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Herbs & Plants

Solanum dulcamara

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

Synonyms:  Dulcamara. Felonwood. Felonwort. Scarlet Berry. Violet Bloom

Other Names : Bittersweet, Bittersweet nightshade, Bitter nightshade, Blue bindweed, Amara Dulcis, Climbing nightshade, Fellenwort, Felonwood, Poisonberry, Poisonflower, Scarlet berry, Snakeberry, Trailing bittersweet, Trailing nightshade, Violet bloom, or Woody nightshade

Habitat : Solanum dulcamara  is native to Europe and Asia, and widely naturalised elsewhere, including North America, where it is an invasive problem weed.

Description:
Bittersweet is a semi-woody herbaceous perennial vine, which scrambles over other plants, capable of reaching a height of 4 m where suitable support is available, but more often 1–2 meters high. The leaves are 4–12 cm long, roughly arrowhead-shaped, and often lobed at the base. The flowers are in loose clusters of 3–20, 1–1.5 cm across, star-shaped, with five purple petals and yellow stamens and style pointing forward. The fruit is an ovoid red berry about 1 cm long, soft and juicy, with the aspect and odor of a tiny tomato, and edible for some birds, which disperse the seeds widely. However, the berry is poisonous to humans and livestock,  and the berry’s attractive and familiar look make it dangerous for children.It spreads via underground stems.
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The plant is relatively important in the diet of some species of birds such as European thrushes that feed on its fruits and are immune to its poisons, scattering the seeds abroad. It grows in all types of terrain with a preference for wetlands  and the understory of riparian forests. Along with other climbers, it creates a dark and impenetrable shelter for varied animals. The plant grows well in dark areas in places where it can receive the light of morning or afternoon. An area receiving bright light for many hours reduces their development. It grows more easily in rich wet soils with plenty of nitrogen.

Medicinal Uses:
It has been used in folk medicine across Europe for hundreds of years. But Michel Felix Dunal, who worked on Solanum in the 1800s, realised that many of the powers attributed to this plant were spurious.

Woody nightshade was used to treat skin conditions, circulatory conditions and breathing problems like asthma. It was included in the official British Pharamcopeia until 1907, but was taken out of later editions.

The older physicians valued Bittersweet highly and applied it to many purposes in medicine and surgery, for which it is no longer used. It was in great repute as far back as the time of Theophrastus, and we know of it being in use in this country in the thirteenth century.
Gerard says of it: ‘The juice is good for those that have fallen from high places, and have been thereby bruised or beaten, for it is thought to dissolve blood congealed or cluttered anywhere in the intrals and to heale the hurt places.’ Boerhaave, the celebrated Dutch physician, considered the young shoots superior to Sarsaparilla as a restorative, and Linnaeus, who at first had an aversion to the plant, later spoke of it in the highest terms as a remedy for rheumatism, fever and inflammatory diseases of all kinds. There are few complaints for which it has not been at some time recommended.

Known Hazards:
It carries the bacterium – Ralstonia solanacearum – that causes brown rot in potatoes. The disease can be spread to potatoes from infected woody nightshade growing on riverbanks if the river water is used to irrigate potato fields.

Solanum dulcamara contains solanine, an alkaloid glycoside. It increases bodily secretions and leads to vomiting and convulsions. The strength of its actions is said to be very dependent on the soil in which it grows with light, dry soils increasing its effects.

Though the berries are very attractive the bitter taste is a disincentive for the majority of people, especially children.

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_dulcamara
http://www.nhm.ac.uk/nature-online/species-of-the-day/collections/collecting/solanum-dulcamara/index.html
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/n/nighwo06.html
http://www.thepoisongarden.co.uk/atoz/solanum_dulcamara.htm

Categories
Herbs & Plants

Ajuga chamaepitys

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Botanical Name :Ajuga chamaepitys
Family: Lamiaceae
Genus:Ajuga
Species: A. chamaepitys
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Lamiales

 Common Names:  Ground Pine, Yellow bugle

Habitat: Ajuga chamaepitys is native to CentraL and souther Europe, including Britain, to N. Africa and E. Asia. It grows in very local in sandy and chalky arable fields and in open habitats in chalky grassland in southeastern England.

Description: A. chamaepitys is a small herbaceous perennial that reaches 10–40 cm in height. The leaves have an opposite arrangement. It’s flowering season is generally in late spring. Ground pine is a plant whose richness has been severely reduced by changes to downland farming. At first sight, A. chamaepitys looks like a tiny pine tree with a reddish purple four-cornered hairy stem. The leaves can get up to 4 cm long, and the leaves are divided into three linear lobes which, when crushed, has a smell similar to pine needles. Ground pine sheds its shiny black seeds close to the parent plant and the seeds can remain alive in the soil for up to 50 years. click to see…………..(01)………...(1).……..(2)...

Both in foliage and blossom it is very unlike its near relative, the Common Bugle, forming a bushy, herbaceous plant, 3 to 6 inches high, the four-cornered stem, hairy and viscid, generally purplish red, being much branched and densely leafy. Except the lowermost leaves, which are lanceshaped and almost undivided, each leaf is divided almost to its base into three very long, narrow segments, and the leaves being so closely packed together, the general appearance is not altogether unlike the long, needle-like foliage of the pine, hence the plant has received a second name- Ground Pine. The flowers are placed singly in the axils of leaf-like bracts and have bright yellow corollas, the lower lip spotted with red. They are in bloom during May and June. The whole plant is very hairy, with stiff hairs, which consist of a few long joints. It has a highly aromatic and turpentiny odour and taste.

Cultivation:
Thrives in a poor dry soil in full sun. Prefers a humus-rich moisture-retentive soil. Plants are usually annual, but are sometimes short-lived perennials. The whole plant smells of pine trees when crushed.

Propagation:
Seed – sow spring in situ. Germination can be erratic

Medicinal Uses: A. chamaepitys has stimulant, diuretic and emmenagogue action and is considered by herbalists to form a good remedy for gout and rheumatism and also to be useful in female disorders. Ground pine is a plant well known to Tudor herbalists who exploited the resins contained within the leaves. The herb was formerly regarded almost as a specific in gouty and rheumatic affections. The plant leaves were dried and reduced to powder. It formed an ingredient of the once famous gout remedy, Portland Powder. It was composed of the leaves of A. Chamaepitys, which has a slightly turpentine-like smell and a rough taste, with properties described as being similar to diluted alcohol.

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/Ajuga_chamaepitys http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/b/bugley83.html

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Ajuga+chamaepitys

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