Tag Archives: Gynoecium

Cercis canadensis

Botanical Name :Cercis canadensis
Family: Fabaceae
Genus: Cercis
Species: C. canadensis
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Fabales

Common Name : Redbud or Eastern redbud

Habitat : Cercis canadensis is native to eastern North America from Southern Ontario, Canada south to northern Florida.

Description:
Cercis canadensis typically grows to 6–9 m (20–30 ft) tall with a 8–10 m (26–33 ft) spread. It generally has a short, often twisted trunk and spreading branches. A 10-year-old tree will generally be around 5 m (16 ft) tall. The bark is dark in color, smooth, later scaly with ridges somewhat apparent, sometimes with maroon patches. The twigs are slender and zigzag, nearly black in color, spotted with lighter lenticels. The winter buds are tiny, rounded and dark red to chestnut in color. The leaves are alternate, simple, heart shaped with an entire margin, 7–12 cm (3-5 inches) long and wide, thin and papery, and may be slightly hairy below.

The flowers are showy, light to dark magenta pink in color, 1.5 cm (½ inch) long, appearing in clusters from Spring to early Summer, on bare stems before the leaves, sometimes on the trunk itself. The flowers are pollinated by long-tongued bees such as blueberry bees and carpenter bees. Short-tongued bees apparently cannot reach the nectaries. The fruit are flattened, dry, brown, pea-like pods, 5–10 cm (2-4 inches) long that contain flat, elliptical, brown seeds 6 mm (¼ inch) long, maturing in August to October.

In some parts of southern Appalachia, green twigs from the eastern redbud are used as seasoning for wild game such as venison and opossum. Because of this, in these mountain areas the eastern redbud is sometimes known as the spicewood tree.

In the wild, eastern redbud is a frequent native understory tree in mixed forests and hedgerows. It is also much planted as a landscape ornamental plant. The leaves are eaten by the caterpillars of some Lepidoptera, for example the Io moth (Automeris io).

A small tree with a sturdy upright trunk which divides into stout branches that usually spread to form a broad flat head. Found on rich bottom lands throughout the Mississippi River valley; will grow in the shade and often becomes a dense undergrowth in the forest. Very abundant in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and eastern Texas. Hardy far north; grows rapidly; is a satisfactory ornamental tree. Many trees are sterile and produce no fruit. It is also known as the Judas tree.

This tree is difficult to grow as far west as western Kansas and Colorado, as there is not sufficient water. Its far northern range of growth is southern New England. It grows well in New York State, New Jersey and southward.

You may click to see the pictures of  Cercis canadensis   

*Bark: Red brown, with deep fissures and scaly surface. Branchlets at first lustrous brown, later become darker.

*Wood: Dark reddish brown; heavy, hard, coarse-grained, not strong. Sp. gr., 0.6363; weight of cu. ft. 39.65 lbs.

* Winter buds: Chestnut brown, obtuse, one-eighth inch long.

* Leaves: Alternate, simple, heart-shaped or broadly ovate, two to five inches long, five to seven-nerved, chordate or truncate at the base, entire, acute. They come out of the bud folded along the line of the midrib, tawny green; when they are full grown they become smooth, dark green above, paler beneath. In autumn they turn bright clear yellow. Petioles slender, terete, enlarged at the base. Stipules caduceous.

*Flowers: April, May, before and with the leaves, papilionaceous. Perfect, rose color, borne four to eight together, in fascicles which appear at the axils of the leaves or along the branch and sometimes on the trunk itself.

*Calyx: Dark red, campanulate, oblique, five-toothed, imbricate in bud.

*Corolla: Papilionaceous, petals five, nearly equal, pink or rose color, upper petal the smallest, enclosed in the bud by the wings, and encircled by the broader keel petals.

*Stamens: Ten, inserted in two rows on a thin disk, free, the inner row rather shorter than the others.

*Pistil: Ovary superior, inserted obliquely in the bottom of the calyx tube, stipitate; style fleshy, incurved, tipped with an obtuse stigma.

*Fruit: Legume, slightly stipitate, unequally oblong, acute at each end. Compressed, tipped with the remnants of the style, straight on upper and curved on the lower edge. Two and a half to three inches long, rose color, full grown by midsummer, falls in early winter. Seeds ten to twelve, chestnut brown, one-fourth of an inch long -can be made to germinate by first dipping in boiled (99C) water (very hot) for a minute and then sowing in a pot (do not boil the seeds); cotyledons oval, flat

Cultivation;
C. canadensis is grown in parks and gardens, with several cultivars being available. The cultivar ‘Forest Pansy’, with purple leaves, has gained the Royal Horticultural Society‘s Award of Garden Merit.

Edible Uses:
Native Americans consumed redbud flowers raw or boiled, and ate roasted seeds. Analysis of nutritional components in edible parts of eastern redbud reported that:

*The flower extract contains anthocyanins,

*Green developing seeds contained proanthocyanides, and

*Linolenic, alpha-linolenic, oleic and palmitic acids to be present in seeds

Medicinal Uses:
Cercis canadensis inner bark and root can be made into a tea or decoction. This was used by different Native American Indian tribes to clear lung congestion, for whooping cough, to prevent nausea and vomiting, and to break fevers.  It has also been used for diarrhea, dysentery, and leukemia.

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/Cercis_canadensis
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_RST.htm

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Catalpa bignonioides

Botanical Name : Catalpa bignonioides
Family: Bignoniaceae
Genus: Catalpa
Species: C. bignonioides
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Lamiales

Synonyms:  Bignonia catalpa – L., Catalpa syringaefolia – Sims.

Common Names:Southern Catalpa,Common Catalpa, Cigartree, and Indian Bean Tree

Habitat : Catalpa bignonioides is native to the southeastern United States in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Despite its southern origins, it has been able to grow almost anywhere in the United States and southernmost Canada, and has become widely naturalized outside its restricted native range.
It grows in rich moist soils by the sides of streams and rivers.

Description:
It is a medium-sized deciduous tree growing to 15-18 meters tall, with a trunk up to 1 m diameter with brown to gray bark, maturing into hard plates or ridges. The short thick trunk supports long and straggling branches which form a broad and irregular head. The roots are fibrous and branches are brittle. Its juices are watery and bitter.

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The leaves are large and heart shaped, being 20-30 cm long and 15-20 cm broad. The bright green leaves appear late and as they are full grown before the flower clusters open, add much to the beauty of the blossoming tree. They secrete nectar, a most unusual characteristic for leaves, by means of groups of tiny glands in the axils of the primary veins.

The flowers are 2.5-4 cm across, trumpet shaped, white with yellow spots inside; they grow in panicles of 20-40. In the northern states of the USA, it is a late bloomer, putting forth great panicles of white flowers in June or early in July when the flowers of other trees have mostly faded. These cover the tree so thickly as almost to conceal the full grown leaves. The general effect of the flower cluster is a pure white, but the individual corolla is spotted with purple and gold, and some of these spots are arranged in lines along a ridge, so as to lead directly to the honey sweets within. A single flower when fully expanded is two inches long and an inch and a half wide. It is two-lipped and the lips are lobed, two lobes above and three below, as is not uncommon with such corollas. The flower is perfect, possessing both stamens and pistils; nevertheless, the law of elimination is at work and of the five stamens that we should expect to find, three have aborted, ceased to bear anthers and have become filaments simply. Then, too, the flowers refuse to be self-fertilized. Each flower has its own stamens and its own stigma but the lobes of the stigma remain closed until after the anthers have opened and discharged their pollen; after they have withered and become effete then the stigma opens and invites the wandering bee. The entire Pink family behave in this way.

The fruit is a long, thin bean like pod 20-40 cm long and 8-10 mm diameter; it often stays attached to tree during winter. The pod contains numerous flat light brown seeds with two papery wings.

It is closely related to the Northern Catalpa (C. speciosa), and can be distinguished by the flowering panicles, which bear a larger number of smaller flowers, and the slightly slenderer seed pods.

*Bark: Light brown tinged with red. Branchlets forking regularly by pairs, at first green, shaded with purple and slightly hairy, later gray or yellowish brown, finally reddish brown. Contains tannin.

*Wood: Light brown, sapwood nearly white; light, soft, coarse-grained and durable in contact with the soil.

*Winter buds: No terminal bud, uppermost bud is axillary. Minute, globular, deep in the bark. Outer scales fall when spring growth begins, inner scales enlarge with the growing shoot, become green, hairy and sometimes two inches long.

*Leaves: Opposite, or in threes, simple, six to ten inches long, four to five broad. Broadly ovate, cordate at base, entire, sometimes wavy, acute or acuminate. Feather-veined, midrib and primary veins prominent. Clusters of dark glands, which secrete nectar are found in the axils of the primary veins. They come out of the bud involute, purplish, when full grown are bright green, smooth above, pale green, and downy beneath. When bruised they give a disagreeable odor. They turn dark and fall after the first severe frost. Petioles stout, terete, long.

*Flowers: June, July. Perfect, white, borne in many-flowered thyrsoid panicles, eight to ten inches long. Pedicels slender, downy.

*Calyx: Globular and pointed in the bud; finally splitting into two, broadly ovate, entire lobes, green or light purple.

*Corolla: Campanulate, tube swollen, slightly oblique, two-lipped, five-lobed, the two lobes above smaller than the three below, imbricate in bud; limb spreading, undulate, when fully expanded is an inch and a half wide and nearly two inches long, white, marked on the inner surface with two rows of yellow blotches and in the throat on the lower lobes with purple spots.

*Stamens: Two, rarely four, inserted near the base of the corolla, introrse, slightly exserted; anthers oblong, two-celled, opening longitudinally; filaments flattened, thread-like. Sterile filaments three, inserted near base of corolla, often rudimentary.

*Pistil: Ovary superior, two-celled; style long, thread-like, with a two-lipped stigma. Ovules numerous.

*Fruit: Long slender capsule, nearly cylindrical, two-celled, partition at right angles to the valves. Six to twenty inches long, brown; hangs on the tree all winter, splitting before it falls. Seeds an inch long, one-fourth of an inch wide, silvery gray, winged on each side and ends of wings fringed

 

Cultivation:
Prefers a good moist loamy soil and a sunny position that is not exposed. Tolerates heavy clay soils. Very resistant to atmospheric pollution[188]. Plants become chlorotic on shallow alkaline soils. Plants are hardy to about -15°c, probably more in continental climates, they grow best in areas with hot summers. Protect plants from late frosts when they are young. A very ornamental plant, it is fast-growing in the wild where it often flowers when only 6 – 8 years old. The sweetly-scented flowers are borne in forked panicles at the end of branches. There are some named varieties selected for their ornamental value. The trees transplant easily. The crushed foliage has an unpleasant smell. Another report says that the leaves are attractively scented when bruised. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus.

Propagation:
Seed – best sown outdoors, or in a cold frame, as soon as it is ripe. Stratify stored seed for 3 weeks at 1°c and sow in spring. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a cold frame for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Softwood cuttings, 10cm long, in a frame. They should be taken in late spring to early summer before the leaves are fully developed. Root cuttings in winter

 

Medicinal Uses:
Antidote; Antiseptic; Cardiac; Laxative; Ophthalmic; Sedative; Vermifuge.

A tea made from the bark has been used as an antiseptic, antidote to snake bites, laxative, sedative and vermifuge. As well as having a sedative effect, the plant also has a mild narcotic action, though it never causes a dazed condition. It has therefore been used with advantage in preparations with other herbs for the treatment of whooping cough in children, it is also used to treat asthma and spasmodic coughs in children. The bark has been used as a substitute for quinine in treating malaria. The leaves are used as a poultice on wounds and abrasions. A tea made from the seeds is used in the treatment of asthma and bronchitis and is applied externally to wounds. The pods are sedative and are thought to have cardioactive properties. Distilled water made from the pods, mixed with eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis) and rue (Ruta graveolens) is a valuable eye lotion in the treatment of trachoma and conjunctivitis.

Other Uses:
Wood.
A fast-growing tree with an extensive root system, it has been planted on land that is subject to landslips or erosion in order to stabilize the soil. Wood – coarse and straight-grained, soft, not strong, moderately high in shock resistance, very durable in the soil. It weighs about 28lb per cubic foot. It is highly valued for posts and fencing rails, and is also used for interior finishes, cabinet work etc.

Scented Plants:
Flowers: Fresh
The flowers have a sweet perfume.
Leaves: Crushed
The crushed foliage has an unpleasant smell. Another report says that the bruised leaves have an attractive aroma.

Known Hazards: The roots are highly poisonous

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://digedibles.com/database/plants.php?Catalpa+bignonioides
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_C.htm
http://www.duke.edu/~cwcook/trees/cabi.html

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

http://woodyplants.nres.uiuc.edu/plant/catbi70

http://www.plantcare.com/encyclopedia/catalpa-2150.aspx

http://www.vilmorin-tree-seeds.com/seeds/broadleaved-trees/entry-12923-catalpa-bignonioides.html

http://www.rarewoodsandveneers.com/images/productimages/rarewood/Catalpa%20bignonioides,%20Southern%20Catalpa.jpg

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Liquidambar styraciflua

Botanical Name : Liquidambar styraciflua
Family: Altingiaceae
Genus: Liquidambar
Species: L. styraciflua
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Saxifragales

Common Names:American sweetgum or redgum

Habitat :Liquidambar styraciflua is native to warm temperate areas of eastern North America and tropical montane regions of Mexico and Central America.
Liquidambar styraciflua grows in moist to wet woods, tidal swamps, swampy bottomlands, streambanks, and in clearings and old fields or dry-mesic to mesic upland forests, mixed forest edges, rock outcrops. It grows best grows best on rich, moist, alluvial clay and loamy soils of river bottoms

Dscription:
Liquidambar styraciflua is a medium-sized to large tree, growing to 20–35 m (65-115 ft), rarely to 41 m (135 ft) tall, with a trunk up to 2 m (6 ft) in diameter. Trees may live to 400 years.
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The leaves usually have five (but sometimes three or seven) sharply pointed palmate lobes. They are 7–19 cm (rarely to 25 cm) long and broad, with a 6–10 cm petiole. The rich dark green, glossy leaves generally turn brilliant orange, red, and purple colors in the autumn.

This autumnal coloring has been characterized as not simply a flame, but a conflagration. Its reds and yellows compare to that of the maples (Acer), and in addition it has the dark purples and smoky browns of the ash (Fraxinus). However, in the northern part of its range, and where planted in yet colder areas, the leaves are often killed by frost while still green. On the other hand, in the extreme southern or tropical parts of its range, some trees are evergreen or semi-evergreen, with negligible fall color.

The male and female inflorescences are separate on the same tree.

The distinctive compound fruit is hard, dry, and globose, 2.5–4 cm in diameter, composed of numerous (40-60) capsules. Each capsule, containing one to two small seeds, has a pair of terminal spikes (for a total of 80-120 spikes). When the fruit opens and the seeds are released, each capsule is associated with a small hole (40-60 of these) in the compound fruit.

Another distinctive feature of the tree is the peculiar appearance of its small branches and twigs. The bark attaches itself to these in plates edgewise instead of laterally, and a piece of the leafless branch with the aid of a little imagination readily takes on a reptilian form; indeed, the tree is sometimes called Alligator-wood

The roots are fibrous; juices are balsamic.

The tree secretes an aromatic fluid, which when processed is called styrax

Additional characteristics of Liquidambar styraciflua include:

*Leaves: Alternate, three to five inches long, three to seven inches broad, lobed, so as to make a star-shaped leaf of five to seven divisions, these divisions acutely pointed, with glandular serrate teeth. The base is truncate or slightly heart-shaped. They come out of the bud plicate, downy, pale green, when full grown are bright green, smooth, shining above, paler beneath. In autumn they vary in color from yellow through crimson to purple. They contain tannin and when bruised give a resinous fragrance. Petioles long, slender, terete. Stipules lanceolate, acute, caducous.
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*Flowers: March to May, when leaves are half grown; monoecious, greenish. Staminate flowers in terminal racemes two to three inches long, covered with rusty hairs; the pistillate in a solitary head on a slender peduncle borne in the axil of an upper leaf. Staminate flowers destitute of calyx and corolla, but surrounded by hairy bracts. Stamens indefinite; filaments short; anthers introrse. Pistillate flowers with a two-celled, two-beaked ovary, the carpels produced into a long, recurved, persistent style. The ovaries all more or less cohere and harden in fruit. Ovules many but few mature.

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*Fruit: Multicapsular spherical head, an inch to an inch and a half in diameter, hangs on the branches during the winter. The woody capsules are mostly filled with abortive seeds resembling sawdust.

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*Bark: Light brown tinged with red, deeply fissured, ridges scaly. Branchlets pithy, many-angled, winged, at first covered with rusty hairs, finally becoming red brown, gray or dark brown.

*Winter buds: Yellow brown, one-fourth of an inch long, acute. The inner scales enlarge with the growing shoot, becoming half an inch long, green tipped with red.

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While the starry five-pointed leaves of Liquidambar resemble those of some maples (Acer), such as the Japanese maple (Acer palmatum), the sugar maple (Acer saccharum), and the Norway maple (Acer platanoides), Liquidambar is easily distinguished from Acer by its glossy, leathery leaves that are positioned singly (alternate), not in pairs (opposite) on the stems. The long-stemmed fruit balls of Liquidambar resemble those of the American sycamore or buttonwood (Platanus occidentalis), but are spiny and remain intact after their seeds are dispersed; the softer fruits of Platanus disintegrate upon seed dispersal.

Medicinal Uses:
In Appalachia, water- or whiskey-soaked twigs are chewed to clean the teeth, Native Americans used the resin to treat fevers and wounds.  The gum was used by early settlers to treat herpes and skin inflammations.  It has also been applied to the cheek to ease toothache.  The bark and leaves, boiled in milk or water, have been used to treat diarrhea and dysentery.  The boiled leaves have been applied to cuts and used for treating sore feet.  The aromatic drug resin storax, an expectorant and a weak antiseptic used for treating scabies, comes from this tree. It forms in cavities of the bark and also exudes naturally. It is harvested in autumn. Production can be stimulated by beating the trunk in the spring. The resin has a wide range of uses including medicinal, incense, perfumery, soap and as an adhesive. It is also chewed and used as a tooth cleaner and to sweeten the breath.  It is also chewed in the treatment of sore throats, coughs, asthma, cystitis, dysentery etc.  Externally, it is applied to sores, wounds, piles, ringworm, scabies etc.  The resin is an ingredient of ‘Friar’s Balsam’, a commercial preparation based on Styrax benzoin that is used to treat colds and skin problems. The mildly astringent inner bark is used in the treatment of diarrhea and childhood cholera.

Other Uses:
Liquidambar styraciflua is valued as a cultivated ornamental tree, and in its natural habitats, as a timber tree and for its dramatically colored fall foliage. The resin for which it was named also has various uses

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/Liquidambar_styraciflua
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_RST.htm
http://www.duke.edu/~cwcook/trees/list.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Leaf_bud_of_American_Sweet_gum_(Liquidambar_styraciflua)_showing_imbricate_cataphylls_5405.jpg

Sourwood

Botanical Name : Oxydendrum arboreum
Family: Ericaceae
Genus: Oxydendrum DC.
Species: O. arboreum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Ericales

Common Names : Sourwood or sorrel tree

Habitat :Sourwood is native to eastern North America, from southern Pennsylvania south to northwest Florida and west to southern Illinois; it is most common in the lower chain of the Appalachian Mountains. The tree is frequently seen as a component of oak-heath forests.

Description:
Sourwood is a small tree or large shrub, growing to 10–20 m tall (30 to 65 feet) with a trunk up to 50 cm (20 inches) diameter. Occasionally on extremely productive sites, this species can reach heights in excess of 30 meters and 60 cm diameter. The leaves are spirally arranged, deciduous, 8–20 cm (3-8 inches) long and 4–9 cm (2.5 to 3.5 inches) broad, with a finely serrated margin; they are dark green in summer, but turn vivid red in fall. The flowers are white, bell-shaped, 6–9 mm ( 1/4 to 1/3 inch) long, produced on 15–25 cm (6-10 inches) long panicles. The fruit is a small woody capsule. The roots are shallow, and the tree grows best when there is little root competition; it also requires acidic soils for successful growth. The leaves can be chewed (but should not be swallowed) to help alleviate a dry-feeling mouth.

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The bark is gray with a reddish tinge, deeply furrowed and scaly. Branchlets at first are light yellow green, but later turn reddish brown. The wood is reddish brown, with paler sapwood; it is heavy, hard, and close-grained, and will take a high polish. Its specific gravity is 0.7458, with a density of 46.48 lb/cu ft.

The winter buds are axillary, minute, dark red, and partly immersed in the bark. Inner scales enlarge when spring growth begins. Leaves are alternate, four to seven inches long, 1.5 to 2.5 inches wide, oblong to ablanceolate, wedge-shaped at the base, serrate, and acute or acuminate. Leaf veins are Feather-veined, the midrib is conspicuous. They emerge from the bud revolute, bronze green and shining, and smooth; when full grown, they are dark green, shining above, and pale and glaucous below. In autumn, they turn bright scarlet. Petioles are long and slender, with stipules wanting. They are heavily laden with acid.

In June and July, perfect, cream-white flowers are borne in terminal panicles of secund racemes seven to eight inches long; rachis and short pedicels are downy. The calyx is five-parted and persistent; lobes are valvate in bud. The corolla is ovoid-cylindric, narrowed at the throat, cream-white, and five-toothed. The 10 stamens are inserted on the corolla; filaments are wider than the anthers; anthers are two-celled. The pistil is ovary superior, ovoid, and five-celled; the style is columnar; the stigma is simple; the disk is ten-toothed, and ovules are many.

The fruit is a capsule, downy, five-valved, five-angled, and tipped by the persistent style; the pedicels are curving

Medicinal Uses:
Indians boiled the leaves and gave feverish patients the liquid to drink; they also used this tea to treat the urinary ailments of older men.  A poultice of leaves mixed with bark was used to reduce swellings.  The leaves have also been considered a tonic. A tea made from the leaves has been used in the treatment of asthma, diarrhea, indigestion and to check excessive menstrual bleeding.  The bark has been chewed in the treatment of mouth ulcers.The leaves are also a laxative.

Other Uses:
The sourwood is perfectly hardy in the north and a worthy ornamental tree in lawns and parks. Its late bloom makes it desirable, and its autumnal coloring is particularly beautiful and brilliant. The leaves are heavily charged with acid, and to some extent have the poise of those of the peach.

It is renowned for nectar, and for the honey which is produced from it. Juice from its blooms is used to make sourwood jelly. The shoots were used by the Cherokee and the Catawba to make arrowshafts.

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/Oxydendrum
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_RST.htm

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Kentucky coffeetree

Botanical Name :Gymnocladus dioica
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Caesalpinioideae
Genus: Gymnocladus
Species: G. dioicus
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Fabales

Common Name:Kentucky coffeetree

Habitat :Gymnocladus dioica is native to the midwest of North America. The range is limited, occurring from Southern Ontario, Canada and in the United States from Kentucky (where it was first encountered by Europeans) and western Pennsylvania in the east, to Kansas, eastern Nebraska, and southeastern South Dakota in the west, and to northern Louisiana in the south. It was formerly the state tree of Kentucky.

Description:
DescriptionVaries from 18 to 21 meters (60–70 feet) high with a spread of 12–15 meters (40–50 feet) and a trunk up to one meter (3 feet) in diameter. A 10-year-old sapling will stand about 4 meters (13 feet) tall. It usually separates 3 to 4½ meters (10–15 feet) from the ground into three or four divisions which spread slightly and form a narrow pyramidal head; or when crowded by other trees, sending up one tall central branchless shaft to the height of 15–21 m (50–70 ft). Branches stout, pithy, and blunt; roots fibrous.

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The Kentucky Coffeetree is a relatively fast-growing tree and generally grows in parks and along city streets for ornamental purposes. The tree is typically long-lived however often appears dead for the first six months of its growth. This is because the Kentucky Coffeetree sheds its leaves early during the fall and therefore appears bare for up to 6 months. The naked appearance of the tree is reflected through the Kentucky Coffeetrees genus name. (Barnes, Wagner at el. 1977) from Michigan Trees.

Like the Sumac, branches are totally destitute of fine spray; smaller branches are thick, blunt, clumsy and lumpish. While other trees lose their leaves, along their twigs and branchlets are borne the buds, the hope and the promise of the coming year. But the Gymnocladus seems so destitute of these that the French in Canada named it Chicot, the dead tree. Even when spring comes, it gives no apparent recognition of light and warmth until nearly every other tree is in full leaf. The casual observer says it bears no winter buds, but there is a tiny pair, wrapped in down and wool, lying sleeping in the axil of every last year’s leaf.

Among the trees of the eastern United States, there are two others with similarly large leaves: the Honey locust (Gleditsia triacanthos) and the Devil’s Walking-Stick (Aralia spinosa). The expanding leaves are conspicuous because of the varied colors of the leaflets; the youngest are bright pink, while those which are older vary from green to bronze.

The bark is ash-gray and scaly, flaking similarly to black cherry, but more so. The flowers are dioecious, and the fruit is a hard-shelled bean in heavy, woody, thick-walled pods filled with sweet, thick, gooey pulp. The shape of the pods varies somewhat: pod length ranges from about 12.7 to 25.4 cm; unfertilized female trees may bear miniature seedless pods. The beans contain the toxin cytisine.

*Bark: Dark gray, deeply fissured, surface scaly. Branchlets at first coated with short reddish down.  CLICK TO SEE
Wood: Light brown; heavy, strong, coarse-grained; durable in contact with the ground, takes a fine polish. Sp. gr., 0.6934; weight of cu. ft., 43.21 lb (19.60 kg).

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*Winter buds: Minute, depressed in downy cavities of the stem, two in the axil of each leaf, the smaller sterile. Bud scales two, ovate, coated with brown tomentum and growing with the shoot, become orange green, hairy and about one inch long, before they fall.CLICK TO SEE

*Leaves: Alternate, bi-pinnately compound, ten to fourteen pinnate, lowest pinnae reduced to leaflets, the other seven to thirteen foliate. One to three feet long, eighteen to twenty-four inches broad, by the greater development of the upper pairs of pinnae. Leaf stalks and stalks of pinnae, are terete, enlarged at base, smooth when mature, pale green, often purple on the upper side. Leaflets ovate, two to two and one-half inches long, wedge-shaped or irregularly rounded at base, with wavy margin, acute apex. They come out of the bud bright pink, but soon become bronze green, smooth and shining above. When full grown are dark yellow green above, pale green beneath. In autumn turn a bright clear yellow. Stipules leaf-life, lanceolate, serrate, deciduous.

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*Flowers: June. Dioecious by abortion, terminal, greenish white. Staminate flowers in a short racemen-like corymb three to four inches (102 mm) long, pistillate flowers in a raceme ten to twelve inches (305 mm) long.

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*Calyx: Tubular, hairy, ten-ribbed, five-lobed; lobes valvate in bud, acute, nearly equal.

*Corolla: Petals five, oblong, hairy, spreading or reflexed, imbricate in bud.CLICK & SEE

*Stamens: Ten, five long and five short, free, included; filaments thread-like; antehrs orange colored, introrse; in the pistillate flower small and sterile.  CLICK & SEE

*Pistil: Ovary superior, sessile, hairy, contracted into a short style, with two stigmatic lobes; ovules in two rows.

*Fruit: Legume, six to ten inches (254 mm) long, one and one-half to two inches wide, somewhat curved, with thickened margins, dark reddish brown with slight glaucous bloom, crowned with remnant of the styles. Stalks and inch or two long. Seeds six to nine, surrounded by a thick layer of dark, sweet pulp.  CLICK & SEE

Cultivation:
Kentucky Coffeetree is easy to grow from seed. Filing the seedcoat by hand with a small file, and then soaking the seeds in water for 24 hours will ensure rapid germination. Propagation is also easy from dormant root cuttings.

It forms large clonal colonies, reproducing by shoots sprouting from roots.

Trees prefer bottom lands, and a rich moist soil. Its growth is largely unaffected by heat, cold, drought, insects, disease, road salt, ice, and alkaline soil.

The Kentucky Coffeetree is typically found on “alluvial soils of river and flood plains and nearby terraces” (Barnes, Wagner at el. 1977) from Michigan Trees.

Medicinal Uses:
The pulvarised root bark is used as an effective enema. A tea made from bark is diuretic. It is used in the treatment of cough due to inflamated mucus membranes and also to help speed up a protected  labour.A snuff made from the pulvarised root bark hasbeen used to cause sneezing in comatose patients. A tea made from the leaves and pulp from the pod is laxative and has also been used in the treatment of reflex  troubles.A decoction of the fresh green pulp of an unriped fruit is used in homeopathic practice.The folk remedy of traditional poisning using Kentacy coffee tree seeds, cornsilk,linden flowers and seaweed Irish moss kelp and dulse.

Other Uses:
Horticulture : In pleasure grounds it is not uncommon, since it is often planted because of its unique appearance and interesting character.

The peculiarly late-emerging and early-dropping leaves, coupled with the fact that the large leaves mean few twigs in the winter profile, make it a tree that is ideal for urban shading where winter sunlight is to be maximized (such as in proximity to solar hot-air systems).

Food :The common name “coffeetree” derives from the use of the roasted seeds as a substitute for coffee in times of poverty. They are a very inferior substitute for real coffee, and caution should be used in trying them as they are poisonous in large quantities.
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The pods, preserved like those of the tamarind, are said to be wholesome and slightly aperient.

Woodworking :The wood is used both by cabinetmakers and carpenters. It has very little sapwood

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.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_IJK.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kentucky_coffeetree
http://www.cirrusimage.com/tree_Kentucky_Coffee.htm

http://www.cas.vanderbilt.edu/bioimages/image/g/gydi–frseeds24261.htm

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