Tag Archives: March

Alnus serrulata

Botanical Name : Alnus serrulata
Family:    Betulaceae
Genus:    Alnus
Subgenus:Alnus
Species:A. serrulata
Kingdom:Plantae
Order:   Fagales

Synonyms: Alnus rubra (obsolete). Smooth Alder. Red Alder.

Common Names: Hazel alder, Oregon Alder

Habitat: Alnus serrulata  is native to eastern North America and can be found found from western Nova Scotia and southern New Brunswick south to Florida and Texas. It grows on moist rich soils in woods, usually below 600 metres and within 50 km of the coast.

Description:
Alnus serrulata is a large shrub or small tree that may grow up to 2.5-4 m (8-12 ft) high and 15 cm (6 in) in diameter. The scientific name originates from alnus which is an old name for alder; serrulata points to the finely-toothed leaf margins which it possesses. It takes about 10 yrs to mature. The plant prefers moist soil near streams, pond margins, and riversides. It usually has multiple stems from its base and reddish-green flowers. The broad, flat, dark green leaves are about 2 to 4 inches long.

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Leaf: The simple, round leaves are obovate, 2 to 5 in long, 1.2 to 2.8 in wide, obtuse, wider at middle, and V-shaped base. Veins are pinnate and conspicuous. Leaves have a smooth texture above and hairy texture below. The upper side of the leaves are dark green and the undersides are pale green.

Flower: The flowers are monoecious, meaning that both sexes are found on a single plant. Male (Staminate) catkins are 1.6-2.4 in long; female (Pistillate) catkins are 1/2 in long. Reddish-green flowers open in March to April.

Fruit: The ovate, dark brown, cone-like fruit is hard with winged scales. Seeds are produced in small cones and do not have wings. Fruit usually matures during fall and is quite persistent.

Twig: The twigs are reddish-brown and have a 3-angled-pith; young twigs are covered with hairs.

Bark: The bark is brownish gray, smooth, and has a bitter and astringent taste.

Cultivation:
Alnus serrulata can be found in a habitats such as stream streambanks, riversides, and swamps. Water use is high and it requires sun or part-sun. It also requires moist soil that has a PH of 6.8-7.2. Alnus serrulata needs 5-10 foot spacing in wildlife habitat.

Medicinal Uses:  Alterative, tonic, astringent, emetic. A decoction or extract is useful in scrofula, secondary syphilis and several forms of cutaneous disease. The inner bark of the root is emetic, and a decoction of the cones is said to be astringent, and useful in haematuria and other haemorrhages.

When diarrhoea, indigestion and dyspepsia are caused by debility of the stomach, it will be found helpful, and also in intermittent fevers.

It is said that an excellent ophthalmic powder can be made as follows: bore a hole from 1/2 to 1 inch in diameter, lengthwise, through a stout piece of limb of Tag Alder. Fill the opening with finely-powdered salt, and close it at each end. Put into hot ashes, and allow it to remain until the Tag is almost charred (three to four days), then split it open, take out the salt, powder, and keep it in a vial. To use it, blow some of the powder upon the eye, through a quill.

It is also used to treat astringent, diuretic, emetic, ophthalmic, and purgative symptoms. A tea made from the bark is said to work as a treatment for diarrhea, coughs, toothaches, sore mouth, and the pain of birth.

Other Uses:
Because the plant resides in riversides or stream streambanks, it usually functions as a stabilizer and restorer for those habitats.

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://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/a/alder021.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alnus_serrulata

Ranunculus ficaria

Botanical Name : Ranunculus ficaria
Family: Ranunculaceae
Genus: Ranunculus
Species: R. ficaria
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Ranunculales

Synonyms:   Ficaria grandiflora Robert, Ficaria verna Huds

Common Names :Lesser celandine

Habitat :Ranunculus ficaria is found throughout Europe and west Asia and is now introduced in North America. It prefers bare, damp ground and in the UK it is often a persistent garden weed. The flowers are orange, turning yellow as they age.

Description:
Ranunculus ficaria is a low-growing, hairless perennial plant, with fleshy dark green, heart-shaped leaves.It grows to  0.2 m (0ft 8in) by 0.2 m (0ft 8in) at a fast rate.It is not frost tender. It is in leaf 6-Jan It is in flower from Mar to May. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, flies, beetles.
CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

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

It exists in both diploid (2n=16) and tetraploid (2n=32) forms which are very similar in appearance. However, the tetraploid type prefer more shady locations and frequently develops bulbils at the base of the stalk. These two variants are sometimes referred to as distinct sub-species, R. ficaria ficaria and R. ficaria bulbifer respectively.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, celandine comes from the Latin chelidonia, meaning swallow: it was said that the flowers bloomed when the swallows returned and faded when they left. The name Ranunculus is Late Latin for “little frog,” from rana “frog” and a diminutive ending. This probably refers to many species being found near water, like frogs.

Cultivation:   
Prefers a moist loamy neutral to alkaline soil in full sun or shade[1, 238]. A very common and invasive weed[17, 90], especially when growing in the shade because this encourages formation of bulbils at the leaf bases[238]. You would regret introducing it into your garden, though it might have a place in the wild garden[90]. This is, however, a polymorphic species[90] and there are a number of named forms selected for their ornamental value[188]. These are normally less invasive than the type species. The plant flowers early in the year when there are few pollinating insects and so seed is not freely produced[4]. The plant, however, produced tubercles (small tubers) along the stems and each of these can grow into a new plant[4]. Grows well along woodland edges[24], and in the deeper shade of the woodland where it often forms dense carpets[4]. The flowers do not open in dull weather and even on sunny days do not open before about 9 o’clock in the morning and are closed by 5 o’clock in the evening[4]. A greedy plant, inhibiting the growth of nearby plants, especially legumes[54].

Propagation :  
Seed – sow spring in a cold frame. This species doesn’t really need any help from us. Division in spring.

Edible Uses   :
Edible Parts: Leaves;  Root.

Young leaves in spring – raw or cooked as a potherb. The first leaves in spring make an excellent salad. The leaves, stalks and buds can be used like spinach, whilst the blanched stems are also eaten. The leaves turn poisonous as the fruit matures. Caution is advised regarding the use of this plant for food, see the notes above on toxicity. Bulbils – cooked and used as a vegetable. The bulbils are formed at the leaf axils and also at the roots.  Caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity. The flower buds make a good substitute for capers.

Medicinal Uses:
Astringent.

Lesser celandine has been used for thousands of years in the treatment of haemorrhoids and ulcers. It is not recommended for internal use because it contains several toxic components. The whole plant, including the roots, is astringent. It is harvested when flowering in March and April and dried for later use. It is widely used as a remedy for piles and is considered almost a specific. An infusion can be taken internally or it can be made into an ointment and used externally. It is also applied externally to perineal damage after childbirth. Some caution is advised because it can cause irritation to sensitive skins. Externally also used for perineal damage after childbirth.  Combines well with plantain, marigold for agrimony for the internal treatment of piles.

Other Uses :
Teeth.

The flower petals are an effective tooth cleaner.  The plant often forms dense carpets when grown in the shade and can therefore be used as a ground cover though they die down in early summer. This should be done with some caution, however, since the plant can easily become an unwanted and aggressive weed in the garden.

Known Hazards :  All parts of the plant are poisonous. The toxins are unstable and of low toxicity, they are easily destroyed by heat or by drying. The sap can cause irritation to the skin

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/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Ranunculus+ficaria
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lesser_celandine

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

Prunus spinosa

Botanical Name : Prunus spinosa
Family: Rosaceae
Genus: Prunus
Subgenus: Prunus
Section: Prunus
Species: P. spinosa
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Rosales

Common Names :Blackthorn or Sloe

Habitat : Prunus spinosa is  native to Europe, including Britain, from Scandanavia south and east to the Mediterranean, Siberia and Iran,  western Asia, and locally in northwest Africa. It is also locally naturalised in New Zealand and eastern North America.

It grows in Hedgerows and woods, usually in sunny positions, on all soils except acid peats

The expression “sloe-eyed” for a person with dark eyes comes from the fruit, and is first attested in A. J. Wilson’s 1867 novel Vashti

Description:
Prunus spinosa is a deciduous large shrub or small tree growing to 5 m tall, with blackish bark and dense, stiff, spiny branches. The leaves are oval, 2–4.5 cm long and 1.2–2 cm broad, with a serrated margin. The flowers are 1.5 cm diameter, with five creamy-white petals; they are produced shortly before the leaves in early spring, and are hermaphroditic and insect-pollinated. The fruit, called a “sloe”, is a drupe 10–12 millimetres (0.39–0.47 in) in diameter, black with a purple-blue waxy bloom, ripening in autumn, and harvested — traditionally, at least in the UK, in October or November after the first frosts. Sloes are thin-fleshed, with a very strongly astringent flavour when fresh.

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It is hardy to zone 4. It is in flower from March to April, and the seeds ripen in October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects. It is noted for attracting wildlife.

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

Prunus spinosa is frequently confused with the related P. cerasifera (cherry plum), particularly in early spring when the latter starts flowering somewhat earlier than P. spinosa. They can be distinguished by flower colour, creamy white in P. spinosa, pure white in P. cerasifera. They can also be distinguished in winter by the more shrubby habit with stiffer, wider-angled branches of P. spinosa; in summer by the relatively narrower leaves of P. spinosa, more than twice as long as broad; and in autumn by the colour of the fruit skin — purplish-black in P. spinosa and yellow or red in P. cerasifera.

Prunus spinosa has a tetraploid (2n=4x=32) set of chromosomes

Cultivation:
Requires a well-drained moisture retentive soil. Succeeds in all soils except very acid peats. Succeeds in light shade but fruits better in a sunny position. Thrives in a loamy soil, doing well on limestone. Prefers some chalk in the soil but apt to become chlorotic if too much is present. Thrives on chalk according to another report. Plants are very resistant to maritime exposure. An important food plant for the caterpillars of several species of butterfly, especially the larvae of the brown and black hairstreak butterflies. A good bee plant. Plants are shallow-rooted and of a suckering habit, they can form dense impenetrable thickets which are ideal for nesting birds, especially nightingales. Flowers are often damaged by late frosts. Plants regenerate quickly after cutting or after fast moving forest fires, producing suckers from below ground level. This species is notably resistant to honey fungus.

Propagation:
Seed – requires 2 – 3 months cold stratification and is best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe[200]. Sow stored seed in a cold frame as early in the year as possible. Protect the seed from mice etc. The seed can be rather slow, sometimes taking 18 months to germinate. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle. Grow them on in a greenhouse or cold frame for their first winter and plant them out in late spring or early summer of the following year. Cuttings of half-ripe wood with a heel, July/August in a frame. Softwood cuttings from strongly growing plants in spring to early summer in a frame. Layering in spring. Division of suckers during the dormant season. They can be planted out direct into their permanent positions.

Edible Uses:
Edible Parts: Flowers; Fruit; Seed.

Edible Uses: Tea.

Fruit – raw or cooked. Exceedingly astringent, it is normally cooked but once the fruit has been frosted it loses some of its astringency and some people find they can enjoy it raw. The fruit is more usually used in jellies, syrups, conserves etc and as a flavouring for sloe gin and other liqueurs. Some fruits that we ate in December were fairly pleasant raw[K]. In France the unripe fruit is pickled like an olive. The fruit is about 15mm in diameter and contains one large seed. Seed – raw or cooked. Do not eat the seed if it is too bitter – see the notes above on toxicity. The leaves are used as a tea substitute. The dried fruits can be added to herbal teas. The flowers are edible and can be crystallised or sugared.

Medicinal Uses:

Aperient; Astringent; Depurative; Diaphoretic; Diuretic; Febrifuge; Laxative; Stomachic.

The flowers, bark, leaves and fruits are aperient, astringent, depurative, diaphoretic, diuretic, febrifuge, laxative and stomachic. An infusion of the flowers is used in the treatment of diarrhoea (especially for children), bladder and kidney disorders, stomach weakness et. Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, all members of the genus contain amygdalin and prunasin, substances which break down in water to form hydrocyanic acid (cyanide or prussic acid). In small amounts this exceedingly poisonous compound stimulates respiration, improves digestion and gives a sense of well-being.

The syrup from sloes is an astringent medicine and used to stem nose-bleeding.  It is massaged into the gums causing firmness and so preventing the teeth from becoming loose.  And rubbed onto the teeth, it can remove tartar and improve their whiteness, giving them a sparkle.  An infusion of the leave in warm water and used as a mouthwash has much the same effect.  A tea from the flowers serves as a purgative.  It is also recommended for stomach complaints and to stimulate the urinary and intestinal processes.  It is also used to clean the skin and remove blemishes.  The stone-free fruit is used to make jam to aid the functions of the stomach and stop diarrhea.  The crushed fruit (with stones) is used as a base for vaginal rinses and to arrest brewing.  A decoction from the bark is used to reduce fever.   Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, all members of the genus contain amygdalin and prunasin, substances which break down in water to form hydrocyanic acid (cyanide or prussic acid). In small amounts this exceedingly poisonous compound stimulates respiration, improves digestion and gives a sense of well-being.

Other Uses:
Cosmetic; Dye; Hedge; Ink; Pioneer; Tannin; Wood.

The bark is a good source of tannin. It is used to make an ink. The juice of unripe fruits is used as a laundry mark, it is almost indelible. The pulped ripe fruit is used cosmetically in making astringent face-masks. A green dye can be obtained from the leaves. A dark grey to green dye can be obtained from the fruit. The bark, boiled in an alkali, produces a yellow dye. The sloe is very resistant to maritime exposure and also suckers freely. It can be used as a hedge in exposed maritime positions. The hedge is stock-proof if it is well maintained, though it is rather bare in the winter and, unless the hedge is rather wide, it is not a very good shelter at this time. Because of its suckering habit, the plant is a natural pioneer species, invading cultivated fields and creating conditions conducive to the regeneration of woodland. Wood – very hard. Used for turnery, the teeth of rakes etc. Suitable branches are used for making walking sticks and are highly valued for this purpose because of their twisted and interesting shapes.

Known Hazards:  Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, it belongs to a genus where most, if not all members of the genus produce hydrogen cyanide, a poison that gives almonds their characteristic flavour. This toxin is found mainly in the leaves and seed and is readily detected by its bitter taste. It is usually present in too small a quantity to do any harm but any very bitter seed or fruit should not be eaten. 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.

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?Prunus+spinosa
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prunus_spinosa
http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fichier:Prunus_spinosa_heavy_with_sloes.jpg
http://www.floralimages.co.uk/page.php?taxon=prunus_spinosa,8
http://www.types-of-flowers.org/blackthorn.html

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Bergenia ciliata

Botanical Name : Bergenia ciliata Sternb.
Family :  Saxifragaceae
Genus :Bergenia
Species :Bergenia ciliata

Synonyms : Bergenia ligulata – Engl.,Megasea ciliata – Haw.,Saxifraga ciliata – (Haw.)Royle.,Saxifraga ligulata – Wall.,Saxifraga thysanodes – Lindl. B.ligulata E.L
Common Name : Pashanbhed, Pakhanbad, Dhoklambu, Patharchat, Silphoda

.
Habitat : E. Asia – Himalayas from Afghanistan to E. Tibet.  On moist rocks and under forest shade, 1900 – 2600 metres in Kashmir .Woodland Garden; Dappled Shade; Shady Edge; Ground Cover;

Description:
An evergreen Perennial growing to 0.3m by 0.5m. Leaves few, spreading, 4-11 x 3-10 cm, glabrous or hirsute, suborbicular to orbicular or broadly obovate, base cordate or sometimes rounded, apex rounded or sometimes abruptly acuminate; margin entire to occasionally denticulate at top, ciliate. Petiole 1-2(-5)cm long, glabrous or hirsute. Inflorescence a one sided raceme or corymbose, often subtended by an ovate leafy bract; bract glabrous or sparsely ciliate; scape and inflorescence greenish or pink tinged. Peduncle up to 10 cm long; flowers pink to purplish, pedicellate. Sepals c. 7 mm long, oblong. Petals 10 x 4 mm, unguiculate, limb orbicular. Filaments c. 1 cm long, pink to red. Carpels 2. Styles c. 7 mm long. Carpels and styles green or pinkish. Capsule 13 x 6 mm, including styles. Seeds elongated, c. 1 mm long, brown, minutely tuberculate.

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It is hardy to zone 7 and is frost tender. It is in leaf all year, in flower from March to May. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs)
The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay and nutritionally poor soils. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires moist soil.

Cultivation :
Succeeds in full sun or light shade in most soils but prefers a deep fertile soil that does not dry out fully. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Plants are at their best in a medium-heavy soil. Succeeds in shade or semi-shade-. The leaf colour is best when plants are grown in a poor soil in a sunny position[188]. Dislikes cold winds . The plant is hardy to about -20°c, but the flowers and young leaves are rather sensitive to frost so it is best to choose a position with shade from the early morning sun. This species is only hardy in sheltered gardens of south and west Britain. If the leaves are cut back by frost then they are soon replaced by fresh leaves in the spring. The roots of this plant are commonly collected from the wild for medicinal purposes. Overcollection in many areas of its range are a cause for conservation concern. Plants seem to be immune to the predations of rabbits. The different species of this genus will hybridise freely when grown near each other.

Propagation:
Seed – surface sow in a greenhouse. Make sure that the compost does not dry out. Two weeks cold stratification can speed up germination which usually takes 1 – 6 months at 15°c. Fresh seed, sown as soon as it is ripe in late spring is liable to germinate better than stored seed. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in light shade in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Division in late spring after flowering or in autumn. Very easy, larger divisions can be planted straight into their permanent positions whilst smaller clumps are best potted up and kept in a cold frame until they are growing away well.

Edible Uses:
The flowers are boiled and then pickled.

Medicinal Uses:
Lithontripic; Ophthalmic; Poultice; Tonic.

A juice or powder of the whole plant is used to treat urinary troubles in Nepal. The juice of the leaves is used as drops to relieve earaches . The root is used as a tonic in the treatment of fevers, diarrhoea and pulmonary affections. The root juice is used to treat coughs and colds, haemorrhoids, asthma and urinary problems. Externally, the root is bruised and applied as a poultice to boils and ophthalmia, it is also considered helpful in relieving backache. The root of this plant has a high reputation in indigenous systems of medicine for dissolving stones in the kidneys.

Other Uses
Ground cover; Tannin.

The root contains 14 – 16% tannin. A good ground cover plant, forming a slowly spreading clump.

Resources:
http://server9.web-mania.com/users/pfafardea/database/plants.php?Bergenia+ciliata
http://vaniindia.org.whbus12.onlyfordemo.com/herbal/plantdir.asp
http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=5&taxon_id=242308319
http://species.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bergenia_ciliata.JPG