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Herbs & Plants

Portulaca oleracea

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Botanical Name: Portulaca oleracea
Family: Portulacaceae
Genus: Portulaca
Species: P. oleracea
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Caryophyllales

Synonyms: Garden Purslane. Pigweed.
Common Name: Green Purslane, Little hogweed ,Common purslane, Verdolaga, Pigweed, Little hogweed, Red root, Pursley, and Moss rose

Parts Used: Herb, juice, seeds.

Habitat:The Purslanes are distributed all over the world. Portulaca oleracea, the Garden, or Green Purslane, is a herbaceous annual, native of many parts of Europe, found in the East and West Indies, China, Japan and Ascension Island, and though found also in the British Isles is not indigenous there.It grows in fields, waste ground, roadside verges, cultivated ground and by the sea

Description:
Portulaca oleracea is an annual succulent plant growing to 0.3 m (1ft) by 0.3 m (1ft in) at a fast rate.It has smooth, reddish, mostly prostrate stems and alternate leaves clustered at stem joints and ends. The yellow flowers have five regular parts and are up to 6 mm wide. Depending upon rainfall, the flowers appear at anytime during the year. The flowers open singly at the center of the leaf cluster for only a few hours on sunny mornings. Seeds are formed in a tiny pod, which opens when the seeds are mature. Purslane has a taproot with fibrous secondary roots and is able to tolerate poor, compacted soils and drought.The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects, self.The plant is self-fertile. It is frost tender. It is in flower from Jun to September, and the seeds ripen from Jul to September.

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Cultivation:
Requires a moist light rich well-drained soil in a sunny position. Plants will not produce good quality leaves when growing in dry conditions. A perennial plant in warmer climates than Britain, purslane is killed by frost but can be grown as a half-hardy annual in this country. It can become an aggressive weed in areas where the climate suits it. The flowers only open in full sunlight. Purslane is occasionally cultivated for its edible leaves, there are some named varieties. The plants take about six to eight weeks to produce a crop from seed and can then be harvested on a cut and come again principle, providing edible leaves for most of the summer.

Propagation:
Seed – for an early crop, the seed is best sown under protection in early spring and can then be planted out in late spring. Outdoor sowings in situ take place from late spring to late summer, successional sowings being made every two to three weeks if a constant supply of the leaves is required.

Edible Uses :
Edible Parts: Leaves; Seed.

Leaves and stems – raw or cooked. The young leaves are a very acceptable addition to salads, their mucilaginous quality also making them a good substitute for okra as a thickener in soups. Older leaves are used as a potherb. The leaves have a somewhat sour flavour. A spicy and somewhat salty taste. The leaves are a source of omega-3 fatty acids, though seed sources such as walnuts are magnitudes richer. The leaves can be dried for later use. They contain about 1.8% protein, 0.5% fat, 6.5% carbohydrate, 2.2% ash. Another analysis gives the following figures per 100g ZMB. 245 – 296 calories, 17.6 – 34.5g protein, 2.4 – 5.3g fat, 35.5 – 63.2g carbohydrate, 8.5 – 14.6g fibre, 15.9 – 24.7g ash, 898 – 2078mg calcium, 320 – 774mg phosphorus, 11.2 – 46.7mg iron, 55mg sodium, 505 – 3120mg potassium, 10560 – 20000ug B-carotene equivalent, 0.23 – 0.48mg thiamine, 1.12 – 1.6mg riboflavin, 5.58 – 6.72mg niacin and 168 – 333mg ascorbic acid. Seed – raw or cooked. The seed can be ground into a powder and mixed with cereals for use in gruels, bread, pancakes etc. The seed is rather small and fiddly to utilize. In arid areas of Australia the plants grow quite large and can produce 10, 000 seeds per plant, a person can harvest several pounds of seed in a day. The seeding plants are uprooted and placed in a pile on sheets or something similar, in a few days the seeds are shed and can be collected from the sheet. In Britain, however, yields are likely to be very low, especially in cool or wet summers. The seed contains (per 100g ZMB) 21g protein, 18.9g fat 3.4g ash. Fatty acids of the seeds are 10.9% palmitic, 3.7% stearic, 1.3% behenic, 28.7% oleic, 38.9% linoleic and 9.9% linolenic. The ash of burnt plants is used as a salt substitute.

Constituents:
Figures in grams (g) or miligrams (mg) per 100g of food.
Leaves (Dry weight) 270 Calories per 100g
*Water : 0%
*Protein: 26g; Fat: 4g; Carbohydrate: 50g; Fibre: 11.5g; Ash: 20g;
*Minerals – Calcium: 1500mg; Phosphorus: 550mg; Iron: 29mg; Magnesium: 0mg; Sodium: 55mg; Potassium: 1800mg; Zinc: 0mg;
*Vitamins – A: 15000mg; Thiamine (B1): 0.35mg; Riboflavin (B2): 1.4mg; Niacin: 6mg; B6: 0mg; C: 250mg;
*Notes: The figures given here are the median of a very wide range quoted in the report.

Medicinal Uses:
Antiscorbutic; Depurative; Diuretic; Febrifuge; Skin; Tonic; Vermifuge.

The plant is antibacterial, antiscorbutic, depurative, diuretic and febrifuge. The leaves are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which is thought to be important in preventing heart attacks and strengthening the immune system. Seed sources such as walnuts, however, are much richer sources. The fresh juice is used in the treatment of strangury, coughs, sores etc. The leaves are poulticed and applied to burns, both they and the plant juice are particularly effective in the treatment of skin diseases and insect stings. A tea made from the leaves is used in the treatment of stomach aches and headaches. The leaf juice is applied to earaches, it is also said to alleviate caterpillar stings. The leaves can be harvested at any time before the plant flowers, they are used fresh or dried. This remedy is not given to pregnant women or to patients with digestive problems. The seeds are tonic and vermifuge. They are prescribed for dyspepsia and opacities of the cornea.

The sticky, broken leaves of fresh purslane sooth burns, stings and swellings.  The juice was once used for treating earaches and to  fasten   teeth and soothe sore gums.  Purslane has been considered valuable in the treatment of urinary and digestive problems.  The diuretic effect of the juice makes it useful in the alleviation of bladder ailments-for example, difficulty in passing urine. The plant’s mucilaginous properties also make it a soothing remedy for gastrointestinal problems such as dysentery and diarrhea.  In Chinese herbal medicine, purslane is employed for similar problems and for appendicitis.  The Chinese also use the plant as an antidote for wasp stings and snake bite.  Clinical trials in China indicate that purslane has a mild antibiotic effect.  In one study, the juice was shown to be effective in treating hookworms.  Other studies suggest that it is valuable against bacillary dysentery.  When injected, extracts of the herb induce powerful contractions of the uterus.  Taken orally, purslane juice weakens uterine contractions.    In Europe it’s been turned into a cough syrup for sore throats.  Purslane is the richest known plant source of Omega-3 acids, found mostly in fish oils.  These fatty acids reduce blood cholesterol and pressure, clotting, and inflammation and may increase immunity.   Recommended medicinal dosage is 15-30 grams.   Use for scours in goats.

Use is contraindicated during pregnancy and for those with cold and weak digestion. Purslane is a clinically effective treatment for oral lichen planus,

Other uses: Portulaca oleracea efficiently removes bisphenol A, an endocrine-disrupting chemical, from a hydroponic solution.

Companion plant: It is used as a companion plant, Purslane provides ground cover to create a humid microclimate for nearby plants, stabilising ground moisture. Its deep roots bring up moisture and nutrients that those plants can use, and some, including corn, will “follow” purslane roots down through harder soil that they cannot penetrate on their own (ecological facilitation). It is known as a beneficial weed in places that do not already grow it as a crop in its own right.

Popular culture:    Purslane also finds mention in a translation of the Bible as a repulsive food. Job’s question in Job 6:6 is translated in the RSV as, “Can that which is tasteless be eaten without salt or is there any taste in the slime of the purslane?”
The name verdolaga, associated with the plant that grows in South America is a nickname for Football clubs with green-white schemes in their uniforms, such as Colombia’s Atletico Nacional and Argentina’s Ferrocarril Oeste.

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/Portulaca_oleracea
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/p/prugol77.html
http://www.pfaf.org/user/plant.aspx?LatinName=Portulaca+oleracea

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

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Herbs & Plants

Opuntia compressa

Botanical Name : Opuntia compressa
Family: Cactaceae
Genus: Opuntia
Species: O. humifusa
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Caryophyllales

Synonyms: Opuntia humifusa, Opuntia macrarthra, Opuntia opuntia, Opuntia rafinesquii, Opuntia  vulgaris

Common Names: Eastern Prickly Pear or Indian Fig

Habitat :Opuntia compressa is native to  North-eastern N. America.It ranges from Montana eastward to southern Ontario and then on to Massachusetts, south to Florida and westward to New Mexico. Naturalized on rocks and walls in S. and S.C. Europ.  Grows in Opn dry areas. Rocky bluffs, sand dunes, dry rocky or sandy grasslands.

Description:
Opuntia compressa is an evergreen Perennial growing to 0.2 m (0ft 8in) by 1 m (3ft 3in).The green stems of this low-growing perennial cactus are flattened and are formed of segments. Barbed bristles are found around the surfaces of the segments and longer spines are sometimes present. The flowers are yellow to gold in color and are found along the margins of mature segments. The flowers are waxy and sometimes have red centers. They measure 4-6 cm wide and bloom in the late spring.The juicy and edible red fruits measure from 3-5 cm. As the fruit matures, it changes colour from green to red, and often remains on the cactus until the following spring. There are 6 to 33 small, flat, light-colored seeds in each fruit.

You may click to see the pictures:

PICTURES

plant

Eastern Prickly Pear Cactus Spines

Eastern prickly pear fruit

Opuntia humifusa Ottawa IL

Opuntia humifusa – Michigan

It is hardy to zone 4 and is not frost tender. It is in leaf 12-Jan It is in flower from Jul to August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.

Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.

Cultivation:     
Requires a sandy or very well-drained soil. Prefers a pH in the range 6 to 7.5. Must be kept fairly dry in winter but likes a reasonable supply of water in the growing season. A position at the base of a south-facing wall or somewhere that can be protected from winter rain is best for this plant. Requires warmth and plenty of sun. Plants tolerate considerable neglect. Plants are very cold-hardy, tolerating temperatures down to about -30°c, but they are intolerant of winter wet. There is considerable confusion over the correct name for this species, several of the synonyms listed above are also applied to other species in this genus.

Propagation:  
Seed – sow early spring in a very well-drained compost in a greenhouse. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first two winters. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Give the plants some protection from winter wet. Make sure you have some reserve plants in case those outdoors do not overwinter. Cuttings of leaf pads at any time in the growing season. Remove a pad from the plant and then leave it in a dry sunny place for a couple of days to ensure that the base is thoroughly dry and has begun to callous. Pot up into a sandy compost. Very easy, rooting quickly.

Edible Uses:
Edible Parts: Fruit;  Leaves;  Seed.
Edible Uses: Gum.

Fruit – raw, cooked or dried for later use. Sweet and gelatinous. Lean and insipid. The unripe fruits can be added to soups etc, imparting an okra-like mucilaginous quality. The fruit can hang on the plant all year round. The fruit is up to 4cm long and 3cm wide. Be careful of the plants irritant hairs, see the notes above on toxicity. Pads – cooked or raw. Watery and very mucilaginous. Seed – briefly roasted then ground into a powder. It is also used as a thickener

Medicinal Uses:
Pectoral;  Poultice;  Warts.

A poultice of the peeled pads is applied to wounds, sores etc. The juice of the fruits is used as a treatment for warts . A tea made from the pads is used in the treatment of lung ailments.

The stems, which look like flat, spiny green leaves, are roasted and used as a poultice on swellings of all sorts and on the breasts of nursing mothers whose milk supply has dwindled.  The roots have been used in an effort to increase hair growth.  A tea made of flowers has been drunk to increase urine flow. Indians made tea of the stems and used this as a wash to ease headaches, eye troubles, and insomnia.  The early settlers of the West boiled the root in milk and drank the liquid to treat dysentery.  A poultice of the peeled pads is applied to wounds, sores etc.  The juice of the fruits is used as a treatment for warts.  A tea made from the pads is used in the treatment of lung ailments.

Other Uses:  
Gum.

The following notes are for O. ficus indica. They almost certainly also apply to this species. A gum is obtained from the stem. It is used as a masticatory or can be mixed with oil to make candles. The juice of the boiled stem segments is very sticky. It is added to plaster, whitewash etc to make it adhere better to walls.

Known Hazards:   The plant has numerous minutely barbed glochids (hairs) that are easily dislodged when the plant is touched and they then become stuck to the skin where they are difficult to see and remove. They can cause considerable discomfort.

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/Opuntia_humifusa
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Opuntia+compressa
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_IJK.htm

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Herbs & Plants

Opuntia basilaris

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Botanical Name : Opuntia basilaris
Family: Cactaceae
Genus: Opuntia
Species: O. basilaris
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Caryophyllales

Common Names :Beavertail,Beavertail Cactus

Habitat : Opuntia basilaris  is found in southwest USA, mostly in the Mojave Desert, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, and Colorado Deserts, and also in the Colorado Plateau and northwest Mexico; it ranges through the Grand Canyon and Colorado River region to southern Utah, and in western Arizona, regions along the Lower Colorado River Valley.

Description:
The Opuntia basilaris is a medium sized to small prickly pear cactus, depending on variety, growing to about 60 cm tall. A single plant may consist of hundreds of fleshy, flattened pads. These are more or less blue-gray, depending on variety, growing to a length of 14 cm and are maximum 10 cm wide and 1 to 1.5 cm thick. They are typically spineless, but have instead many small barbed bristles, called glochids, that easily penetrate the skin. The pink to rose colored flowers are most common; however, a rare variety of white and even yellow flowers also exist. Opuntia basilaris bloom from spring to early summer….CLICK  &   SEE  THE  PICTURES

Edible Uses:
The Cahuilla Native Americans used beavertail as a food staple. The buds were cooked or steamed, and then were eaten or stored. The large seeds were ground up to be eaten as mush.

Chemical constituents: Opuntia basilaris is a psychedelic plant containing 0.01% mescaline and  4-hydroxy-3-5-dimethoxyphenethylamine.

Medicinal Uses:
The older pads served as medicine.  Their pulp provided a wet dressing for bruises and sores, bites and lacerations, an application said to deaden pain and hasten healing.

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/Opuntia_basilaris
http://www.laspilitas.com/nature-of-california/plants/opuntia-basilaris
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_AB.htm

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