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Herbs & Plants

Citrullus colocynthis

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Botanical Name :Citrullus colocynthis
Family: Cucurbitaceae
Genus: Citrullus
Species: C. colocynthis
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Cucurbitales

Common Names: colocynth, bitter apple, bitter cucumber, desert gourd, egusi, or vine of Sodom (Sanskrit: Gavakshi Indarvaruni ,

Habitat :Citrullus colocynthis : is native to the Mediterranean Basin and Asia, especially Turkey , Nubia and Trieste.

Description:
Citrullus colocynthis is a perennial plant.It resembles a common watermelon vine but bears small, hard fruits with a bitter pulp. It originally bore the scientific name Colocynthis citrullus, but is now classified as Citrullus colocynthis.
The Colocynth collected from the Maritime Plain between the mountains of Palestine and the Mediterranean, is mainly shipped from Jaffa and known as Turkish Colocynth. This is the best variety.

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Roots and stems:
The roots are large, fleshy and perennial leading to a high survival rate thanks to the long tap root. The vine-like stems spread in all directions for a few meters looking for something to climb over. If present, shrubs and herbs are preferred and climbed by means of axiliary branching tendrils.

Leaves:
Very similar to watermelon leaves: they are palmed, angular with 3-7 divided lobes.

Flowers:...click to see
The flowers are yellow and solitary in the axes of leaves and are borne by yellow-greenish peduncles. Each has a subcampanulated five-lobed corolla and a five-parted calyx. They are monoecious therefore the male (stamens) and the female reproductive parts (pistils and ovary) are borne in different flowers on the same plant. The male flowers’ calyx is shorter than the corolla. They have 5 stamens, 4 of which are coupled and 1 is single with monadelphous anther. The female flowers have 3 staminoids and a 3-carpels ovary. The two sexes are distinguishable by observing the globular and hairy inferior ovary of the female flowers.

Fruits: click to see….>...(1).(2)…..(3).
The fruit is smooth, spheric with a 5–10 cm diameter and extremely bitter at taste. The calyx englobe the yellow-green fruit which becomes marble (yellow stripes) at maturity. The mesocarp is filled with a soft, dry and spongy white pulp, in which the seeds are embedded. Each of the 3 carpels bears 6 seeds. Each plant produces 15 to 30 fruits.

Seeds:
The seeds are grey and 5 mm long and 3 mm wide. They are edible but similarly bitter, nutty-flavored and rich in fat and protein. They are eaten whole or used as an oilseed. The oil content of the seeds is 17–19% (w/w), consisting of 67–73% linoleic acid, 10–16% oleic acid, 5–8% stearic acid, and 9–12% palmitic acid. It is estimated that the oil yield is approximately 400 L/hectare. In addition, the seeds contain a higher amount of arginine, tryptophan and the sulfur-containing amino

Cultivation:
Citrullus colocynthis is a perennial plant that can propagate both by generative and vegetative means. However, seed germination is poor due to the extreme xeric conditions, therefore the vegetative propagation is more common and successful in nature. In the Indian arid zone the growth takes place between January and October but the most favorable period for the vegetative growth is during summer, which coincides with the rainy season. The growth declines as soon as the rains and the temperature decrease and almost stops during the cold and dry months of December and January. Colocynth prefers sandy soils and is a good example of good water management which may be useful also on research to better understand how desert plants react to water stress. To enhance production, an organic fertilizer can be applied. Colocynth is also commonly cultivated together with cassava (intercropping) in Nigeria.

Cultivated colocynth suffers of climatic stress and diseases such as cucumber mosaic virus, melon mosaic virus, Fusarium wilt, etc. as any other crop. To improve it, a relatively new protocol for regeneration[disambiguation needed] has been developed with the aim of incorporating disease and stress resistance to increase yield potential and security avoiding interspecific hybridization barriers.

Constituents:  The pulp contains Colocynthin, extractive, a fixed oil, a resinous substance insoluble in ether, gum, pectic acid or pectin, calcium and magnesium phosphates, lignin and water.

Medicinal Action and Uses:

Dried pulp of unripe fruit is used medicinally for its drastic purgative and hydragogue cathartic action on the intestinal tract. When the fruit is ripe its pulp dries to form a powder used as a bitter medicine and drastic purgative. So strong that it is mostly used only in combination with other herbs. The pulp or leaves is a folk remedy for cancerous tumors. A decoction of the whole plant, made in juice of fennel, is said to help indurations of the liver. Roots may also be used as purgative against ascites, for jaundice, urinary diseases, rheumatism, and for snake-poison. The colocynth is also used for amenorrhea, ascites, bilious disorders, cancer, fever, jaundice, leukemia, rheumatism, snakebite, tumors (especially of the abdomen), and urogenital disorders. The plant figures into remedies for cancer, carcinoma, endothelioma, leukemia, corns, tumors of the liver and spleen, even the eye.

It is seldom prescribed alone. It is of such irritant nature that severe pain is caused if the powdered drug be applied to the nostrils; it has a nauseous, bitter taste and is usually given in mixture form with the tinctures of podophylum and belladonna. Colocynth fruits broken small are useful for keeping moth away from furs, woollens, etc

Known Hazards:   It is a powerful drastic hydragogue cathartic producing, when given in large doses, violent griping with, sometimes, bloody discharges and dangerous inflammation of the bowels. Death has resulted from a dose of 1 1/2 teaspoonsful of the powder.

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://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citrullus_colocynthis
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/a/apple046.html

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

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Herbs & Plants

Aralia racemosa

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

Common names: American spikenard, Life-of-man, Petty morel

Habitat : Aralia racemosa   is native to   Eastern N. America – Quebec to Georgia, west to Kansas and Minnesota.  It grows in rich woodlands and thickets.

Descriptio:  The much-branched stem grows from 3 to 6 feet high. Very large leaves, consisting of thin oval heart-shaped, double saw-toothed leaflets. Small greenish flowers in many clusters – blooming later than Aralia medicaulis (for which it is often substituted), July to August. Has roundish red-brown berries going dark purple. Root-stock thick and large, spicy and aromatic. Fracture of cortex short, of the wood also short and fibrous. Odour aromatic, taste mucilaginous, pungent and slightly acrid. Transverse section of root shows thick bark, several zones containing oil. The plant grows freely in the author’s garden.

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Cultivation:
An easily grown plant, succeeding in sun or part shade in any fertile soil. 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. Grows well by water.
Propagation:
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:
Young shoot tips – cooked. Used as a potherb or as a flavouring in soups. Root – cooked. Large and spicy, it is used in soups. Pleasantly aromatic, imparting a liquorice-like flavour. A substitute for sarsaparilla (Smilax spp.), it is also used in making ‘root beer’. Fruit – raw or cooked. Pleasant and wholesome to eat. They can be made into a jelly. The fruit is about 4mm in diameter.

Constituent: Volatile oil, resin, tannin, etc.

Medicinal Action and Use: Stimulant, diaphoretic, alterative for syphilitic, cutaneous and rheumatic cases, and used in same manner and dosage as genuine Sarsaparilla. Much used also for pulmonary affections, and enters into the compound syrup of Spikenard. Fluid extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm. Infusion of 1/2 OZ. to a pint of water in wineglassful doses.

American spikenard is a sweet pungent tonic herb that is often used in modern herbalism where it 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 etc. Externally it is used as a poultice in treating rheumatism 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.

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/s/spiame77.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aralia_racemosa

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Aralia+racemosa

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Herbs & Plants

Sagittaria sagittifolia

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Botanical Name :Sagittaria sagittifolia
Family: Alismataceae
Genus: Sagittaria
Species: S. sagittifolia
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Alismatales

Synonyms : Wapatoo. Is’-ze-kn.,Sagittaria japonica.

Common Name:Arrowhead

Habitat :The Arrowhead is a water plant widely distributed in Europe and Northern Asia, as well as North America, and abundant in many parts of England, though only naturalized in Scotland. it is  native to wetlands throughout the temperate regions of Europe and Asia; in Britain it is the only native Sagittaria.

Description:
It is a herbaceous perennial plant, growing in water from 10–50 cm deep. The leaves above water are arrowhead-shaped, the leaf blade 15–25 cm long and 10–22 cm broad, on a long petiole holding the leaf up to 45 cm above water level. The plant also has narrow linear submerged leaves, up to 80 cm long and 2 cm broad. The flowers are 2-2.5 cm broad, with three small sepals and three white petals, and numerous purple stamens.

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Cultivation:        
A pond or bog garden plant, it requires a moist or wet loamy soil in a sunny position. Prefers shallow, still or slowly flowing water up to 30 – 60cm deep. Plants are fairly cold tolerant, surviving temperatures down to at least -10°c, though the top growth is damaged once temperatures fall below zero. They grow best in warm weather and require at least a six month growing season in order to produce a crop. A polymorphic species, the sub-species S. sagittifolia leucopetala is extensively cultivated for its edible bulb in China where there are many named varieties.

Propagation :   
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a pot standing in about 5cm of water. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle, and gradually increase the depth of water as the plants grow until it is about 5cm above the top of the pot. Plant out in late spring or early summer of the following year. Division of the tubers in spring or autumn. Easy. Runners potted up at any time in the growing season

Edible Uses:
Root – cooked. Excellent when roasted, the taste is somewhat like potatoes. The tubers are starchy with a distinct flavour[116]. The tubers should not be eaten raw[200].The skin is rather bitter and is best removed after the tubers have been cooked. Tubers can also be dried and ground into a powder, this powder can be used as a gruel etc or be added to cereal flours and used in making bread[55, 94].The roots (tubers really) are borne on the ends of slender roots, often 30cm deep in the soil and some distance from the parent plant. The tubers of wild plants are about 15cm in diameter and are best harvested in the late summer as the leaves die down. The dried root contains (per 100g) 364 calories, 17g protein, 1g fat, 76.2g carbohydrate, 3.1g fibre, 5.8g ash, 44mg calcium, 561mg phosphorus, 8.8mg iron, 2,480mg potassium, 0.54mg thiamine, 0.14mg riboflavin, 4.76mg niacin and 17mg ascorbic acid. They contain no carotene. Leaves and young stems – cooked. Somewhat acrid.

Medicinal Action and Uses:
Antiscorbutic;  Diuretic;  Galactofuge.
The plant is antiscorbutic, diuretic. The leaf is used to treat a variety of skin problems. The tuber is discutient, galactofuge and may induce premature birth.

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://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sagittaria_sagittifolia
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/a/arrow063.html
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Sagittaria+sagittifolia

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