Categories
Herbs & Plants (Spices)

Rhus radicans

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Botanical Name: Rhus radicans
Family: Anacardiaceae
Genus: Toxicodendron/Rhus
Species: T. radicans
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Sapindales

Synonyms: R. toxicodendron. non L., Toxicodendron radicans. (L.)Kuntze. T. vulgare.

Common Names:Poison Ivy,Eastern poison ivy

Habitat : Rhus radicans is native to Eastern N. America – Quebec to Florida, west to Texas. It grows in woods, on rocky slopes and in wooded swamps.
Description:
Rhus radicans is a deciduous Climber growing to 2.5 m (8ft 2in) at a fast rate. The species has complex and variable forms. Some are woody vines that produce aerial roots and grow by straggling and climbing over other vegetation. Ground-forms usually spread by rhizomes and develop dense colonies with a few leaves crowded near the summit. Regardless of growth habit, poison ivy always has three leaflets per leaf, with leaflets: ovate to subrotund, varying to rhombic or elliptic, terminally acute to acuminate, basally cuneate; entire to irregularly serrate or crenate; glabrous or thinly pubescent, petiolule of the terminal leaflet longer than those of the lateral leaflets; panicles: axillary, 1 dm long, bearing greenish-yellow flowers that mature into grayish white fruits, 5-6 mm; fruits: mature August through November, conspicuous all winter; birds eat the ripe seeds with impunity.

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It is not frost tender. It is in flower from May to June, and the seeds ripen from Sep to November. The flowers are dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required) and are pollinated by Bees.The plant is not self-fertile.

Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

Cultivation:
Succeeds in a well-drained fertile soil in full sun. The young growth in spring can be damaged by late frosts. A fast-growing but short-lived species in the wild. It has brittle branches and these can be broken off in strong winds. Plants are also susceptible to coral spot fungus. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus. The plant has a semi-climbing habit and produces aerial roots, and occasionally reaches the size of a small tree. Many of the species in this genus, including this one, are highly toxic and can also cause severe irritation to the skin of some people, whilst other species are not poisonous. It is relatively simple to distinguish which is which, the poisonous species have axillary panicles and smooth fruits whilst non-poisonous species have compound terminal panicles and fruits covered with acid crimson hairs. The toxic species are sometimes separated into their own genus, Toxicodendron, by some botanists. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.

Propagation:
Seed – best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe. Pre-soak the seed for 24 hours in hot water (starting at a temperature of 80 – 90c and allowing it to cool) prior to sowing in order to leach out any germination inhibitors. The stored seed also needs hot water treatment and can be sown in early 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. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 10cm with a heel, July/August in a frame. Root cuttings 4cm long taken in December and potted up vertically in a greenhouse. Good percentage. Suckers in late autumn to winter

Edible Uses: Oil

Medicinal Uses:
Poison ivy has occasionally been used medicinally, though it is an extremely poisonous plant and great caution should be exercised. Any herbal use should only be undertaken under the supervision of a qualified practitioner. See also the notes above on toxicity. This plant has been used in the past by physicians in the treatment of paralysis and liver disorders. A decoction of the leaves has been used as a tonic and rejuvenator. The whole or the broken leaves have been rubbed over the skin to treat boils and skin eruptions. The leaves have been rubbed on skin that has been affected by a poison ivy reaction.

Other Uses:
The leaves are rich in tannin. They can be collected as they fall in the autumn and used as a brown dye or as a mordant. An oil is extracted from the seeds. It attains a tallow-like consistency on standing and is used to make candles. These burn brilliantly, though they emit a pungent smoke. An excellent marking ink is obtained from this plant.

Known Hazards: This plant contains toxic substances and skin contact with it can cause severe irritation to some people. The sap is extremely poisonous. The sap contains 3-N pentadecycatechnol. Many people are exceedingly sensitive to this, it causes a severe spreading dermatitis. The toxins only reach the skin if the plant tissues have been damaged, but even indirect contact can cause severe problems.

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:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toxicodendron_radicans
http://research.vet.upenn.edu/poisonousplants/PoisonousPlantsofPA/Rhusradicans/tabid/5476/Default.aspx
http://research.vet.upenn.edu/poisonousplants/PoisonousPlantsofPA/Rhusradicans/tabid/5476/Default.aspx

Categories
Herbs & Plants

Solidago gigantea

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Botanical Name : Solidago gigantea
Family: Asteraceae
Genus: Solidago
Species: S. gigantea
Kingdom: Plantae

Synonyms : Solidago pitcheri.

Common Names : Tall goldenrod and Giant goldenrod

Habitat : Solidago gigantea is native to N. America – New Brunswick to British Columbia, south to Georgia, Texas and Utah. It grows on the low wet areas, roadsides, pond margins and the sides of streams, generally in mesic areas. It is the state flower of Kentucky and Nebraska.

Description:
Solidago gigantea is a perennial wildflower plant, growing to 1.2 m (4ft), sometimes spreading by means of underground rhizomes. They often grow in clumps, with no leaves as the base but numerous leaves on the stem. At the top, each stem produces a sizable array of many small flower heads, sometimes several hundred. Each head is yellow, containing both disc florets and ray florets.
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The central stem is light green or pale purple, terete, glabrous, and sometimes glaucous. The alternate leaves are 3-5″ long and 1/3–2/3″ (8-17 mm.) across, becoming only slightly shorter while ascending the central stem. Sometimes there are leafy lateral stems that develop from the leaf axils of the central stem, but they are very short and insignificant. The alternate leaves are narrowly lanceolate to elliptic, slightly to sharply toothed along their margins, and sessile; each leaf tapers gradually towards its tip and base. The upper surfaces of the leaves are medium to dark green and glabrous, while their lower surfaces are a slightly lighter shade of green and glabrous or nearly so (sometimes there are fine hairs along the major veins below). Each leaf has 3 veins (a central vein and 2 lateral veins) that are nearly parallel to each other.

The central stem terminates in a panicle of flowerheads up to 1′ long and 1′ across. There is some variability in the shape and size of the panicle across different populations of plants. Individual branches of the panicle are light green, slightly to moderately pubescent, and recurved. There are usually some leafy bracts along the branches of the panicle; these leafy bracts are similar to the leaves, except they are smaller in size. Individual flowerheads are a little less than ¼” across, consisting of about 7-15 yellow ray florets and 5-11 yellow disk florets. At the base of each flowerhead, there are appressed floral bracts in 2-5 overlapping series; individual floral bracts are linear-lanceolate in shape. The blooming period occurs from late summer to early fall for about a month. Both ray and disk florets produce small achenes with sessile tufts of hair. The achenes are bullet-shaped, flat-topped, and finely pubescent. The root system is fibrous and rhizomatous. Colonies of plants are often formed from the rhizomes.

It is hardy to zone (UK) 6. It is in flower in September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Cultivation:
Succeeds in any moderately fertile moisture retentive soil in sun or semi-shade. Grows well in heavy clay soils. A rather greedy plant, it is apt to impoverish the soil. This species has become a weed in its native range, increasing freely by seed and at the root. The plant attracts various beneficial insects such as ladybirds, lacewings and hoverflies to the garden, these insects will help to control insect pests in the garden.

Propagation :
Seed – sow spring in a cold frame. Only just cover the seed and do not allow the compost to become dry. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle, and grow them on for their first winter in pots. Plant them out into their permanent positions in spring or early summer. Division in spring or autumn. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found it best to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in a lightly shaded position in a cold frame, planting them out once they are well established in the summer.
Medicinal Uses:
The leaves and blossoms are astringent, cathartic and styptic. They are a valuable remedy in the treatment of all kinds of haemorrhages. An infusion of the blossoms has been used to treat various fevers. An oil obtained from the plant (is this an essential oil?) is diuretic.
Other Uses:.…Basketry…….The stems can be made into rough basket

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:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solidago_gigantea
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Solidago+gigantea
http://www.illinoiswildflowers.info/wetland/plants/gt_goldenrod.htm

Categories
News on Health & Science

Chewing Gum Helps In Bowel Recovery

Chewing gum may make your jaws hurt after a bit, but it could get you out of bed earlier after gastrointestinal surgery as it helps in the recovery of bowel function.

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Researchers studied 102 patients undergoing gastrointestinal surgery and gave half of them 5 pieces of chewing gum per day after their operation.

They found that 51 patients who chewed gum recovered their bowel movement significantly faster than those who did not.

Researchers theorized that chewing the gum might have stimulated the smooth muscle fibres and secretion from the salivary glands and liver.

Bradley Kropp, Faculty Member for F1000 Medicine Urology and Professor of Pediatric Urology at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, has decided to give his patients undergoing reconstructive surgery a piece of gum following their operation.

“In today’s high-tech, molecular-driven scientific world, it is nice to come across an article that can be implemented immediately into our practices without increased healthcare cost,” he said.

“Just think how much a pack of gum would cost today had the pharmaceutical industry come across this information first,” he added.

Sources:The study is published in the journal Urology

Categories
Fruits & Vegetables Herbs & Plants

Blackcurrant

Botanical Name: Ribes nigrum
Family: Grossulariaceae
Genus: Ribes
Species:R. nigrum
Kingdom:Plantae
Order:Saxifragales

Common Name: Blackcurrant

Other Names: European Black Currant, Quinsy Berries

Habitat : Black Currant is native to temperate parts of central and northern Europe and northern Asia where it prefers damp fertile soils and is widely cultivated both commercially and domestically. It is cultivated throughout Finland, and other places of the world. It also grows in the wild.

Description:   Blackcurrant is a medium sized shrub, growing to 1.5 metres (4.9 ft) by 1.5 metres (4.9 ft). The leaves are alternate, simple, 3 to 5 cm (1.2 to 2.0 in) broad and long with five palmate lobes and a serrated margin. All parts of the plant are strongly aromatic. The flowers are produced in racemes known as “strig”s up to 8 cm (3 in) long containing ten to twenty flowers, each about 8 mm (0.3 in) in diameter. Each flower has a hairy calyx with yellow glands, the five lobes of which are longer than the inconspicuous petals. There are five stamens surrounding the stigma and style and two fused carpels. The flowers open in succession from the base of the strig and are mostly insect pollinated, but some pollen is distributed by the wind. A pollen grain landing on a stigma will germinate and send a slender pollen tube down the style to the ovule. In warm weather this takes about 48 hours but in cold weather it may take a week, and by that time, the ovule may have passed the stage where it is receptive. If fewer than about 35 ovules are fertilised, the fruit may not be able to develop and will fall prematurely. Frost can damage both unopened and open flowers when the temperature falls below -1.9 °C (28.5 °F). The flowers at the base of the strig are more protected by the foliage and are less likely to be damaged.

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In midsummer the green fruit ripens to an edible berry up to 1 cm in diameter, very dark purple in colour, almost black, with a glossy skin and a persistent calyx at the apex, and containing several seeds dense in nutrients (notably Vitamin C). An established bush can produce about 4.5 kilograms (10 pounds) of fruit each year.


Cultivation and uses

The fruit have a high natural vitamin C content. Like the other true currants (not to be confused with the Zante currant, a type of grape which is often dried), it is classified in the genus Ribes.

In addition to the high levels of vitamin C, studies have also shown concentrated blackcurrant to be an effective Monoamine oxidase inhibitor (Bormann, et al. 1991.) Fifty grams of 5.5X concentrate was found to inhibit 92% of the Monoamine oxidase enzymes. Blackcurrant seed oil is a rich source of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), a very rare essential fatty acid.

When not in fruit, the plant looks very similar to the redcurrant shrub; they may be distinguished by the strong odour of the leaves and stems of the blackcurrant.

In Russia, it is common to infuse slightly sweetened vodka with blackcurrant leaves, making a deep yellowish-green beverage with a sharp flavour and an astringent taste[citation needed]. Blackcurrant berries can also be used to flavour vodka. In the UK, blackcurrant juice is often mixed with Cider to make a drink called Cider Black. This drink can be ordered at most pubs. It is also believed that adding a small amount of blackcurrant to Guinness will bring out a sweeter taste in the beer, making it a better beverage in some beer-drinkers’ opinions.

Blackcurrants have a very sweet and sharp taste. They are made into jelly, jam, juice, ice cream, cordial and liqueur. In the UK, Europe and Commonwealth countries, some types of confectionery include a blackcurrant flavour, but this is generally missing in the United States, even within the same brand. Instead grape flavour in candy (including grape jelly) almost mirrors the use of blackcurrant in both its ubiquity in the USA, and its rarity on the eastern side of the Atlantic.

The juicy berry is dark, purple-black in colour and highly fragrant and aromatic. It tastes slightly sour, but much sweeter (and better) than red or white currant. In Finland, blackcurrants are mainly used to make jellies, jams and juices, or used in various desserts. They are also eaten fresh, with sugar. The fragrant leaves are used to flavour vegetable preserves, especially pickled or salted cucumbers. Blackcurrants are high in vitamins C and B and hot blackcurrant juice is an old trusted cold remedy.

It may be small, but the mighty blackcurrant is bursting with more health promoting antioxidants than most other fruit and vegetables, including blueberries!

It’s the special antioxidants called anthocyanins, which give blackcurrants their distinctive dark colour. British blackcurrants are grown and bred especially for their deep colour, which makes them extra good for you. The Blackcurrant Foundation has been established by British growers to raise awareness of the numerous health benefits of British blackcurrants.

On this site you will find everything you need to know about this small, but great British fruit!

Blackcurrants are one of the richest sources of vitamin C – weight for weight they contain four times as much as oranges. Blackcurrants are also a rich source of potassium but very little sodium which makes them beneficial in the treatment of high blood pressure and water retention. Their skins contain anthocyanosides an anti-bacterial pigment which is good for sore throats.

Healthy Foods For Good Nutrition and Weight Control
Good diet nutrition is essential for healthy weight reduction. Fad diets or unbalanced eating plans lack the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients necessary to maintain efficient metabolism. Instead, choose a balanced diet plan, which includes foods from all food groups, and offers proper support to lose weight. A healthy choice is Anne Collins Weight Loss Program

History:
During World War II most fruits rich in vitamin C, such as oranges, became almost impossible to obtain in the United Kingdom. Since blackcurrant berries are a rich source of vitamin C and blackcurrant plants are suitable for growing in the UK climate, blackcurrant cultivation was encouraged by the British government. Soon, the yield of the nation’s crop increased significantly. From 1942 on almost the entire British blackcurrant crop was made into blackcurrant syrup (or cordial) and distributed to the nation’s children free, giving rise to the lasting popularity of blackcurrant flavourings in Britain.

Blackcurrants were once popular in the United States as well, but they became extremely rare in the 20th century after currant farming was banned in the early 1900s. The ban was enacted when it was discovered that blackcurrants helped to spread the tree disease White Pine Blister Rust, which was thought to threaten the then-booming U.S. lumber industry .

The federal ban on growing currants was shifted to individual States’ jurisdiction in 1966. The ban was lifted in New York State in 2003 as a result of the efforts of Greg Quinn and The Currant Company and currant growing is making a comeback in several states including Vermont, New York, Connecticut and Oregon.[2] However, several statewide bans still exist including Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Since the federal ban ceased currant production anywhere in the U.S., the fruit is not well-known and has yet to reach the popularity that it had in the U.S. in the 19th century or that it currently has in Europe and the UK. The first nationally available black currant beverage in the U.S. since the ban was lifted in many states is a powerful health-food nectar under the brand name CurrantC. Since black currants are a strong source of antioxidants and vitamins (much like pomegranate juice), awareness and popularity are once again growing in the U.S.

Cooking

Other than being juiced and used in jellies, syrups, and cordials, blackcurrants are used in cooking because their astringent nature brings out the flavour in many sauces and meat dishes and lends them to desserts. It was once thought that currants needed to be “topped and tailed” (the stalk and flower-remnants removed) before cooking. This however is not the case as these parts are easily assimilated during the cooking process. If one prefers to do this, however, the blackcurrants can be frozen, then shaken vigorously. The tops and tails are broken off and can be separated easily from the fruit.

Meditional Uses:

Blackcurrant fruits are a good source of minerals and vitamins, especially vitamin C. They have diuretic and diaphoretic actions, help to increase bodily resistance to infections and are a valuable remedy for treating colds and flu. The juice, especially when fresh or vacuum-sealed, helps to stem diarrhea and calms indigestion.

The leaves are cleansing, diaphoretic and diuretic. By encouraging the elimination of fluids they help to reduce blood volume and thereby lower blood pressure. An infusion is used in the treatment of dropsy, rheumatic pain and whooping cough, and can also be used externally on slow-healing cuts and abscesses. It can be used as a gargle for sore throats and mouth ulcers. The leaves are harvested during the growing season and can be used fresh or dried. French research has shown that blackcurrant leaves increase the secretion of cortisol by the adrenal glands, and thus stimulate the activity of the sympathetic nervous system. This action may prove useful in the treatment of stress-related conditions.

An infusion of the young roots is useful in the treatment of eruptive fevers. A decoction of the bark has been found of use in the treatment of calculus, dropsy and hemorrhoidal tumors. The seed is a source of gamma-linolenic acid, an unsaturated fatty acid which assists the production of hormone-like substances. This process is commonly blocked in the body, causing disorders that affect the uterine muscles, nervous system and metabolism. There are no records of the oil from this species being used medicinally, though it is used in cosmetic preparations.

In Europe the leaves have traditionally been used for arthritis, spasmodic cough, diarrhea, as a diuretic and for treating a sore throat. The berries were made into a drink thought to be beneficial for treatment of colds and flu, for other fevers, for diaphoresis and as a diuretic. In traditional Austrian medicine, Ribes nigrum fruits have been used internally (consumed whole or as a syrup) for treatment of infections and disorders of the gastrointestinal tract, the locomotor system, the respiratory tract and the cardiovascular system.

Blackcurrants prevent heart disease, cancer

Other uses:
The plant has various other uses. Blackcurrant seed oil is an ingredient in cosmetics and skin preparations, often in combination with vitamin E. The leaves can be extracted to yield a yellow dye and the fruit is a source for a blue or violet dye. The leaves have been used to assist in keeping vegetables fresh.

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:

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackcurrant

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