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Herbs & Plants

Comptonia peregrina

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Botanical Name : Comptonia peregrina
Family: Myricaceae
Genus: Comptonia
Species: C. peregrina
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Fagales

Common Name : Canadian Sweetgale,Sweetfern or Sweet-fern ( a confusing name as it is not a fern)

Habitat : It is native to eastern North America, from southern Quebec south to the extreme north of Georgia, and west to Minnesota.Yhe plant is typically found on gravelly soils along road cuts

Description:
It is a deciduous shrub, growing to 2′ to 4′ tall with a spread twice the height .It is a spreading, colonizing plant  with stems  slender and upright. The leaves of the plant are linear to lanceolate, 3-15 cm long and 0.3-3 cm broad, with a modified dentate, pinnately lobed margin; they give off a sweet odor, especially when crushed. The flowers are imperfect, meaning that no one flower has both gender parts. It tends to grow on dry sandy sites, and is associated with pine stands.

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Fruit is a cluster of small nutlets and not ornamentally significant. Bark is old stems are on interesting copper or purplish color and stems are shiny or with resin dots

Comptonia peregrina is used as a food plant by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species, including Bucculatrix paroptila, Grey Pug, Setaceous Hebrew Character, Io moth, and several Coleophora case-bearers: C. comptoniella, C. peregrinaevorella (which feeds exclusively on Comptonia), C. persimplexella, C. pruniella and C. serratella. It is also a non-legume nitrogen fixer.

Several fossil species, such as Comptonia colombiana have been described, showing that the genus once had a much wider distribution throughout the Northern Hemisphere.

Cultivation :
Landscape Uses:Arbor, Border, Container, Erosion control, Foundation, Ground cover, Massing, Rock garden, Specimen. Requires a peaty or light loam lime-free soil. Requires an acid well-drained soil of low to medium fertility in partial shade but tolerates full sun if the soil does not dry out in the summer. Tolerates dry sandy soils when grown in the shade. A very ornamental plant, it is hardy to at least -25°c. The crushed leaves are very aromatic, their scent is most noticeable in the early morning and the evening. The scent increases when the leaves are dried. This species is somewhat intolerant of root disturbance and should be planted out into its permanent position whilst small. Suckering freely, this plant is well suited to clothing banks on soils of low fertility. It has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil micro-organisms, these form nodules on the roots of the plants and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby. Special Features:North American native, Fragrant foliage, Inconspicuous flowers or blooms.

Propagation :
Seed – it has a very tough seed coat and also contains germination inhibitors and so is very difficult to germinate. It is probably best to harvest the seed ‘green’ (after the seed has fully developed but before it dries on the plant) and sow immediately in a cold frame. If the seed has been stored then soaking in hot water for 24 hours will leach out some of the inhibitors and also help to soften the seed coat. Scarification will also help as will a period of cold stratification. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle. Grow them on in a greenhouse or cold frame for their first winter and plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer. Root cuttings, 4cm long December in a frame. Plant the root horizontally. High percentage. Suckers removed in the dormant season and potted up or planted into their permanent positions. Plants can be difficult to move successfully. Layering in spring

Edible Uses :
Edible Parts: Fruit.
Edible Uses: Condiment; Tea.

The young fruits are eaten as a pleasant nibble. The aromatic leaves, fresh or dried, are used to make a palatable tea. The leaves are also used as a seasoning.

Medicinal Uses:
Sweet fern was employed medicinally by several native North American Indian tribes who used it especially as a poultice to treat a variety of complaints. It is still used for most of the same purposes in modern herbalism. The leaves are astringent, blood purifier, expectorant and tonic. The leaves were boiled by Indians to make a poultice that was tied to the cheek to relieve toothache.  A decoction of the plant was used to treat diarrhea, rheumatism, colic, and weakness following fever.  A tea made from the leaves and flowering tops is used as a remedy for diarrhea, headache, fevers, catarrh, vomiting of blood, rheumatism etc. The infusion has also been used to treat ringworm. The leaves have also been used as a poultice for toothaches, sprains etc.  A cold water infusion of the leaves has been used externally to counter the effect of poison ivy and to bathe stings, minor hemorrhages etc.  The leaves are harvested in early summer and dried for later use.

Other Uses:
Incense; Lining; Parasiticide; Repellent.

The leaves are used as a lining in baskets etc in order to preserve the fruit. The crushed leaves repel insects. They can be thrown onto a camp fire to keep mosquitoes away. The dried leaves have been burnt as an incense

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/Comptonia
http://www.hort.uconn.edu/plants/c/comper/comper1.html
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_C.htm

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Comptonia+peregrina

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Herbs & Plants

Chicory

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Botanical: Cichorium intybus
Family:    Asteraceae
Tribe:    Cichorieae
Genus:    Cichorium
Species:C. intybus
Kingdom:Plantae
Order:   Asterales

Synonyms
Succory. Wild Succory. Hendibeh. Barbe de Capucin.

Common Names:Chicory , Blue daisy, blue dandelion, blue sailors, blue weed, bunk, coffeeweed, cornflower, hendibeh, horseweed, ragged sailors, succory, wild bachelor’s buttons, and wild endive.

Chicory is the common name given to the flowering plants in genus Cichorium of the family Asteraceae. There are two cultivated species, and four to six wild species.

Common chicory (Cichorium intybus) is a bushy perennial herb with blue or lavender flowers. Originating from Europe, it was naturalized in North America, where it has become a roadside weed. The roots are baked, ground, and used as a coffee substitute and additive in the plant’s Mediterranean region of origin, although its use as a coffee additive is still very popular in the American South, particularly in New Orleans. It is a staple in Cajun-style red-eye gravy. Common chicory is also known as blue sailors, succory, and coffeeweed. The plant is cultivated and used as endive under the common names radicchio, Belgian endive, French endive, or witloof. It is grown in complete darkness to keep new leaves tender and pale.

 

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True endive (Cichorium endivia) is a species of chicory which is specially grown and used as a salad green. It has a slightly bitter taste and has been attributed with herbal properties. Curly endive and the broad-leafed escarole are true endives.

Cichorium is used as a food plant by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Setaceous Hebrew Character and Turnip Moth.

Root chicory (Chicorium intybus var. sativum) has been in cultivation in Europe as a coffee substitute for a long time. Around 1970 it was found that the root contains up to 20% inulin. Since then, new strains have been created, giving root chicory an inulin content comparable to that of sugar beet (around 600 dt/ha). Inulin is mainly present in the plant family Asteraceae as a storage carbohydrate (for example Jerusalem artichoke, dahlia, etc.). It is used as a sweetener in the food industry (with a sweetening power 30% higher than that of sucrose). Inulin can be converted to fructose and glucose through hydrolysis.

Chicory, with sugar beet and rye was used as an ingredient of the East German Mischkaffee (mixed coffee), introduced during the ‘coffee crisis’ of 1976-9


Habitat:
Wild Chicory or Succory is not uncommon in many parts of England and Ireland, though by no means a common plant in Scotland. It is more common on gravel or chalk, especially on the downs of the south-east coast, and in places where the soil is of a light and sandy nature, when it is freely to be found on waste land, open borders of fields and by the roadside, and is easily recognized by its tough, twig-like stems, along which are ranged large, bright blue flowers about the size and shape of the Dandelion. Sir Jas. E. Smith, founder of the Linnean Society, says of the tough stems: ‘From the earliest period of my recollection, when I can just remember tugging ineffectually with all my infant strength at the tough stalks of the wild Succory, on the chalky hills about Norwich….


Description-:
–It is a perennial, with a tap root like the Dandelion. The stems are 2 to 3 feet high, the lateral branches numerous and spreading, given off at a very considerable angle from the central stem, so that the general effect of the plant, though spreading, is not rich and full, as the branches stretch out some distance in each direction and are but sparsely clothed with leaves of any considerable size. The general aspect of the plant is somewhat stiff and angular.
The lower leaves of the plant are large and spreading – thickly covered with hairs, something like the form of the Dandelion leaf, except that the numerous lateral segments or lobes are in general direction about at a right angle with the central stem, instead of pointing downwards, as in similar portions of the leaf of the Dandelion. The terminal lobe is larger and all the segments are coarsely toothed. The upper leaves are very much smaller and less divided, their bases clasping the stems.

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The flowerheads are numerous, placed in the axils of the stem-leaves, generally in clusters of two or three. When fully expanded, the blooms are rather large and of a delicate tint of blue: the colour is said to specially appeal to the humble bee. They are in blossom from July to September. However sunny the day, by the early afternoon every bloom is closed, its petal-rays drawing together. Linnaeus used the Chicory as one of the flowers in his floral Clock at Upsala, because of its regularity in opening at 5 a.m. and closing at 10 a.m. in that latitude. Here it closes about noon and opens between 6 and 7 in the morning.

Part Used Medicinally:–The root. When dried – in the same manner as Dandelion it is brownish, with tough, loose, reticulated white layers surrounding a radiate, woody column. It often occurs in commerce crowned with remains of the stem. It is inodorous and of a mucilaginous and bitter taste.

Constituents:—A special bitter principle, not named, inulin and sugar.

Medicinal Action and Uses—Chicory has properties similar to those of Dandelion, its action being tonic, laxative and diuretic.

Ethnomedical Uses:
C. Endiva root has been used ethnomedically to treat dyspepsia, loss of appetite, liver and gallbladder problems, and intestinal worms, Type II Diabetes, and as a laxative for children.

Chicory as a herbal treatment :
Chicory, especially the flower, was used as a treatment in Germany, and is recorded in many books as an ancient German treatment for everyday ailments. Howard (1987) mentions is use as, variously, a tonic and appetite stimulant, and as a treatment for gallstones, gastro-enteritis, sinus problems and cuts and bruises.

Ayurvedic Medicinal Uses:

Constipation: The herb is natural laxative and very beneficial in the treatment of chronic Constipation.

Eye disorders:
Chicory contains food elements which are constantly needed by the optic system. It is one of the reachest source of vitamin A which is very useful for eyes. The addition of Juices of celery , parsley and carrot with chicory juice makes it highly nourishing food for the optic nerves and the mascular system.It can bring amazing results in correcting eye problems.

Asthma: Juices of carrot, chicory and celery are most helpful in Asthma and Hay fever. Powder of dry chicory root mixed with honey is a very good expectorant in chronic bronchitis.

Menstruation: A diction of chicory seeds is useful in obstructed menstruation.

Liver Disorders: The flowers,seeds and roots of chicory are medicinally used in the treatment of liver disorders. A decoction of all these can be used with beneficial results in thr treatment of tepidity of liver, stoppage of bile, jaundice and enlargement of spleen. Regular use of chicory juice promotes the secretion of bile and is therefore very good medicine for both liver and gall bladder dysfunctions.

Urinary Disorders:
Chicory is the herbal tonic which increases the secrition and discharge of urine.It is also a stimulant and mild laxative.

Anaemia: It is also an effective blood tonic. Chicory in combination with parsely and celery, is very much beneficial in anaemia. The blanched chicory leaves can be used with salads . Its mature green leaves can also be used as cooked vegetable.

Precautions: Gallstone patients should always consult a physician before using chicory. In rare cases, touching the herbs tiger allergic skin reaction.

Chicory and coffy mixes, dried chicory leaves and the whole plant are available in health food stores and herbal stores.

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.

Help taken from :www.botanical.com, en.wikipedia.org and Miracles of Herbs