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Herbs & Plants

Casuarina equisetifolia

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Botanical Name : Casuarina equisetifolia
Family: Casuarinaceae
Genus: Casuarina
Species: C. equisetifolia
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Fagales

Common Names : Common names include Coast Sheoak, Beach Casuarina, Beach Oak, Beach Sheoak, Whistling Tree, Coastal She oak, Horsetail She oak, and Coast She oak The specific name equisetifolia is derived from the Latin word equisetum, meaning “horse hair” (referring to the resemblance of the drooping branchlets to horse tail). The species has many common names including coastal she-oak, beach she-oak, horsetail beefwood, horsetail tree, Australian pine, ironwood, and whistling pine Filao Tree and Agoho

There are two subspecies:
1.Casuarina equisetifolia subsp. equisetifolia. Large tree to 35 m (115 ft) tall; twigs 0.5–0.7 mm (0.020–0.028 in) diameter, hairless. Southeast Asia, northern Australia.

2.Casuarina equisetifolia subsp. incana (Benth.) L.A.S.Johnson. Small tree to 12 m (39 ft) tall; twigs 0.7–1 mm (0.028–0.039 in) diameter, downy. Eastern Australia (eastern Queensland, New South Wales), New Caledonia, southern Vanuatu

Habitat ; The native range  of Casuarina equisetifolia extends from Burma and Vietnam throughout Malesia east to French Polynesia, New Caledonia, and Vanuatu, and south to Australia (north of Northern Territory, north and east Queensland, and north-eastern New South Wales). Populations are also found in Madagascar, but it is doubtful if this within the native range of the species. The species has been introduced to the Southern United States and West Africa. It is an invasive species in Florida.

Description:
Casuarina equisetifolia is an evergreen tree growing to 6–35 m (20–115 ft) tall. The foliage consists of slender, much-branched green to grey-green twigs 0.5–1 mm (0.020–0.039 in) diameter, bearing minute scale-leaves in whorls of 6–8. The flowers are produced in small catkin-like inflorescences; the male flowers in simple spikes 0.7–4 cm (0.28–1.6 in) long, the female flowers on short peduncles. Unlike most other species of Casuarina (which are dioecious) it is monoecious, with male and female flowers produced on the same tree. The fruit is an oval woody structure 10–24 mm (0.39–0.94 in) long and 9–13 mm (0.35–0.51 in) in diameter, superficially resembling a conifer cone made up of numerous carpels each containing a single seed with a small wing 6–8 mm (0.24–0.31 in) long.

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Casuarina equesitifolia tree :

C. equisetifolia subsp. equisetifolia  :

Casuarina equisetifolia leaves  :

Casuarina equisetifolia fruits; 

Chemical Constituents:
Caffeic acid,chlorogenic acid,d-gallocatechin. ellagic acid, epicatechin, ferulic acid, gallic acid, kaempferol,prodelphinidin, propelargonidin,quercetin, rutin

Medicinal Uses:
Gastro-intestinal Diseases;
Leaves are used to treat abdominal colic in the form of decoction, In the island of South pacific the inner bark is used as to treat diarrhoea and various other digestive problems.Indians use the bark to treat dysentry and diarrhoea.In Figi  and Cook island the extract of bark is used to induce vomiting in stronger contration.

Other Uses;
Casuarina equisetifolia is widely used as a bonsai subject, particularly in South-east Asia and parts of the Caribbean. Indonesian specimens and those cultivated in Taiwan are regarded among the best in the bonsai world. The wood of this tree is used for shingles, fencing, and is said to make excellent, hot burning firewood. Among the islands of Hawaii, Casuarina are also grown for erosion prevention, and in general as wind breaking elements.

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/Casuarina_equisetifolia
http://www.globinmed.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=83636:casuarina-equisetifolia&catid=199&Itemid=139

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Herbs & Plants

Musa acuminata

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Botanical Name :Musa acuminata
Family: Musaceae
Genus: Musa
Species: M. acuminata
Kingdom: Plantae
clade: Angiosperms
clade: Monocots
clade: Commelinids
Order: Zingiberales

Common Name :Wild banana

Habitat :Musa acuminata is  native to Southeast Asia.(E. Asia – Southern China, India, Malaysia and the Phillipines.) It grows in Shaded and moist ravines, marshlands, semi-marshlands and slopes from near sea level to 1200 metres.

Description:
Musa acuminata are perennial herbs (not trees) growing to 3m. The trunk (known as the pseudostem) is made of tightly packed layers of leaf sheaths emerging from completely or partially buried corms.

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The inflorescence of Musa acuminata grows horizontally or obliquely from the trunk. The individual flowers are white to yellowish-white in color and are negatively geotropic (that is, growing upwards and away from the ground). Both male and female flowers are present in a single inflorescence. Female flowers located near the base (and develop into fruit), and the male flowers located at the tipmost top-shaped bud in between leathery bract
The rather slender fruits are berries, the size of each depends on the number of seeds they contain. Each fruit can have 15 to 62 seeds. Each fruit bunch can have an average of 161.76 ± 60.62 fingers with each finger around 2.4 cm (0.94 in) by 9 cm (3.5 in) in size.

The seeds of Musa acuminata are around 5 to 6 mm (0.20 to 0.24 in) in diameter. They are subglobose or angular in shape and very hard. The tiny embryo is located at the end of the micropyle. Each seed of Musa acuminata typically produce around four times its size in edible starchy pulp (the parenchyma, the portion of the bananas we eat), around 0.23 cm3 (0.014 cu in). The ratio increases dramatically for the ‘seedless’ modern edible cultivars. The much reduced in size and sterile seeds are now surrounded by 23 times its size in edible pulp. The seeds themselves are reduced to tiny black specks along the central axis of the fruit

It is hardy to zone 9 and is frost tender. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs)
The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and requires well-drained soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires moist soil.

Cultivation:
Requires a sunny sheltered position in a well-drained fertile soil with a pH between 6 and 7.5. This species is able to tolerate light frosts, but it requires a very sheltered position. Another report says that it requires a minimum winter temperature of 10°c and no lower than 18°c when the fruit is ripening. Wild plants are diploid (2n = 22) and bear fruits containing numerous seeds making them inedible. Cultivated plants are triploid (2n = 33) and bear seedless, edible fruits; such plants have been called M. acuminata ‘Dwarf Cavendish’ (M. cavendishii Lambert ex Paxton; M. chinensis Sweet; M. nana Loureiro).

Propagation:
Seed – sow the large seed in individual pots in the spring in a warm greenhouse at about 20°c[200]. Grow the seedlings on in a rich soil, giving occasional liquid feeds. Keep the plants in the greenhouse for at least three years before trying them outdoors. Division of suckers in late spring. Dig up the suckers with care, trying to cause the least disturbance to the main plant. Pot them up and grow them on in a lightly shaded position in a greenhouse until they are well established.

Edible Uses:
Edible Parts: Fruit.

Fruit – raw or dried for later use. Sweet. The fruit is up to 12cm long and 2.5cm wide.

Medicinal Uses :
Banana Lectin BanLec linked to anti-cancer and anti-HIV properties.

Bananas have been present in our diets since long time ago, they are rich in potassium, a mineral that plays a very important role in mass bone formation and regulation of blood pressure, magnesium, selenium, phosphorous, iron, vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc (very important to regulate sleep cycles and enhance male reproductive functions)…etc.

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://digedibles.com/database/plants.php?Musa+acuminata
http://www.plantoftheweek.org/week022.shtml

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Musa_acuminata
http://www.herbcyclopedia.com/index.php?option=com_zoo&task=tag&tag=Musa%20acuminata%20Colla&app_id=5&Itemid=193

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Herbs & Plants

Nymphaea lotus

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Botanical Name :Nymphaea lotus
Family: Nymphaeaceae
Genus: Nymphaea
Species: N. lotus
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Nymphaeales

Synonyms: Nymphaea dentata Schumach,  Nymphaea alba

Common Name :Nymphaea lotus, the Tiger Lotus, White lotus or Egyptian White Water-lily,  ,European White Waterlily, White Lotus, White Water Rose or Nenuphar,

Habitat :Nymphaea lotus grows in various parts of East Africa and Southeast Asia.

Description:
It is a perennial, grows to 45 cm in height, and prefers clear, warm, still and slightly acidic waters. The color of the flower is white and sometimes tinged with pink.

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The water lily Nymphaea lotus ‘Red’ (sometimes known as N. zenkeri ‘Red’) can be found growing in its native habitat of tropical Africa in bodies of stagnant water ranging in size from lakes to small, temporary pools. It has been without question the most popular species of its genus to be kept in home aquaria. Bulbs and juvenile plants are available far and wide, sometimes for sale under the name ‘Red Tiger Lotus’.

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This species of water lily has lily pads which float on the water, and blossoms which rise above the water.

Propagation:Propagation of this type  of spices  can usually only be achieved if the plant is allowed to form a handful of floating leaves and subsequently develop one of its night-blooming flowers. The seeds that develop after the flower has wilted germinate easily. Bulb division, as well, is possible but is rare, and is only successful if the severed portion contains a crown from which leaves have already developed.

Though this species can easily achieve large dimensions, it is not without a place in the aquascape. Young specimens possess superb contrast value in tanks that include primarily green plants, and larger plants make wonderful centerpieces if they are placed well and trimmed regularly.

Medicinal Uses:
Nymphaea lotus is a soothing, astringent herb that has diuretic and tranquilizing effects and is reputedly detoxicant and aphrodisiac.  The seeds, crushed in water are an old remedy for diabetes.  The rhizomes is useful in Diarrhea, dysentery, dyspepsia and general debility. The flowers are astringent and cardiotonic. The seeds are sweet, cooling, constipating, aphrodisiac, stomachic and restorative. It has found uses both as a culinary delight and starchy food staple as well as being used internally as a treatment for gastrointestinal disorders and jaundice.

Other Uses:
The ancient Egyptians cultivated the white lotus in ponds and marshes. This flower often appears in ancient Egyptian decorations. They believed that the lotus flower gave them strength and power; remains of the flower have been found in the burial tomb of Ramesses II.

The number 1,000 in ancient Egyptian numerals is represented by the symbol of the white lotus.

The ancient Egyptians also extracted perfume from this flower. They also used the white lotus in funerary garlands, temple offerings and female adornment.

The white lotus might have been one of the plants eaten by the Lotophagi of Homer’s Odyssey.

Nymphaea lotus is often used as an aquarium plant. Sometimes it is grown for its flowers, while other aquarists prefer to trim the lily pads, and just have the underwater foliage. It was introduced into western cultivation in 1802 by Loddiges Nursery.

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/Nymphaea_lotus
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_LMN.htm

http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/forumapc/plantfinder/details.php?id=47

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Herbs & Plants

Alpinia nutans

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Botanical Name : Alpinia nutans
Family: Zingiberaceae
Subfamily: Alpinioideae
Tribe: Alpinieae
Genus: Alpinia
Species: A. nutans
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Zingiberales

Synonyms :
*Alpinia speciosa K.Schum.
*Amomum compactum Roem. & Schult.
*Catimbium nutans Juss.
*Costus zerumbet Pers.
*Languas speciosa Small
*Renealmia nutans Andrews
*Zerumbet speciosum H.Wendl

Common Names: Shellflower, Dwarf cardamom,False cardamom

Habitat : Alpinia nutans is a Southeast Asian plant.

Description:
Alpinia Nutans is mostly  an evergreen rhizomatous soft-wooded perennial plant.It Can grow 5 to 6 feet tall and tolerate winter temperatures down to 20F. Grows best in some shade but can tolerate full sun in hardiness zone  10-13.   Its flowers have a porcelain look, are shell-like and bloom prolifically on a 30-cm stalk. The flower’s single fertile stamen has a massive anther. The globose white stigma of the pistil extends beyond the tip of the anther. The foliage of Alpinia nutans is evergreen in areas that do not have a hard freeze. It has a very distinctive cardamom fragrance when brushed or rubbed, but this is not the plant that produces the spice by that name.

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Chemical Constituents:
The rhizome oil of Alpinia speciosa K. Schum. contains some fatty acids with an odd number of carbon atoms, which are less common in nature than fatty acids with even numbers of carbon atoms. The major one is pentadecanoic acid (C-15, 21.9%) and others are tricosylic acid (C-23, 5.7%), tridecylic acid (C-13, 1.9%), undecylic acid (C-11, 3.1%) and pelargonic acid (C-9, 0.1%). Among the fatty acids containing even number of carbon atoms, the main constituents are linolenic acid (C-18:3, 27.4%) and arachidic acid (C-20, 22.4%). The total saturated fatty acids constitute 65.7% and unsaturated 34.3%

Medicinal Uses:
In Asian medicinal practices, the alpinia nutans fruits   are used to expel gas, prevent vomiting and stimulate stomach secretions.

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/Alpinia_nutans
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_C.htm
http://www.floridahillnursery.com/ginger-alipinia-c-5/alpinia-nutans-narrow-leaf-live-plant-p-238
http://www.plantthis.com.au/plant-information.asp?gardener=8702&tabview=photos&plantSpot=
http://www.floridahillnursery.com/popup_image/pID/238

http://etc.usf.edu/clipart/81600/81619/81619_alpinia_nuta.htm

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.

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Alstonia scolaris

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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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