Tag Archives: Mediterranean

Alkanna tinctoria

Botanical Name: Alkanna tinctoria
Family:    Boraginaceae
Genus:    Alkanna
Species: A. tinctoria
Kingdom:Plantae

Synonyms: Anchusa tinctoria.

Common Names: Alkanet, Alkanna, Dyers’ Bugloss, Orchanet, Spanish bugloss or Languedoc bugloss.

Habitat :Alkanna tinctoria is native in the Mediterranean region.It grows on maritime sands, uncultivated ground, calcareous soils and pine forests.

Description:
Alkanna tinctoria is a perennial plant growing to 0.2 m (0ft 8in) by 0.3 m (1ft). It is in flower in June and the flowers are bright blue in colour.The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) The plant has a dark red root of blackish appearance externally but blue-red inside, with a whitish core…….CLICK &  SEE  THE PICTURES

Cultivation:   
Prefers a well-drained sandy or loamy soil in sun or partial shade. Dislikes acid soils but thrives in alkaline soils. A very drought tolerant plant when established, succeeding in a hot dry position, it is a useful plant for dry sandy or alkaline soils. Plants are hardy to about -10°c. This species is occasionally cultivated as a dye plant. One report says that it is cultivated for its seed.

Propagation :
Seed – sow spring in a cold frame. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer. Division in spring. Fairly easy, they can be planted straight out into their permanent positions if required. Basal cuttings of new growth in late spring. Harvest the young shoots when they are about 10 – 15cm long and pot them up into individual pots in a lightly shaded position in a greenhouse. They should root well within a few weeks and can be planted out in the summer. Root cuttings in late winter.

Edible Uses :    
Edible Parts: Leaves are said to be used as a vegetable. A red dye obtained from the roots is used as a food colouring.Alkanna tinctoria is traditionally used in Indian food under the name “Ratan Jot”, and lends its red colour to some versions of the curry dish Rogan Josh. In Australia alkanet is approved for use as a food colouring, but in the European Union it is not.

Medicinal Uses:
The root is antibacterial, antipruritic, astringent and vulnerary.It is used externally in the treatment of varicose veins, indolent ulcers, bed sores and itching rashes. Used internally to treat cough and bronchial catarrh (see known hazards below). Used in the treatment of skin wounds and diarrhoea .The root is harvested in the autumn and can be dried for later use. All plant parts are demulcent and expectorant.

Other Uses: The root produces a fine red colouring material which has been used as a dye in the Mediterranean region since antiquity. The root as a dyestuff is soluble in alcohol, ether, and the oils, but is insoluble in water. It is used to give colour to wines and alcoholic tinctures, to vegetable oils, and to varnishes.
Powdered and mixed with oil, the alkanna tinctoria root is used as a wood stain. When mixed into an oily environment it imparts a crimson color to the oil, which, when applied to a wood, moves the wood color towards dark-red-brown rosewood, and accentuates the grain of the wood. It has been used as colorant for lipstick and rouge (cosmetics).

In  alkanna tinctoria environments the alkanna tinctoria dye has a blue color, with the color changing again to crimson on addition of an acid. Hence, it can be used to do alkali-acid litmus tests (but the usual litmus test paper does not use alkanna tinctoria as the agent).

The colouring agent in alkanna tinctoria root has been chemically isolated and named alkannin.

Known Hazards:  Hepatotoxicity (liver toxicity) and carcinogenicity. Many members of this plant family contain a liver-damaging alkaloid and so internal usage is inadvisable.

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.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Alkanna+tinctoria
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alkanna_tinctoria

Centranthus rubra

Botanical Name :Centranthus rubra
Family:    Caprifoliaceae
Genus:    Centranthus
Species:C. ruber
Kingdom:Plantae
Order:    Dipsacales

Synonyms: Pretty Betsy. Bouncing Bess. Delicate Bess. Drunken Sailor. Bovisand Soldier.

Common Names:  valerian or red valerian, Jupiter’s beard and spur valerian.

Habitat: Centranthus rubra is native to England, Scotland and the Mediterranean countries. It  usually grows on  rocky places at elevations below 200 m. It is often seen by roadsides or in urban wasteland. It can tolerate very alkaline soil conditions, and will grow freely in old walls despite the lime in their mortar.

Description:
Centranthus rubra is a perennial plant. It branches  very freely to enabling it to take a firm hold in the crevices in which it has once gained possession. The stems are stout, somewhat shrubby at the base, between 1 and 2 feet long, hollow and very smooth in texture. The leaves 2 to 4 inches long and pointed, opposite one another in pairs, are somewhat fleshy, their outlines generally quite entire.
CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES
The plant flowers profusely, and though the individual flowers are small (no more than 2 cm), the inflorescences are large and showy. The flowers are small in rounded clusters each with 5 fused petals and a spur. They are purplish red and sometimes (about 10% of individuals) white and occasionally lavender in color. Flowering takes place in early summer. They have a strong and somewhat rank scent. They are pollinated by both bees and butterflies and the plant is noted for attracting insects. It is used as a food plant by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Angle Shades. Seeds have tufts similar to dandelions that allow wind dispersal, and as such can become self-seed and become invasive if not properly controlled.

Edible Uses;
Both leaves and roots can be eaten, the leaves either fresh in salads or lightly boiled, the roots boiled in soups. Opinions differ as to whether either make very good eating, however.

Medicinal Uses:
Although it is sometimes reported to have medicinal properties,perhaps there is no basis for this view, which is almost certainly due to confusion with true valerian, (Valeriana officinalis).

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/v/valred04.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centranthus_ruber

Drimia maritima

Botanical Name : Drimia maritima
Family:    Asparagaceae
Subfamily: Scilloideae
Genus:    Drimia
Species:D. maritima
Kingdom:Plantae
Clade:    Angiosperms
Clade:    Monocots
Order:    Asparagales

Synonyms:Urginea maritima. Scilla maritima (Linn.). U. anthericoides. U. scilla. Drimia maritima.

Common Names:  Squill,Red squill, Sea squill, Sea onion, Maritime squill, Indica.Urginea.

Habitat:  Squill is native to southern Europe, western Asia, and northern Africa. It is found in dry, sandy places, especially the seacoast in most of the Mediterranean districts, being abundant in southern Spain, where it is by no means confined to the coast, and is found in Portugal, Morocco, Algeria, Corsica, southern France, Italy, Malta, Dalmatia, Greece, Syria and Asia Minor. In Sicily, where it grows most abundantly, it ascends to an elevation of 3,000 feet. Its range also includes the Canary Islands and the Cape of Good Hope. It is often grown under figtrees in the Italian Riviera, and is grown in many botanical gardens, having first been recorded as cultivated in England in 1648, in the Oxford Botanic Gardens.

Description:
Squill is a perennial  flowering plant. It  grows from a large bulb which can be up to 20 cm wide and weigh a kilogram. Several bulbs may grow in a clump and are usually just beneath the surface of the soil. In the spring, each bulb produces a rosette of about ten leaves each up to a meter long. They are dark green in color and leathery in texture. They die away by fall, when the bulb produces a tall, narrow raceme of flowers. This inflorescence can reach 1.5 to 2 m in height. The flower is about 1.5 cm wide and has six tepals each with a dark stripe down the middle. The tepals are white, with the exception of those on the red-flowered form. The fruit is a capsule up to 1.2 cm long.
CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

Its fibrous roots proceeding from the base of a large, tunicated, nearly globular bulb, 4 to 6 inches long, the outer scales of which are thin and papery, red or orange-brown in colour. The bulb, which is usually only half immersed in the sand, sends forth several long, lanceolate, pointed, somewhat undulated, shining, dark-green leaves, when fully grown 2 feet long. From the middle of the leaves, a round, smooth, succulent flower-stem rises, from 1 to 3 feet high, terminating in a long, close spike of whitish flowers, which stand on purplish peduncles, at the base of each of which is a narrow, twisted, deciduous floral leaf or bract. The flowers are in bloom in April and May and are followed by oblong capsules.

Cultivation:  
Succeeds in ordinary garden soil according to one report, whilst another says that it requires a very free draining gritty or sandy soil in full sun. The bulbs have a summer resting period and should be kept dry at this time. Some protection from winter wet is strongly recommended. Easily grown in a warm sunny position. A very ornamental plant, it is not very hardy in Britain according to one report, whilst another says that it can be grown in N. European gardens though it does not flower very freely there. Another report says that the plant can tolerate temperatures down to about -7°c. The bulb should be only partially buried. This species is cultivated in the Mediterranean area for its use in the drug industry. The bulbs are harvested after 6 years growth with a yield of about 25,000 bulbs per hectare. There are two main forms of this species, one has a white bulb and the other has a red one. The red bulb is the form that is used as a rat poison whilst the white bulb is used as a cardiotonic. Another report says that herbalists do not distinguish between the two forms. Only the red form contains the rat poison ‘scilliroside’, though both forms can be used medicinally. The bulb is very tenacious of life, one specimen that had been stored for 20 years in a museum was found to be trying to grow. A good bee plant.

Propagation:  
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a greenhouse[188]. Sow the seed thinly so that the seedlings can be left in the pot for their first growing season. Give them regular liquid feeds when in active growth to ensure that they do not suffer nutrient deficiency. Divide the young bulbs once the plant becomes dormant, placing 2- 3 bulbs in each put. Grow them on for at least another year in pots and plant them out into their p

Medicinal Uses:

Part Used: Bulb, cut into slices, dried and powdered.

Constituents: The chemical constituents of Squill are imperfectly known. Merck, in 1879, separated the three bitter glucosidal substances Scillitoxin, Scillipicrin and Scillin. The first two are amorphous and act upon the heart, the former being the more active; Scillin is crystalline and causes numbness and vomiting. Other constituents are mucilaginous and saccharine matter, including a peculiar mucilaginous carbohydrate named Sinistrin, an Inulin-like substance, which yields Laevulose on being boiled with dilute acid. The name Sinistrin (in 1834, first proposed by Macquart for Inulin) has also been applied to a mucilaginous matter extracted from barley, but it remains to be proved that the latter is identical with the Sinistrin of Squill. Calcium oxalate is also present, in bundles of long, acicular crystals, which easily penetrate the skin when the bulbs are handled, and causes intense irritation, sometimes eruption, if a piece of fresh Squill is rubbed on the skin.

The toxicity of Squills has more recently been ascribed to a single, bitter, non-nitrogenous glucoside, to which the name Scillitinis given, and which is the active diuretic and expectorant principle.

The bulbs also yield when distilled in a current of steam, a slightly coloured liquid oil of unpleasant odour.

The chemistry of Squills cannot yet be regarded as fully worked out, since most of the glucosides described have only been prepared in an amorphous condition of uncertain chemical identity.

Antiarrhythmic;  Antidandruff;  Cardiotonic;  Diuretic;  Emetic;  Expectorant;  Miscellany.

The Medicinal Squill was valued as a medicine in early classic times and has ever since been employed by physicians, being official in all pharmacopoeias. Oxymel of Squill, used for coughs, was invented by Pythagoras, who lived in the sixth century before Christ.

Sea squill contains cardiac glycosides which are strongly diuretic and relatively quick-acting. They do not have the same cumulative effect as those present in foxglove (Digitalis spp.). The bulb has been widely used by herbalists, mainly for its effect upon the heart and for its stimulating, expectorant and diuretic properties. The fresh bulb is slightly more active medicinally than the dried bulb, but it also contains a viscid acrid juice that can cause skin inflammations. This is a very poisonous plant and it should only be used under the supervision of a qualified practitioner. The dried bulb is cardiotonic, strongly diuretic, emetic when taken in large doses and expectorant. The bulb can weigh up to 2 kilos. It is used internally in the treatment of bronchitis, bronchitic asthma, whooping cough and oedema and is a potential substitute for foxglove in aiding a failing heart. The bulb is harvested in the autumn, sliced transversally and dried for later use. Externally, the bulb has been used in the treatment of dandruff and seborrhoea.

Other Uses:
Miscellany.
The red bulb form of this species contains the poisonous substance ‘scilliroside’. This substance is poisonous to rodents but does not kill other species (which vomit instead).

Known Hazards: The bulb is poisonous in large doses. The red form especially has a fairly specific action on rats. The fresh bulb contains an acrid juice that can cause skin blisters.

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.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Urginea+maritima
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/s/squill86.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scilla_maritima

Ferula galbaniflua

Botanical Name : Ferula galbaniflua
Family: Apiaceae
Genus: Ferula
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Apiales

Synonyms: Ferula  galbaniflua. Bioss.&Buhse.

Common Name : Galbanum

Habitat:Ferula galbaniflua is native to the Mediterranean region east to central Asia, W. Asia – Central Iran, Turkey and southern Russia. mostly growing in arid climates. Herbaceous slopes in steppes.

Description:
Ferula galbaniflua is a  herbaceous perennial flowering plant growing to 1–4 m tall, with stout, hollow, somewhat succulent stems. The leaves are tripinnate or even more finely divided, with a stout basal sheath clasping the stem.They are grayish-tomentose, the radical ones being triangular in outline, and decompound-pinnate, pinnatifid, the sections being linear-obtuse. The radical leaves are large and the stem leaves small. The flowers are yellow, produced in large umbels. The umbels of flowers are few, the seeds shiny. The fruit is thin and flat, winged near the face, has slender, prominent ribs, and in the grooves presents single oil-tubes. Sometimes two narrow tubes are present. The commissure has no tubes.

click to see the pictures

The whole plant abounds with a milky juice, which oozes from the joints of old plants, and exudes and hardens from the base of the stem after it has been cut down, then is finally obtained by incisions made in the root. The juice from the root soon hardens and forms the tears of the Galbanum of Commerce. The best tears are palish externally and about the size of a hazel nut and when broken open are composed of clear white tears. The taste is unpleasant, bitterish, acrid, with a strong, peculiar, somewhat aromatic smell. The common kind is an agglutinated mass, showing reddish and white tears, this is of the consistency of firm wax, and can easily be torn to pieces and softened by heat; when cold it is brittle, and mixed with seeds and leaves, when imported in lumps it is often considered preferable to the tears as it contains more volatile oil. Distilled with water it yields a quantity of essential oil, about 6 drachms, to 1 lb. of gum. It was well known to the ancients and Pliny called it ‘bubonion.’ Galbanum under dry distillation yields a thick oil of a bluish colour, which after purification becomes the blue colour of the oil obtained from the flowers of Matricaria Chamomilla.

Cultivation:
Succeeds in most soils. Requires a deep fertile soil in a sunny position. This species is not hardy in the colder areas of the country, it tolerates temperatures down to between -5 and -10°c. Another report says that it tolerates temperatures down to at least -15°c and should therefore succeed outdoors in most parts of the country. Plants are intolerant of root disturbance due to their long taproot[200]. They should be planted into their final positions as soon as possible. The flowers have an unpleasant smell.
Propagation:
Seed – best sown as soon as the seed is ripe in a greenhouse in autumn. Otherwise sow in April in a greenhouse. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle. Plant them out into their permanent positions whilst still small because the plants dislike root disturbance. Give the plants a protective mulch for at least their first winter outdoors. Division in autumn. This may be inadvisable due to the plants dislike of root disturbance.

Edible Uses: Condiment.

The gum resin obtained from the root is used as a celery-like food flavouring.

Medicinal Uses:
Part Used-:Gum resin.
Constituents: Gum resin, mineral constituents, volatile oil, umbelliferine, galbaresino-tannol.

It is stimulant, expectorant in chronic bronchitis. Antispasmodic and considered an intermediate between ammoniac and asafoetida for relieving the air passages, in pill form it is specially good, in some forms of hysteria, and used externally as a plaster for inflammatory swellings.The leaf aqueous-ethanol extract of Feruia foetida has shown antioxidant and antihemolytic activities.

The whole plant, but especially the root, contains the gum resin ‘galbanum’. This is antispasmodic, carminative, expectorant and stimulant. It is used internally in the treatment of chronic bronchitis, asthma and other chest complaints. It is a digestive stimulant and antispasmodic, reducing flatulence, griping pains and colic. Externally it is used as a plaster for inflammatory swellings, ulcers, boils, wounds and skin complaints.

Other Uses:
The aromatic gum resin ‘Galbanum’ is obtained from wounds made in the stem. It is collected by removing soil from around the top of the root and then cutting a slice off the root and can also be obtained from incisions made in the stem. It is used medicinally and is also an ingredient of incense. It was an important ingredient of the incense used by the Israelites.

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/g/galban02.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferula_galbaniflua
http://www.whitelotusblog.com/2011/06/monograph-galbanum-ferula-galbaniflua.html

http://www.pfaf.org/User/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Ferula+gummosa

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Delphinium staphisagria

Botanical Name : Delphinium staphisagria
Family: Ranunculaceae
Genus:     Delphinium
Species: D. staphisagria
Kingdom: Plantae
Order:     Ranunculales

Synonym: Lousewort.

Common Names: Lice-Bane or Stavesacre.

Habitat:Delphinium staphisagria grows throughout the Mediterranean.(Asia Minor and Europe.)

Description:
Delphinium staphisagria   is  a stoutly-stemmed, hairy biennial plant with hairy stem and large (up to 6″) hairy palmate leaves, composed of five to seven oblong lobes, which have frequently one or two acute indentures on their sides. The flowers are mauve-blue to blue, short-spurred, and up to 1 inch (2.5 cm) across, occurring in racemes. The plant grows to a height of 4–5 feet.The dark-colored, wrinkled seeds of D. staphisagria are characteristically quite large (~5×6 mm), and it is likely that the species name, which translates to “wild raisin”  is based on their appearance. This name-derivation seems to have been arrived at independently by a modern horticulturalist, David Bassett, who also gives a detailed account of his experiences in growing this species. All parts of this plant are highly toxic and should not be ingested in any quantity.

click to see the pictures

Cultivation:
The seeds of this species should be sown in April, where the plants are intended to remain and require no special treatment, growing in almost any soil or situation, but the plants are most luxuriant when given a deep, yellow loam, well enriched with rotted manure and fairly moist. They should be thinned to a distance of 2 feet apart.

Medicinal Uses:
Part Used:  The dried, ripe seeds. Shake the seeds out of the pods on trays and spread them out to dry in the sun. Then pack away in airtight boxes or tins. The dried, ripe seeds are brown when fresh, changing to a dull, earthy colour on keeping. In shape they are irregularly quadrangular, one side being curved and larger than the others, and the surface of the seed is wrinkled and pitted. They average about 6 mm. (nearly 1/4 inch) long and rather less in width, ten weighing about 6 grains. The seed coat is nearly tasteless, but the endosperm is oily and has a bitter and acrid taste. The seeds have no marked collour.

Chemical Constituents: The chief constituents of Stavesacre seeds are from 20 to 25 per cent of alkaloidal matter, which consists chiefly of the bitter, acrid, crystalline, alkaloid Delphinine, an irritant poison, and a second crystalline alkaloid named Delphisine, and the amorphous alkaloid Delphinoidine. Less important are staphisagroine, of which traces only are present, and staphisagrine, which appears to be a mixture of the first three elements.

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Traditional Uses:
As noted above, preparations made from D. staphisagria (apparently principally from the seeds) were used as a pediculicide throughout the last two millennia. Maud Grieve, in her famous Herbal, written in 1931, refers to stavesacre as being a “vermifuge” and “vermin-destroying”, as well as to its parasiticidal properties. She also mentions that it is “violently emetic and cathartic”.

Vermifuge and vermin-destroying. Stavesacre seeds are extremely poisonous and are only used as a parasiticide to kill pediculi, chiefly in the form of the official ointment, the expressed oil, the powdered seeds, or an acid aqueous extract containing the alkaloids.

These seeds are so violently emetic and cathartic that they are rarely given internally, though the powdered seeds have been given as a purge for dropsy, in very small quantities at first and increased till the effect is produced. The dose at first should not exceed 2 or 3 grains, given in powder or decoction, but the administration of the drug must always be accompanied by great caution, as staphisagrine paralyses the motor nerves like curare.

The seeds are used as an external application to some cutaneous eruptions, the decoction, applied with a linen rag, being effectual in curing the itch. It is made by boiling the seeds in water.

Delphinine has also been employed similarly to aconite, both internally and externally, for neuralgia. It resembles aconite in causing slowness of pulse and respiration, paralysis of the spinal cord and death from asphyxia. By depressing the action of the spinal cord it arrests the convulsions caused by strychnine.

Homeopathy:
Introduced into homeopathy by Dr. Samuel Hahnemann, Leipzig, 1817. Hahnemann’s fellow provers were: Cubitz, Franz, Gross, Gutmann, Hartmann, Haymel, Herrman, Kumer, Langhammer, Staph, Teuthorn.

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/Delphinium_staphisagria
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/s/stavas90.html

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