Herbs & Plants

Summer Cypress (Bassia scoparia)

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Botanical Name :Bassia scoparia
Family : Chenopodiaceae
Genus :             Bassia
Synonyms: Chenopodium scoparia – L.,  Kochia scoparia – (L.)Schrad., Kochia trichophila – Stapf.kochia, mock cypress, mirabel, burningbush
Other Names : Mexican fireweed,Caryophyllales > Chenopodiaceae

Habitat : Europe to Western N. America.  Roadsides, ditches and wasteland in western N. America.

Mexican fireweed is an annual weed that grows to 4 ft. (1.2 m) tall. Leaves are gray-green, alternate, entire, 0.25 – 2.5 in. (5-60 mm) long, up to 0.5 in. (10 mm) wide and usually covered with small hairs. The upper leaves are sometimes glabrous. Flowering occurs in July to October. Flowers are apetaloid, sessile, inconspicuous and occur along spikes. The fruits are utricles that contain one flattened, 0.1 in. (2 mm) wide seed. Mexican fireweed is a native of Eurasia and occurs along roadsides, fields, and other disturbed places. In the winter, when the plants senesce, the plant breaks off at the base and tumbles in the wind, effectively spreading its seeds.

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It is hardy to zone 6 and is frost tender. It is in flower in September, and the seeds ripen in October. The flowers are pollinated by Wind.

The plant prefers light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It requires moist soil. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.

Cultivation :-
An easily grown plant, it succeeds in ordinary garden soil[1]. Succeeds in any reasonably fertile light well-drained but moisture retentive soil in a sunny position. A frost tender plant, it is grown as a spring-sown annual in Britain. This species is cultivated in Korea for its use as a broom. The subspecies B. scoparia trichophylla. (Schmeiss.)Schinz.&Thell. is the form most often found in cultivation in Britain.

Seed – sow spring in a greenhouse and plant out in May. The seed can also be sown in situ in late April or early May.

Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Leaves; Seed.

Young leaves – cooked. A delicious taste, they are used as a vegetable. A nutritional analysis is available[218]. Some caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity. Seed – dried and ground into a powder then mixed with cereals when making bread, biscuits etc. Very small and fiddly to use, it is also not a very reliable crop in Britain due to its late season of flowering[K]. On a zero moisture basis, the seed contains 20.4 – 27.5% protein, 8.8 – 16% fat and 3.4 – 9.4% ash.

Figures in grams (g) or miligrams (mg) per 100g of food.

Leaves (Dry weight)
0 Calories per 100g
Water: 0%
Protein: 21.5g; Fat: 2.4g; Carbohydrate: 56.8g; Fibre: 19.7g; Ash: 19.2g;
Minerals – Calcium: 0mg; Phosphorus: 0mg; Iron: 0mg; Magnesium: 0mg; Sodium: 0mg; Potassium: 0mg; Zinc: 0mg;
Vitamins – A: 0mg; Thiamine (B1): 0mg; Riboflavin (B2): 0mg; Niacin: 0mg; B6: 0mg; C: 0mg;
Seed (Dry weight)
0 Calories per 100g
Water: 0%
Protein: 24g; Fat: 12.4g; Carbohydrate: 0g; Fibre: 0g; Ash: 6.4g;
Minerals – Calcium: 0mg; Phosphorus: 0mg; Iron: 0mg; Magnesium: 0mg; Sodium: 0mg; Potassium: 0mg; Zinc: 0mg;
Vitamins – A: 0mg; Thiamine (B1): 0mg; Riboflavin (B2): 0mg; Niacin: 0mg; B6: 0mg; C: 0mg;
Notes: The values here are based on the median figures of those quoted in the report.

Medicinal Actions & Uses
Antibacterial; Antifungal; Antiphlogistic; Astringent; Cardiotonic; Diuretic; Skin.

Antibacterial, antifungal. The leaves and fruits are cardiotonic and diuretic. The stems are used in the treatment of dysentery, diarrhoea and dyspepsia The seed is antiphlogistic, astringent and diuretic. It is used to treat skin infections such as eczema ad scabies, and diseases of the urinary tract. The seed contains harmine, which can have adverse effects upon the gastro-intestinal tract and the central nervous system.

Other Uses
The whole plant is used as a broom. The green form is used.

Known Hazards
:  Plants contain some saponins and should not be eaten in large quantities. Saponins are a toxin found in many of our daily foods such as many beans. They are usually present in quantities too small to be concerned about and are also very poorly absorbed by the body, tending to pass straight through without causing any problems. Saponins are much more toxic to some creatures, such as fish, and hunting tribes have traditionally put large quantities of them in streams, lakes etc in order to stupefy or kill the fish.

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.


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