Herbs & Plants

Potentilla egedei

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Botanical Name : Potentilla egedei
Family: Rosaceae
Subfamily: Rosoideae
Genus: Argentina
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Rosales

Synonyms: P. pacifica. T.J.Howell.

Common Name : Pacific Silverweed

Other names:
Potentilla anserina ssp egedii
› Potentilla anserina subsp. egedei (Wormsk.) Hiitonen
Potentilla anserina subsp. egedii
› Potentilla egedei Wormsk.
› Potentilla egedii
Habitat : Potentilla egedei is native to E. Asia. Western N. America – Alaska to California. It grows on coastal dunes, beaches, sand flats, marsh edges and streambanks, occasionally inland, from Alaska to California.

Potentilla egedei is a perennial herb growing to 0.5 m (1ft 8in). The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.The plant is self-fertile.

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

Edible Uses:
Root – raw or cooked. The raw root has a bitter flavour but most of the bitterness is lost once the root is cooked and the flavour then becomes somewhat like a sweet potato. The roots are rather thin but were a staple food of some North American Indian tribes.

Medicinal Uses:

Astringent; Ophthalmic; Poultice.

The whole plant is astringent. A poultice of the boiled roots and oil can be applied to sores and swellings. The juice from the roots has been used as a wash for sore eyes

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.


Herbs & Plants

Myrica californica

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Botanical Name: Myrica californica
Family: Myricaceae
Genus: Myrica
Species: M. californica
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Fagales

Synonyms: Gale californica

Common Names: California bayberry, California wax myrtle, California Barberry

Habitat : Myrica californica is native to the Pacific Ocean coast of North America from Vancouver Island south to California as far south as the Long Beach area. It grows in the Ocean sand dunes and moist hill sides near the coast, usually on acid soils and tolerating poorly drained soils.

Myrica californica is an evergreen Shrub growing to 4 m (13ft 1in) at a medium rate. It has serrated, sticky green leaves 4-13 cm long and 0.7-3 cm broad, which emit a spicy scent on warm days. It is in leaf 12-Jan It is in flower in May, and the seeds ripen from Sep to October. The flower’s inflorescence is arranged in a spike 0.6-3 cm long, in range of colors from green to red. The fruit is a wrinkled purple berry 4-6.5 mm diameter, with a waxy coating, hence the common name wax myrtle. This species has root nodules containing nitrogen-fixing microorganisms, allowing it to grow in relatively poor soils.


The flowers are monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and are pollinated by Wind.It can fix Nitrogen.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid and neutral soils and can grow in very acid soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.
Landscape Uses:Border, Hedge, Screen, Seashore, Specimen. Prefers a moist soil. Grows well in an open position in a well-drained soil in sun or light shade. Thrives in any ordinary garden soil according to one report whilst another says that it thrives in an acid soil. Prefers a lime-free loamy or peaty soil. Plants can be cut back to the ground in severe winters in many parts of Britain, but they are well suited to the milder parts of the country where they are fast-growing and produce fruit within 5 years from seed. They succeed and fruit well on a south facing wall at Kew. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus. The fruit is covered with a deposit of wax that has a balsamic odour. Many species in this genus have a symbiotic relationship with certain soil micro-organisms, these form nodules on the roots of the plants and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby. Special Features:Attracts birds, North American native, Fragrant foliage, Attracts butterflies, Inconspicuous flowers or blooms.
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in the autumn in a cold frame. Stored seed germinates more freely if given a 3 month cold stratification and then sown in a cold frame. Germination is usually good. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the cold frame for the first winter. Plant out in late spring or early summer. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 5 – 8cm with a heel, July/August in a frame. Pot up and overwinter in a cold frame then plant out in late spring or early summer. Fair to good percentage. Layering in spring

Edible Uses: Fruit – raw or cooked. The fruit is about 6mm in diameter with a large seed. There is very little edible flesh and the flavour of this is poor.

Medicinal Uses:  The bark and root bark is used in the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders and infections.
Other Uses:
Dye; Wax; Wood.

A wax covering on the fruit is extracted by scalding the fruit with boiling water and immersing them for a few minutes, the wax floats to the surface and is then skimmed off. The fruit is then boiled in water to extract the wax from the pulp and once more the wax is skimmed off. It is then strained through a muslin cloth and can be used to make aromatic candles. Candles made from this wax are quite brittle but are less greasy in warm weather. They are slightly aromatic and do not smoke when put out, making them much more pleasant to use that wax or tallow candles. The wax is also used in making soaps. To date (07/12/95) plants growing on our Cornish trial grounds have fruited freely but have not produced much wax. They produced somewhat more after the hot summer of 1995, but there was still not enough to make extraction worthwhile. A grey-brown and a maroon-purple dye are obtained from the fresh or dried berries. Wood – heavy, very hard, strong, brittle, close grained
Known Hazards: Although no reports of toxicity have been seen for this species, there is a report for some members of this genus that some of the constituents of the wax might be carcinogenic.

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.


Herbs & Plants

Ophioglossum vulgatum

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Botanical Name : Ophioglossum vulgatum
Family: Ophioglossaceae
Genus: Ophioglossum
Species: O. vulgatum
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pteridophyta
Class: Psilotopsida
Order: Ophioglossales

Common Names: Adder’s-tongue, Southern adders-tongue or Adders-tongue fern

Habitat : Ophioglossum vulgatum is native to many regions with a wide scattered distribution: throughout temperate through tropical Africa; and throughout the temperate Northern Hemisphere in Europe, northeastern North America, temperate Asia, and Eurasia. This small, hard-to-spot plant can occur singly in unimproved pastures, rock crevices and grassy path-sides, but also can occur in colonies of hundreds of plants in sand dunes.

Ophioglossum vulgatum grows from a rhizome base to 10-20 cm tall (rarely to 30 cm). It consists of a two-part frond, separated into a rounded diamond-shaped sheath and narrow spore-bearing spike. The spike has around 10-40 segments on each side.


It reproduces by means of spores.

Spores – best sown as soon as they are ripe on the surface of a humus-rich sterilized soil. Keep the compost moist, preferably by putting a plastic bag over the pot. Pot on small clumps of plantlets as soon as they are large enough to handle and keep them in humid conditions until they are well established. Do not plant outside until the ferns are at least 2 years old. Division of underground rhizomes with care because the roots are brittle.
Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Ophioglossum vulgatum. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.

Prefers a moist free-draining soil.
Plants are hardy to about -15°c. The prothalli (a small plant formed when the spore germinates) of this species form a symbiotic relationship with a mycorrhizal fungus in much the same way as orchid seedlings. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer. Plants can be hard to establish, they can be naturalized in a meadow or cultivated in the border where they should be left undisturbed.

Unlike most species of ferns, the fronds of this species grow up straight and not curled inward, crozier fashi
Edible uses: Used as a vegetable. No more details are found.
Medicinal Uses:
The root and the leaves are antiseptic, detergent, emetic, haemostatic, styptic and vulnerary. An ointment made from the plant is considered to be a good remedy for wounds and is also used in the treatment of skin ulcers. The expressed juice of the leaves is drunk as a treatment for internal bleeding and bruising
Traditional European folk use of leaves and rhizomes as a poultice for wounds. This remedy was sometimes called the “Green Oil of Charity”. A tea made from the leaves was used as a traditional European folk remedy for internal bleeding and vomiting.

The fresh leaves make a most effective and comforting poultice for ulcers and tumors. The expressed juice of the leaves is drunk as a treatment for internal bleeding and bruising.

Known Hazards: Although no reports of toxicity is found for this species, a number of ferns contain carcinogens so some caution is advisable. Many ferns also contain thiaminase, an enzyme that robs the body of its vitamin B complex. In small quantities this enzyme will do no harm to people eating an adequate diet that is rich in vitamin B, though large quantities can cause severe health problems. The enzyme is destroyed by heat or thorough drying, so cooking the plant will remove the thiaminase.

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.

News on Health & Science

Too Close for Comfort

The scientific study of a person’s sense of personal space may one day lead to ways of treating neurological diseases such as autism.
Have you been annoyed by people standing too close to you? Do you feel uncomfortable when people stare at you? If you are offended by excessive proximity, you are among the billions of normal people on this planet. If you are not, there may be something abnormal in your brain.

A person’s sense of private space is considered so important that scientists have given a name to its formal study — proxemics. The subject is already throwing up interesting theories and practical applications.

Studies show that our sense of personal space determines a large part of our public behaviour. It is this sense that stops us from staring at others in crowded places, opt for unoccupied rows in a train or bus, or not stand close to another person in a urinal. Also, it enables us to sense danger in people’s expressions. Our sense of personal space — or more accurately, lack of it — could even be linked to some neurological diseases such as autism.

At the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in the US, professor of psychology and neuroscience Ralph Adolphs recently found that our sense of personal space resides in a part of the brain called amygdala. This almond-shaped structure is in the medial temporal lobe, equidistant from either ear. The amygdala has been known for over a century but neuroscientists were not interested in it until recently. The region was known to be associated with emotions, but scientists are now learning that it also plays a role in a number of brain disorders.

Adolphs and his team had come across a woman who they prefer to call SM. SM had no sense of personal space, because of which she had got into potentially dangerous situations. She participated in an experiment at Caltech where people were asked to walk towards the experimenter but stop at a distance where they felt comfortable. SM got very close to the experimenter, far closer than anyone else did. The other 20 volunteers stopped at about two feet; SM stopped at one foot. She did not feel uncomfortable even when the noses were about to touch. “She had earlier got into relationships with people whom normal people would not associate with,” says Adolphs.

Obviously, SM cannot decide whom to trust and is uniformly friendly with everybody she meets. Adolphs then used imaging techniques to determine what part of the brain lit up when people felt uncomfortably close to the experimenter. It was undoubtedly the amygdala. SM had lesions on both sides of the amygdala. Now the team is investigating the relationship of the amygdala, our sense of space and autism. Autistic people have difficulties with personal space and have to be taught its importance.

The experience of SM clearly suggests that our sense of personal space is also a necessary part of a defensive mechanism. She could not recognise fear in the faces of others and could also not judge whether someone is trustworthy, both being abilities that could be related to our sense of personal space. So important and so ingrained is our sense of this space that we carry it even to cyberspace. In experiments performed at Stanford University, scientists had found out that people maintain their sense of personal space even in virtual worlds. Says Nick Yee, former Stanford PhD student and now research scientist at the Palo Alto Research Centre, “When avtars gather in Second Life, they tend to maintain a distance as they do in the real world.”

Second Life is a 3D virtual world where people can create “avtars” who interact just as in the real world. The Stanford Virtual Reality Lab research team, of which Yee was a part, had created algorithms that could analyse the behaviour of avtars in Second Life. The aim of this project was to study virtual environments and not our sense of personal space, but it clearly demonstrated that personal space was important even in virtual worlds.

Around 10 years ago, at the University of California, Santa Cruz, professor Dane Archer videotaped several individuals in situations where they felt their sense of personal space was being violated. These situations involved urinals, libraries and other public places. The videos are now sold by Berkeley Media LLC, a leading distributor of documentaries in the US. The clips show that though people feel their personal space is being violated, their response is to move away rather than confront the aggressor.

Although the term proxemics is only a few decades old (its originator, Edward Hall, passed away this July), the scientific study of personal space is just beginning. It is providing fascinating insights into non-verbal communication. And scientists hope it would one day also lead to ways of treating neurological diseases.

Source:The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

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