Herbs & Plants

Aralia nudicaulis

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Botanical Name :Aralia nudicaulis
Family: Araliaceae
Genus: Aralia
Species: A. nudicaulis
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Apiales

Common Names: Wild Sarsaparilla, False sarsaparilla, Shot bush, Small Spikenard, Wild Liquorice, and Rabbit Root

Habitat : Aralia nudicaulis is native to northern and eastern North America. It grows in the moist, shady, rocky woods

Aralia nudicaulis  is an indigenous perennial  flowering plant which reaches a height of 30–60 cm (12–24 in) with creeping underground stems.In the spring the underground stems produce compound leaves that are large and finely toothed. Tiny white flowers, typically in three, globe-shaped clusters 4–5 cm (1.6–2.0 in) wide, are produced on tall scapes that grow about the same height as the leaves. These bloom from May to July and develop into purple-black comestible berries. The leaves go dormant in summer before the fruits ripen. The berries taste a little spicy and sweet.

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The slender man of the plant grows straight up from the ground and divides into a whorl of 3 stems which branch up and out, each forming 3 to 7 (most often 5) pinnately compound leaflets; leaflets ovate, acute, serrate, green.  Technically, all the leaflets on one plant are considered to be one entire leaf, and the stems that connect the leaflets are called rachis; this arrangement is called doubly compound. In some cases some of the leaflets are further completely subdivided, forming a triply compound pattern.

It is found in shady rocky woods, very common in rich soil, rhizome horizontal, creeping several feet in length and more or less twisted; of a yellowish-brown colour externally and about 1/4 inch in diameter, has a fragrant odour and a warm, aromatic, sweetish taste.

Because it sometimes grows with groups of 3 leaflets, it can be mistaken for poison ivy; the way to tell the difference is that Wild Sarsaparilla lacks a woody base and has fine teeth along the edges of the leaves.

Prefers a good deep loam and a semi-shady position. Requires a sheltered position. Plants are hardier when grown in poorer soils. The young growth in spring, even on mature plants, is frost-tender and so it is best to grow the plants in a position sheltered from the early morning sun.

Seed – best sown as soon as ripe in a cold frame. Stored seed requires 3 – 5 months of cold stratification. Germination usually takes place within 1 – 4 months at 20°c. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in light shade in a greenhouse for at least their first winter. Once the plants are 25cm or more tall, they can be planted out into their permanent positions, late spring or early summer being the best time to do this. Root cuttings 8cm long, December in a cold frame. Store the roots upside down in sand and pot up in March/April. High percentage. Division of suckers in late winter. Very easy, the suckers can be planted out direct into their permanent positions if required.

Edible Uses:
The rootstock is used as a flavouring, it is a substitute for sarsaparilla and is also used for making ‘root beer’. It is also used as an emergency food (usually mixed with oil), having a sweet spicy taste and a pleasant aromatic smell. A nutritious food, it was used by the Indians during wars or when they were hunting since it is very sustaining.

Young shoots – cooked as a potherb. A refreshing herbal tea is made from the root. Pleasantly flavoured. The roots are boiled in water until the water is reddish-brown.

A jelly is made from the fruit. The fruit is also used to make wine. The fruit is about 6mm in diameter

Medicinal Uses:
Wild sarsaparilla is a sweet pungent tonic herb that acts as an alterative. It had a wide range of traditional uses amongst the North American Indians and was at one time widely used as a substitute for the tropical medicinal herb sarsaparilla.

The root is alterative, diaphoretic, diuretic, pectoral and stimulant. The herb encourages sweating, is stimulating and detoxifying and so is used internally in the treatment of pulmonary diseases, asthma, rheumatism, stomach aches etc. Externally it is used as a poultice in treating rheumatism, sores, burns, itchy skin, ulcers and skin problems such as eczema. The root is collected in late summer and the autumn and dried for later use. A drink made from the pulverised roots is used as a cough treatment. A poultice made from the roots and/or the fruit is applied to sores, burns, itchy skin, ulcers, swellings etc.

A homeopathic remedy made from the roots is important in the treatment of cystitis.

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.


Herbs & Plants

Plantago media

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Botanical Name : Plantago media
Species: P. media

Common Name :Hoary plantain

Habitat :Plantago media is native to central and western Europe, including Great Britain and introduced to parts of the north-east United States. Its generic name is derived from the Latin for sole; like other members of Plantago, it should not be confused with the plantain, a starchy banana.It grows fields, meadows and lawns. A common weed of lawns and cultivated land, especially on dry or calcareous soils.It generally grows in damp grassy meadows up to an altitude of 2000 m.

Plantago media is a perennial herb growing to 0.1m by 0.1m.
It is hardy to zone 6 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from May to August, and the seeds ripen from July to September.  A slender stalk of between 5 to 50 cm develops from a basal rosette of finely-haired leaves. Delicate pink-white flowers are borne between May and September. P. media is hemaphrodite and is pollinated by wind or insects, particularly bees. The plant is self-fertile. It is noted for attracting wildlife.

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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 cannot grow in the shade. It requires dry or moist soil. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.

Cultivation :
Succeeds in any moderately fertile soil in a sunny position. Grows well in the spring meadow. An important food plant for the caterpillars of many species of butterflies. The flowers are sweetly scented.

Seed – sow spring in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in early summer. A sowing can be made outdoors in situ in mid to late spring if you have enough seeds.

Edible Uses
Edible Parts: :Flowers; Leaves.

Young leaves – raw or cooked. The very young leaves have a fairly mild flavour but with a slight bitterness. Used in salads before they become tough. The inflorescence is sweet and is sucked by children.

Medicinal Uses:
Astringent; Demulcent; Deobstruent; Depurative; Diuretic; Expectorant; Haemostatic; Laxative; Odontalgic; Ophthalmic; Refrigerant.

The leaves, flowering stems and roots are somewhat astringent, deobstruent, depurative, diuretic, expectorant, haemostatic, refrigerant and vulnerary. They are applied externally to skin inflammations, malignant ulcers, cuts etc. A mouthwash made from the leaves helps to relieve toothache and a distilled water is a good eyewash. The seeds are demulcent and laxative. Plantain seeds contain up to 30% mucilage which swells up in the gut, acting as a bulk laxative and soothing irritated membranes. Sometimes the seed husks are used without the seeds.

Other Uses

The leaves are a cure for blight on fruit trees.

Scented Plants
Flowers: Fresh
The flowers are sweetly scented.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider


Herbs & Plants

Papaver bracteatum

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Botanical Name : Papaver bracteatum
Family: Papaveraceae
Genus: Papaver
Species: P. bracteatum
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Ranunculales
Synonyms: Papaver orientale

Common Name :Iranian poppy

Habitat : Papaver bracteatum is native to W. Asia – Armenia, N.E. Iran, Turkey. It grows in meadows, usually in sub-alpine zones, but also on stony slopes in the lower mountain zone.

Papaver bracteatum is a sturdy perennial poppy with large deep red flowers up to 8 inches (20 cm) across on stiff stalks up to 4 feet (1.22 metres) high with a prominent black spot near the base of the petals. It is related to the commonly cultivated oriental poppy, Papaver orientale.


Non-horticultural use of this species is for the production of thebaine, which is commercially converted to codeine and semi-synthetic opiates. Papaver bracteatum does not contain morphine or codeine and no other narcotic alkaloids in significant amounts. Oripavine was reported in minute traces but would not exert a relevant activity.

It is hardy to zone 3 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from May to June, and the seeds ripen from July to August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees. The plant is self-fertile. It is noted for attracting wildlife.

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

Prefers a well-drained sandy loam in a sunny position. Succeeds in an ordinary good soil and in dry soils, tolerating drought when established. Plants prefer a deep soil that is poor and dry rather than rich, they dislike moist conditions. Plants can be grown in quite coarse grass, which can be cut annually in the autumn. A deep-rooting and almost indestructible plant, every scrap of the running root system that is left in the ground can grow into a new plant. There are many named varieties selected for their ornamental value. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer or rabbits. A good bee plant.

Seed – sow June in an outdoor seedbed. Plant into permanent positions in September. Seed can also be sown in spring and may then flower in late summer. Division in March or October with care. Another report suggests that division is very simple. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is better to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a cold frame until they are well established before planting them out in late spring or early summer. Root cuttings 10cm long, November/December in a cold frame.

Edible Uses
Edible Uses: Condiment.

The young seed heads are used as a condiment, they are hot and acrid. Some caution is advised, see the notes  below on toxicity.

Medicinal Uses:
The petals are sudorific.The roots are used medicinally.  Their constituents include thebaine.  It is possible to derive codeine and other pain-killing substances from thebaine.  Unlike opium alkaloids, thebaine does not have additive narcotic properties, it cannot be used directly and it thus poses no dancer of drug addiction: morphine, the precursor of the addictive-drug heroin, can be obtained only with great difficulty from it.  For pharmaceutical purposes, therefore, there may be considerable social and economic benefits in introducing this poppy into cultivation in place of Opium Poppy.  Crop scientists have discovered that Iranian Poppy can provide up to 37 kg of codeine per hectare compared with Opium Poppy’s much lower yield of 3 kg per hectare.

Known Hazards:  Although no specific mention has been found for this plant, many species in this genus are toxic to mammals, though the toxicity is low.

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


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Herbs & Plants

Elodea canadensis

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Botanical Name : Elodea canadensis
Family: Hydrocharitaceae
Genus: Elodea
Species: E. canadensis
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Alismatales
Synonyms : Anacharis canadensis. Planch.
Common Name :Elodea,American or Canadian Waterweed or Pondweed.  Other common names for this plant include Anacharis (an older name for the genus Elodea), water thyme, common elodea, and ditch moss.

Habitat : Native to  N. America – Alaska to California east to Quebec and Virginia. Naturalized in Britain .Grows in Waters, mostly calcareous, of lakes and rivers from sea level to 2000 metres in America. Slow-moving fresh water throughout most of Britain.

Elodea canadensis is a  perennial water plant. Young plants initially start with a seedling stem with roots growing in mud at the bottom of the water; further adventitious roots are produced at intervals along the stem, which may hang free in the water or anchor into the bottom. It grows indefinitely at the stem tips, and single specimens may reach lengths of 3 m or more.


The leaves are bright green, translucent, oblong, 6-17 mm long and 1-4 mm broad, borne in whorls of three (rarely two or four) round the stem. It lives entirely underwater, the only exception being the small white or pale purple flowers which float at the surface and are attached to the plant by delicate stalks.

It is dioecious, with male and female flowers on different plants. The flowers have three small white petals; male flowers have 4.5-5 mm petals and nine stamens, female flowers have 2-3 mm petals and three fused carpels. The fruit is an ovoid capsule, about 6 mm long containing several seeds that ripen underwater. The seeds are 4-5 mm long, fusiform, glabrous (round), and narrowly cylindrical. It flowers from May to October.

It grows rapidly in favorable conditions and can choke shallow ponds, canals, and the margins of some slow-flowing rivers. It requires summer water temperatures of 10-25 °C and moderate to bright lighting.

It is closely related to Elodea nuttallii, which generally has narrower leaves under 2 mm broad. It is usually fairly easy to distinguish from its relatives, like the Brazilian Egeria densa and Hydrilla verticillata. These all have leaves in whorls around the stem; however, Elodea usually has three leaves per whorl, whereas Egeria and Hydrilla usually have four or more leaves per whorl. Egeria densa is also a larger, bushier plant with longer leaves.

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 can grow in water.

A floating, submerged plant, growing well in slowly-moving water and also succeeding in ponds. Plants grow more vigorously when able to root into the mud of the pond. This species, when first introduced into British waterways in the mid nineteenth century, spread rapidly to become a great peat, blocking many waterways. It then seemed to lose its vigour and is now widespread but seldom abundant. Most of the plants grown in Britain are a female clone. Plants perennate by means of overwintering buds that sink to the bottom of the pond in the autumn and then commence growing in the spring.

Seed – seldom produced in Britain, if it is obtained it should not be allowed to dry out and is best sown immediately in water. Division can be carried out at almost any time in the growing season. Simply break off a bit of plant and place in water – it will soon produce roots. The stem can be weighted with something like a stone and then thrown into a pond to allow the stems to root into the mud.

Medicinal Uses:An infusion of the plant has been used as a strong emetic.

Other Uses: It is frequently used as an aquarium plant. Propagation is by cuttings

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


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Herbs & Plants

Mitella diphylla

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Botanical Name : Mitella diphylla
Family: Saxifragaceae
Genus: Mitella
Species: M. diphylla
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Saxifragales

Common Names :Coolwort,Two-leaf Miterwort,  Mitrewort

Habitat : Mitella diphylla is native to Eastern N. AmericaQuebec to Minnesota, North Carolina and Missouri.It grows in rich woodlands, meadows and swamps.

Mitella diphylla is an evergreen Perennial  and a spring blooming plant with lacy, white flowers produced on stems growing from 20 to 50 centimeters tall.
It is hardy to zone 3. It is in leaf all year, in flower from May to June. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs)The seeds are produced in small green cups and when ripe are black and released by mid summer.

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.

Succeeds in moist woodlands and in pockets in rock gardens. Requires a moist humus-rich soil. Self-sows when grown in a rich soil and usually spreads quickly by this means.

Seed – we have no information for this species but suggest sowing it as soon as it is ripe or in early spring in a greenhouse. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts.

Medicinal Uses:
Febrifuge; Ophthalmic.

An infusion of the leaves is used to treat fevers. The infusion can also be used as eye drops for sore eyes.

Other Uses:
A good ground cover in moist woodland. Plants form a carpet and should be spaced about 45cm apart each way.This species is grown as an ornamental plant in shade gardens.

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.

Mitella diphylla

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