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Herbs & Plants

Wood avens

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Botanical Name :Geum urbanum
Family: Rosaceae
Genus: Geum
Species: G. urbanum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Rosales

Synonyms: Colewort. Herb Bennet. City Avens. Wild Rye. Way Bennet. Goldy Star. Clove Root.

Common Names :Avens,wood avens, herb Bennet, colewort and St. Benedict‘s herb

Habitat:Geum urbanum is native to Europe and the Middle East.It s mostly available in Ireland and southern Scotland, though becoming scarcer in the north.This plant in  grows in shady places (such as woodland edges and near hedgerows)

Description:
wood avens is a perennial plant.It has thin, nearly upright, wiry stems, slightly branched, from 1 to 2 feet in height, of a reddish brown on one side. Its leaves vary considerably in form, according to their position. The radical leaves are borne on long, channelled foot-stalks, and are interruptedly pinnate, as in the Silverweed the large terminal leaflet being wedge-shaped and the intermediate pairs of leaflets being very small. The upper leaves on the stem are made up of three long, narrow leaflets: those lower on the stems have the three leaflets round and full. The stem-leaves are placed alternately and have at their base two stipules (leaf-like members that in many plants occur at the junction of the base of the leaf with the stem). Those of the Avens are very large, about an inch broad and long, rounded in form and coarsely toothed and lobed. All the leaves are of a deep green colour, more or less covered with spreading hairs, their margins toothed.
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The rhizomes are 1 to 2 inches long terminating abruptly, hard and rough with many light brown fibrous roots. The flowers, rather small for the size of the plant, are on solitary, terminal stalks. The corolla is composed of five roundish, spreading, yellow petals, the calyx cleft into ten segments – five large and five small – as in the Silverweed. The flowers, which are in bloom all the summer and autumn, often as late as December, are less conspicuous than the round fruitheads, which succeed them, which are formed of a mass of dark crimson achenes, each terminating in an awn, the end of which is curved into a hook.

click to see

The hermaphrodite flowers are scented and pollinated by bees. The fruits have burrs, which are used for dispersal by getting caught in the fur of rabbits and other animals. The root is used as a spice in soups and also for flavouring ale.

Cultivation:
Easily grown in any moderately good garden soil that is well-drained. Prefers shade and a soil rich in organic matter. This species was widely cultivated as a pot-herb in the 16th century. The bruised or dried root is pleasantly aromatic with a clove-like fragrance. Plants self-sow freely when well-sited. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus.

Propagation:
Seed – sow spring or autumn in a cold frame[200]. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer’ Division in spring or autumn. This should be done every 3 – 4 years in order to maintain the vigour of the plant. Very easy, larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the spring.

Edible Uses:
Edible Parts: Leaves; Root.

Edible Uses: Condiment; Drink.

Young leaves – cooked. Root – cooked. Used as a spice in soups, stews etc, and also as a flavouring in ale. It is a substitute for cloves with a hint of cinnamon in the flavour. It is best used in spring. The root is also boiled to make a beverage. The root is up to 5cm long

Medicinal Uses:

Parts Used: Herb, root.

Constituents: The principal constituent is a volatile oil, which is mainly composed of Eugenol, and a glucoside, Gein, geum-bitter, tannic acid, gum and resin. It imparts its qualities to water and alcohol, which it tinges red. Distilled with water, it yields 0.04 per cent. of thick, greenish, volatile oil.

Wood avens is an astringent herb, used principally to treat problems affecting the mouth, throat and gastro-intestinal tract. It tightens up soft gums, heals mouth ulcers, makes a good gargle for infections of the pharynx and larynx, and reduces irritation of the stomach and gut. All parts of the plant, but especially the root, are anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, aromatic, astringent, diaphoretic, febrifuge, stomachic, styptic and tonic. An infusion is taken internally in the treatment of diarrhoea, intestinal disorders, stomach upsets, irritable bowel syndrome and liver disorders, it is also applied externally as a wash to haemorrhoids, vaginal discharges etc and to treat various skin afflictions – it is said to remove spots, freckles and eruptions from the face. The root is best harvested in the spring, since at this time it is most fragrant. Much of the fragrance can be lost on drying, so the root should be dried with great care then stored in a cool dry place in an airtight container, being sliced and powdered only when required for use.

Wood avens was stated to be a treatment for poison and dog bites. Paracelsus suggested its use against liver disease, catarrh and stomach upsets.

Geum urbanum herb and roots have been used in the traditional Austrian medicine internally as tea for treatment of rheumatism, gout, infections, and fever.

Other Uses
Repellent; Tannin.

The freshly dug root has a clove-like fragrance, when dried it is used in the linen cupboard to repel moths. The root contains about 9% tannin.

Folklore: In folklore, wood avens is credited with the power to drive away evil spirits, and to protect against rabid dogs and venomous snakes. It was associated with Christianity because its leaves grew in threes and its petals in fives (reminiscent of, respectively, the Holy Trinity and the Five Wounds). Astrologically, it was said to be ruled by Jupiter.

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?Geum+urbanum
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/a/avens083.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geum_urbanum
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geum_urbanum

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Herbs & Plants

Dog’s mercury,

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Botanical Name : Mercurialis perennis
Family: Euphorbiaceae
Genus: Mercurialis
Species: M. perennis
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Malpighiales

Common NamesDog’s mercury,boggard posy.

Habitat:Dog’s mercury is native to Europe, including Britain, from Scandanavia south and east to Spain and S.W. Asia.It is abundant at Hythe in Sussex.But  is almost absent from Ireland, Orkney and Shetland.It grows in Woods and shady places, usually in beech and oak woods, avoiding acid soils.

Description:
Dog’s Mercury, a perennial, herbaceous plant, sending up from its creeping root numerous, undivided stems, about a foot high.Each stem bears several pairs of rather large roughish leaves, and from the axils of the upper ones grow the small green flowers, the barren on long stalks, the fertile sessile, the first appearing before the leaves are quite out. The stamens and pistils are on different plants. The perianth is three-cleft to the base. The barren flowers have nine stamens or more, the fertile flowers two styles and two cells to the two-lobed ovary.
click to see the picturs
It is hardy to zone 4 and is not frost tender. The flowers are dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required) and are pollinated by Wind, flies.

Male and female plants are rarely found intermixed, each usually growing in large patches. The female are less common than the male, and the plant increases more by the spreading of its creeping rootstocks and stems than by seed. It flowers from the end of March to the middle of May and seeds in the summer. The leaves of the male flowering plants are more pointed and less serrated than those on the female plants, which have longer stalks.The plant is not self-fertile.

Dog’s Mercury has a disagreeable odour and is extremely acrid, being poisonous to animals in the fresh state. It has been said, however, that heat destroys its harmfulness, and that it is innocuous in hay. Its chemical constituents have not been ascertained.

Dog’s Mercury has proved fatal to sheep, and Annual Mercury to human beings who had made soup from it.

Medicinal Uses:
Dog’s mercury is poisonous in the fresh state, though thorough drying or heating is said to destroy the poisonous principle. The fresh juice of the whole plant is emetic, ophthalmic and purgative. It is used externally to treat women’s complaints, ear and eye problems, warts and sores. A lotion made from the plant is used for antiseptic external dressings. A homeopathic remedy is made from the plant[9]. It is used in the treatment of rheumatism, dropsy, diarrhoea and disorders of the gall bladder and liver.

Other Uses:

A fine blue dye is obtained from the leaves, it is turned red by acids and destroyed by alkalis but is otherwise permanent. It resembles indigo. A yellow dye is obtained from the leaves. The seed is a potential source of a very good drying oil.

Scented Plants:
Leaves: Crushed
The leaves contain trimethylamine and, in the early stages of putrefaction or when bruised they give off the smell of rotting fish

Known Hazards: All parts of the plant are highly poisonous.As Methylamine (mercurialine) and trimethylamine are thought to be present, together with a volatile oil and saponins. Symptoms of poisoning appear within a few hours; they can include vomiting, pain, gastric and kidney inflammation, and sometimes inflammation of the cheeks and jaw (“malar erythema”) and drowsiness. The first-known account of this phenomenon probably dates from 1693, when a family of five became seriously ill as a result of eating the plant (after boiling and frying it); one of the children died some days later as a result.

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.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/m/merdog31.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercurialis_perennis
http://digedibles.com/database/plants.php?Mercurialis+perennis

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Toadflax

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Botanical Name : Linaria vulgaris
Family: Scrophulariaceae
Genus: Linaria
Species: L. vulgaris
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Lamiales

Synonyms:Fluellin. Pattens and Clogs. Flaxweed. Ramsted. Snapdragon. Churnstaff. Dragon-bushes. Brideweed. Toad. Yellow Rod. Larkspur Lion’s Mouth. Devils’ Ribbon. Eggs and Collops. Devil’s Head. Pedlar’s Basket. Gallwort. Rabbits. Doggies. Calves’ Snout. Eggs and Bacon. Buttered Haycocks. Monkey Flower.

Common Names:Toadflax or Common Toadflax, Yellow Toadflax, or Butter-and-eggs.

Other names:
Linaria acutiloba Fisch. ex Rchb. is a synonym.  Because this plant grows as a weed, it has acquired a large number of local colloquial names, including brideweed, bridewort, butter and eggs (but see Lotus corniculatus), butter haycocks, bread and butter, bunny haycocks, bunny mouths, calf’s snout, Continental weed, dead men’s bones, devil’s flax, devil’s flower, doggies, dragon bushes, eggs and bacon (but see Lotus corniculatus), eggs and butter, false flax, flaxweed, fluellen (but see Kickxia), gallweed, gallwort, impudent lawyer, Jacob’s ladder (but see Polemonium), lion’s mouth, monkey flower (but see Mimulus), North American ramsted, rabbit flower, rancid, ransted, snapdragon (but see Antirrhinum), wild flax, wild snapdragon, wild tobacco (but see Nicotiana), yellow rod, yellow toadflax.

Habitat : Toadflax  is a  native to most of Europe and northern Asia, from the United Kingdom south to Spain in the west, and east to eastern Siberia and western China. It has also been introduced and is now common in North America.

Description:
Toadflax is a perennial plant with short spreading roots, erect to decumbent stems 15–90 cm high, with fine, threadlike, glaucous blue-green leaves 2–6 cm long and 1–5 mm broad. The flowers are similar to those of the snapdragon, 25–33 mm long, pale yellow except for the lower tip which is orange, borne in dense terminal racemes from mid summer to mid autumn. The fruit is a globose capsule 5–11 mm long and 5–7 mm broad, containing numerous small seeds.

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The stems terminate in rather dense spikes of showy yellow flowers, the corolla in general shape like that of the Snapdragon, but with a long spur, and with the lower lip orange. The Toadflax flowers throughout the summer, from late June to October.

Sometimes a curiously-shaped Toadflax blossom will be found: instead of only one spur being produced, each of the five petals whose union builds up the toad-like corolla forms one, and the flower becomes of regular, though almost unrecognizable shape. This phenomenon is termed by botanists, ‘peloria,’ i.e. a monster. As a rule it is the terminal flower that is thus symmetrical in structure, but sometimes flowers of this type occur all down the spike.

The name Toadflax originated in the resemblance of the flower to little toads, there being also a resemblance between the mouth of the flower and the wide mouth of a toad. Coles says that the plant was called Toadflax, ‘because Toads will sometimes shelter themselves amongst the branches of it.’

The general resemblance of the plant in early summer to a Flax plant, accounts for the latter part of its name, and also for another of its country names, ‘Flaxweed.’ The Latin name, Linaria, from linum (flax), was given it by Linnaeus, from this likeness to a flax plant before flowering. The mixture of light yellow and orange in the flowers has gained for it the provincial names of ‘Butter and Eggs,’ ‘Eggs and Bacon,’ etc.

Cultivation:
While most commonly found as a weed, toadflax is sometimes cultivated for cut flowers, which are long-lasting in the vase. Like snapdragons (Antirrhinum), they are often grown in children’s gardens for the “snapping” flowers which can be made to “talk” by squeezing them at the base of the corolla.

The plant requires ample drainage, but is otherwise adaptable to a variety of conditions. It has escaped from cultivation in North America where it is a common naturalised weed of roadsides and poor soils; it is listed as an invasive species in several U.S. states and Canadian provinces.

Medicinal Uses:

Constituents:  Toadflax abounds in an acrid oil, reputed to be poisonous, but no harm from it has ever been recorded. Little or nothing is known of its toxic principle, but its use in medicine was well known to the ancients.

Its constituents are stated to be two glucosides, Linarin and Pectolinarian, with linarosin, linaracin, antirrhinic, tannic and citric acids, a yellow colouring matter, mucilage and sugar.

The plant has some powerful qualities as a purgative and diuretic, causing it to be recommended in jaundice, liver, skin diseases and scrofula; an infusion of 1 OZ. to the pint has been found serviceable as an alterative in these cases and in incipient dropsy. The infusion has a bitter and unpleasant taste, occasioned by the presence of the acrid essential oil. It was at one time in great reputation among herb doctors for dropsy. The herb distilled answers the same purpose, as a decoction of both leaves and flowers in removing obstructions of the liver. It is very effectual if a little Peruvian bark or solution of quinine and a little cinnamon be combined with it. Gerard informs us that ‘the decoction openeth the stopping of the liver and spleen, and is singular good against the jaundice which is of long continuance,’ and further states that ‘a decoction of Toadflax taketh away the yellownesse and deformitie of the skinne, being washed and bathed therewith.’

The fresh plant is sometimes applied as a poultice or fomentation to haemorrhoids, and an ointment of the flowers has been employed for the same purpose, and also locally in diseases of the skin. A cooling ointment is made from the fresh plant – the whole herb is chopped and boiled in lard till crisp, then strained. The result is a fine green ointment, a good application for piles, sores, ulcers and skin eruptions.

The juice of the herb, or the distilled water, has been considered a good remedy for inflammation of the eyes, and for cleansing ulcerous sores.

Boiled in milk, the plant is said to yield an excellent fly poison, and it is an old country custom in parts of Sweden to infuse Toadflax flowers in milk, and stand the infusion about where flies are troublesome.

The flowers have been employed in Germany as a yellow dye.

A tea made from the leaves was taken as a laxative and strong diuretic as well as for jaundice, dropsy, and enteritis with drowsiness. For skin diseases and piles, either a leaf tea or an ointment made from the flowers was used. In addition, a tea made in milk instead of water has been used as an insecticide. It is confirmed to have diuretic and fever-reducing properties.

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.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/t/toadfl19.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linaria_vulgaris

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Herbs & Plants

Trifolium repens

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Botanical Name : Trifolium repens
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Faboideae
Genus: Trifolium
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Fabales

Common Name :white clover

Habitat : Trifolium repens native to Europe, North Africa, and West Asia. It has been widely introduced worldwide as a pasture crop, and is now also common in most grassy areas of North America and New Zealand. Also grown in spring and summer.

Description:
It is a herbaceous, perennial plant. It is low growing, with heads of whitish flowers, often with a tinge of pink or cream that may come on with the aging of the plant. The heads are generally 1.5–2 cm wide, and are at the end of 7 cm peduncles or flower stalks. The leaves, which by themselves form the symbol known as shamrock, are trifoliolate, smooth, elliptic to egg-shaped and long-petioled. The stems function as stolons, so white clover often forms mats, with the stems creeping as much as 18 cm a year, and rooting at the nodes.

CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

Culinary uses:
Besides making an excellent forage crop for livestock, clovers are a valuable survival food: they are high in proteins, widespread, and abundant. The fresh plants have been used for centuries as additives to salads and other meals consisting of leafy vegetables.

They are not easy for humans to digest raw, however, but this is easily fixed by boiling the harvested plants for 5–10 minutes. Dried flowerheads and seedpods can also be ground up into a nutritious flour and mixed with other foods, or can be steeped into a tisane. White clover flour is sometimes sprinkled onto cooked foods such as boiled rice.

When used in soups, the leaves are often harvested before the plant flowers. The roots are also edible, although they are most often cooked firsthand.

Medicinal uses:
The flower heads are the medicinally active parts.  When dry they have a honey-like fragrance and a slightly astringent taste.  An infusion is used to treat gastritis, enteritis, severe diarrhea and rheumatic pains.  It is also used as an inhalant for respiratory infections. Herbal doctors still employ preparations of white clover to ward off mumps.  An old fashioned remedy to cleanse the system. A blood purifier, especially in boils, ulcers and other skin diseases. A strong tea of white clover blossoms is very healing to sores when applied externally. Similar to red clover in use.  An infusion has been used in the treatment of coughs, colds, fevers and leucorrhea. A tincture of the leaves is applied as an ointment to gout. An infusion of the flowers has been used as an eyewash.

Trifolium repens has been used as minor folk medicine by the Cherokee, Iroquois, Mohegan and other Native American tribes for centuries.

The Cherokee, for instance, used an infusion of the plant to treat fevers as well as Bright’s disease. The Delaware and Algonkian natives used the same infusion, but as a treatment for coughing and the common cold.

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/Trifolium_repens
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_C.htm

https://s10.lite.msu.edu/res/msu/botonl/b_online/thome/band3/tafel_115_small.jpg

http://www.robsplants.com/plants/TrifoRepen

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Bilberry

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Botanical Name :Vaccinium myrtillus
Family: Vacciniaceae/Ericaceae
Genus: Vaccinium
Species: V. myrtillus
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Ericales
Synonyms:Whortleberry. Black Whortles. Whinberry. Trackleberry. Huckleberry. Hurts. Bleaberry. Hurtleberry. Airelle. Vaccinium Frondosum. Blueberries.
Common Names:  bilberry, European blueberry, whortleberry, huckleberry

Parts Used:The ripe fruit. The leaves.

Habitat: Vaccinium myrtillus  is native to   Europe, including Britain, from Iceland south and east to Spain, Macedonia, the Caucasus and N. Asia . It grows in heaths, moors and woods on acid soils to 1250 metres.

Description:

Vaccinium myrtillus is a deciduous Shrub. It  grows abundantly in the heathy and mountainous districts, a small branched shrub, with wiry angular branches, rarely over a foot high, bearing globular wax-like flowers and black berries, which are covered when quite ripe with a delicate grey bloom, hence its name in Scotland, ‘Blea-berry,’ from an old North Countryword, ‘blae,’ meaning livid or bluish. The name Bilberry (by some old writers ‘Bulberry’) is derived from the Danish ‘bollebar,’ meaning dark berry. There is a variety with white fruits.
The leathery leaves (in form somewhat like those of the myrtle, hence its specific name) are at first rosy, then yellowish-green, and in autumn turn red and are very ornamental. They have been utilized to adulterate tea.

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Bilberries flourish best on high grounds, being therefore more abundant in the north and west than in the south and east of England: they are absent from the low-lying Cambridgeshire and Suffolk, but on the Surrey hills, where they are called ‘Hurts,’ cover the ground for miles.

The fruit is globular, with a flat top, about the size of a black currant. When eaten raw, they have a slightly acid flavour. When cooked, however, with sugar, they make an excellent preserve. Gerard tells us that ‘the people of Cheshire do eate the black whortles in creame and milke as in these southern parts we eate strawberries.’ On the Continent, they are often employed for colouring wine.

Stewed with a little sugar and lemon peel in an open tart, Bilberries make a very enjoyable dish. Before the War, immense quantities of them were imported annually from Holland, Germany and Scandinavia. They were used mainly by pastrycooks and restaurant-keepers.

Species:
Bilberries include several closely related species of the Vaccinium genus, including:

*Vaccinium myrtillus L. (bilberry)
*Vaccinium uliginosum L. (bog bilberry, bog blueberry, bog whortleberry, bog huckleberry, northern bilberry, ground hurts)
*Vaccinium caespitosum Michx. (dwarf bilberry)
*Vaccinium deliciosum Piper (cascade bilberry)
*Vaccinium membranaceum (mountain bilberry, black mountain huckleberry, black huckleberry, twin-leaved huckleberry)
*Vaccinium ovalifolium (oval-leafed blueberry, oval-leaved bilberry, mountain blueberry, high-bush blueberry).

Edible Uses:
Owing to its rich juice, the Bilberry can be used with the least quantity of sugar in making jam: half a pound of sugar to the pound of berries is sufficient if the preserve is to be eaten soon. The minuteness of the seeds makes them more suitable for jam than currants.

Recipe for Bilberry Jam—
Put 3 lb. of clean, fresh fruit in a preserving pan with 1 1/2 lb. of sugar and about 1 cupful of water and bring to the boil. Then boil rapidly for 40 minutes. Apple juice made from windfalls and peelings, instead of the water, improves this jam. To make apple juice, cover the apples with water, stew down, and strain the juice through thick muslin. Blackberries may also be added to this mixture.

If the jam is to be kept long it must be bottled hot in screw-top jars, or, if tied down in the ordinary way, more sugar must be added.

Bilberry juice yields a clear, dark-blue or purple dye that has been much used in the dyeing of wool and the picking of berries for this purpose, as well as for food, constitutes a summer industry in the ‘Hurts’ districts. Owing to the shortage of the aniline dyestuffs formerly imported from Germany, Bilberries were eagerly bought up at high prices by dye manufacturers during the War, so that in 1917 and 1918 a large proportion of the Bilberry crop was not available for jam-making, as the dyers were scouring the country for the little blue-black berries.

Wild and cultivated harvesting:-
Bilberries are found in very acidic, nutrient-poor soils throughout the temperate and subarctic regions of the world. They are closely related to North American wild and cultivated blueberries and huckleberries in the genus Vaccinium. One characteristic of bilberries is that they produce single or paired berries on the bush instead of clusters, as the blueberry does.

The fruit is smaller than that of the blueberry but with a fuller taste. Bilberries are darker in colour, and usually appear near black with a slight shade of purple. While the blueberry’s fruit pulp is light green, the bilberry’s is red or purple, heavily staining the fingers and lips of consumers eating the raw fruit. The red juice is used by European dentists to show children how to brush their teeth correctly, as any improperly brushed areas will be heavily stained.

Bilberries are extremely difficult to grow and are thus seldom cultivated. Fruits are mostly collected from wild plants growing on publicly accessible lands, notably Finland, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, parts of England, Alpine countries, Carpathian Mountains in Ukraine, Belarus, Romania, Bulgaria, Poland and northern parts of Turkey and Russia. Note that in Austria, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland, it is an everyman’s right to collect bilberries, irrespective of land ownership, with the exception of private gardens. Bilberries can be picked by a berry-picking rake like lingonberries, but are more susceptible to damage. Bilberries are softer and juicier than blueberries, making them difficult to transport. Because of these factors, the bilberry is only available fresh in gourmet stores, where they can cost up to 25 Euro per pound. Frozen bilberries however are available all year round in most of Europe.

In Finland, bilberries are collected from forests. They are eaten fresh or can be made in different jams, and dishes. The famous one is Mustikkapiirakka, bilberry pie

In Ireland, the fruit is known as fraughan, from the Irish fraochán, and is traditionally gathered on the last Sunday in July, known as Fraughan Sunday.

Bilberries were also collected at Lughnassadh in August, the first traditional harvest festival of the year, as celebrated by Gaelic people. The crop of bilberries was said to indicate how well the rest of the crops would fare in their harvests later in the year.

The fruits can be eaten fresh or made into jams, fools, juices or pies. In France and in Italy, they are used as a base for liqueurs and are a popular flavoring for sorbets and other desserts. In Brittany, they are often used as a flavoring for crêpes, and in the Vosges and the Massif Central bilberry tart (tarte aux myrtilles) is a traditional dessert.

Constituents:
Quinic acid is found in the leaves, and a little tannin. Triturated with water they yield a liquid which, filtered and assayed with sulphate of iron, becomes a beautiful green, first of all transparent, then giving a green precipitate.

The fruits contain sugar, etc. Bilberries contains approximately 0.5% by volume of the anthocyanosides, they also contain the vitamins B1 and C, pro-vitamin A, at least 7% by volume is composed of tannins, and assorted plant acids are also seen. The tonic effect of the anthocyanosides on the blood vessels is the beneficial to the human body.

Medicinal Uses:
Often associated with improvement of night vision, bilberries are mentioned in a popular story of World War II RAF pilots consuming bilberry jam to sharpen vision for night missions. However, a recent study by the U.S. Navy found no such effect and origins of the RAF story cannot be found.

Although the effect of bilberry on night vision is controversial, laboratory studies have provided preliminary evidence that bilberry consumption may inhibit or reverse eye disorders such as macular degeneration. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial on 50 patients suffering from senile cataract showed that a combination of bilberry extract and vitamin E administered for 4 months was able to stop lens opacity progress in 97% of the cataracts.

As a deep purple fruit, bilberries contain high levels of anthocyanin pigments, which have been linked experimentally to lowered risk for several diseases, such as those of the heart and cardiovascular system, eyes, diabetes and cancer.

In folk medicine, bilberry leaves were used to treat gastrointestinal ailments, applied topically, or made into infusions. Bilberries are also used as a tonic to prevent some infections and skin diseases.

•Historically, bilberry fruit was used to treat diarrhea, scurvy, and other conditions.

•Today, the fruit is used to treat diarrhea, menstrual cramps, eye problems, varicose veins, venous insufficiency (a condition in which the veins do not efficiently return blood from the legs to the heart), and other circulatory problems.

•Bilberry leaf is used for entirely different conditions, including diabetes.

The leaves can be used in the same way as those of UvaUrsi. The fruits are astringent, and are especially valuable in diarrhoea and dysentery, in the form of syrup. The ancients used them largely, and Dioscorides spoke highly of them. They are also used for discharges, and as antigalactagogues. A decoction of the leaves or bark of the root may be used as a local application to ulcers, and in ulceration of the mouth and throat.

The fruit is helpful in scurvy and urinary complaints, and when bruised with the roots and steeped in gin has diuretic properties valuable in dropsy and gravel. A tea made of the leaves is also a remedy for diabetes if taken for a prolonged period.
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Other Uses …..Dye; Ink…….A green dye is obtained from the leaves and the fruit and is used to colour fabrics. A blue or black dye is obtained from the fruit. This can be used as an ink.
Known Hazards: High tannin content may cause digestive disorders – avoid prolonged use or high doses. Avoid in pregnancy. Avoid if on anticoagulant therapy (e.g. warfarin)

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.herbs2000.com/herbs/herbs_bilberry.htm
http://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/b/bilber37.html
http://www.elements4health.com/bilberry-health-benefits.html

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Vaccinium+myrtillus

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