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Ajuga reptans

Botanical Name :Ajuga reptans
Family: Lamiaceae
Subfamily: Ajugoideae
Genus: Ajuga
Species: A. reptans
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Lamiales

SynonymsCarpenter’s Herb. Sicklewort. Middle Comfrey.

Common Names: Bugle, blue bugle, bugleherb, bugleweed, carpetweed, carpet bungleweed, common bugle

Habitat: Ajuga reptans  is native to most of Europe, including Britain, to S.W. Asia and N. Africa. It grows in  damp grassy fields and damp woods.

Description:
Ajuga reptans is an evergreen  perennial, to be found in flower from the end of April to the beginning of July and well marked by its solitary, tapering flower-stalks, 6 to 9 inches high, and its creeping scions or runners. These are long shoots, sometimes a couple of feet or more long, sent out from the rootstock. At intervals upon them are pairs of leaves, and at the same point rootlets are given off below, which enter the earth. As winter approaches, the runners die, but at every point where the leaf-pairs and the rootlets were formed, there is a dormant plant waiting to develop fully in the spring, a Bugle plant thus being the centre of quite a colony of new young plants, quite independently of setting its seeds, which as a matter of fact do not always ripen, the plant propagating itself more largely by its creeping scions.

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The erect flower-stalk sent up from the root-stock is square, pale green, often purplish above, with the leaves opposite in pairs, the lower leaves on stalks, the upper leaves stalkless, oblong and obtuse in form, toothed or almost entire at the margin, having manycelled hairs on both surfaces, the margins also fringed with hairs. The runners are altogether smooth, but the stems are smooth only on two sides and downy on the other two.

 

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The flowers are of a purplish blue, crowded into a spike formed of about six or more rings of whorls, generally six flowers in a whorl. The upper leaves or bracts interspersed between the whorls are also tinged with the same colour, so that ordinarily the whole of the upper portion of the plant has a bluish appearance. A white variety is sometimes found, the upper leaves then being of the normal green colour.

The flowers are adapted by their lipped formation for cross-fertilization by bees, a little honey being found at the base of the long tube of the corolla. The upper lip is very short and the lower three-cleft. The stamens project. The flowers have practically no scent. After fertilization, small blackish seeds are formed, but many of the ovules do not mature.

The rather singular names of this plant – both popular and botanical – are not very easy to account for. It has been suggested that ‘Bugle’ is derived from bugulus, a thin, glass pipe used in embroidery, the long, thin tube of the corolla being thought to resemble this bead bugle. It is more likely to be a corruption of the Latin name Ajuga, the generic name which Linnaeus was the first to apply to this plant from a belief that this or some closely-allied species was the one referred to by Pliny and other writers by a very similar name, a name probably corrupted from Abija, in turn derived from the Latin word abigo, to drive away, because the plant was thought to drive away various forms of disease. In former days it was held to possess great curative powers. Prior, writing in the seventeenth century, tells us: ‘It is put in drinkes for woundes and that is the cause why some doe commonly say that he that hath Bugle and Sanicle will scarce vouchsafe the chirugeon a bugle.’ The early writers speak of the plant as the Abija, Ajuga, Abuga and Bugula, and the common English name, Bugle, is clearly a corruption of one or other of these forms.

Cultivation:
Landscape Uses:Border, Container, Erosion control, Ground cover, Massing, Rock garden, Specimen, Woodland garden. Prefers a humus-rich, moisture retentive soil and partial shade. Does well in marshy soil and in the spring meadow. Grows well in dry shade and is fairly drought tolerant once established, though it shows distress in severe drought. Plants do not always ripen their seeds in Britain, they spread freely by runners, however, and soon form an extensive patch in suitable conditions. A number of forms have been selected for their ornamental value, several of them are variegated and these are used especially as ground cover plants for dry shade. A purple-leafed form, ‘Atropurpurea’ does well in full sun so long as the soil is not dry. A good bee and butterfly plant. Special Features:Attractive foliage, Not North American native, Naturalizing.

Propagation :
Seed – sow spring or autumn in a cold frame. The seed usually germinates in 3 – 4 weeks at 10°c, though it can be erratic. Prick out the seedlings when they are large enough to handle and plant them out in the summer. Division of runners at almost any time of year. Very easy, the divisions can be planted straight out into their permanent positions if required.

Edible Uses:  Leaves….…Young shoots – raw

Part Used Medicinally:  The whole herb, gathered in May and early June, when the leaves are at their best, and dried.

Medicinal Uses:
Bitter, astringent and aromatic.

Ajuga reptans herb has been used in the traditional Austrian medicine internally as tea for treatment of disorders related with the respiratory tract.

In herbal treatment, an infusion of this plant is still considered very useful in arresting haemorrhages and is employed in coughs and spitting of blood in incipient consumption and also in some biliary disorders, a wineglassful of the infusion – made from 1 OZ. of the dried herb to 1 pint of boiling water – being given frequently.

In its action, it rather resembles digitalis, lowering the pulse and lessening its frequency, it allays irritation and cough, and equalizes the circulation and has been termed ‘one of the mildest and best narcotics in the world.’ It has also been considered good for the bad effects of excessive drinking.

Green (Universal Herbal, 1832) gives as his opinion that ‘the leaves may be advantageously used in fluxes and disorders of that kind as they do not, like many other plants of the same value, produce costiveness, but rather operate as gentle laxatives.’
He states that a decoction of the herb has been employed for quinsy on the Continent, where the herb has been more employed as a remedy than in this country.

The roots have by some authorities been considered more astringent than the rest of the plant.

Ajuga reptans has a long history of use as a wound herb and, although little used today, it is still considered very useful in arresting hemorrhages and is also used in the treatment of coughs and spitting of blood in incipient consumption.  It has mild analgesic properties and it is still used occasionally as a wound healer.  It is used to treat bleeding from cuts and other wounds.  The leaves are simmered to make an infusion. It is also mildly laxative and traditionally has been thought to help cleanse the liver.  In the past it was recommended for coughs, ulcers, rheumatism, and to prevent hallucinations after excessive alcohol consumption.   Externally used for bruises and tumors.  It is thought to possess heart tonic properties. The plant is usually applied externally. It is also commonly used fresh in ointments and medicated oils.

Other Uses:     A good ground-cover for a position in semi-shade, forming a carpet and rooting as it spreads. Fairly fast growing but it does not always smother out weeds and can become bare at the centre if not growing in good conditions.

Known Hazards:   The plant is said to be a narctic hallucinogen that is known to have caused fatalities.

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/b/buglec82.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ajuga_reptans

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Ajuga+reptans

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

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Lolium temulentum

Botanical Name: Lolium temulentum
Family: Poaceae
Genus: Lolium
Species: L. temulentum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Poales

Synonyms:
XWALK: Lolium temulentum var. leptochaeton
ICPN: Lolium temulentum ssp. temulentum

Common Names:Darnel or Cockle

Habitat:It has a global distribution.

Description:
Lolium temulentum, a monocot, is an annual herb. The plant stem can grow up to 1 meter tall,

Spikes many-flowered, distichous, sessile, contrary to the rachis. Flowers beardless at the base. Glumes 2, nearly equal, herbaceous, lanceolate, channelled, awnless; the lower or inner ones very often deficient in the lateral spikelets. Paleae 2, herbaceous; the lower concave, awnless, or awned below the point; the upper bicarinate. Stamens 3. Ovary smooth; styles 2, very short, inserted below the point; stigmas feathery, with long, simple, finely-toothed, transparent hairs; scales 2, fleshy, smooth, acute, entire or two-lobed. Caryopsis smooth, adhering to the upper paleae (Kunth).

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Darnel usually grows in the same production zones as wheat and is considered a weed. The similarity between these two plants is so extensive that in some regions cockle is referred to as false wheat. It bears a close resemblance to wheat until the ear appears. The ears on the real wheat are so heavy that it makes the entire plant droop downward, but L. temulentum, whose ears are light, stands up straight. The wheat will also appear brown when ripe, whereas the darnel is black. When the Lolium matures, the spikelets turn edge ways to the rachis where the wheat spikelets remain as they grew previously.

The darnel can be infected by an endophytic fungus of the genus Neotyphodium, and the endophyte-produced, insecticidal loline alkaloids were first isolated from this plant. It parasitizes wheat fields. The French word for darnel is “ivraie” (from Latin ebriacus, ‘intoxicated’), which expresses that weed’s characteristic of making one feel poisoned with drunkenness, and can cause death. This characteristic is also alluded to in the scientific name (Latin temulentus = drunk).

Chemical Characteristics:
According to Ruspini , the presence of grains of Lolium temulentum in wheat-flour may be detected by digesting the suspected farina in rectified spirit. If the Lolium be present, the spirit immediately acquires a characteristic green tint, which gradually deepens; and the taste of the tincture is astringent, and so disagreeable that it may even excite vomiting. By evaporation it yields a green resin. But I have not succeeded in obtaining these results. By digesting bruised and coarsely powdered grains of Lolium temulentum in rectified spirit, the liquid had acquired in forty eight hours a pale yellow colour and scarcely any flavour, and yielded, by spontaneous evaporation, a minute portion of yellowish residue with a saline taste.

Medicinal Uses:
This grass was used medicinally by the ancient Greeks and Romans, though it is somewhat remarkable that it is mentioned neither by Hippocrates nor Celsus.

Darnel has been recently employed in headache, in rheumatic meningitis, and in sciatica. Fantoni used it with success in the case of a widow who, at the climacteric period, was affected with giddiness, headache, and epistaxis, which had resisted various other remedies. In a case of violent rheumatic meningitis, very great benefit was obtained by its use.

Occasionally used in folk medicine to treat headache, rheumatism, and sciatica.  It is occasionally used externally in cases of skin eruption and tumorous growth.  It is sometimes used by doctors to treat dizziness, insomnia, blood congestion, and stomach problems. It may also be used for skin problems like herpes, scurf, and sores.

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_DE.htm
http://www.henriettesherbal.com/eclectic/pereira/lolium.html
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=LOTE2&photoID=lote2_001_avd.tif
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lolium_temulentum

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Verbascum thapsus

Botanical Name: Verbascum thapsus
Family: Scrophulariaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Lamiales
Genus: Verbascum
Species: V. thapsus

Common NamesMullein
V. thapsus is known by a variety of names. European reference books call it “Great mullein”. In North America, “Common mullein” is used. In the 19th century it had well over 40 different common names in English alone. Some of the more whimsical ones included “Hig candlewick”, “Bullicks lungwort”, “Adams-rod”, “Feltwort“, “Hare’s-beard” and “Ice-leaf”. Vernacular names include innumerable references to the plant’s hairiness: “Woolly”, “Velvet” or “Blanket Mullein“,  “Beggar’s”, “Moses'”, “Poor Man’s”, “Our Lady’s” or “Old Man’s Blanket”, and so on (“Flannel” is another common generic name).

Some names refer to the plant’s size and shape: “Shepherd’s Club(s)” or “Staff”, “Aaron’s Rod” (a name it shares with a number of other plants with tall, yellow inflorescences), and a plethora of other “X’s Staff” and “X’s Rod”. The name “Velvet” or “Mullein Dock” is also recorded, where “dock” is a British name applied to any broad-leaved plant

Habitat:
Verbascum thapsus has a wide native range including Europe, northern Africa and Asia, from the Azores and Canary Islands east to western China, north to the British Isles, Scandinavia and Siberia, and south to the Himalayas. In northern Europe, it grows from sea level up to 1,850 m altitude,  while in China it grows at 1,400–3,200 m altitude.

It has been introduced throughout the temperate world, and is established as a weed in Australia, New Zealand, tropical Asia, La Réunion, North America, Hawaii, Chile, Hispaniola and Argentina. It has also been reported in Japan.

In the United States it was imported very early in the 18th. century and cultivated for its medicinal and piscicide property. By 1818, it had begun spreading so much that Amos Eaton thought it was a native plant. In 1839 it was already reported in Michigan and in 1876, in California. It is now found commonly in all the states. In Canada, it most common in Southern Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia, and in the Maritime Provinces, with scattered populations in between.

Great Mullein most frequently grows as a colonist of bare and disturbed soil, usually on sandy or chalky soils. It grows best in dry, sandy or gravelly soils, although it can grow in a variety of habitats, including banksides, meadows, roadsides, forest clearings and pastures. It germinates almost solely in bare soil, at temperatures between 10 °C and 40 °C. This ability to grow in a wide range of habitats has been linked to strong phenotype variation rather than adaptation capacities. While it can germinate in total darkness if proper conditions are present (tests give a 35% germination rate under ideal conditions), in the wild, it will only do so if the seeds are exposed, or very close to the soil surface. While it can also appear in areas where some vegetation exist, growth of the rosettes on bare soil is four to seven times more rapid.

Description:
Verbascum thapsus  is a hairy biennial plant that can grow to 2 m or more tall. Its small yellow flowers are densely grouped on a tall stem, which bolts from a large rosette of leaves. It grows in a wide variety of habitats, but prefers well-lit disturbed soils, where it can appear soon after the ground receives light, from long-lived seeds that persist in the soil seed bank. It is a common weedy plant that spreads by prolifically producing seeds, but rarely becomes aggressively invasive, since its seed require open ground to germinate. It is a very minor problem for most agricultural crops, since it is not a very competitive species, being intolerant of shade from other plants and unable to survive tilling. It also hosts many insects, some of which can be harmful to other plants. Although individuals are easy to remove by hand, populations are difficult to eliminate permanently.

Verbascum thapsus is a dicotyledonous biennial that produces a rosette of leaves in its first year of growth. The leaves are large, up to 50 cm long, and are covered with woolly, silvery hairs. The second year plants normally produce a single unbranched stem 1–2 m tall, with some plants reportedly having stems reaching up to 3.5 m tall. In the East of its range in China, it is, however, only reported to grow up to 1.5 m tall. The tall pole-like stems end in a dense spike of flowers, that can occupy up to half the stem length. All parts of the plants are covered with star-shaped trichomes. Its chromosome number is 2n = 36.
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On flowering plants the leaves are alternately arranged up the stem. The leaves are thick, and decurrent on the stem, with much variation especially between the upper and lower leaves on the stem, with leaf shape ranging from between oblong to oblanceolate, ranging in size up to 50 cm long and 14 cm across (19 inches long and 5 inches wide).They become smaller higher up the stem, and less strongly decurrent lower down the stem. The flowering stem is solid and 2–2.5 cm (nearly an inch) across, and occasionally branched just below the inflorescence, usually when damaged. After flowering and seed release the stem and fruits usually persist in winter[10] after drying into hard, stiff structures topped with densely packed, ovoid shaped, dry seed capsules. The dried stems are most often dark brownish, and often persist standing until the next spring or even into the next summer. The plants produce a shallow taproot.

The flowers are pentamerous with five stamen that are fused to the petals, a 5-lobed calyx tube and a 5-petalled corolla, the latter bright yellow and an 1.5–3 cm (0.5–1 inch) wide. The flowers are almost sessile, with very short pedicels (2 mm, 0.08 in). The five stamens are of two types, with the three upper stamens being shorter, with filaments covered by yellow or whitish hairs, and having smaller anthers, while the lower two stamens have glabrous filaments and larger anthers. The plant produces small ovoid (6 mm, 0.24 in) capsules that split open by way of two valves, each capsule containing large numbers of minute brown seeds less than a millimetre (0.04 in) in size, with longitudinal ridges. A white-flowered form V. thapsus f. candicans occurs. Flowering lasts for up to three months from early to late summer (June to August in northern Europe), with flowering starting at the bottom of the spike and progressing irregularly up the spike; each flower opens for part of a day and only a few open at the same time around the stem.

Edible Uses:  
Tea: An aromatic tea can be made by boiling 1 tbs. dried leaves or root, in 1 cup water for 5 – 10 min. A sweeter tea can be made by infusing the fresh or dried flowers. Or for children and the elderly use milk instead of water. Sweeten if desired.

Main  Uses: 
Great Mullein has been used since ancient times as a remedy for skin, throat and breathing ailments. It has long had a medicinal reputation, especially as an astringent and emollient. It contains mucilage, several saponins, coumarin and glycosides. Dioscorides recommended it for diseases of the lung and it is nowadays widely available in health and herbal stores.

Medical uses

Great Mullein has been used as an alternative medicine for centuries, and in many countries throughout the world, the value of Great Mullein as a proven medicinal herb is now backed by scientific evidence. Some valuable constituents contained in Mullein are Coumarin and Hesperidin, they exhibit many healing abilities. Research indicates some of the uses as analgesic, antihistaminic, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, antioxidant, antiviral, bacteristat, cardio-depressant, estrogenic, fungicide, hypnotic, sedative and pesticide are valid.
Dioscorides first recommended the plant 2000 years ago, against pulmonary diseases, and this has remained one of its primary uses, especially against cough. Leaf decoctions or herbal teas were used for expectoration, consumption, dry cough, bronchitis, sore throat and hemorrhoids. Leaves were also smoked against pulmonary ailments, a tradition that in America was rapidly transmitted to Native American peoples. They used the non-indigenous plant to make syrups against croup. The combination of expectorant saponins and emollient mucilage makes the plant particularly effective for cough. All preparations meant to be drunk have to be finely filtered to eliminate the irritating hairs.

Oil from the flowers was used against catarrhs, colics and, in Germany, earaches, frostbite, eczema and other external conditions. Topical application of various V. thapsus-based preparations was recommended for the treatment of warts, boils, carbuncles, hemorrhoids, and chilblains, amongst others. Recent studies have found that Great Mullein contains glycyrrhizin compounds with bactericide and potential anti-tumoral action. These compounds are concentrated in the flowers. Different extracts have varying levels of efficiency against bacteria. In Germany, a governmental commission sanctioned medicinal use of the plant for catarrhs. It was also part of the National Formulary in the United States[66] and United Kingdom. The plant’s leaves, in addition to the seeds, have been reported to contain rotenone, although quantities are unknown.

In Spanish, Great Mullein is called Gordolobo. Gnaphalium conoideum was used in a fashion similar to Mullein by the Mexican Aztecs, which caused confusion in naming, and both are sold under the name “Gordolobo”, (although V. thapsus is not found in Mexico). This situation has led to at least one case of poisoning due to confusion of G. conoideum with Senecio longilobus.

It is widely used for herbal remedies with emollient and astringent properties. It is especially recommended for coughs and related problems, but also used in topical applications against a variety of skin problems. It was traditionally smoked for lung conditions.  It is also a diuretic used to relieve urinary tract inflammation, diarrhea, and inflammation, colitis, or other bleeding in the bowel.  The flowers extracted into olive oil make a preparation that is known to reduce the pain and inflammation of earache, insect bites, bruises, hemorrhoids, and sore joints.  A distilled flower water or a poultice has been placed on burns, ringworm, boils and sores.  The leaves are used in homeopathic products for migraine and earache.

Medicinally, it is expectorant, anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, astringent, and demulcent (which means soothing). Mullein tea is primarily used as an effective treatment for coughs and lung disorders. Due to its mucilage content, Mullein is also a soothing emollient for inflammatory skin conditions and burns.


Other uses

Dye, Insecticide, Insulation, Lighting, Tinder, Wick. A yellow dye is made from the flowers by boiling them in water. When used with dilute sulphuric acid they produce a rather permanent green dye, this becomes brown with the addition of alkalis. An infusion of the flowers is sometimes used to dye the hair a golden color. The leaves contain rotenone, which is used as an insecticide. The dried leaves are highly flammable and can be used to ignite a fire quickly , or as wick for candles.
Like many ancient medicinal plants (Pliny the Elder describes it in his Naturalis Historia), Great Mullein was linked to witches, although the relationship remained generally ambiguous, and the plant was also widely held to ward off curses and evil spirits.The seeds contain several compounds (saponins, glycosides, coumarin, rotenone) that cause breathing problems in fish, and have been widely used as piscicide for fishing.

The plant was also used to make dyes and torches.  The flowers provide dyes of bright yellow or green, and have been used for hair dye.The dried leaves and hair were made into candle wicks, or put into shoes to help with insulating them. The dried stems were also dipped into suet or wax to make torches. Due to its weedy capacities, the plant, unlike other species of the genus (such as V. phoeniceum), is not often cultivated.

Folklore
An old superstition existed that witches used lamps and candles provided with wicks of Mullein in their incantations, and another of the plant’s many names, ‘Hag’s Taper’, refers to this. Both in Europe and Asia the power of driving away evil spirits was ascribed to the Mullein. Being a sure safeguard against evil spirits and magic, and from the ancient classics, it was this plant which Ulysses took to protect himself against the wiles of Circe. 

Mullein oil: Use flowers or root. Place in blender or crush, fill jar, cover with olive oil, set in warm place for 2 weeks. Strain before use.

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/Verbascum_thapsus
http://www.piam.com/mms_garden/plants.html

http://altnature.com/gallery/mullien.htm

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

Aspalathus Linearis (Rooibos)

Botanical Name : Aspalathus linearis
Family:    Fabaceae
Subfamily:Faboideae
Tribe:    Crotalarieae
Genus:    Aspalathus
Species:linearis
Kingdom:Plantae
Order:    Fabales

Synonyms: Aspalathus contaminatus – auct. Borbonia pinifolia – Marloth.
Common names : rooibos tea ( Eng. ), rooibostee, bossietee (Afr.)
Habitat : Aspalathus linearis is naturally distributed in the winter rainfall area from about Vanrhynsdorp in the north to the Cape Peninsula and the Betty’s Bay area in the south. The area experiences cold wet winters and hot dry summers with about 300-350 mm of rain per annum. Rooibos tea is made from selected forms of the species found mainly on the Cederberg Mountains. It is cultivated on sandy soils in the valleys of the Olifants, Breede and Hex Rivers (Dahlgren 1988).

Derivation of name and historical aspects :
The genus name Aspalathus is derived from the Greek aspalathos, which was the name of a scented bush that grew in Greece. The epithet linearis is derived from the Latin word for linear, which in this case refers to the shape of the leaves.

Description
Aspalathus linearis is an erect to spreading, highly variable shrub or shrublet up to 2 m high. Its young branches are often reddish. The leaves are green and needle-like, 15-60 mm long and up to about 1 mm thick. They are without stalks and stipules and may be densely clustered. The yellow flowers, which appear in spring to early summer, are solitary or arranged in dense groups at the tips of branches. The fruit is a small lance-shaped pod usually containing one or two hard seeds.

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Although many of the plants in the genus Aspalanthus are attractive, they have apparently seldom been grown in gardens. This is thought to be due to the difficulty in propagation by seed or root cuttings and in providing the optimal growing conditions for the plants. In order to grow Aspalathus linearis successfully, seeds must first be scarified and then planted in acid, sandy soils.

There are commercial plants of rooibos at the Cape. According to Mr S de Beer of Lambertshoek farm, Clanwillian, seeds which are obtained from the local rooibos tea management board have been treated and germinate easily. They are planted in seedbeds in March to a depth of 5-10cm and are ready for planting out by July. Plants are generally rainfall dependent and the plants prefer not to be too wet. No fertilizing is required and the plants grow quite well in nutrient poor conditions. The most common pest is Loopers or “Landmeter wurmpies” (the larvae of the family Geometridae and of the order Lepidoptera)

Cultivation:Aspalathus  Linearis  grows in sandy hills and on the sides of mountains. Well-drained, sandy but moisture-retaining, non-acidic soils. Generally farmers plant seeds in February and March and then transfer the seedlings to plantations. It takes 12- 18 months before the shrubs are ready to be harvested. The plants are harvested once each year, from December through April. They are harvested up to period of five years and then pulled out and new plants are planted.

Propagation:
Seed – sow late spring in a greenhouse covering the seed with about 10mm of soil. It will probably be beneficial to pre-soak the seed for 12 hours in warm water prior to sowing. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots of well-drained sandy soil as soon as they are large enough to handle. Grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter and plant them out in late spring or early summer after the last expected frosts. It will probably be wise to give the plants protection from the cold and from excessive rain for at least their first winter outdoors. Cuttings of half-ripe wood in a closed frame in early summer

Hervesting:

The basic method of rooibos harvesting has remained largely the same as the process used centuries ago. An environmentally friendly way of harvesting tea is used that involves cutting only the young branches. Once they are cut, they are neatly bound and transported to the process yards. The older branches are left on the tree and the bushes get slightly taller every year. The tea cuttings are chopped very fine and then bruised to ensure that the important chemical reaction which develops the characteristic colour and flavour of the tea can take place. After watering and airing, the tea is left to “sweat” in heaps and it at this point that the tea acquires its typical reddish brown colour and develops its sweet flavour. After the sweating process has been completed, it is spread out in a large drying yard to dry in the sun.
The rest of the process involves sorting and grading the tea according to length, colour and flavour. The finished Rooibos is finally weighed, bagged, and sold to companies who pack the product in either teabags or in loose leaf form under their own brand names.

Main constituents:Rooibos contains Magnesium, zinc and iron which are all essential to a healthy nervous system. Zinc and iron in particular are important for brain functioning and concentration. It also contains Vitamin C, Alphahydroxy Acid, potassium, copper, calcium, iron, manganese and fluoride.

Uses:
Rooibos tea is a most popular drink for health-conscious people, as it contains no colourants, additives or preservatives and is free of caffeine.Aspalathus linearis is of great economic value. It was first used by the indigenous people of the Cederberg area and is currently a very popular tea.
A tea made from the dried fermented leaves tastes similar to oriental tea made from Camellia sinensis. It is less astringent, however, due to the lower tannin content. It is caffeine-free, but has a higher content of fluoride which might help to protect against tooth decay. Recent research has shown that this tea contains a substance similar to superoxide dismutase, an antioxidant compound that is thought to retard the ageing process. The leaves and stems are harvested in the summer, fermented and sun dried for later use. The leaves are sometimes used as a flavouring in foods and in baking.

Medicinal Uses:
It is considered healthy as it is caffeine-free, low in tannins and rich in anti-oxidants. It is not only enjoyed as a herbal tea, but is also used as an ingredient in cosmetics, in slimming products, as a flavouring agent in baking, cooking and cocktails and even as a treatment for infants who are prone to colic.

it has been used in the treatment of vomiting, diarrhoea and other mild gastric complaints. It has also been shown to be of benefit when used internally and externally in the treatment of a wide range of allergies especially milk allergy, eczema, hay fever and asthma in infants.

Many children with ADHD symptoms also suffer from various allergies and food intolerances. Rooibos is of great benefit in the management of allergies and to build up the immune system. Rooibos improves overall liver functioning, which helps the body to eliminate toxins and improves overall body functioning thereby increasing the efficiency of all organs of the body. Rooibos is endemic to the Cedarberg Mountains of the Cape and is not found anywhere else in the world.
(Treatment for Acne)  (Ingredient in ClearSkin FaceWash)
(Treatment for ADHD)  ( Ingredient in Focus ADHD)
(Treatment for High Cholesterol)  Ingredient in Cholesto-Rite)

Now known worldwide for its anti-oxidant and healing properties, the soothing and healing effect of Rooibos on the skin is remarkable. It is an extremely nutritious herb. Rooibos can help to control blood sugar levels, lower blood pressure and enhance immune functioning.

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.herbs-herbal-remedies.com/list_of_herbs.htm
http://www.plantzafrica.com/plantab/aspallinearis.htm

http://www.pfaf.org/database/plants.php?Aspalathus+linearis

 

 

Aconite -( Aconitum napellus)

Unidentified Aconitum (possibly Aconitum carmi...Image via Wikipedia

Botanical Name: Aconitum napellus
Family: Ranunculaceae (Buttercup family)
Tribe:Delphinieae
Genus:Aconitum
Kingdom:    Plantae
Order:Ranunculales

Synonyms:  Monkshood. Blue Rocket. Friar’s Cap. Auld Wife’s Huid.
Common Names: Aconite, Venus’ chariot, Wolfsbane Garden, Monk’s Hood Garden

ALSO KNOWN AS:
Leopard’s bane, Women’s bane, Devil’s helmet, Queen of all Poisons, Caucasian aconite; Downy wolfsbane,Wolfsbane, Helmet Flower, Mourning Bride, Thor’s Hat, Monkshood, Blue Rocket, Friar’s Cap, Auld Wife’s Huid

Habitat :  Aconite is native to most of Europe, including Britain, east to N. W. Asia and the Himalayas.  It grows on damp shady places and moist rich meadows in southern Wales and south-western England. It is usually found in calcareous soils.

DESCRIPTION:

Alkaloid Containing Plant – Found is many colors (blues, whites, yellows, etc.). The plant is a hardy perennial, with a fleshy, spindle-shaped root, palecoloured when young, but subsequently acquiring a dark brown skin. The stem is about 3 feet high, with dark green, glossy leaves, deeply divided in palmate manner and flowers in erect clusters of a dark blue colour. The shape of the flower is specially designed to attract and utilize bee visitors, especially the humble bee. The sepals are purple – purple being specially attractive to bees – and are fancifully shaped, one of them being in the form of a hood. The petals are only represented by the two very curious nectaries within the hood, somewhat in the form of a hammer; the stamens are numerous and lie depressed in a bunch at the mouth of the flower. They are pendulous at first, but rise in succession and place their anthers forward in such a way that a bee visiting the flower for nectar is dusted with the pollen, which he then carries to the next flower he visits and thereby fertilizes the undeveloped fruits, which are in a tuft in the centre of the stamens, each carpel containing a single seed.

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In the Anglo-Saxon vocabularies it is called thung, which seems to have been a general name for any very poisonous plant. It was then called Aconite (the English form of its Greek and Latin name), later Wolf’s Bane, the direct translation of the Greek Iycotonum, derived from the idea that arrows tipped with the juice, or baits anointed with it, would kill wolves – the species mentioned by Dioscorides seems to have been Aconitum lycotonum. In the Middle Ages it became Monkshood and Helmet-flower, from the curious shape of the upper sepal overtopping the rest of the flower. This was the ordinary name in Shakespeare’s days.

The generic name is said to have been derived from, a dart, because it was used by barbarous races to poison their arrows, or from akone, cliffy or rocky, because the species grow in rocky glens. Theophrastus, like Pliny, derived the name from Aconae, the supposed place of its origin. The specific name, Napellus, signifies a little turnip, in allusion to the shape of the roots.

This perennial plant grows to about five feet high. It has deeply cut fringed glossy dark green leaves. It produces spikes (racemes) of hooded blue flowers in the summer. Following the flowers are fruits which contain glossy black triangular-shaped seeds. It is one of the ancient herbs. Traditional use of roots as one of the ingredients of witches’ brews in Europe in the Middle Ages. Traditional European folk use of dried roots as a poultice for bruises, rheumatism and snake bites.

Cultivation:
Landscape Uses:Border, Container, Massing, Woodland garden. Thrives in most soils and in the light shade of trees. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Prefers a moist soil in sun or semi-shade. Plants only thrive in a sunny position if the soil remains moist throughout the growing season. Prefers a calcareous soil. Tolerates a pH in the range 4.5 to 7.5. Plants take 2 – 3 years to flower when grown from seed. Grows well in open woodlands. The flowers are very attractive to bees. Members of this genus seem to be immune to the predations of rabbits and deer. Although the plant is a perennial, individual roots only live for one year and die after flowering. Each root produces a number of ‘daughter’ roots before it dies and these can be used for propagating the plant[4]. A greedy plant, inhibiting the growth of nearby species, especially legumes. An aggregate species which is divided by some botanists into many species. Special Features:Not North American native, Naturalizing, All or parts of this plant are poisonous, Suitable for cut flowers.

Propagation:
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. The seed can be stratified and sown in spring but will then be slow to germinate[133]. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a cold frame for their first winter. Plant them out in late spring or early summer. Division – best done in spring but it can also be done in autumn. Another report says that division is best carried out in the autumn or late winter because the plants come into growth very early in the year.

Edible Uses : Some reports suggest the root is edible if cooked, but these should be treated with extreme caution due to the highly toxic nature of the plant

Medicinal Properties:
There are a number of homeopathic potions and rememdies available that contain small amounts of aconite. The most common use of aconite in small proportions is for the control of fever (humans).

Sudden and intense onset, dry red skin without perspiration, unquenchable thirst for cold water, extreme restlessness, anxiety. In a moderate dose of five minims of the tincture, a sense of numbness and tingling is felt in the tongue and lips, with muscular weakness and depression; by doubling the dose these symptoms are intensified and prolonged, the pulse falls and the breathing is slowed. A poisonous dose causes tingling in the skin, pain in the joints, vertigo, dimness of vision, extreme debility, pulse forty to fifty per minute and irregular, skin cool and moist, burning heat in the esophagus and stomach, nausea, vomiting and purging. There may be severe gastric and intestinal spasms, headache, complete loss of sight, hearing and speech, while consciousness remains; pupils dilated. muscles tremulous or convulsed, pulse imperceptible; death by syncope.

Aconite acts on the vaso-motor nervous system. It is a powerful depressant of the heart, and if given in sufficient quantity will paralyze that organ. Its apparent influence is upon the terminal filaments of the sensory nerves first, and afterwards, more slowly, upon the nerve trunks. It depresses the nerve centers of the cord, and destroys reflex activity and voluntary power.

A drop of a solution of aconite in the eye causes the pupil to contract. Larger amounts induce toxic symptoms, the principal of which are increase of tingling and numbness, excessive perspiration, rapidly lowering temperature, pupillary dilation, dimness of sight, loss of hearing and sense of touch, and diminished action of the sensory filaments supplying the skin.

Muscular weakness is marked; trembling and occasional convulsions may ensue. Excessive depression comes on, and the power of standing is early lost. The feet and legs become. cold, the face pale, and the patient has a tendency to faint. There may be violent burning in the stomach with great thirst and dyspagia, and vomiting and diarrhea may occur. The pulse is weak, rapid, and almost imperceptible; acute, lancinating pain may be felt, and more or less delirium may result, though as a rule the intellect remains unimpaired.

“The manner in which aconite affects the nervous system is not yet definitely known. That it is a heart paralyzer seems to be an accepted fact. Death may result from syncope, though usually it occurs from respiratory paralysis. The action of a lethal dose is rapid, toxic symptoms showing themselves within a few moments.” (Lloyd and Felter.)


Properties:
Anodyne, febrifuge, and sedative.
Main Uses: Preparations of aconite are used for external application to the skin to relieve the pain of neuralgia, sciatica, arthritis, gout, rheumatism, measles, nervous fever, and chronic skin problems.
Preparation And Dosages:
Fresh Herb Tincture: (1:4) in 60% alcohol. Take 1 to 5 drops up to 4 times a day.

DANGEROUS PARTS OF PLANT:
All parts of aconite plant are poisonous, especially the root tubercles.

Note: contains aconitine, a highly toxic alkaloid. Note: too toxic to take internally. Note: all parts of this plant are very toxic when ingested: death may result. Note: POISONOUS. Note: if this plant is growing in your garden, be sure to wash your hands after handling it. Listed in the United States Pharmacopoeias from 1820 to 1930. Native to the mountainous regions of Europe. Cultivated as an ornamental in North America. At least three cultivars exist.

FIRST AID:
If a full toxic dose be taken, the above symptoms advance most rapidly, and no time whatever should be lost in combating the influence of the agent. It has no known physiological antidote. The conditions must be met according to their indications. If there is any reason for believing that the stomach contains any of the agent, large quantities of warm water should be swallowed and immediately evacuated. It may be vomited or siphoned out with a long stomach tube, or pumped out, but extreme nauseating emetics are contra-indicated. A mild infusion of oak bark, drunk freely, serves the double purpose of diluting the aconite and antidoting it by the tannin it contains. Tannic acid is believed to be a chemical antidote to a limited extent, and given in suspension in water is efficient.

The most immediately diffusible stimulants must then be given freely. Alcoholic stimulants, ammonia, capsicum in a hot infusion, and digitalis, strophanthus or atropine by hypodermic injection, or nitro- glycerine are most serviceable remedies. External heat continually and electricity are demanded. Lobelia should prove valuable. A pint of vinegar, diluted, saved one life.

SAFETY IN PREPARED FEEDS:

Any part of this plant should be avoided in feed until more research in done.

Extremely Toxic! Small doses of aconite can cause painful death.

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Known Hazards: The whole plant is highly toxic, acting especially on the nerve centres. At first it stimulates the central and peripheral nervous system and then paralyzes it. Other symptoms of poisoning include a burning sensation on the tongue, vomiting, stomach pain and diarrhoea. Simple skin contact with the plant has caused numbness in some people. The root contains 90% more poison than the leaves

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.goatworld.com/health/plants/aconite.shtml
http://www.indianspringherbs.com/Aconite.htm
http://www.bottlebrushpress.com/aconite.html

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Aconitum+napellus

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