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Digitalis purpurea

Botanical Name: Digitalis purpurea
Family: Plantaginaceae
Genus: Digitalis
Species: D. purpurea
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Lamiales

Synonyms: Witches’ Gloves. Dead Men’s Bells. Fairy’s Glove. Gloves of Our Lady. Bloody Fingers. Virgin’s Glove. Fairy Caps. Folk’s Glove. Fairy Thimbles.
(Norwegian) Revbielde.
(German) Fingerhut.

Common Names: Foxglove, Common foxglove, Purple foxglove or Lady’s glove

Habitat: Digitalis purpurea is native and widespread throughout most of temperate Europe. It is also naturalised in parts of North America and some other temperate regions. The plants are well known as the original source of the heart medicine digoxin (also called digitalis or digitalin) It flourishes best in siliceous soil and grows well in loam, but is entirely absent from some calcareous districts, such as the chain of the Jura, and is also not found in the Swiss Alps. It occurs in Madeira and the Azores, but is, perhaps, introduced there. The genus contains only this one indigenous species, though several are found on the Continent.

Needing little soil, it is found often in the crevices of granite walls, as well as in dry hilly pastures, rocky places and by roadsides. Seedling Foxgloves spring up rapidly from recently-turned earth. Turner (1548), says that it grows round rabbitholes freely.
Description:
Digitalis purpurea is an herbaceous biennial or short-lived perennial plant. The leaves are spirally arranged, simple, 10–35 cm long and 5–12 cm broad, and are covered with gray-white pubescent and glandular hairs, imparting a woolly texture. The foliage forms a tight rosette at ground level in the first year.

The flowering stem develops in the second year, typically 1 to 2 m tall, sometimes longer. The flowers are arranged in a showy, terminal, elongated cluster, and each flower is tubular and pendent. The flowers are typically purple, but some plants, especially those under cultivation, may be pink, rose, yellow, or white. The inside surface of the flower tube is heavily spotted. The flowering period is early summer, sometimes with additional flower stems developing later in the season. The plant is frequented by bees, which climb right inside the flower tube to gain the nectar within….….click & see the pictures

The fruit is a capsule which splits open at maturity to release the numerous tiny (0.1-0.2 mm) seeds.

Cultivation:
The plant is popular as a garden subject, and numerous cultivars have been developed with a range of colours from white through pink to purple, such as “Dalmatian Purple”. Cultivated forms often show flowers completely surrounding the central spike, in contrast to the wild form, where the flowers only appear on one side. D. purpurea is easily grown from seed or purchased as potted plants in the spring.

Propagation: Seed – surface sow early spring in a cold frame. The seed usually germinates in 2 – 4 weeks at 20°c[175]. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer. If you have sufficient seed it can be sown outdoors in situ in the spring or autumn

Part Used in medicines: The Leaves.
Medicinal Uses:
Digitalis has been used from early times in heart cases. It increases the activity of all forms of muscle tissue, but more especially that of the heart and arterioles, the all-important property of the drug being its action on the circulation. The first consequence of its absorption is a contraction of the heart and arteries, causing a very high rise in the blood pressure.

After the taking of a moderate dose, the pulse is markedly slowed. Digitalis also causes an irregular pulse to become regular. Added to the greater force of cardiac contraction is a permanent tonic contraction of the organ, so that its internal capacity is reduced, which is a beneficial effect in cases of cardiac dilatation, and it improves the nutrition of the heart by increasing the amount of blood.

In ordinary conditions it takes about twelve hours or more before its effects on the heart muscle is appreciated, and it must thus always be combined with other remedies to tide the patient over this period and never prescribed in large doses at first, as some patients are unable to take it, the drug being apt to cause considerable digestive disturbances, varying in different cases. This action is probably due to the Digitonin, an undesirable constituent.

The action of the drug on the kidneys is of importance only second to its action on the circulation. In small or moderate doses, it is a powerful diuretic and a valuable remedy in dropsy, especially when this is connected with affections of the heart.

It has also been employed in the treatment of internal haemorrhage, in inflammatory diseases, in delirium tremens, in epilepsy, in acute mania and various other diseases, with real or supposed benefits.

The action of Digitalis in all the forms in which it is administered should be carefully watched, and when given over a prolonged period it should be employed with caution, as it is liable to accumulate in the system and to manifest its presence all at once by its poisonous action, indicated by the pulse becoming irregular, the blood-pressure low and gastro-intestinal irritation setting in. The constant use of Digitalis, also, by increasing the activity of the heart, leads to hypertrophy of that organ.

Digitalis is an excellent antidote in Aconite poisoning, given as a hypodermic injection.

Digoxigenin (DIG) is a steroid found exclusively in the flowers and leaves of the plants Digitalis purpurea and Digitalis lanata. It is used as a molecular probe to detect DNA or RNA. It can easily be attached to nucleotides by chemical modifications. DIG molecules are often linked to uridine nucleotides; DIG-labeled uridine (DIG-U) can then be incorporated into RNA probes via in vitro transcription. Once hybridisation occurs in situ, RNA probes with the incorporated DIG-U can be detected with anti-DIG antibodies conjugated to alkaline phosphatase. To reveal the hybridised transcripts, alkaline phosphatase can be reacted with a chromogen to produce a coloured precipitate.

Other Uses: Dye;  Preservative…..An infusion of the plant prolongs the life of cut flowers. Root crops growing near this plant store better.   An apple-green dye is obtained from the flowers.

Known Hazards:
Due to the presence of the cardiac glycoside digitoxin, the leaves, flowers and seeds of this plant are all poisonous to humans and some animals and can be fatal if ingested.

Extracted from the leaves, this same compound, whose clinical use was pioneered as digitalis by William Withering, is used as a medication for heart failure. He recognized it “reduced dropsy”, increased urine flow and had a powerful effect on the heart. Unlike the purified pharmacological forms, extracts of this plant did not frequently cause intoxication because they induced nausea and vomiting within minutes of ingestion, preventing the patient from consuming more.

The main toxins in Digitalis spp. are the two chemically similar cardiac glycosides: digitoxin and digoxin. Like other cardiac glycosides, these toxins exert their effects by inhibiting the ATPase activity of a complex of transmembrane proteins that form the sodium potassium ATPase pump, (Na+/K+-ATPase). Inhibition of the Na+/K+-ATPase in turn causes a rise not only in intracellular Na+, but also in calcium, which in turn results in increased force of myocardial muscle contractions. In other words, at precisely the right dosage, Digitalis toxin can cause the heart to beat more strongly. However, digitoxin, digoxin and several other cardiac glycosides, such as ouabain, are known to have steep dose-response curves, i.e., minute increases in the dosage of these drugs can make the difference between an ineffective dose and a fatal one.

Symptoms of Digitalis poisoning include a low pulse rate, nausea, vomiting, and uncoordinated contractions of different parts of the heart, leading to cardiac arrest and finally death.

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/Digitalis_purpurea
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/f/foxglo30.html

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Herbs & Plants

Hydrangea arborescens

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Botanical NameHydrangea arborescens
Family: Hydrangeaceae
Genus:     Hydrangea
Species: H. arborescens
Kingdom: Plantae
Order:     Cornales

Synonyms: Wild Hydrangea. Seven Barks. Hydrangea vulgaris. Common Hydrangea.

Common Names : Hydrangea, Smooth hydrangea, sevenbark

Habitat: Hydrangea arborescens is widely distributed across the eastern United States—from southern New York to the panhandle of Florida, west to eastern Oklahoma and southeastern Kansas. It is mainly found in moist soils under a hardwood forest canopy and is often common along woodland road banks and streams. It is common in the Delaware River Valley and in the Appalachian Mountains.

Description:
Hydrangea arborescens is a decidious Shrub growing to 3m by 2m.The inflorescence of the plant is a corymb. The showy, sterile flowers are usually absent or if present they are usually less than 1 cm in diameter. Flowering occurs May to July.  The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees. It is noted for attracting wildlife. Fruit is a ribbed brown capsule about 2 mm long; many are produced.
CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES
The leaves of smooth hydrangea are large (8 to 18 cm long), opposite, serrated, ovate, and deciduous. The lower leaf surface is glabrous or with inconspicuous fine hairs, appearing green; trichomes of the lower surface are restricted to the midrib and major veins.

The stem bark has a peculiar tendency to peel off in several successive thin layers with different colors, hence the common name “sevenbark”.

Hydrangea arborescens can spread rapidly by stolons to form colonies.It is hardy to zone 3 and is frost tender.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and requires well-drained soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid soil. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires moist soil.

Cultivation:
Tolerates most soils, thriving in a well-drained loamy soil, but resenting dryness at the roots. Requires partial shade. Does well on very acid soils with a pH around 4.5. In frosty areas it is best to site the plant in a position shaded from the early morning sun. A good bee plant. The flowers are sweetly scented. Plants are best left unpruned. Another report says that the previous year’s flowering shoots should be cut back in early spring. This species is notably susceptible to honey fungus.

Propagation:
Seed – surface sow in a greenhouse in spring. Cover the pot with paper until the seed germinates. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 8cm long, July/August in a frame. Overwinter in a greenhouse and plant out in late spring. Thick growths make the best cuttings, but these should be placed in individual pots. Good percentage. Cuttings of mature wood in late autumn in a frame. Mound layering in spring. Takes 12 months. Division of suckers in late winter. They can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. Leaf-bud cuttings of the current seasons growth in a frame.

Edible Uses:

Edible Parts: Stem.

The peeled branches and twigs have been used to make a tea. The new growth of young twigs has been peeled, boiled thoroughly then fried and eaten.

Medicinal Uses:

Parts Used:  Dried rhizome, roots.

Constituents:The root has been found to contain two resins, gum, sugar, starch, albumen, soda, lime potassa, magnesia, sulphuric and phosphoric acids, a protosalt of iron, and a glucoside, Hydrangin. No tannin has been found, but a fixed oil and a volatile oil have been obtained. From the alcoholic extract of the flowers of H. hortensia, two crystalline substances were isolated, Hydragenol and Hydrangeaic acid.

Anthelmintic; Cathartic; Diaphoretic; Diuretic; Sialagogue; Tonic

Hydrangea arborescens was used by the North American Indians as a remedy for kidney and bladder stones and is still used for these purposes in modern herbalism. It is considered to both encourage the expulsion of stones and to help dissolve those that remain. The roots are anthelmintic, cathartic, diaphoretic, diuretic, emetic and tonic. They are used in the treatment of kidney stones, mucous irritations of the bladder, cystitis, nephritis, enlarged prostate and bronchial afflictions. Excessive doses can cause dizziness and bronchial congestion. The fresh roots are very succulent and can be easily cut, when dry they become very tough and resistant. They are harvested in the autumn and it is best to cut them into short sections before drying them. The scraped bark is used as a poultice on wounds, burns, sore muscles, sprains etc. The bark is chewed in the treatment of stomach and heart ailments. The leaves are cathartic, diuretic, sialagogue and tonic.

It also is excellent for chronic penile discharge in men and mucousal urinary irritation in the aged.  It is also used to decrease pain and inflammation in the urinary tract and when stones are passed.  The dried root is considered strongest, but the leaves are sometimes also used.  According to the Eclectic doctors, it does not actually dissolve the stones but helps them to pass and prevents their reoccurrence.  It’s used in combination with other herbs to treat inflamed and enlarged prostates.  The roots have a laxative effect.  Hydrangea contains a substance called rutin which is valuable in decreasing capillary fragility and reducing the incidence of recurrent hemorrhages

Other Uses:
This attractive native shrub is often cultivated for ornamental use. ‘Annabelle’ is the best known cultivar of this species; it is one of the most cold hardy of the hydrangeas. The cultivar ‘Grandiflora’ has flowers that resemble snowballs, similar to Viburnum plicatum.

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?Hydrangea+arborescens
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrangea_arborescens
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/h/hydran45.html

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

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Hydrangea macrophylla

Botanical Name :Hydrangea macrophylla
Family: Hydrangeaceae
Genus: Hydrangea
Species: H. macrophylla
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Cornales

Synonyms : Hydrangea maritima – Haw-Booth.

Common Names :Azisai,Bigleaf Hydrangea, French Hydrangea, Lacecap Hydrangea, Mophead Hydrangea, Penny Mac and Hortensia., Florist’s Hydrangea, Bigleaf Hydrangea

Habitat : Native to E. Asia – Japan. Grows in sunny places near the coast of E. Japan. It grows  in the sunny places near the coast of E. Japan.   It is also widely cultivated in many parts of the world in many climates.

Description:
Hydrangea is a rounded shrub with huge, deciduous, opposite, serrated, medium to dark green leaves. It is usually seen at 3-6 ft (0.9-1.8 m) with an equal spread, but older specimens can exceed 8 ft (2.4 m)! Flowers are arranged in huge, ball shaped clusters on the most common varieties. There are many selected varieties (and many hybrids), the most striking of which is a variegated-leaf form that bears flat, or lace-capped inflorescences.  The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.Hydrangea macrophylla blossoms can be either pink, blue, or purple shades, depending on a pH-dependent mobilization and uptake of soil aluminium into the plants.  Flowers on most hydrangeas are pH-sensitive, with dark purple or blue flowers in acidic soil, white or dull green in neutral earth, and pink in alkaline soil.

CLICK  &  SEE THE  PICTURES

Hydrangeas make beautiful foliage in warm months. Flowering is best in areas with mild winters, since the plant blooms on previous year’s growth. French hydrangea may be evergreen in very mild winter areas. In its northernmost range, hydrangea is a foliage shrub, since flower buds are killed in hard winters.

It is   frost tender. It is in flower from July to September.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and requires well-drained soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid soil. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires moist soil. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.

Hydrangea macrophylla blossoms can be either pink, blue, or purple shades, depending on a pH-dependent mobilization and uptake of soil aluminium into the plants.

Cultivation:
Tolerates most soil, thriving in a well-drained loamy soil, but resenting dryness at the roots. Succeeds in full sun or semi-shade,   but if it is grown in a low rainfall area then it requires shade at the hottest part of the day. Prefers a shady position. Does well on very acid soils with a pH around 4.5. Plants also tolerate alkaline soils, though they become chlorotic on shallow soils over chalk. The colour of the flowers reflects the pH of the soil the plant is growing in, the flowers are pink in a neutral to alkaline soil and blue in an acid soil. A very wind resistant plant when grown in mild areas.   Dormant plants are hardy to about -10°c, though the young growth in spring is frost-tender. A very ornamental plant and polymorphic species, there are many named varieties. This species was named for a sterile (or ‘mop head’) cultivar so that the true species should really be referred to as H. macrophylla normalis. Plants are cultivated for their leaves in China and Japan. Plants are very tolerant of pruning and can be cut back into old wood if required[188]. This species is notably susceptible to honey fungus.

Propagation:
Seed – surface sow in a greenhouse in spring. Cover the pot with paper until the seed germinates. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 8cm long, July/August in a frame. Overwinter in a greenhouse and plant out in late spring. Cuttings of mature wood in late autumn in a frame. Mound layering in spring. Takes 12 months. Leaf-bud cuttings of the current seasons growth in a frame

Edible Uses:
Edible Parts: Leaves.

Edible Uses: Sweetener.

The young leaves, when dried and rubbed between the hands, become very sweet and are used to make a sweet tea called ‘tea of heaven’, it is used in Buddhist ceremonies. The leaves contain phellodulcin (its chemical formula is C16 H14 O), a very sweet substance that can be used as a sugar substitute. One small leaf is sufficient to sweeten a cup of tea. The older leaves can be dried, powdered and used as a flavouring on foods. The young leaves and shoots are also eaten cooked. Young leaves contain the toxin hydrocyanic acid, this reduces as the leaves grow older, often to zero levels.

Medicinal Uses:
Antiperiodic; Antitussive; Diuretic.
An extract of the leaves, roots and flowers are said to be a more potent antimalarial than quinine, due to one of its alkaloids.

Other Uses
Hedge.

A useful hedging plant because of its vigorous growth. The Hortensias or mop-head cultivars are recommended

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/Hydrangea_macrophylla
http://www.floridata.com/ref/h/hydran_m.cfm
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_AB.htm

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Hydrangea+macrophylla

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Evergreen hydrangea (Dichroa febrifuga)

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Botanical Name :Dichroa febrifuga
Family: Hydrangeaceae
Genus: Dichroa
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Cornales

Common Name :Evergreen hydrangea

Habitat: Dichroa febrifuga is native to Nepal eastwards to southern China and into south-east Asia, where it grows at the forest edge.Shrubberies and damp places, often gregarious in clearings of oak forests, 900 – 2400 metres, from C. Nepal to China.

Description:

Dichroa febrifuga (Blue Evergreen Hydrangea) – A 3 to 7 foot tall by 5 foot wide, half-hardy evergreen shrub from the Hydrangea family. The 4 to 8 inch long dark green leaves resemble the foliage of Hydrangea with prominent veins and small serrations. The terminal end of the branches hold clusters of hydrangea-like flowers with white buds opening to bright blue flowers in spring and summer that are followed by metallic blue berries. As with the blue forms of Hydrangea the shade of blue of the flower is determined by soil pH (actually the availability of aluminum) and more acid soils produce bluer flowers. Plant in part sun to light shade with moderately moist soil. It is hardy and evergreen to 20-25 degrees F but defoliates much below these temperatures but plants knocked back by cold resprout from hard wood…

Click to see different pictures of Dichroa febrifuga :

It is hardy to zone 9. It is in leaf 12-Jan It is in flower from Jun to August, and the seeds ripen from Aug to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs)

Often called evergreen hydrangea, this hydrangea relative features attractive deep green foliage. Flower buds form on branch tips opening into pinkish to blue flowers that are followed by metallic blue berries. Likes regular water and protection from hot afternoon sun. Will tolerate quite a bit of shade.  Responds to pruning.

Cultivation :
An easily grown plant, succeeding in an open loamy soil. The flowers vary in colour according to the type of soil they grow in, the best blue colour is formed when plants are in very acid soils. One report says that this plant is probably not hardy outdoors in Britain whilst another says that some provenances tolerate temperatures down to about -5°c and another report says that the forms in cultivation are only fully hardy in southern Cornwall. This same report goes on to say that those forms probably do not belong to D. febrifuga in the strict sense. This plant is cultivated in Russia as an anti-malarial herb.

Propagation
Seed – we have no information on this species but suggest sowing the seed in a greenhouse in spring and only just covering it. Do not allow the compost to dry out. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings. No details are given, we suggest trying in August with almost ripe wood in a frame.

Medicinal Uses:

Antiperiodic;  Emetic;  Expectorant;  Febrifuge;  Purgative.

This plant is commonly used in Chinese herbalism, where it is considered to be one of the 50 fundamental herbs. The leaves are purgative. They are used in the treatment of stomach cancer. The juice of the leaves is used in Nepal to treat coughs, colds and bronchitis. A decoction of the stem bark is used in the treatment of fevers. a decoction of the leaves is used to treat malarial fever. The root contains several alkaloids and is emetic, expectorant, febrifuge and purgative. The juice of the root is used in Nepal to treat fevers and indigestion. This plant is 26 times more powerful than quinine in the treatment of malaria but causes vomiting. Substances in the plant are 100 times more powerful than quinine, but they are poisonous.

It is an important herb in traditional Chinese medicine, where it is considered one of the 50 fundamental herbs.

Click to see :Research Update of Dichroa febrifuga:  

Other Uses:
The wood is used as a fuel.

Known Hazards :  One report says that the plant is toxic but gives no more details.

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.calfloranursery.com/pages_plants/pages_d/dicfeb.html
http://www.smgrowers.com/products/plants/plantdisplay.asp?plant_id=505
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dichroa_febrifuga
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Dichroa+febrifuga
http://www.ubcbotanicalgarden.org/potd/2005/08/dichroa_febrifu.php
http://www.rizreyes.com/Dichroa_febrifuga_UBC.html

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