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Parsnip

Botanical Name: Pastinaca sativa
Family:Apiaceae
Genus:Pastinaca
Species:    P. sativa
Kingdom:    Plantae
Order:Apiales

Common Name :Parsnip

Habitat : Parsnip is native to Eurasia. It has been used as a vegetable since antiquity and was cultivated by the Romans, although there is some confusion in the literature of the time between parsnips and carrots. It was used as a sweetener before the arrival in Europe of cane sugar. It was introduced into the United States in the nineteenth century.

Description:
Parsnip is a biennial  plant with a rosette of roughly hairy leaves that has a pungent odor when crushed. The petioles are grooved and have sheathed bases. The leaves are once- or twice-pinnate with broad, ovate, sometimes lobed leaflets with toothed margins; they grow up to 40 cm (16 in) long. The flower stalk develops in the second year, growing to a height of 40 to 200 cm (20 to 80 in). It is hairy, grooved, hollow (except at the nodes), and sparsely branched. It has a few stalkless, single-lobed leaves measuring 5 to 10 cm (2 to 4 in) long that are arranged in opposite pairs. The yellow flowers are in a loose, compound umbel measuring 10 to 20 cm (4 to 8 in) in diameter. There are 6–25 straight pedicels, each measuring 2–5 cm (1–2 in) that support the umbellets (secondary umbels). The umbels and umbellets usually have no upper or lower bracts. The flowers have tiny sepals or lack them entirely, and measure about 3.5 mm. They consist of five yellow petals that are curled inward, five stamens, and one pistil. The fruits, or schizocarps, are oval and flat, with narrow wings and short, spreading styles. They are colored straw to light brown, and measure 4–8 mm long….click & see

Parsnip  is a biennial plant usually grown as an annual. Its long tuberous root has cream-colored skin and flesh and can be left in the ground when mature as it becomes sweeter in flavor after winter frosts. In its first growing season, the plant has a rosette of pinnate, mid-green leaves. If unharvested, it produces its flowering stem, topped by an umbel of small yellow flowers, in its second growing season. By this time the stem is woody and the tuber inedible. The seeds are pale brown, flat and winged.

Parsnips are grown for their fleshy, edible cream-colored taproots. The roots are generally smooth, although lateral roots sometimes form. Most are cylindrical, but some cultivars have a more bulbous shape, which generally tend to be favored by food processors as they are more resistant to breakage. The plant has a apical meristem that produces a rosette of pinnate leaves, each with several pairs of leaflets with toothed margins. The lower leaves have short stems, the upper ones are stemless, and the terminal leaves have three lobes. The highly branched floral stem is hollow and grooved, and can grow to more than 150 cm (60 in) tall.

Cultivation:
The wild parsnip from which the modern cultivated varieties were derived is a plant of dry rough grassland and waste places, particularly on chalk and limestone. Parsnips are biennials but are normally grown as annuals. Sandy and loamy soils are preferable to silt, clay and stony ground as the latter produce short, forked roots.. Parsnip seed significantly deteriorates in viability if stored for long. Seeds are usually planted in early spring, as soon as the ground can be worked to a fine tilth, in the position where the plants are to grow. The growing plants are thinned and kept weed free. Harvesting begins in late fall after the first frost, and continues through winter. The rows can be covered with straw to enable the crop to be lifted during frosty weather. Low soil temperatures cause some of the starches stored in the roots to be converted into sugars, giving them a sweeter taste.

Propagation :   
Seed – sow from late winter to late spring in situ. Seed can be slow to germinate, especially from the earlier sowings, it is best to mark the rows by sowing a few radishes with the parsnips. The seed has a short viability, very few will still be viable 15 months after harvesting

Edible Uses:
The parsnip is usually cooked but can also be eaten raw. It is high in vitamins and minerals, especially potassium. It also contains antioxidants and both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber.

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Parsnips resemble carrots and can be used in similar ways but they have a sweeter taste, especially when cooked. While parsnips can be eaten raw, they are more commonly served cooked. They can be baked, boiled, pureed, roasted, fried or steamed. When used in stews, soups and casseroles they give a rich flavor.  In some cases, the parsnip is boiled and the solid portions are removed from the soup or stew, leaving behind a more subtle flavor than the whole root, and starch to thicken the dish. Roast parsnip is considered an essential part of Christmas dinner in some parts of the English-speaking world and frequently features in the traditional Sunday Roast.  Parsnips can also be fried or thinly sliced and made into crisps. Parsnips can be made into a wine that has a taste similar to Madeira.

In Roman times, parsnips were believed to be an aphrodisiac.  However, parsnips do not typically feature in modern Italian cooking. Instead, they are fed to pigs, particularly those bred to make Parma ham.

Medicinal Uses:
In traditional Chinese medicine, the root of Chinese parsnip is used as a herbal medicine ingredient.

Poultice;  Women’s complaints.

A tea made from the roots has been used in the treatment of women’s complaints. A poultice of the roots has been applied to inflammations and sores. The root contains xanthotoxin, which is used in the treatment of psoriasis and vitiligo. Xanthotoxin is the substance that causes photosensitivity .

Other Uses:
Insecticide;  Repellent.

The leaves and roots are used to make an insect spray. Roughly chop the leaves and roots, put them in a basin with enough water to cover, leave them overnight then strain and use as an insecticide against aphids and red spider mite.

Known Hazards:
While the root of the parsnip is edible, handling the shoots and leaves of the plant requires caution as the sap is toxic.  Like many other members of the family Apiaceae, the parsnip contains furanocoumarin, a photosensitive chemical that causes a condition known as phytophotodermatitis.  The condition is a type of chemical burn rather than an allergic reaction, and is similar to the rash caused by poison ivy. Symptoms include redness, burning, and blisters. Afflicted areas can remain discolored for up to two years.  Although there have been some reports of gardeners experiencing toxic symptoms after coming into contact with foliage,  these have been small in number compared to the number of people that grow the crop. The problem is most likely to occur on a sunny day when gathering foliage or pulling up old plants that have gone to seed. The symptoms have mostly been mild to moderate.  The toxic properties of parsnip extracts are resistant to heating, or a storage period of several months. Toxic symptoms can also affect livestock and poultry in parts of their bodies where their skin is exposed.  Polyacetylenes can be found in Apiaceae vegetables such as parsnip, and they show cytotoxic activities  In sunlight, handling the stems and foliage can cause a skin rash…...click & see

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://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parsnip
http://www.pfaf.org/user/plant.aspx?LatinName=Pastinaca+sativa

White ginger lily

Botanical Name : Hedychium coronarium
Family: Zingiberaceae
Genus: Hedychium
Species: H. coronarium
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Zingiberales

Common Names :dolan champa  in Hindi, dolon champa in Bengali, takhellei angouba in Manipuri, Sontakka in Marathi, suruli sugandhi in Kannada and Kalyana sauganthikam in Malayalam.

Habitat :White ginger lily is native to Range  E. Asia – India. It grows in  moist places along streams and on forest edges.

Description:
White ginger lily is a perennial herb growing to 1.5 m (5ft) by 1 m (3ft 3in).
It is hardy to zone 9 and is frost tender. It is in flower from Aug to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs)
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In Brazil it is very common and considered to be an invasive weed. It was introduced in the era of slavery, brought to the country by African slaves who used its leaves as mattresses. It is also considered an invasive species in Hawaii.

In Cuba it is the National Flower, known as “Mariposa blanca” literally “White Moth Flower”, due to its similarity with a flying white moth. This particular species is incredibly fragrant and women used to adorn themselves with these flowers in Spanish colonial times; because of the intricate structure of the inflorescence, women hid and carried secret messages important to the independence cause under it. It is said that a guajiro’s (farmer’s) house is not complete without a white ginger in its garden. Today the plant has gone wild in the cool rainy mountains in Sierra del Rosario, Pinar del Rio Province in the west, Escambray Mountains in the center of the island, and in Sierra Maestra in the very west of it, but the plant is not endemic of Cuba.

Its fragrance can be extracted by “enfleurage”.

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

Cultivation:           
Requires a rich moist soil and a sunny position. It succeeds in shallow water and can also be grown in a sunny border as a summer sub-tropical bedding plant. Plants are not very hardy, they tolerate temperatures down to about -2°c and can be grown at the foot of a south-facing wall in the milder areas of Britain if given a good mulch in the winter. The flowers have a delicious perfume which is most pronounced towards evening. Plants seem to be immune to the predations of rabbits. The tubers should be only just covered by soil.

Propagation:       
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a warm greenhouse at 18°c. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on for at least their first winter in the greenhouse. Plant out in late spring after the last expected frosts. Division as growth commences in the spring. Dig up the clump and divide it with a sharp spade or knife, making sure that each division has a growing shoot. Larger clumps can be planted out direct into their permanent positions, but it is best to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in a greenhouse until they are established. Plant them out in the summer or late in the following spring

Edible Uses : Young buds and flowers are eaten or used as a flavouring. Root – cooked. A famine food used when all else fails.

Medicinal Uses:
Antirheumatic;  Aromatic;  Carminative;  Febrifuge;  Stomachic;  Tonic.

The seed is aromatic, carminative and stomachic. The root is antirheumatic, excitant and tonic. The ground rhizome is used as a febrifuge. An essential oil from the roots is carminative and has anthelmintic indications. The plant has been used as a remedy for foetid nostril.

Other Uses :
Essential;  Paper.

The stems contain 43 – 48% cellulose and are useful in making paper. An essential oil obtained from the flowers is valued in high grade perfumes. The root contains 1.7% essential oil, which is used medicinally.

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/Hedychium_coronarium
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Hedychium+coronarium

Raphanus sativus caudatus(Rat-Tail Radish)

Botanical Name : Raphanus sativus caudatus
Family: Brassicaceae
Genus: Raphanus
Species: R. caudatus
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Brassicales

Synonmous name:Raphanus sativus var. caudatus (Linn.) Vilmorin , Raphanus sativus var. mougri Helm , Raphanus raphanistrum subsp. caudatus (Linn.) Thell.

Common Name : Rat-Tail Radish

Habitat :Raphanus sativus caudatus is native to Java.( It is found primarily in India and Southeast Asia, and is believed to have originated in China. It was first known in the West no later than 1815, when introduced into England from Java)

Description:
Raphanus sativus caudatus is an annual growing herbaceous plant growing erect when young and turning prostrate when well-grown. The basal leaves are lyrately pinnate while cauline leaves are simple and linear. The species produces purplish veined flowers and long pods containing many seeds in it. The species is cultivated in some regions for its pods which are eaten raw or cooked as vegetable.

You may click to see the pictures

It is hardy to zone 8 and is not frost tender. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, flies.
The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires moist soil…..CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

Cultivation:
Prefers a rich soil with ample moisture. Dislikes very heavy or acid soils. Plants are susceptible to drought and require irrigation during dry spells in the summer or the root quality will rapidly deteriorate and the plant will go to seed. The rat-tailed radishes are sometimes cultivated for their large edible seedpods, there are some named varieties. This group of radishes does not produce roots of good quality, it is cultivated mainly for the edible young seedpods which are harvested in the summer. Radishes are a good companion plant for lettuces, nasturtiums, peas and chervil, tomatoes and cucumbers. They are said to repel cucumber beetles if planted near cucumber plants and they also repel the vine borers which attack squashes, marrows and courgettes. They grow badly with hyssop and with grape vines

Propagation:
Seed – sow spring in situ. Germination should take place within 2 weeks.

Edible Uses:
Edible Parts: Flowers; Leaves; Seedpod.

Young leaves – raw or cooked. A somewhat hot taste. Flowers – raw. A nice spicy addition to salads. Young seedpods – raw. Crisp and juicy, they must be eaten when young because they quickly become tough and fibrous. They can grow more than 60cm long, but they tend to become tough and fibrous when more than 30cm long.

Medicinal Uses:
Anthelmintic; Antibacterial; Antifungal; Antiscorbutic; Antispasmodic; Astringent; Cancer; Carminative; Cholagogue; Digestive; Diuretic; Expectorant; Laxative; Poultice; Stomachic.

Radishes have long been grown as a food crop, but they also have various medicinal actions. The roots stimulate the appetite and digestion, having a tonic and laxative effect upon the intestines and indirectly stimulating the flow of bile. Consuming radish generally results in improved digestion, but some people are sensitive to its acridity and robust action. The plant is used in the treatment of intestinal parasites, though the part of the plant used is not specified. The leaves, seeds and old roots are used in the treatment of asthma and other chest complaints. The juice of the fresh leaves is diuretic and laxative. The seed is carminative, diuretic, expectorant, laxative and stomachic. It is taken internally in the treatment of indigestion, abdominal bloating, wind, acid regurgitation, diarrhoea and bronchitis. The root is antiscorbutic, antispasmodic, astringent, cholagogue, digestive and diuretic. It is crushed and used as a poultice for burns, bruises and smelly feet. Radishes are also an excellent food remedy for stone, gravel and scorbutic conditions. The root is best harvested before the plant flowers. Its use is not recommended if the stomach or intestines are inflamed. The plant contains raphanin, which is antibacterial and antifungal. It inhibits the growth of Staphylococcus aureus, E. coli, streptococci, Pneumococci etc. The plant also shows anti-tumour activity.

Other Uses:
Green manure; Repellent.

The growing plant repels beetles from tomatoes and cucumbers. It is also useful for repelling various other insect pests such as carrot root fly. There is a fodder variety that grows more vigorously and is used as a green manure.

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.floracafe.com/Search_PhotoDetails.aspx?Photo=All&Id=2129
http://digedibles.com/database/plants.php?Raphanus+sativus+caudatus
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raphanus_caudatus

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Solanum elaeagnifolium

 

 

Botanical Name : Solanum elaeagnifolium
Family: Solanaceae
Genus: Solanum
Species: S. elaeagnifolium
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Solanales

Common Name :Prairie Berry, Silverleaf Nettle, White Horsenettle or Silver Nightshade,Bull-nettle, “Horsenettle” and the Spanish “trompillo”, Silver-leaf bitter-apple or satansbos

Habitat : Solanum elaeagnifolium  is a common weed of western North America and also found in South America.Its range is from Kansas south to Louisiana, and west through the Mexican-border states of the United States into Mexico, as well as Uruguay, Argentina, and Chile. It may have originated in North America and was accidentally introduced to South America or the reverse. It can grow in poor soil with very little water. It spreads by rhizomes as well as seeds, and is common in disturbed habitats. It is considered a noxious weed in 21 U.S. states and in countries such as Australia, Egypt, Greece, India, Israel, Italy, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. It  grows in desert, Upland. This prickly weed is most common in highly disturbed areas like at the edge of fields and in overgrazed pastures, drainage ditches, and vacant lots.

Description:
Solanum elaeagnifolium is a perennial plant 10 cm to 1 m in height. The stems are covered with nettle-like prickles, ranging from very few on some plants to very dense on others. Leaves and stems are covered with downy hairs (trichomes) that lie against and hide the surface, giving a silvery or grayish appearance.

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The leaves are up to 15 cm long and 0.5 to 2.5 cm wide, with shallowly waved edges, which distinguish it from the closely related Carolina Horsenettle (S. carolinense), which has wider, more deeply indented leaves. The flowers, appearing from April to August, have five petals united to form a star, ranging from blue to pale lavender or occasionally white; five yellow stamens and a pistil form a projecting center. The plant produces glossy yellow, orange, or red berries that last all winter and may turn brown as they dry.

Medicinal Uses:
The weed is useful to  treat cutaneous diseases, syphilitic conditions, excites venereal functions, leprosy, teeter, eczema, scrofula, rheumatic and cachectic affections, ill-conditioned ulcers, glandular swellings, obstructed menstruation, and as a treatment of cancers. Tea is taken 1-2 cups is good for skin/hair diseases and worms. Bark in vodka is taken a few drops at a time for heart disease.
Externally 1 lb of bark is heated slowly in 1 lb of lard for 8 hours treats painful tumors, ulcers, irritated skin, piles, burns, scalds, etc..

Other Uses: The Pima Indians used the berries as a vegetable rennet, and the Kiowa used the seeds together with brain tissue to tan leather.Some gardeners encourage it as a xeriscape ornamental.

Known Hazards:
Poisonous – The plants, especially the leaves and green, unripe, cherry tomato-like fruit, are poisonous and contain the glycoalkaloid solanine as well as the tropane alkaloids scopolamine (hyoscine) and hyoscyamine

It is toxic to livestock and very hard to control, as root stocks less than 1 cm long can regenerate into plants.

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://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solanum_elaeagnifolium
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_LMN.htm

Solanum elaeagnifolium – Silverleaf Nightshade

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Alstonia scolaris

Botanical Name :Alstonia scolaris
Family: Apocynaceae
Tribe: Plumeriae
Subtribe: Alstoniinae
Genus: Alstonia
Species: A. scholaris
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Gentianales

Synonyms: Echites scholaris L. Mant., Pala scholaris L. Roberty

Common Names :Blackboard tree, Indian devil tree,Saptaparni, Ditabark, Milkwood pine, White cheesewood and Pulai

Bengali name: Chhatim

Habitat : Alstonia scholaris is native to the following regions

*China: Guangxi (s.w.), Yunnan (s.)
*Indian subcontinent: India; Nepal; Sri Lanka; Pakistan
*Southeast Asia: Cambodia; Myanmar; Thailand; Vietnam, Indonesia; Malaysia; Papua New Guinea; Philippines
*Australia: Queensland

It has also been naturalised in several other tropical and subtropical climates. Alstonia scholaris (Saptaparni in Bengali) is declared as the State Tree of West Bengal, India

Description:
Alstonia scholaris is an evergreen small tree that grows up to 40 m tall and is glabrous. The bark is greyish; branchlets are copiously lenticellate.The upperside of the leaves are glossy, while the underside is greyish. Leaves occur in whorls of 3-10; petioles are 1–3 cm; the leathery leaves are narrowly obovate to very narrowly spathulate, base cuneate, apex usually rounded; lateral veins occur in 25-50 pairs, at 80-90° to midvein. Cymes are dense and pubescent; peduncle is 4–7 cm long. Pedicels are usually as long as or shorter than calyx. The corolla is white and tube-like, 6–10 mm; lobes are broadly ovate or broadly obovate, 2-4.5 mm, overlapping to the left. The ovaries are distinct and pubescent. The follicles are distinct and linear.

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Flowers bloom in the month October. The flowers are very fragrant similar to the flower of Cestrum nocturnum.

Seeds of A. scholaris are oblong, with ciliated margins, and ends with tufts of hairs 1.5–2 cm. The bark is almost odourless and very bitter, with abundant bitter and milky sap.

Medicinal Uses:
Alstonia or devil tree or Saptaparni is genus of evergreen trees or shrubs with white funnel-shaped flowers and milky sap. In India the bark of Alstonia scholaris is used solely for medicinal purposes, ranging from Malaria and epilepsy to skin conditions and asthma.

There are 43 species of alstonia trees.  The bark of the tree is used medicinally in the Pacific Rim and India.

In Ayurveda it is used as a bitter and as an astringent herb for treating skin disorders, malarial fever, urticaria, chronic dysentery, diarrhea, in snake bite and for upper purification process of Panchakarma . The Milky juice of the tree is applied to ulcers.

The bark contains the alkaloids ditamine, echitenine and echitamine and used to serve as an alternative to quinine. At one time, a decoction of the bark was used to treat diarrhoea and malaria, as a tonic, febrifuge, emmenagogue, anticholeric and vulnerary. A decoction of the leaves were used for beriberi. Ayurveda recommends A. scholaris for bowel complaints. In Sri Lanka its light wood is used for coffins. In Borneo the wood close to the root is very light and of white colour, and is used for net floats, household utensils, trenchers, corks, etc. Extracts prepared from the plant has been reported to possess cytotoxic activity. The active compounds include alkaloids, flavonoids etc. These are present in all parts of the plant. An ethanol extract of the bark of Alstonia scholaris enhanced the anticancer activity of berberine in the Ehrlich ascites carcinoma-bearing mice. This extract also showed cytotoxic activity to HeLa cells. It contains echitamine and loganin as major compounds and could potentially be used as an anti-irritation agent.

Scientific investigation has failed to show why it is of such service in malaria, but herbalists consider it superior to quinine and of great use in convalescence .  It lowers fever, relaxes spasms, stimulates lactation and expels intestinal worms.  Used for chronic diarrhea, dysentery and in intermittent fever; also as an anthelmintic. It is also much used by homoeopaths.

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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/Alstonia_scholaris
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_AB.htm

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