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Herbs & Plants (Spices)

Ferula communis

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Botanical Name : Ferula communis
Family: Apiaceae
Genus: Ferula
Species: F. communis
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Apiales

Synonyms : F. brevifolia. F. linkii. ,Ferula communis ‘Gigantea’

Common Names: Giant Fennel, Meeting seed

Habitat : Ferula communis is native to Europe – Mediterranean. It grows on dry hills, walls, waste ground and limestone, often in soils that are damp in the spring.
Description:
Ferula communis is a tall herbaceous perennial plant growing to 2.5 m (8ft) by 1 m (3ft 3in). It is found in Mediterranean and East African woodlands and shrublands. It was known in antiquity as Laser or narthex.It has big, pinnately divided large leaves and compound umbels of small white, yellow or purple flowers; that may die after flowering.

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It is not frost tender. It is in flower in June. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Flies.The plant is self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.

Cultivation:
Succeeds in most soils including dry ones according to one report whilst others say that it requires a deep moist fertile soil in a sunny position. Established plants are drought resistant. This species is hardy to about -10°c, possibly lower if the rootstock is mulched in the winter. A very ornamental plant, though the flowers have a most unpleasant rancid smell. Plants are often monoecious. Plants are intolerant of root disturbance due to their long taproot. They should be planted into their final positions as soon as possible. The sub-species brevifolia is the form used for its gum.

Propagation:
Seed – best sown as soon as the seed is ripe in a greenhouse in autumn. Otherwise sow in April in a greenhouse. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle. Plant them out into their permanent positions whilst still small because the plants dislike root disturbance. Give the plants a protective mulch for at least their first winter outdoors. Division in autumn. This may be inadvisable due to the plants dislike of root disturbance.
Edible Uses:
Edible Parts: Leaves. & Gums

Medicinal Uses:
One report says that the root yields a gum with medicinal properties but no details are are found in internet.

Other Uses :
Furniture; Gum; Miscellany; Tinder.

A gum ‘Gum Ammoniac‘ is obtained by notching the root. It is used as an incense[4], it also has medicinal value. The stems are used in furniture making. The dried pith is used as a tinder, it burns very slowly inside the stem and can thus be carried from one place to another.

Known Hazards: In Sardinia two different chemotypes of Ferula communis have been identified: poisonous (especially to animals like sheep, goats, cattle, and horses) and not-poisonous. They differ for both secondary metabolites pattern and enzymatic composition.

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/Ferula_communis#cite_note-4
https://www.rhs.org.uk/plants/details?plantid=791
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Ferula+communis

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Herbs & Plants

Hibiscus mutabilis

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Botanical Name: Hibiscus mutabilis
Family: Malvaceae
Genus: Hibiscus
Species: H. mutabilis
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Malvales

Common Names: Confederate rose, Dixie rosemallow or the Cotton rosemallow

Habitat :Hibiscus mutabilis is native to E. Asia – China, Japan. It grows in the thickets in S. Japan.

Description:
Hibiscus mutabilis is a deciduous Shrub growing to 3 m (9ft) by 3 m (9ft).
It is frost tender. It is in flower from Aug to October, and the seeds ripen from Sep to November. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.

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Flowers can be double or single and are 4 to 6 inches in diameter; they open white or pink, and change to deep red by evening. The ‘Rubra’ variety has red flowers. Single blooming flowers are generally cup-shaped. Bloom season usually lasts from summer through fall. Propagation by cuttings root easiest in early spring, but cuttings can be taken at almost any time. When it does not freeze, the Confederate rose can reach heights of 12 to 15 feet with a woody trunk; however, a much bushier, 5 or 6 feet plant is more typical and provides more flowering. These plants have a very fast growth rate. The Confederate rose was at one time very common in the area of the Confederate States of America, which is how its common name was derived. It grows well in full sun or partial shade, and prefers rich, well-drained soil.

Floral colour change:
Flowers are white in the morning, turning pink during noon and red in the evening of the same day. Under laboratory conditions, colour change of petals was slower than that of flowers under outdoor conditions (Wong et al., 2009). Temperature may be an important factor affecting the rate of colour change as white flowers kept in the refrigerator remain white until they are taken out to warm, whereupon they slowly turn pink (Ng, 2006).

The red flowers remain on plants for several days before they abort (Wong et al., 2009). Weight of a single detached flower was 15.6 g when white, 12.7 g when pink and 11.0 g when red. Anthocyanin content of red flowers was 3 times that of pink flowers and 8 times that of white flowers. There was a significant increase in phenolic content with colour change. Overall ranking of AOP of H. mutabilis flowers was red > pink > white
Cultivation:
Prefers a well-drained humus rich fertile soil in full sun. Prefers a warm but wet winter. This species is not very hardy in Britain, it is frost-tender and top growth will be killed by even a slight frost. However, the roots are somewhat hardier and the plant can resprout from the base after a few degrees of frost. The plant can probably be grown outdoors in the mildest areas of the country especially if given a good mulch in the winter. It is widely cultivated in tropical and occasionally in temperate areas as an ornamental plant, there are many named varieties.
Propagation:
Seed – sow early spring in a warm greenhouse. Germination is usually fairly rapid. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle. If growing them as annuals, plant them out into their permanent positions in early summer and protect them with a frame or cloche until they are growing away well. If hoping to grow them as perennials, then it is better to grow them on in the greenhouse for their first year and to plant them out in early summer of the following year. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame. Overwinter them in a warm greenhouse and plant out after the last expected frosts.
Edible Uses:
Leaves. The leaves contain rutin, but the report does not say what quantity. Root – it is edible but very fibrousy. Mucilaginous, without very much flavour.

Medicinal Uses:
While the roots and leaves of this deciduous bush have medicinal uses, it is the flowers that are used most commonly. Acrid in flavor and neutral in nature, if used internally, it can remove heat from the blood, reduce swelling and detoxify. If pounded and applied externally, it relieves inflammation and reduces swelling. The flower’s nutritional properties are purported to be good for menopausal women. It balances hormones, and purifies your blood. The roots and leaves, ground into paste, is good for treating diabetics with leg problems. The abundant mucilage contained in the tissues makes the plant an effective emollient for burns. Leaves and flowers kill pain; expel phlegm; treat excessive bleeding during menstruation, painful urination, inflammation and snake bites. A decoction of the flowers is used in the treatment of lung ailments.

Leaves and flowers of H. mutabilis are emollient and cooling, and are used to treat swellings and skin infections (Dasuki, 2001). Mucilage from flowers and leaves is used by midwives to facilitate delivery during labour.

Other Uses: …Fibre…A fibre from the bark is used for making cords and rope.
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/Hibiscus_mutabilis
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Hibiscus+mutabilis
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_RST.htm

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Herbs & Plants

Saw palmetto,

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Botanical Name :Sarenoa serrulata
Kingdom: Plantae
Order:     Arecales
Family: Arecaceae
Subfamily: Coryphoideae
Tribe:     Trachycarpeae
Subtribe: Livistoninae
Genus:     Serenoa
Species: S. repens

Synonyms: Sabal. Sabal serrulata, Serenoa repens

Common Names :Saw palmetto,

 Habitat:Saw palmetto is native to  the Atlantic Coast from South Carolina to Florida, and southern California.It is endemic to the southeastern United States, most commonly along the Atlantic and Gulf Coastal plains, but also as far inland as southern Arkansas. it grows in clumps or dense thickets in sandy coastal lands or as undergrowth in pine woods or hardwood hammocks.

Description:
Saw palmetto is a fan palm, with the leaves that have a bare petiole terminating in a rounded fan of about 20 leaflets. It is a hardy plant; extremely slow growing, and long lived, with some plants, especially in Florida where it is known as simply the palmetto, possibly being as old as 500–700 years. The petiole is armed with fine, sharp teeth or spines that give the species its common name. The teeth or spines are easily capable of breaking the skin, and protection should be worn when working around a Saw Palmetto. The leaves are light green inland, and silvery-white in coastal regions. The leaves are 1–2 m in length, the leaflets 50–100 cm long. They are similar to the leaves of the palmettos of genus Sabal. The flowers are yellowish-white, about 5 mm across, produced in dense compound panicles up to 60 cm long. The fruit is a large reddish-black drupe and is an important food source for wildlife and historically for humans. The plant is used as a food plant by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species such as Batrachedra decoctor, which feeds exclusively on the plant.

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Edible Uses: This plant is also edible to human beings, but the more green it is the more bitter tasting it would be.

 Medicinal Uses:
Part Used: Partially-dried ripe fruit……..CLICK & SEE

Constituents:  Volatile oil, fixed oil, glucose, about 63 per cent of free acids, and 37 per cent of ethyl esters of these acids. The oil obtained exclusively from the nut is a glyceride of fatty acids, thick and of a greenish colour, without fruity odour. From the whole fruit can be obtained by pressure about 1 1/2 per cent of a brownishyellow to dark red oil, soluble in alcohol, ether, chloroform and benzene, and partly soluble in dilute solution of potassium hydroxide. The fixed oil is soluble in alcohol, ether, and petroleum benzin. The presence of an alkaloid is uncertain.

Diuretic, sedative, tonic. It is milder and less stimulant than cubeb or copaiba, or even oil of sandalwood. Like these, it has the power of affecting the respiratory mucous membrane, and is used for many complaints which are accompanied by chronic catarrh. It has been claimed that sabal is capable of increasing the nutrition of the testicles and mammae in functional atony of these organs. It probably acts by reducing catarrhal irritation and a relaxed condition of bladder and urethra. It is a tissue builder.

Saw palmetto is another wonderful instance of scientific research validating traditional herbal medicine. Saw palmetto frequently equals and sometimes exceeds pharmaceuticals for treating benign prostate hypertrophy( BPH). More than a dozen clinical studies involving almost 3,000 men have verified saw palmetto’s ability to markedly alleviate BPH symptoms- without the libido reducing side effects of the pharmaceutical drug. The herb helps more men than synthetic drugs, and it gets the job done faster. As an added benefit, saw palmetto inhibites enzymes that are suspected to cause male pattern baldness, and there is plenty of anecdotal evidence indicates that saw palmetto stems hair loss and triggers growth. Although it has lost the favor of mainstream medicine in the U.S., it is still widely used in Europe.

saw palmetto  extract has been promoted as useful for people with prostate cancer. However, according to the American Cancer Society, “available scientific studies do not support claims that saw palmetto can prevent or treat prostate cancer in humans”

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/Serenoa
http://www.driscollsnatural.com/herb_detail.php?herb=255
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/s/sawpal26.html

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Herbs & Plants

Japanese dodder

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Botanical Name :Cuscuta japonica
Family: Convolvulaceae
Genus: Cuscuta
Species: C. japonica
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Solanales

Common Names:Japanese dodder,Dodder- Japanese

Habitat : Japanese dodder is native to Asia and several infestations in Texas, Florida, and South Carolina have recently been found.

Description:
Japanese dodder is an annual, parasitic vine that has recently been introduced into the United States. Japanese dodder is listed as a Federal Noxious Weed. The stems are fleshy, circular, pale yellow with red spots and striations, and much branched. Leaves are minute and scale-like. Flowers are abundant, pale yellow, and sessile. Japanese dodder parasitizes host plants by penetrating the vascular tissue of the host with structures called haustoria. Severe infestations can kill host plants.
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This plant  germinates in the spring near the soil surface. Flowers in late summer and fruits in early fall. A single plant can produce over 2,000 seeds, which remain viable for up to 20 years. Also reproduces via fragmentation and attachment to a new host. Grows very rapidly, up to 6 inches/day. As a parasitic vine that penetrates the vascular tissue of its host for water and nutrients, it reattaches to the host plant as it grows. Once established, its connection to the soil terminates.

Medicinal Uses:
Internally used for diarrhea, impotence, urinary frequency, vaginal discharge, and poor eyesight associated with liver and kidney energy weakness.  Also used for prostatis and neurological weakness.  It builds sperm, builds the blood, strengthens sinews and bones.  It also treats enuresis and seminal emission; constipation, backache and cold knees; and rheumatoid arthritis.  One of the safer and more affordable yang tonics.   The herb is reputed to confer longevity when used for prolonged periods, particularly in combination with Chinese yam.  The herb is nontoxic and can be used continuously for long-term periods except for the contraindication below.

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.texasinvasives.org/plant_database/detail.php?symbol=CUJA
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuscuta_japonica
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_DE.htm

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Herbs & Plants

Persia borbonia

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Botanical Name : Persia borbonia
Family: Lauraceae
Genus: Persea
Species: P. borbonia
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Order: Laurales

Common Names :Redbay, Scrubbay, Sweetbay, Shorebay and Swampbay

Habitat : Persia borbonia  is native to North America, north of Mexico. It grows in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and North and South Carolina. It  grows in  sandy to rich moist soils of low woodlands, coastal forests, along the sides of bogs, streams and swamps. Sometimes found in dry sandy areas in Florida.   It also grows in the Bahamas and is cultivated in Hawaii. It usually grows on the borders of swamp land.

Unfortunately, due to an invasion of redbay ambrosia beetles in the Southern United States the tree is slowly dying out. The beetle was discovered in 2002 near Savannah, Georgia and it carries a fungal disease that is responsible for killing Redbay. This is bad because Redbay is a relative of the Avocado tree so if this disease is capable of killing off  Persia borbonia it could probably affect Persia americana.

Description:
Persia borbonia is a tall, evergreen shrub or short-trunked tree, reaching a maximum height of 65 ft. Form is dense and well-rounded. Handsome, aromatic, evergreen tree, with dense crown. The ascending branches are covered with a dense, rusty pubuscence and its aromatic leaves are leathery and narrowly oval. Pale-yellow flowers occur in small panicles from leaf axils and are followed by dark-blue to black fruit.

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It has evergreen leaves that are about 3 to 7 inches long with a lance shape. The leaves are arranged alternately and emit a spicy smell when crushed. The leaves vary in color from bright green to dark green.  Redbay is a perennial, with a non-herbaceous stem that is lignified.

Propagation:
Sow seeds directly after collection of stratify and sow in spring.

Seed Collection: Gather fruits in the fall when they are dark blue to black. Remove pulp before storing. Store in sealed, refrigerated containers for up to one year.

Edible   uses:    The fresh or dried leaves can be used as a flavouring in soups etc

Medicinal Uses:
Red bay was widely employed medicinally by the Seminole Indians who used it to treat a variety of complaints, but especially as an emetic and body cleanser. It is little, if at all, used in modern herbalism.  An infusion  of the leaves can be used to abort a fetus up to the age of four months. An infusion is also used in treating fevers, headaches, diarrhea, thirst, constipation, appetite loss and blocked urination. A strong decoction is emetic and was used as a body purification when treating a wide range of complaints. A decoction of the leaves is used externally as a wash on rheumatic joints and painful limbs.

The leaves have been used as an abortifacient, analgesic, emetic and febrifuge. They have been used to treat fevers, headaches, diarrhea, thirst, constipation, appetite loss and blocked urination.

Other Uses:
*The wood is hard and strong, which can be used to build boats, cabinets and lining interiors of structures.It takes a beautiful polish
*It can also be used as an ornamental tree due to its evergreen leaves.
*The dried up leaves can used as a condiment but not much else.
*Deer and some reports of bears also eat the leaves and fruits of redbay. Birds and turkey only eat the fruit of the redbay

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/Persea_borbonia
http://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=PEBO
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_AB.htm

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Persea+Borbonia

Red Bay for all seasonings

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