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Tradescantia virginiana

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Botanical Name : Tradescantia virginiana
Family: Commelinaceae
Genus: Tradescantia
Species: T. virginiana
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Commelinales

Synonyms: T. virginica.

Common Name:Spiderwort, Virginia spiderwort

Habitat : Tradescantia virginiana is native to the eastern United States.It is fairly common in central and southern Illinois, while it is uncommon or absent in northern and extreme western Illinois (see Distribution Map). Habitats include moist to mesic black soil prairies, sand prairies, savannas, thickets, openings and edges of woodlands, sandstone cliffs, and powerline clearances through woodland areas. This plant usually doesn’t stray far from areas with trees and shrubby vegetation.

Description:
Tradescantia virginiana is a herbaceous perennial forb/herb, with alternate, simple leaves, on tubular stems. The flowers are blue, purple, or white, borne in summer.This plant is up to 2½’ tall and unbranched, except for 1 or 2 small side stems near the inflorescence. The central stem is round and glabrous, although scattered long hairs may occur where the leaves wrap around the stems, or a little below. The leaves are dark green or olive green, up to 12″ long and 1″ across, with parallel venation and smooth margins. They are linear to broadly linear, but wider at the base and narrowing to a pointed tip. They often bend downward toward the middle….

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At the apex of the central stem or side stems, is a small cluster of violet flowers. They often droop from their slender hairy pedicels. These are subtended by two leaf-like bracts that are up to 6″ long and slightly more than ½” across. Each flower is about 1″ across and has 3 rounded violet petals. Toward the center, there are 6 yellow stamens and spidery violet hairs. Each flower opens up during the morning and closes during the early afternoon on sunny days, but may remain open longer on cloudy days or when it remains in the shade. There is no floral scent. The blooming period occurs from late spring to mid-summer, and lasts about 1½ months. During this time, the flowers bloom sporadically, rather than all at once. The seed capsules split open into 3 parts, each releasing 3-6 oval to oblong, brown seeds. The seeds normally fall only a short distance from the mother plant. The root system is fleshy and fibrous, producing occasional offshoots nearby.

Cultivation:
Tradescantia virginiana  likes most moist soils but can adapt to drier garden soils. Plants may be propagated from seed but they are more easily started from cuttings or divisions.It likes partial sun and moist to mesic conditions. It also tolerates light shade, and full sun if the soil is sufficiently moist. Growth is best in fertile loamy soil, but some sand or gravel is acceptable. During droughts, the tips or outer lengths of the leaves may turn yellow or brown. This plant is easy to grow and rarely troubled by foliar disease.

Propagation:
Seed – sow spring in a cold frame. 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. Division in spring or autumn. Cuttings of young shoots, July in a frame. They root easily and quickly.

Edible Uses: Leaves – raw or cooked. The very young shoots and leaves can be chopped and added to salads or cooked as a potherb. Flowers – raw. They make an attractive edible garnish.

Medicinal Uses:
Traditionally, the root of spiderwort was used by the Cherokees as a folk cancer remedy. A tea of the root was considered laxative.  It was also mashed, and applied as a poultice on insect bites.  A tea of the leaves was drunk by the Cherokees for stomachache from overeating.  The root of T. occidentalis served the Meskwaki as a diuretic.  Insanity was treated with spiderwort. A gum exudes from the root.  The treatment consisted of making an incision on the head, then inserting a piece of the gum into the wound as a remedy for craziness.

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/Tradescantia_virginiana
http://www.illinoiswildflowers.info/savanna/plants/va_spiderwort.htm
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_RST.htm

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Tradescantia+virginiana

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Herbs & Plants

Lobelia cardinalis

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Botanical Name : Lobelia cardinalis
Family: Campanulaceae
Subfamily: Lobelioideae
Genus: Lobelia
Species: L. cardinalis
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asterales

Common Name : Cardinal Flower

Habitat : Lobelia cardinalis is  native to the Americas, from southeastern Canada south through the eastern and southwestern United States, Mexico and Central America to northern Colombia.It  is found in wet places, streambanks, and swamps.

Description:
It is a perennial herbaceous plant that grows up to 1.2 m tall and  has bright red flowers.The leaves are up to 20 cm long and 5 cm broad, lanceolate to oval, with a toothed margin. The flowers are usually vibrant red, deeply five-lobed, up to 4 cm across; they are produced in an erect raceme up to 70 cm tall during the summer to fall. Forms with white (f. alba) and pink (f. rosea) flowers are also known…

 

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Lobelia cardinalis is related to two other Lobelia species in to the Eastern United States, Lobelia inflata (Indian Tobacco) and Lobelia siphilitica (Great Lobelia); all display the characteristic “lip” petal near the opening of the flower and the “milky” liquid the plant excretes. L. siphilitica has blue flowers and is pollinated by bees, whereas L. cardinalis is red and is pollinated by hummingbirds.

L. cardinalis has been known to cause an upset in the digestive system when consumed.

Cultivation :
This plant is easily propagated by dividing and spreading out the young plants which form around the older mature plants each year. Although the plant is generally considered a perennial any one plant may only live 7 to 10 years and then die. To ensure that your whole collection of cardinal flowers do not die off at the same time be sure to propagate some new plant lines using seeds at least every 4 years. Human activity also can interfere with the wildlife when getting the original seeds for your collection of “cardinal flowers”.Taking seeds or roots of lobelia cardinalis to start your collection will stunt the growth of the “cardinal flower” population. Along with red forms of bee balm this plant is a must if you want to attract hummingbirds. In the wild it is pollinated by the ruby-throated hummingbird (Archilochus colubris).

Propagation:
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. 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. Division in spring. Basal cuttings in spring. Harvest the shoots when they are about 10cm long with plenty of underground stem. Pot them up into individual pots and keep them in light shade in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the summer. Layering in moist sand, it forms roots at the nodes.

Medicinal Uses:

Emetic, expectorant and nervine. The root is analgesic, anthelmintic, antispasmodic and stomachic. A tea made from the roots has been used in the treatment of epilepsy, syphilis, typhoid, stomach aches, cramps, worms etc. A poultice of the roots has been applied to sores that are hard to heal. The leaves are analgesic and febrifuge. A tea made from the leaves is used in the treatment of croup, nosebleeds, colds, fevers, headaches etc. A poultice of the leaves has been applied to the head to relieve the pain of headache. This species is considered to have similar medicinal activity to L. inflata, but in a milder form. It was seldom if ever used. The plant is used to make a homeopathic remedy. The report does not say which part of the plant is used, nor what it treats.
North American indigenous peoples used root tea for a number of intestinal ailments and syphilis. Leaf teas were used by them for bronchial problems and colds, inter alia. The Meskwaki people used it as part of an inhalant against catarrh. Although not related to tobacco, it was apparently not smoked, but may have been chewed.  The plant contains a number of alkaloids. As a member of the genus Lobelia, it is considered to be potentially toxic..Native Americans (the Penobscot tribes) smoked the dried leaves as a substitute for tobacco. Lobelia may have potential as a drug for, or in study of, neurological disorders.

A tea made from the roots has been used in the treatment of epilepsy, syphilis, typhoid, stomach aches, cramps, worms etc. A poultice of the roots has been applied to sores that are hard to heal.  The leaves are analgesic and febrifuge. A tea made from the leaves is used in the treatment of croup, nosebleeds, colds, fevers, headaches etc. A poultice of the leaves has been applied to the head to relieve the pain of headaches.

Known Hazards:  The plant is potentially toxic, but the degree of toxicity is unknown. It contains the alkaloid lobeline which has a similar effect upon the nervous system as nicotine. The sap of the plant has been known to cause skin irritation.

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_C.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lobelia_cardinalis
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=LOCA2&photoID=loca2_003_avp.tif