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Herbs & Plants

Apocynum cannabinum

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Botanical Name :Apocynum cannabinum
Family: Apocynaceae
Genus: Apocynum
Species: A. cannabinum
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Gentianales

Common Names:Dogbane,Canadian Hemp, Amy Root, Hemp Dogbane, Indian Hemp, Rheumatism Root, or Wild Cotton

Habitat :Apocynum cannabinum is native to California and is also found elsewhere in North America and beyond. It grows in open wooded areas, ditches, and hillsides, and prefers moist places.

Description:
Apocynum cannabinum, a dicot, is a perennial herb. It grows up to 2 meters/6 feet tall. The stems are lack hairs, often have a reddish-brown tint when mature, become woody at the base, and are much-branched in the upper portions of the plant. are reddish and contain a milky latex capable of causing skin blisters.  The flowers are produced in mid summer, with large sepals, and a five-lobed white corolla.

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Leaves: Entire margins (meaning the leaf’s edges are smooth, not notched or toothed), ovate or elliptic, 2-5 inches long, 0.5-1.5 inches wide, and arranged oppositely along the stem. Leaves have short petioles (stems) and are sparingly pubescent or lacking hairs beneath. The lower leaves have stems while the upper leaves may not. The leaves turn yellow in the fall, then drop off.

Fruit: Long (5 inches or more), narrow follicles produced in pairs (one from each ovary) that turn reddish-brown when mature and develop into two long pods containing numerous seed with tufts of silky white hairs at their ends.

Identifying Characteristics: Stems and leaves secrete a milky sap when broken. Sprouts emerging from the underground horizontal rootstock may be confused with Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) emerging shoots. But note that they are not related to milkweeds, despite the milky sap and the similar leaf shape and growth habit. The flower shape is quite unlike that of milkweed flowers and the leaves of hemp dogbane are much smaller than those of common milkweed. When mature, these native plants may be distinguished by the branching in the upper portions of the plant that occurs in hemp dogbane, and also the smaller size of hemp dogbane compared to Common milkweed.

Medicinal Uses:
Indian hemp is an unpleasantly bitter stimulant irritant herb that acts on the heart, respiratory and urinary systems, and also on the uterus. It was much employed by various native North American Indian tribes who used it to treat a wide variety of complaints including rheumatism, coughs, pox, whooping cough, asthma, internal parasites, diarrhea and also to increase milk flow in lactating mothers. The fresh root is the most active part medicinally. It has been used in the treatment of syphilis and as a tonic. A weak tea made from the dried root has been used for cardiac diseases.  A tea made from the root has been used as a vermifuge.  The milky sap is a folk remedy for venereal warts.  It is favored for the treatment of amenorrhea and leucorrhea.  It is also of value for its diaphoretic and emetic properties.  A half-ounce of crushed root was boiled in a pint of water and one or two ounces of the decoction administered several times a day as a laxative.  The powered root was used to induce vomiting.  The entire plant, steeped in water, was used to treat intestinal worms, fever, dysentery, asthma, pneumonia, inflammation of the intestines, and indigestion.  The plant is considered a heart stimulant.

This plant causes large and liquid stools, accompanied by but little griping; acts with more or less freedom upon the kidneys; and in large doses produces much nausea, and rather copious vomiting. Emesis from its use is followed by rather free perspiration, as is to be expected from any emetic; though this agent also acts considerably upon the surface. The pulse becomes softer and fuller under its use; and it is accused of producing drowsiness and a semi-narcotism.  It has been most used for its effects as a hydrogogue cathartic and diuretic in dropsies; but should be employed only in moderation, and in connection with tonics and diffusive stimulants. It usually increases the menstrual flow, and some have lately attributed decided antiperiodic properties to it, but this is not yet satisfactorily confirmed. An ounce of the root boiled a few minutes in a pint of water, is the better mode of preparing it; and from one to two fluid ounces of this are a laxative dose. An extract is made, of which the dose is from three to six grains.

It is also used in herbal medicine to treat syphilis, rheumatism, intestinal worms, fever, asthma, and dysentery. Although the toxins from the plant can cause nausea and catharsis, it has also been used for slowing the pulse.

Other Uses:
Phytoremediation
Apocynum cannabinum is a phytoremediation plant, a hyperaccumulator used to sequester lead in its biomass.

Fiber
Apocynum cannabinum was used as a source of fiber by Native Americans, to make hunting nets, fishing lines, clothing, and twine.  It is called qéemu  in Nez Perce and  in Sahaptin.

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.primitiveways.com/hemp_dogbane.html
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_C.htm
http://www.calflora.org/cgi-bin/species_query.cgi?where-calrecnum=426
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apocynum_cannabinum

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Herbs & Plants

Blue Camas

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Botanical Name : Camassia quamash
Family: Asparagaceae
Subfamily: Agavoideae
Genus: Camassia
Species: C. quamash
Kingdom: Plantae
clade: Angiosperms
clade: Monocots
Order: Asparagales

Synonyms : C. esculenta. Lindl.

Common Name: Quamash, Small camas, Utah small camas, Walpole’s small camas, Blue Camas

Habitat :Blue Camas is native to western North America in large areas of southern Canada and the northwestern United States, from British Columbia and Alberta to California and east from Washington state to Montana and Wyoming. It grows in  the coastal mountain forests and wet meadows inland. Marshy meadows in coniferous forest, to 2300 metres

Description:
Small Camas, is a perennial herb. It is one species of the genus Camassia.
The pale blue to deep blue flowers grow in a raceme at the end of the stem. Each of the radially symmetrical, star-shaped flowers have 6 petals. The stems have a length between 30 cm and 90 cm. The leaves are basal and have a grass-like appearance.
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The name Quamash is from Nez Perce qém’es, a term for the plant’s bulb, which was gathered and used as a food source by tribes in the Pacific Northwest. The bulbs were harvested and pit-roasted or boiled by women of the Nez Perce, Cree, and Blackfoot tribes. It also provided a valuable food source for the members of the Lewis and Clark expedition (1804–1806).

Quamash is not just an edible plant, it is also grown as an ornamental plant. Even in the wild, large numbers of quamash can color an entire meadow blue-violet.

While quamash is edible and nutritious, it may occasionally grow with Zygadenus species which are extremely poisonous and which have very similar bulbs.

There are eight subspecies:

Camassia quamash subsp. azurea – Small Camas
Camassia quamash subsp. breviflora – Small Camas
Camassia quamash subsp. intermedia – Small Camas
Camassia quamash subsp. linearis – Small Camas
Camassia quamash subsp. maxima – Small Camas
Camassia quamash subsp. quamash – Small Camas
Camassia quamash subsp. utahensis – Utah Small Camas
Camassia quamash subsp. walpolei – Walpole’s Small Camas

Cultivation:
Succeeds in almost any soil. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Prefers a rather heavy loam that has plenty of moisture in spring but does not remain wet over the winter. Dislikes dry soils. Prefers full sun but tolerates partial shade . The dormant bulbs are very hardy and will withstand soil temperatures down to at least -10°c. Quamash is a very pretty flowering bulb that has quite a large potential as an edible ornamental plant . It grows very well in the flower border but can also be naturalised in damp grass. We are intending to grow it in a grassed-down orchard in our Cornish trial ground. The bulbs flower in late spring and early summer and have completely died down by early July so they do not interfere with harvesting the apple crop. The grass in the orchard will be cut in early spring before the quamash comes into growth, but will not be cut again until July. The bulbs will be harvested at any time from July to December and, since it is impossible to find all the bulbs, it is hoped that those remaining will be able to increase and supply bulbs for future years. A polymorphic and very ornamental plant, there are some named varieties. The subspecies C. quamash maxima has larger bulbs than the type, up to 65mm in diameter. A good bee plant. This species can be confused with certain poisonous bulbs in the genus Zigadenus. Plant the bulbs 7 – 10cm deep in early autumn and then leave undisturbed.

Propagation :
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. The seed can also be sown in a cold frame in spring . It usually germinates in 1 – 6 months at 15°c, but it can be erratic. Sow the seed thinly so that it does not need to be thinned and allow the seedlings to grow on undisturbed for their first year. Give an occasional liquid feed to ensure that the plants do not become nutrient deficient. When the plants are dormant in late summer, pot up the small bulbs putting 2 – 3 bulbs in each pot. Grow them on for another one or two years in a cold frame before planting them out when dormant in late summer. Offsets in late summer. The bulb has to be scored in order to produce offsets.

Ornamental uses:
This bulbflower naturalizes well in gardens. The bulb grows best in well-drained soil high in humus. It will grow in lightly shaded forest areas and on rocky outcrops as well as in open meadows or prairies. Additionally it is found growing alongside streams and rivers. The plants may be divided in autumn after the leaves have withered. Additionally the plant spreads by seed rather than by runners.

Food Uses:
The Quamash has been a food source for many native peoples in the western United States and Canada. After being harvested in the autumn, once the flowers have withered, the bulbs are pit-roasted or boiled. A pit-cooked camas bulb looks and tastes something like baked sweet potato, but sweeter, and with more crystalline fibers due to the presence of inulin in the bulbs. People have also dried the bulbs to then be pounded into flour. Native American tribes who ate camas include the Nez Perce, Cree, Coast Salish, Lummi, and Blackfoot tribes, among many others. Camas bulbs contributed to the survival of members of the expedition of Lewis and Clark (1804–1806).

Though the once-immense spreads of camas lands have diminished because of modern developments and agriculture, numerous Camas prairies and marshes may still be seen today. In the Great Basin, expanded settlement by whites accompanied by turning cattle and hogs onto camas prairies greatly diminished food available to native tribes and increased tension between Native Americans and settlers and travelers. Both the Bannock and Nez Perce Wars began after Nez Perce became incensed at the failure of the US government to uphold treaties, and at settlers who plowed up their camas prairies, which they depended on for subsistence.

While Camassia species are edible and nutritious, the white-flowered Meadow death-camas species (which are not the genus Camassia, but part of the genus Zigadenus) that grow in the same areas are toxic, and the bulbs are quite similar

Bulb – raw or cooked. The bulb, which can be up to 5cm in diameter, has a mild, starchy flavour when eaten raw, but a gummy texture that reduces the enjoyment of it somewhat. When cooked, however, it develops a delicious sweet flavour somewhat like sweet chestnuts, and is a highly nutritious food. Excellent when slow baked, it can also be dried and made into a powder which can be used as a thickener in stews or mixed with cereal flours when making bread, cakes etc. The bulbs can be boiled down to make a molasses, this was used on festival occasions by various Indian tribes. The bulbs can be harvested at any time of the year, but are probably best in early summer when the seeds are ripe. One report says that the bulbs contain inulin (a starch that cannot be digested by humans) but that this breaks down when the bulb is cooked slowly to form the sugar fructose which is sweet and easily digested. Quamash bulbs were a staple food of the N. American Indians. The tribes would move to the Quamash fields in the early autumn and, whilst some people harvested the bulbs, others would dig a pit, line it with boulders then fill it with wood and set fire to it. The fire would heat the boulders and the harvested bulbs would then be placed in the pit and the whole thing covered with earth and the bulbs left to cook slowly for 2 days. The pit would then be opened and the Indians would feast on the bulbs until they could no longer fit any more in their stomachs. Whatever was left would be dried and stored for winter use.

Medicinal Uses:
A decoction of the roots has been used to induce labor. An infusion of the leaves has been used to treat vaginal bleeding after birth and to help expel the placenta.

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.

Resource:
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Camassia%20quamash
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=CAQU2&photoID=caqu2_006_ahp.tif
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camassia_quamash
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_AB.htm

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Camassia+quamash

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