.

Flowers are borne in terminal cymes and may be pink, red, violet, purple, blue or white. They are funnel-shaped, 5-10mm (0.25 – 0.5in) across with five petals.

Cultivation:
Lungwort is a perennial herb which is propagated by root division in autumn or seed sown directly in spring. When dividing clumps, keep them well watered to encourage good root development before winter sets in. Plants requires a shady and reasonably moist environment and the soil should be rich in organic matter. Give it a little extra water during hot spells. In winter, cut back the flowering stems and mulch well. Divide clumps three or four years after planting. The soil can be acid or alkaline.

Grow in humus-rich, fertile, moist but not waterlogged soil in full or partial shade.

Remove old leaves after flowering and divide every three to five years.

Powdery mildew may be a problem in dry conditions and slugs and snails may damage new growth.

Propagation:
Sow seed in containers outdoors as soon as ripe. However, plants raised from seed of garden specimens often do not come true.Divide plants in autumn or after flowering or take root cuttings in mid-winter.

Harvesting
Harvest the whole plant in the middle of summer during the flowering period.

Medicinal Uses
Pulmonaria comes from the Latin pulmo, the lung. According to the Doctrine of Signatures, the plant was considered to be an effective remedy for diseases of the lung because the spotted leaves were supposed to resemble diseased lungs. However, the common name in some East European languages is derived from the word for honey, probably as an indication of the attraction of the flowers to bees.

For medicinal purposes, make an infusion or tincture of leaves that have been gathered during the flowering period.

*Lungwort is traditionally used bronchial complaints. But  there is little evidence to support the effectiveness of this plant.

*It has astringent properties and can be used to cleanse the digestive system, for diarreha, and for cystitis.

*It’s often used to strengthen the utereus during pregnancy and to facilitate childbirth.

*It makes a soothing gargle for hoarseness or sore throat.

*It helps to stop bleeding after passing kidney stones.
Other Uses: A tolerant and slow growing ground cover plant for open woodland and border edges. Plants should be spaced about 50cm apart each way.

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.gardenguides.com/plants/info/herbs/lungwort.asp
http://www.piam.com/mms_garden/plants.html
http://www.rhs.org.uk/WhatsOn/Gardens/wisley/archive/wisleypom04apr.asp
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pulmonaria_officinalis

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Categories
Herbs & Plants

Dhundhul (Luffa cylindrical)

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Botanical Name : Luffa cylindrical
Family: Cucurbitaceae
Genus: Luffa
Species: L. aegyptiaca
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Cucurbitales
Indian Name :Dhundhul
Common Name :Lufa,
Egyptian cucumber,  Vietnamese luffa, Dishrag gourd, Rag gourd, Sponge gourd, and Vegetable-sponge. It is also called smooth luffa to distinguish it from the ridged luffa (Luffa acutangula)….In Bengali it is called Jhingha … CLICK & SEE
Habitat:Luffa plants are tropical in origin, believed to have originated in southern Asia.  They need a long hot growing season. Places like the US Gulf Coast are plenty hot.  Starting the plants indoors may be needed for cooler climates.

Description:
Ridged luffa is a tropical running annual vine with rounded leaves and yellow flowers. The plant is diecious, having both male and female flowers. The rather large male flowers are bright yellow and occur in clusters. The female flowers are solitary and have the tiny slender ovary attached. The leaves are covered with short hairs and the fruits are ribbed and cylindrical shaped. It has ten longitudinal angular ridges and a tapered neck. Ridged luffa is very similar to L. Cylindrica which lacks the ridge. The young fruit is used as a cooked vegetable; although some gardeners grow Chinese okra for the fibrows interior. The fibrows netting is an excellent sponge but there are also industrial applications such as waterfilters. In Suriname‘s traditional medicine, a tea of the leaves is used as a diuretic, while juice of the fruit is used against internal hemorrhage. The seeds have laxative properties. Propagation: By seeds.

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Loofah or Luffa, common name for a climbing plant of the cucumber family and for the vegetable sponge derived from the plant. There are six species of loofah plant, all of which are native to the Tropics and subtropics of Asia and Africa. The common name loofah and the scientific name Luffa are derived from the Arabic common name for this plant, lûfa. The most commonly used species, Luffa aegyptiaca, is an annual, monoecious vine (where male and female flowers appear on different parts of the plant), with deep yellow flowers. The female flowers are borne singly and the male flowers are in clusters.

The leaves are hairless, lobed, and triangular in outline. Tendrils arise from the stems near the leaves and the numerous branches are long and slender. The cylindrical or club-shaped fruit can be up to 30-40 cm (12-16 in) long and hangs down from the stems owing to its weight. The skin of the fruit is ridged and green, becoming straw-coloured at maturity. The small, brown or black seeds are wrinkled on the surface and look like watermelon seeds. They are released when the lid-like apex of the fruit breaks off. It is the dried and bleached vascular system of the mature fruit that is used as a sponge or dishcloth in many parts of the world. The young fruits of Luffa aegyptiaca and Luffa acutangula are also eaten as vegetables in some countries.

General Uses:
When mature,the fruits become a tough mass of cellulose fiber that makes a great scrubbing sponge.  These natural cellulose fiber sponge wonders of the vegetable world have many uses. They’ll make your skin squeaky clean or shine up your dirty dishes. Luffa are most excellent in the bath or shower.  The exfoliating action leaves your skin feeling the cleanest and tightest it could possibly be.  Scrubbing your back with a luffa sponge in the bath or shower is an incredibly pleasurable experience.  Home artisan craft soap makers include slices of luffa in their creations to add an extra cleaning boost to their soaps. Shredded or powdered luffa can be also be mixed into soap.

Luffa sponges are great for washing items like large pots and other containers like Tupperware®.  We use them for cleaning almost everything, including cars, boats, plastic buckets, and anything that needs scrubbed but can’t withstand steel wool.  Non stick cookware is one example.

A large loofa or a smaller piece on a handle or rope makes a great back scratcher.  They can be cut into many shapes for scrubbing pads, padding, and other craft uses.  Cut the sponges lengthwise and remove the core to make sheets of sponge material. These sheets of luffa material can be sewn into items like table hot pads, sandals, bath mats, hats, or anything else you can imagine.

Edible Uses:   The luffa flowers and fruits are soft and edible when young and are sometimes cooked and eaten like squash or okra. Loofah has been an important food source in many Asian cultures. The leaves and vines should not be eaten.  When crushed, they produce a bitter compound and smell that seems to repel insects and animals. It is similar to the bitterness sometimes found in cucumbers, a close plant relative also in the Cucurbitaceae family.  According to some sources a fellow named Wehmer identified a substance known as luffeine for the bitterness of Luffa acutangula, a related species grown commonly for food.

Small luffa fruits often are eaten but disclaim any legal responsibility for any bad reactions anyone might have from consuming luffa. Unknown allergy potential. Eat at your own risk. Some luffa varieties may produce fruits that are too bitter to eat. Peeling the skin off removes some of the bitterness. If it tastes bad, don’t eat it . Th  Edible luffa can be found sometimes in markets with Asian style vegetables. People  like them sliced in a stir fry or just sauteed in a little olive oil. Seasoning with a dash of soy sauce and cayenne pepper makes a tasty appetizer. The flowers have a crunchy green flavor similar to celery or cucumber. They make a colorful salad. The edible size fruits taste something like a cross between a zucchini and a cucumber.

Medicinal Uses:
Powdered luffa fibers have also been used as an ingredient in Chinese herbal medicine. Some compounds in the plant and seeds have been studied and used for medicinal properties.

Parts used :   Leaves, fruit.

In Chinese medicine, the inner skeleton of the dried fruit is used to treat pain in the muscles and joints, chest, and abdomen. It is prescribed for chest infections accompanied by fever and pain, and is used to clear congested mucus. Loofah is also given to treat painful or swollen breasts. Research indicates the fresh vine has a stronger expectorant effect than the dried fruit. Dried fruit fibers are used as abrasive sponges in skin care to remove dead skin and stimulate the peripheral circulation.

Folkloric:
· Decoction of leaves for amenorrhea.
· Poultice of leaves for hemorrhoids.
· Juice of fresh leaves for conjunctivitis.
· Juice of leaves also used externally for sores and various animal bites.
· Seed oil used for dermatitis.
· Infusion of seeds as purgative and emetic.
• In Russia, roots is used as a purge.
• In India, roots is used for dropsy and as laxative; leaf and fruit juice used to treat jaundice.
• In Java, leaf decoction used for uremia and amenorrhea.
• In Bangladesh, pounded leaves used for hemorrhoids, splenitis, leprosy. Juice of leaces used for conjunctivitis in children.
• In West Africa, leaf extract of ridged gourd applied to sores caused by guinea worms; leaf sap used as eyewash in conjunctivitis; fruits and seeds used in herbal preparations for treatment of venereal diseases.
In Mauritius, seeds eaten to expel intestinal worms; leaf juice applied to eczema.
• Seed used as insecticidal.
Others
· Fibrous nature of the mature fruit, devoid of pulp, is used as a bath brush or sponge.
• In China, has been used as a pesticide.
• Fibers sometimes used for making hats.

Studies
• Trypsin Inhibitors: Study isolated two trypsin inhibitors, LA-1 and LA-2, both consisting of 28-29 amino acid residues, respectively. Both strongly inhibit trypsin by forming enzyme-inhibitor complexes.
• Constituents: Study isolated seven oleanane-type triterpene saponins, acutosides A-G.
• Antioxidants : An antioxidant-guided assay yielded eight compounds. Results showed consumption of sponge gourds can supply some antioxidant constituents to the human body.

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://toptropicals.com/catalog/uid/luffa_acutangula.htm

Patola – Scientific name: Luffa acutangula Linn.


http://www.luffa.info/

http://www.stuartxchange.com/Patola.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luffa_aegyptiaca

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

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