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Herbs & Plants

Lotus corniculatus

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Botanical Name :Lotus corniculatus
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Faboideae
Tribe: Loteae
Genus: Lotus
Species: L. corniculatus
Kingdom: Plantae

Order: Fabales

Common Name:Bird’s-foot,  Trefoil,Upright trefoil, Common lotus.

The plant has had many common English names in Britain, which are now mostly out of use. These names were often connected with the yellow and orange colour of the flowers, e.g. ‘eggs and bacon‘, ‘butter and eggs’.

Habitat :Lotus corniculatus   is native toEurope, including Britain, from Scandanavia south and east to N. Africa and temperate Asia. It grows in the pastures and sunny banks of streams, especially on calcareous soils.

Description:
It is a perennial herbaceous plant, similar in appearance to some clovers. The flowers develop into small pea-like pods or legumes. The name ‘bird’s foot’ refers to the appearance of the seed pods on their stalk. There are five leaflets, but with the central three held conspicuously above the others, hence the use of the name trefoil.

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The height of the plant is variable, from 5-20 cm, occasionally more where supported by other plants; the stems can reach up to 50 cm long. It is typically sprawling at the height of the surrounding grassland. It can survive fairly close grazing, trampling and mowing. It is most often found in sandy soils. It Flowers from June until September.

Cultivation:
Landscape Uses:Border, Erosion control, Rock garden. Requires a well-drained soil in a sunny position. Dislikes shade Does well on poor soils. An important food plant for many caterpillars. It is also a good bee plant, the flowers providing an important source of nectar. The flowers are powerfully scented, even though they are able to pollinate themselves. The plant spreads very freely at the roots. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots 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 butterflies.

Propagation:
Pre-soak the seed for 24 hours in warm water and then sow in the spring or autumn in situ. The seed usually germinates in 2 – 4 weeks at 15°c. If seed is in short supply, it can be sown in pots in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in late spring or early summer.

Edible Uses:    The young seedpods are ‘nibbled’. Caution is advised, see notes above on toxicity.

Medicinal Uses;

Carminative, febrifuge, hypoglycaemic, restorative, vermifuge. The flowers are antispasmodic, cardiotonic and sedative. The root is carminative, febrifuge, restorative and tonic. The plant is used externally as a local anti-inflammatory compress in all cases of skin inflammation.
Recommended for the treatment of heart palpitations, nervousness, depression and insomnia.

Other Uses:
It is used in agriculture as a forage plant, grown for pasture, hay, and silage. Taller growing cultivars have been developed for this. It may be used as an alternative to alfalfa in poor soils. It has become an invasive species in some regions of North America and Australia

A double flowered variety is grown as an ornamental plant. The plant is an important nectar source for many insects and is also used as a larval food plant by many species of Lepidoptera such as Six-spot Burnet. It is regularly included as a component of wildflower mixes in Europe. Fresh birdsfoot trefoil contains cyanogenic glycosides   and is thus poisonous to humans.

The plant is one of the few flowers in the language of flowers that has a negative connotation, symbolizing revenge or retribution.

An orange-yellow dye is obtained from the flowers. A useful green manure plant, fixing atmospheric nitrogen. It is difficult to see this plant as a useful green manure, it is fairly slow growing with us and does not produce much bulk.

Known Hazards:   All parts of the plant are poisonous, containing cyanogenic glycosides(hydrogen cyanide). In small quantities, hydrogen cyanide has been shown to stimulate respiration and improve digestion, it is also claimed to be of benefit in the treatment of cancer. In excess, however, it can cause respiratory failure and even death. This species is polymorphic for cyanogenic glycosides. The flowers of some forms of the plant contain traces of prussic acid and so the plants can become mildly toxic when flowering. They are completely innocuous when dried.

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_AB.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lotus_corniculatus

http://www.agroatlas.ru/en/content/cultural/Lotus_corniculatus_K/

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Herbs & Plants

Astragalus multiceps

Botanical Name : Astragalus multiceps
Family : Leguminosae
Genus : Astragalus
Synonyms : Astragalus bicuspis – Fisch.
Common Name :Kandiara


Habitat
:E. Asia – W. Himalayas, to 3,500 metres in Garhwal, Kumaon and Simla.   Found at elevations of 1300 – 3300 metres in Tibet

Description:
Shrub growing to 0.45m.
It is hardy to zone 0. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, Lepidoptera (Moths & Butterflies). It can fix Nitrogen.

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The plant prefers light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and requires well-drained soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It requires dry soil.

Cultivation:
We have very little information on this species and do not know if it will be hardy in Britain, though judging by its native range it could succeed outdoors in many parts of this country. The following notes are based on the general needs of the genus. Requires a dry well-drained soil in a sunny position. Plants are intolerant of root disturbance and are best planted in their final positions whilst still small. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots 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. Many members of this genus can be difficult to grow, this may be due partly to a lack of their specific bacterial associations in the soil.

Propagation:
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. A period of cold stratification may help stored seed to germinate. Stored seed, and perhaps also fresh seed, should be pre-soaked for 24 hours in hot water before sowing – but make sure that you do not cook the seed. Any seed that does not swell should be carefully pricked with a needle, taking care not to damage the embryo, and re-soaked for a further 24 hours. Germination can be slow and erratic but is usually within 4 – 9 weeks or more at 13°c if the seed is treated or sown fresh. As soon as it is large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter, planting them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts.

Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Flowers.

The calyx of the flower is eaten and has a sweetish flavour.

Medicinal Uses
Demulcent; Emollient.

The seeds are demulcent and emollient. They are used in the treatment of colic and leprosy.


Known Hazards :
Many members of this genus contain toxic glycosides. All species with edible seedpods can be distinguished by their fleshy round or oval seedpod that looks somewhat like a greengage. A number of species can also accumulate toxic levels of selenium when grown in soils that are relatively rich in that element.

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://server9.web-mania.com/users/pfafardea/database/plants.php?Astragalus+multiceps
http://vaniindia.org.whbus12.onlyfordemo.com/herbal/plantdir.asp

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Herbs & Plants

Stemless Carline Thistle (Carlina acaulis)

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Botanical Name :Carlina acaulis
Family : Compositae/Asteraceae
Genus : Carlina
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asterales
Tribe: Cynareae
Species: C. acaulis
Common Names :Stemless carline thistle, Dwarf carline thistle, or Silver thistle

Habitat: Native to alpine regions of central and southern Europe. Poor soils in dry sandy pastures and on rocky slopes, especially on limestone.Cultivated Beds;

Description:
It is  Biennial/Perennial  dicotyledonous flowering plant in the family Asteraceae,  The common names are descriptive of the manner that its flower head rests directly upon a basal leaf rosette.

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The spiny, pinnatilobate leaves grow in a basal rosette approximately 20 cm in diameter. The flowers are produced in a large (up to 10 cm) flowerhead of silvery-white ray florets around a central disc. The disc florets are tubular and yellow-brown in colour. To protect the pollen, the head closes in wet weather, a phenomenon folklore holds to presage forthcoming rain. The flowering time is between August and September.

It prefers chalky soils and dry pastures in environments from valleys up to an altitude of 2,800 m.

It is hardy to zone 4. It is in flower in June, and the seeds ripen from July to August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, Lepidoptera (Moths & Butterflies). The plant is self-fertile.
The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, requires well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline soil. It cannot grow in the shade. It requires dry or moist soi

Subspecies
There are two subspecies:

Carlina acaulis subsp. acaulis – inflorescences sessile
Carlina acaulis subsp. simplex – inflorescences with a short stem

Cultivation:
Succeeds in a sunny position in ordinary garden soil. Prefers a neutral to alkaline soil. Prefers a poor soil. Established plants are drought tolerant. Plants are hardy to about -20°c. The stemless carline thistle is a protected plant in the wild because of its rarity. This species resents root disturbance, it should be planted into its final position as soon as possible. Plants are usually short-lived or monocarpic. The plant is popular in dried flower arranging, the dried heads keeping their appearance indefinitely.

Propagation
Seed – surface sow in a cold frame in the spring. The seed usually germinates in 4 – 8 weeks at 15°c. As soon as they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out into their permanent positions in the summer.


Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Flowers; Root; Stem.

Flowering head – cooked. Used as a globe artichoke substitute, though they are considerably smaller and even more fiddly. The fleshy centre of the plant is edible. Does this refer to the peeled stem?. Root. No more details are given.


Medicinal Actions &  Uses

Carminative; Diaphoretic; Digestive; Diuretic; Emetic; Febrifuge; Purgative.

The rhizome contains a number of essential oils, in particular the antibacterial carlina oxide. The root was formerly employed in herbal medicine as a diuretic and cold remedy.

Stemless carline thistle is seldom used in modern herbalism. The plant was at one time in great demand as an aphrodisiac, it is occasionally used nowadays in the treatment of spasms of the digestive tract, gall bladder and liver disorders, dropsy, urine retention etc. The root has also been used in treating a range of skin complaints such as acne and eczema. A decoction of the root can be used externally to cleanse wounds or as an antiseptic gargle. Some caution should be employed since in large doses the root is purgative and emetic. The root is antibiotic, antispasmodic, carminative, diaphoretic, digestive, mildly diuretic, emetic in large doses, febrifuge and purgative in large doses. The root is harvested in the autumn and dried for later use.

Other Uses

Weather forecasting.

The dried flowers respond to the amount of humidity in the air and can be used as hygrometers. Flowers on the growing plant close at the approach of rain.

It is sometimes cultivated as a rockery plant, or dried and hung as a house decoration.

In Basque culture it was traditionally used as symbol of good fortune, fixed into the frontal door of the house.

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.pfaf.org/database/plants.php?Carlina+acaulis
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carlina_acaulis
http://species.wikimedia.org/wiki/Carlina_acaulis

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Herbs & Plants

Bai Bei Feng (Buddleja asiatica )

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Botanical Name : Buddleja asiatica
Family : Buddleiaceae
Genus : Buddleia

Local names: Alatin (Bag.); amuging (Ig.); anaiop (If.); doknaw (Ting.); dumdumaui (If.); du?galau (Ibn.); lagien-ti-subisub (Ilk.); lagundisalasa (Bis.); malasambung (Tag.); maligus (Bon.); salibug (Tagb.); sambong-gala (Tag.); talikamo (Tag.); tugnang (Ilk.).

Habitat: E. Asia – India to the Philippines. Second growth forest, sandy river banks, grass, savannah, landslips and deserted village sites.Woodland Garden; Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade.(Malasambung is chiefly found in thickets, in recently cleared places, etc., at medium altitudes, sometimes at sea level and sometimes up to 2,000 meters, from northern Luzon to Palawan and Mindanao. It also occurs in India to China and Malaya.)

Description:
This is an erect,evergreen branched shrub 1 to 2 meters in height. The branches and lower surfaces of the leaves are densely hairy, being soft and smooth to the touch on account of numerous, small, grayish or brownish hairs. The leaves are lanceolate, 5 to 15 centimeters long, pointed at the base, tapering to a sharp, pointed tip, and toothed at the margins. The flowers are white, 3.5 to 4 millimeters long, hairy, and borne in large numbers on ample panicles, which grow up to 15 centimeters in length. The fruit is reflexed capsule, oblong, and about as along as the flower.

 

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It is hardy to zone 8. It is in leaf all year, in flower from January to April. 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 Bees, Lepidoptera (Moths & Butterflies). The plant is not self-fertile.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, requires well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline soil. It cannot grow in the shade. It requires dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought. It can tolerate atmospheric pollution.

Cultivation.
Requires a sunny position, succeeding in most reasonably good soils so long as they are well-drained. Prefers a rich loamy soil. Plants are very tolerant of alkaline soils[200]. Of doubtful hardiness in most of Britain, it is likely to be damaged or killed by temperatures lower than 0°c. However, one report says that it succeeds outdoors in southern Cornwall whilst other reports say that it might be hardy on a south or south-west facing wall in the mildest areas of this country[11, 166, 182, 188]. So long as the plant is well mulched it resprouts freely from the base if cut back by severe weather. A very ornamental plant[1], the cut flowers last well in water. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus. Any pruning is best done after flowering. An excellent plant for bees and butterflies. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.

Propagation
Seed – cold stratify for 4 weeks at 4°c and surface sow the seed in February/March in a greenhouse (the pre-chilling might not be required for this species). Germination usually takes place within 3 – 4 weeks at 21°c. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter, planting them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Seedlings are inclined to damp off and so should be watered with care and kept well-ventilated. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame. Use short side-shoots. Very high percentage. Cuttings of mature wood of the current season’s growth, 15 – 20cm long, October/November in a frame.

Edible Uses
Edible Uses: Drink.

The dried and powdered root is used in the preparation of a fermented liquor.

Medicinal Uses
Abortifacient; Skin.
The plant has been used as an abortifacient and also in the treatment of skin complaints. The juice of the plant is applied as a wash to treat skin diseases.Guerrero states that in Philippines this plant is used locally for abortion. Also it is used in skin diseases and as a cure for loss of weight.

Other Uses

Wood.

Wood – tough, moderately hard. It could be used for making walking sticks.

Scented Plants
Flowers: Fresh
The flowers, which are produced in the winter, have a wonderful strong aroma rather like freesias.

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.pfaf.org/database/plants.php?Buddleia+asiatica
http://www.bpi.da.gov.ph/Publications/mp/html/m/malasambung.htm

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Herbs & Plants

Antelope Horns (Asclepias asperula)

Botanical Name :Asclepias asperula
Family :  Asclepiadacea

Subfamily: Asclepiadoideae
Species: A. asperula
Genus : Asclepias
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Gentianales

Common names: Inmortal,   antelope horns, green-flowered milkweed, and spider antelope horns.

Habitat:Asclepias asperula is   native to the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. and South-western N. America.   It grows in  sandy or rocky calcareous soils.


Description:

Asclepias asperula is a clump-forming, 1-2 ft. perennial with an upright or sprawling  plant. Stems are densely covered with minute hairs. The leaves are 4–8 inches long, narrow, and irregularly grouped. The long, thick, narrow leaves are often folded lengthwise. As the green seed pods grow in length and begin to curve, they resemble antelope horns. Its pale, greenish-yellow flowers, tinged maroon, are crowded in round, terminal clusters 3–4 inches across at the end of the flower stem and are intricately arranged. Inside the partially divided petals is a crown, out of which extend 5 white stamens with large, ball-like anthers, all symmetrically arranged.
It is hardy to zone 7. It is in flower from July to August, and the seeds ripen from August to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, insects, Lepidoptera (Moths & Butterflies). It is noted for attracting wildlife.

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

Cultivation :
Succeeds in any good soil. Prefers a well-drained light rich or peaty soil. Requires a moist peaty soil and a sunny position . A good bee plant . The flower of many members of this genus can trap insects between its anther cells, the struggles of the insect in escaping ensure the pollination of the plant . Many members of this genus seem to be particularly prone to damage by slugs. The young growth in spring is especially vulnerable, but older growth is also attacked and even well-established plants have been destroyed in wet years. Plants resent root disturbance and are best planted into their final positions whilst small.

Propagation :
Seed – best sown in a greenhouse as soon as it is ripe in the autumn or in late winter. We have also had good results from sowing the seed in the greenhouse in early spring , though stored seed might need 2 – 3 weeks cold stratification . Germination usually takes place in 1 – 3 months at 18°c. As soon as the seedlings are large enough to handle, prick them out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant out when they are in active growth in late spring or early summer and give them some protection from slugs until they are growing away strongly. Division in spring. With great care since the plant resents root disturbance. Pot the divisions up and place them in a lightly shaded position in the greenhouse until they are growing away strongly, then plant them out in the summer, giving them some protection from slugs until they are established.. Basal cuttings in late spring. Use shoots about 10cm long with as much of their white underground stem as possible. Pot them up individually and place them in a lightly shaded position in a greenhouse until they are rooting and growing actively. If the plants grow sufficiently, they can be put into their permanent positions in the summer, otherwise keep them in the greenhouse until the following spring and when they are in active growth plant them out into their permanent positions. Give them some protection from slugs until they are established.

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Flowers; Leaves; Seed; Seedpod.

Edible Uses: Gum; Oil; Sweetener.

The following reports refer to other members of this genus and are possibly also appropriate for this species. Unopened flower buds – cooked. They taste somewhat like peas. They are used like broccoli. Flowers and young flower buds – cooked. Used as a flavouring and a thickener in soups etc. The flower clusters can be boiled down to make a sugary syrup. The flowers are harvested in the early morning with the dew still on them. When boiled up it makes a brown sugar. Young shoots – cooked. An asparagus substitute. They should be used when less than 20cm tall. A slightly bitter taste. Tips of older shoots are cooked like spinach. Young seed pods, 3 – 4 cm long, cooked. They are very appetizing. Best used when about 2 – 4cm long and before the seed floss forms, on older pods remove any seed floss before cooking them. If picked at the right time, the pods resemble okra. The sprouted seeds can be eaten. An edible oil is obtained from the seed. The latex in the stems is made into a chewing gum. It is found mainly in the leaves and is destroyed by frost. Yields are higher on dry soils.

Medicinal Uses:-
Expectorant.

The plant is used as a snuff in the treatment of catarrh.

Other Uses:-
Fibre; Latex; Oil; Pollution; Stuffing; Wick.

The following reports refer to other members of this genus and are possibly also appropriate for this species. A good quality fibre is obtained from the bark, used in making twine, cloth, paper etc[95, 112, 169]. It is of poor quality in wet seasons. It is easily harvested in late autumn after the plant has died down by simply pulling the fibres off the dried stems. The seed floss is used to stuff pillows etc or is mixed with other fibres to make cloth. It is a Kapok substitute, used in Life Jackets or as a stuffing material. Very water repellent, it can yield up to 550 kilos per hectare. The floss has also been used to mop up oil spills at sea. Candlewicks can be made from the seed floss. Rubber can be made from latex contained in the leaves and the stems. It is found mainly in the leaves and is destroyed by frost. Yields are higher on dry soils. Pods contain an oil and a wax which are of potential importance. The seed contains up to 20% of an edible semi-drying oil. It is also used in making liquid soap.

Known Hazards :  Although no specific reports have been seen for this species, many, if not all, members of this genus contain toxic resinoids, alkaloids and cardiac glycosides. They are usually avoided by grazing animals. This species is said to be poisonous to livestock.

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.pfaf.org/database/search_use.php?K[]=Flowers
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asclepias_asperula
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=asas
http://www.wildflower.org/gallery/result.php?id_image=13859

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