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Herbs & Plants

Eupatorium cannabinum

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Botanical Name :Eupatorium cannabinum
Family: Asteraceae
Tribe: Eupatorieae
Genus: Eupatorium
Species: E. cannabinum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asterales

Synonyms: Holy Rope. St. John’s Herb.

Common Name: Hemp-agrimony

Habitat :Eupatorium cannabinum is grows in most of   Europe, including Britain, to N. Africa, western and central Asia.they are found by streams, in low damp sites and in woods, avoiding acid soils.

Description:
Eupatorium cannabinum is a Perennial  herbaceous  plant.The root-stock is woody and from it rises the erect round stems, growing from 2 to 5 feet high with short branches springing from the axils of the leaves, which are placed on it in pairs. The stems are reddish in colour, covered with downy hair and are woody below. They have a pleasant aromatic smell when cut. It is dioecious, with racemes of mauve flowers which are pollinated by insects from July to early September. The flowers are tiny, fluffy and can be pale dusty pink or whitish.It is hardy to zone 5 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from July to September, and the seeds ripen from August to October. The fruit is an achene about 2 or 3 mm long, borne by a pappus with hairs 3 to 5 mm long, which is distributed by the wind. The plant over-winters as a hemicryptophyte. It is noted for attracting wildlife.
click to see the pictures

Cultivation:
An easily grown plant,   it succeeds in ordinary garden soil in sun or part shade. Prefers a rich moist soil. Grows well in marshy soils. Plants are hardy to about -25°c. A very ornamental plant, it has a pleasant aromatic smell when cut. Often found as a weed in British gardens, it can be allowed to naturalize in short grass in the wild garden. Plants seem to be immune to the predations of rabbits. An excellent bee and butterfly plant.

Propagation:
Seed – sow spring in a cold frame and only just cover the seed. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant them out into their permanent positions in the summer. If you have sufficient seed it can be sown outdoors in situ. Division in spring or autumn. Very easy, the clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions.

Medicinal Uses:

Part Used:The Herb.

Constituents: The leaves contain a volatile oil, which acts on the kidneys, and likewise some tannin and a bitter chemical principle which will cut short the chill of intermittent fever.

It is Alterative; Antitumor; Cholagogue; Depurative; Diaphoretic; Diuretic; Emetic; Expectorant; Febrifuge; Homeopathy; Laxative; Purgative; Tonic.

Hemp agrimony has been employed chiefly as a detoxifying herb for fevers, colds, flu and other viral conditions. It also stimulates the removal of waste products via the kidneys. Due to its content of alkaloids, the plant should only be used under professional supervision. The leaves and flowering tops are alterative, cholagogue, depurative, diuretic, emetic, expectorant, febrifuge, purgative and tonic. The plant has a long history of use as a gentle laxative that does not provoke irritation, though excessive doses cause purging and vomiting. A tea made from the dried leaves will give prompt relief if taken at the onset of influenza. Recent research has shown that the plant might have anti-tumour activity, though the plant also contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids that can cause damage or cancer to the liver. The plant is harvested in the summer and dried for later use. The roots are diaphoretic, laxative and tonic. They are harvested in the autumn and dried for later use. Recently the plant has been found of use as an immune system stimulant, helping to maintain resistance to acute viral and other infections. A homeopathic remedy is made from the leaves. It is used in the treatment of influenza and feverish chills and also for disorders of the liver, spleen and gall bladder.

Other Uses:
Preservative; Repellent.

The leaves have been laid on bread in order to prevent it from becoming mouldy. The leaf juice has been rubbed onto the coats of animals as an insect repellent.
Scented Plants

Plant: Crushed
All parts of the plant have a strong resinous smell when bruised. This has been likened to the smell of cedar when it is burnt.

Toxity : Eupatorium cannabinum contains tumorigenic pyrrolizidine alkaloids.

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/Eupatorium_cannabinum
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/a/agrim016.html
http://digedibles.com/database/plants.php?Eupatorium+cannabinum

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Herbs & Plants

Ecballium elaterium

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Botanical Name :Ecballium elaterium
Family: Cucurbitaceae
Subfamily: Cucurbitoideae
Tribe: Benincaseae
Subtribe:Benincasinae
Genus: Ecballium
Species: E. elaterium
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Cucurbitales

Synonyms:  Momordica Elaterium. Wild Cucumber.

Common Names : Squirting cucumber or exploding cucumber

Habitat: Ecballium elaterium is native to Europe, northern Africa, and temperate areas of Asia. It is grown as an ornamental plant elsewhere, and in some places it has naturalized.It grows in hot dry places on waste ground and roadsides, usually close to the coast.

Description:
Ecballium elaterium is a perennial plant(but in Britain it is  annual) growing to 0.3 m (1ft) by 1 m (3ft 3in) with a large fleshy root from which rise several round, thick stems, branching and trailing like the Common Cucumber but without tendrils; leaves heartshaped, rough; flower-stalks auxillary; male flowers in clusters with bell-shaped, yellow green veined corollas, females solitary; fruit a small elliptical greenish gourd covered with soft triangular prickles. The fruits forcibly eject their seeds together with a mucilaginous juice, a phenomenon due to endormosis. The plant flowers in July. The fruit is collected just before it ripens and is left until it matures and ejects the seeds and juice; this must not be artificially hastened or the product will be injured; the juice is then dried in flakes and sent to the market as Elaterium. The flakes often bear the impress of the muslin on which they were dried.

click to see the pictures

It is hardy to zone 9 and is frost tender. It is in flower from Jun to August, and the seeds ripen from Aug to September. The flowers are monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and are pollinated by Insects.The plant is self-fertile.

Cultivation:  
Prefers a moist well-drained soil in a sunny position. Grows best in a rich soil. Another report says that it succeeds in poor soils. The foliage is fairly frost-tender, though the roots are much hardier and plants can survive quite cold winters in Britain. They are more likely to be killed by excessive winter wet. The squirting cucumber is sometimes cultivated for its use as a medicinal plant. The ripening fruit becomes pumped full of liquid, leading to an increase in pressure. As the seed becomes ripe, this pressure forces the fruit to break away explosively from the plant, ejecting its seed to a considerable distance in the opposite direction. The plant occasionally self-sows in our Cornwall trial ground and can become a weed in warmer climates than Britain. It is subject to statutory control as a weed in Australia.

Propagation:  
Seed – sow early spring in rich compost in a greenhouse. Place 2 – 3 seeds per pot and thin to the strongest plant. The seed usually germinates in 10 – 21 days at 25°c. Grow the plants on fast and plant them out after the last expected frosts.

Medicinal Uses:

Constituents: Elaterin; a green resin, starch, lignin, and saline matter.

It is used in  Abortifacient;  Analgesic;  Antirheumatic;  Cardiac;  Kidney;  Purgative.

The squirting cucumber has been used as a medicinal plant for over 2,000 years, though it has a very violent effect upon the body and has little use in modern herbalism. The juice of the fruit is antirheumatic, cardiac and purgative. The plant is a very powerful purgative that causes evacuation of water from the bowels. It is used internally in the treatment of oedema associated with kidney complaints, heart problems, rheumatism, paralysis and shingles. Externally, it has been used to treat sinusitis and painful joints. It should be used with great caution and only under the supervision of a qualified practitioner. Excessive doses have caused gastro-enteritis and even death. It should not be used by pregnant women since it can cause an abortion. The fully grown but unripe fruits are harvested during the summer, they are left in containers until the contents are expelled and the juice is then dried for later use. The root contains an analgesic principle.

It is used to increases the flow of urine, and  sometimes in the treatment of dropsy, especially when oedema is due to disease of the kidney. There is a case on record of a French doctor who suffered severely from carrying some of the seeds in his hat from the Jardin des Plante to his Paris lodging.

Known Hazards :    Poisonous in large quantities(this probably refers to the fruit). The juice of the fruit is irritative to some types skins.

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.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/c/cucus124.html
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Ecballium+elaterium
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecballium_elaterium

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Herbs & Plants

Melampyrum pratense

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Botanical Name : Melampyrum pratense
Family: Orobanchaceae
Genus: Melampyrum
Species: M. pratense
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Lamiales

Synonyms: Horse Floure. Triticum vaccinium.

Common Name :Cow-Wheat or common cow-wheat

Local Names:
dansk: Almindelig Kohvede · Deutsch: Wiesen-Wachtelweizen · eesti: Palu-härghein · suomi: Kangasmaitikka · français: Mélampyre des prés · hornjoserbsce: L?sny sparik · lietuvi?: Pievinis k?polis · Nederlands: Hengel · norsk bokmål: Stormarimjelle · polski: Pszeniec zwyczajny · sámegiella: Gieddesáhpal · svenska: Ängskovall ·

The name of Cow-wheat is said to be derived from an extraordinary notion prevalent in some country districts among the peasantry of the Middle Ages, that the small seeds were capable of being converted into wheat, a supposition probably originating in the sudden appearance of the plants among corn, on land that had been recently cleared of wood.

Another reason for the meaning of Melampyrum is given in Lindley’s Treasury of Botany, i.e. it refers to an ancient belief that the seeds, when mixed with grains of wheat and ground into flour tended to make the bread black.

The seeds, which bear some little resemblance to wheat, are generally eaten by swine, though they will not touch the herb. Cows and sheep are extremely fond of the plant, and Dr. Prior explains the name of the plant on the score that though its seed resembles wheat, it is only fit for cows. In old Herbals, we find it named ‘Horse Floure’ and also Triticum vaccinium. The generic name is derived from the Greek melas (black) and pyros (wheat), because the seeds made bread black when mixed with them.

Habitat :Melampyrum pratense is found throughout the UK and Ireland. It is also found throughout many countries in northern and central Europe including Slovenia.I grow in Woods, moorlands, pastureland and meados

Description:
Melampyrum pratense is an annual, with slender, branched stems, about a foot high, bearing stalkless, narrow, tapering, smooth leaves in distant pairs, each pair at right angles to those that are next to it, and long-tubed, pale yellow flowers which are placed in the axils of the upper leaves in pairs, all turning one way.Height c 20-50 cm.  Flower c 12-18 mm long. The corolla is four times as long as the calyx, and the lower lip longer than the upper standing sharply out instead of hanging downwards as in most labiate flowers. The colour is somewhat between the delicate pale yellow of the primrose and the rich bright yellow of the buttercup. The plant is in flower from June to September.
Click to see the pictures
Medicinal Uses:
M. pratense herb has been used in the traditional Austrian medicine internally as tea or externally as pillow filling for treatment of rheumatism and blood vessels calcification.

Other Uses:   Cow-wheat is said to afford fodder for cattle, though not cultivated in this country for that purpose. Linnaeus states that when cows are fed in fields where the Meadow Cow-wheat is abundant, the butter yielded by their milk is peculiarly rich and of a brilliant yellow colour, but in England the plant grows more frequently in the undergrowth of woods and thickets than in meadows, abounding in nearly all copses and woods throughout Great Britain.
The seed of the plant has an elaiosome, which is attractive to wood ants (Formica spp.). The ants disperse the seeds of the plant when they take them back to their nests to feed their young. The plant is an Ancient Woodland indicator, as the ants rarely carry the seeds more than a few yards, seldom crossing a field to go to a new woodland.

M. pratense is a food plant of the caterpillars of the Heath Fritillary (Melitaea athalia), a butterfly.

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/Melampyrum_pratense
http://www.first-nature.com/flowers/melampyrum_pratense.php
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Melampyrum_pratense
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/c/cowwh113.html

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Herbs & Plants

Knautia arvensis

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Botanical Name : Knautia arvensis
Family: Dipsacaceae
Genus: Knautia
Species: K. arvensis
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Dipsacales

Synonyms:Scabiosa arvensis.

(The generic name, Knautia, is derived from a Saxon botanist of the seventeenth century, Dr. Knaut. The name Scabious is supposed to be connected with the word ‘scab’ (a scaly sore), a word derived from the Latin scabies (a form of leprosy), for which and for other diseases of a similar character, some of these species were used as remedies.)

Common Name :Field Scabious

Habitat :  Knautia arvensis is native to  Europe, including Britain, north to latitude 69°, east to the Caucasus and W. Siberia.It bis found in meadows, pastures, hedgebanks and grassy hills, usually on dry soils and especially on limestone.

Description:
Knautia arvensis is a perennial plant that grows between 25 and 100 cm. It prefers grassy places and dry soils, avoiding heavy soils, and flowers between July and September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, lepidoptera.It is noted for attracting wildlife. The flowered head is flatter than similar species Devils bit scabious and Small Scabious. There are 4 stamens in each flower, and 1 notched long stigma.

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The fruit is nut like, cylindrical and hairy, 5–6 mm in size.

It has a tap root. The stem has long stiff hairs angled downwards. There are no stipules.

The leaves form a basal rosette, are paired on the stem, the lowest typically 300 mm long, spear shaped, whereas the upper are smaller.

It is occasionally used by the Marsh Fritillary as a foodplant instead of its usual foodplant of Devils Bit Scabious (Succisa pratensis). It is also the foodplant of the Narrow-bordered Bee Hawk-moth Hemaris tityus.

It is hardy to zone 6.

Cultivation: 
Succeeds in any well-drained soil. Prefers a dry soil. Grows well on chalky soils. Prefers a sunny position. A very cold-hardy plant, tolerating temperatures down to at least -25°c. Grows well in the summer meadow. The plant is an important source of nectar and pollen for bees and lepidoptera. The plants are sometimes dioecious, if this is the case then male and female plants will need to be grown if seed is required.

Propagation:      
Seed – sow spring or autumn in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer. If you have enough seed it would be worthwhile trying a sowing in situ outdoors in the spring. The seed germinates in the spring in the wild. Division in the spring. Basal cuttings in late spring. Harvest the shoots when they are about 10 – 15cm 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.

Medicinal Uses:

Part Used: Herb.

The whole plant is astringent and mildly diuretic. An infusion is used internally as a blood purifier and externally for treating cuts, burns and bruises. The fresh or dried flowering plant can be used, with or without the roots. A homeopathic remedy is made from the plant. It is used as a blood purifier and as a treatment for eczema and other skin disorders.

Gerard tells us: ‘The plant gendereth scabs, if the decoction thereof be drunke certain daies and the juice used in ointments.’ We are told that this juice ‘being drunke, procureth sweat, especially with Treacle, and atenuateth and maketh thin, freeing the heart from any infection or pestilence.’ Culpepper informs us also that it is ‘very effectual for coughs, shortness of breath and other diseases of the lungs,’ and that the ‘decoction of the herb, dry or green, made into wine and drunk for some time together,’ is good for pleurisy. The green herb, bruised and applied to any carbuncle was stated by him to dissolve the same ‘in three hours’ space,’ and the same decoction removed pains and stitches in the side. The decoction of the root was considered a cure for all sores and eruptions, the juice being made into an ointment for the same purpose. Also, ‘the decoction of the herb and roots outwardly applied in any part of the body, is effectual for shrunk sinews or veins and healeth green wounds, old sores and ulcers.’ The juice of Scabious, with powder of Borax and Samphire, was recommended for removing freckles, pimples and leprosy, the head being washed with the same decoction, used warm, for dandruff and scurf, etc.

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.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Knautia+Arvensis

http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/s/scafie29.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knautia_arvensis

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Herbs & Plants

Agrostemma githago

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Botanical Name :Agrostemma githago
Family: Caryophyllaceae
Genus:     Agrostemma
Species: A. githago
Kingdom: Plantae
Order:     Caryophyllales

Synonyms: Corn Pink. Corn Campion. Ray. Nigella. Zizany. Darnel. Tare. Gith. Lychnis. Githage. Agrostemma. Pseudo-melanthium. Lolium.

Common Names : “corncockle” and “corn cockle” and known locally simply as “the corncockle”

Habitat : It is very likely that until the 20th century, most wheat contained some corncockle seed. It is now present in many parts of the temperate world as an alien species, probably introduced with imported European wheat. It is known to occur throughout much of the United States and parts of Canada, parts of Australia and New Zealand.In parts of Europe such as the United Kingdom, intensive mechanised farming has put the plant at risk and it is now uncommon or local. This is partly due to increased use of herbicides but probably much more to do with changing patterns of agriculture with most wheat now sown in the autumn as winter wheat and then harvested before any corncockle would have flowered or set seed.

Description:
It is a stiffly erect plant up to 1 metre (3 ft 3 in) tall and covered with fine hairs. Its few branches are each tipped with a single deep pink to purple flower. The flowers are scentless, are 25–50 millimetres (1–2 in) across and are produced in the summer months – May to September in the northern hemisphere, November to March in the southern hemisphere.

click to see the  pictures :

Each petal bears two or three discontinuous black lines. The five narrow pointed sepals exceed the petals and are joined at the base to form a rigid tube with 10 ribs. Leaves are pale green, opposite, narrowly lanceolate, held nearly erect against stem and are 45–145 mm (1.8–5.7 in) long. Seeds are produced in a many-seeded capsule. It can be found in fields, roadsides, railway lines, waste places, and other disturbed areas.

Medicinal Uses:

The seed is diuretic, expectorant and vermifuge.  Minute amounts are used medicinally. It has a folk history of use in the external treatment of cancer, warts etc. The plant is not used in allopathic medicine, but it has been found efficacious in the treatment of dropsy and jaundice if used for long enough.
Corn Cockle is not used in alopathic medicine to-day, but according to Hill, if used long enough, it was considered a cure for dropsy and jaundice.

In homoeopathy a trituration of the seeds has been found useful in paralysis and gastritis.

Known Hazards:  All parts of the plant are poisonous (githagin, agrostemmic acid).

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/Agrostemma_githago
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/c/cornc101.html

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

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