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Herbs & Plants

Mayweed

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Botanical Name : Anthemis cotula
Family: Asteraceae
Tribe:     Anthemideae
Genus:     Anthemis
Species: A. cotula
Kingdom: Plantae
Order:     Asterales

Synonyms: Maroute. Maruta cotula. Cotula Maruta foetida. Manzanilla loca. Dog Chamomile. Wild Chamomile. Camomille puante. Foetid or Stinking Chamomile or Mayweed. Dog’s Fennel. Maithes. Maithen. Mathor.

Common Names: Mayweed, stinking chamomile, mather, dog- or hog’s-fennel, dog-finkle, dog-daisy, pig-sty-daisy, chigger-weed, maroute, Maruta cotula, Cotula Maruta foetida, Manzanilla loca, wild chamomile, Camomille puante. Foetid Chamomile or Mayweed, maithes, maithen, mathor  mayweed chamomile, camomille des chiens, camomille puante, stinkende Hundskamille, camomila-de-cachorro, macéla-fétida, and manzanilla hedionda.

Habitat;Mayweed is initially native to Europe and North Africa. It has successfully migrated to North America, Southern Africa, Australia and New Zealand  where it can be found growing on waste ground, alongside roads, and in fields. Anthemis cotula is considered a weed due to its propensity for invading cultivated areas.

Description:
Mayweed is an annual glandular plant with a harsh taste and an acrid smell. Its height varies from 12 inches (28 centimeters) to 24 inches (56 centimeters).

click to see the pictures

Leaves:  The leaves of the plant sometimes have very fine and soft hairs on the upper surface, although the plant is mostly hairless. There is no leaf stalk; leaves grow immediately from the stems. The leaves are pinnate in shape, with many extremely thin lobes, and can be around 1 or 2 inches long (2.5 to 5 centimeters).

Flowers:  Each stem is topped by a single flower head which is usually around 1 inch (2.34 centimeters) in diameter. The flower head is encompassed by between 10 and 18 white ray florets, each with a three-toothed shape; the florets tend to curve downwards around the edges and may occasionally have pistils, although these do not produce fruit. Beneath the flower proper, oval bracts of the plant form an involucre, with soft hairs on each; further bracts are bristled and sit at right angles to the flowers.

Fruits: The fruits are achenes (with no pappus). They are wrinkled, ribbed with ten ridges, and have small glandular bumps across the surface.

Medicinal Uses:

Parts Used: Flowers, leaves.

Constituents: The flowers have been found to contain volatile oil, oxalic, valeric and tannic acids, salts of magnesium, iron, potassium and calcium, colouring matter, a bitter extractive and fatty matter.

 Uses:
The flowers are preferred for internal use, being slightly less disagreeable than the leaves. In hysteria it is used in Europe as an antispasmodic and emmenagogue. Applied to the skin fresh and bruised it is a safe vesicant. A poultice helpful in piles can be made from the herb boiled until soft, or it can be used as a bath or fomentation.

It is administered to induce sleep in asthma. In sick headache or convalescence after fever the extract may be used.

A strong decoction can cause sweating and vomiting. It is said to be nearly as valuable as opium in dysentery. It has also been used in scrofula, dysmennorrhoea and flatulent gastritis.

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/m/maywee26.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthemis_cotula

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Herbs & Plants

Calumba

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Botanical Name :Jateorhiza calumba
Family: Menispermaceae
Genus: Jateorhiza
Species: J. palmata
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Ranunculales

Common Names:Calumba,calumba root, columba, colombo, kalumba, kalumb, jateorhiza, guvercin koku otu

Habitat : Calumba is native to the tropical areas of Eastern and Southern Africa but can now be found cultivated in many tropical regions, including Brazil. The genus, comprising only two species, is also native to the Madagascar rainforest.

Description:
Calumba is a  tall, dioecious twining perennial vine; often reaching the tops of trees. The annual stems, one or two from each root, are hair with glandular tips and have large bright green memraneous leaves which are palmate, alternate and long petioled. The flowers are insignificant and greenish-white. The female flower is followed by moon-shaped stone in a drupe. Male flowers are in 30cm( 1) long panicles. The tuberous root is large and fleshy, about 3-8 cm (1.24-3.25) in diameter with a thick bark. Transverse section yellowish, outside greyish-brown. Taste is muscilagenous and very bitter.
click to see
Constituents:  Columbamine, Jateorhizine and Palmatine, three yellow crystalline alkaloids closely allied to berberine; also a colourless crystalline principle, Columbine, and an abundance of starch and mucilage.

Medicinal Action and Uses:
The root of this   plant is used in traditional medicine systems world wide.It is a bitter tonic without astringency, does not produce nausea, headache, sickness or feverishness as other remedies of the same class. It is best given as a cold infusion; it is a most valuable agent for weakness of the digestive organs. In pulmonary consumption it is useful, as it never debilitates or purges the bowels. The natives of Mozambique use it for dysentery It allays the sickness of pregnancy and gastric irritation. In Africa and the East Indies it is cultivated for dyeing purposes.

Calumba is an excellent digestive remedy that tones the whole tract, stimulating it gently but having no astringent properties.  It may be used whenever debility occurs that is connected with some digestive involvement.  Internally used for morning sickness, atonic dyspepsia with low stomach acid, diarrhea, and dysentery.

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/calumb10.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jateorhiza_calumba

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

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Herbs & Plants

Sceletium tortuosum

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Botanical Name :Sceletium tortuosum
Family: Aizoaceae
Subfamily: Mesembryanthemoideae
Genus: Sceletium
Species: S. tortuosum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Caryophyllales

Common Name :  Kanna, Channa, Kougoed (Kauwgoed,/ ‘kougoed’, prepared from ‘fermenting’ S. tortuosum) – which literally means, ‘chew(able) things’ or ‘something to chew’.

Habitat :Sceletium tortuosum is native to Southern Africa.

Description:
Sceletium tortuosum is a succulent groundcover which produces showy white flowers with threadlike petals. Its fermented roots and leaves were chewed by the Hotentot tribe of S. Africa as a vision-inducing entheogen and inebriant. The plant contains mesembrine, though the pharmacology of kanna is not fully understood.
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For hundreds of years the Hottentots of Southern Africa used Sceletium Tortuosum as a mood enhancer, relaxant and empathogen. Dr Nigel Gericke, who is spearheading research into Sceletium tortuosum in South Africa, believes that “Sceletium is one of the most ancient of mind-altering substances, and it is likely to have had a profound influence on the evolution of human consciousness.”

Sceletium tortuosum (Mesembryanthemaceae]) is a succulent, which is also known as Kanna, Channa, Kougoed (Kauwgoed,/ ‘kougoed’, prepared from ‘fermenting’ S. tortuosum) – which literally means, ‘chew(able) things’ or ‘something to chew’. The plant has been used by South African pastoralists and hunter-gatherers as a mood-altering substance from prehistoric times.[citation needed] The first known written account of the plant’s use was in 1662 by Jan van Riebeeck. The traditionally prepared dried Sceletium was often chewed and the saliva swallowed, but it has also been made into gel caps, teas and tinctures. It has also been used as a snuff and smoked.

Dr Nigel Gericke, who is spearheading research into Sceletium tortuosum in South Africa, believes that “Sceletium is one of the most ancient of mind-altering substances, and it is likely to have had a profound influence on the evolution of human consciousness.”

Cultivation:
Kanna is best planted in Spring/Summer and harvested in mid-Autumn.[citation needed] It can be used as a herbal smoke, pill or one can chew the leaves to feel its effects. It can be harvested whether or not the flowers themselves have appeared yet.

Chemical constituents:
Mesembrine, one of the five known psychoactive compounds in Sceletium tortuosum.  click to see
S. tortuosum has been reported to possess significant mood-elevation and anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) properties.

The alkaloids contained in S. tortuosum believed to possess psychoactivity include: mesembrine, mesembrenone, mesembrenol and tortuosamine. Mesembrine is a major alkaloid present in Sceletium tortuosum.

S. tortuosum contains about 1–1.5% total alkaloids. There is about 0.3% mesembrine in the leaves and 0.86% in the leaves, stems, and flowers of the plant

Medicinal Uses:
Sceletium has been reported to cause elevated mood and decreases anxiety, stress and tension. It has also been used as an appetite suppressant by shepherds walking long distances in arid areas. In intoxicating doses, it can cause euphoria, initially with stimulation and later with sedation. Having such properties Sceletium is classified as an empathogen type herb. High doses have been shown to produce distinct inebriation and stimulation often followed by sedation. The plant is not hallucinogenic, contrary to some literature on the subject, and no adverse effects have been documented. Kanna is considered by many to potentiate (enhance the effects) of other psychoactive herbal material, such as cannabis.

Historically Sceletium tortuosum was eaten/chewed, smoked or used as snuff producing euphoria and alertness which gently fade into relaxation. If chewed in sufficient quantity Sceletium has a mild aneasthetic effect in the mouth, much like kava, and is used by the San tribes if you are about to have a tooth extracted, or in minute doses, for children with colic. A tea made from Sceletium (Kanna) is sometimes used to wean alcoholics off alcohol.

Known Hazards:
Little is known about the interactions of S. tortuosum, although it should not be combined with other SSRIs, MAOIs, or cardiac medications. Headache in conjunction with alcohol have been noted with kanna use. Some reports suggest a synergy with cannabis.

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/Sceletium_tortuosum
http://www.erowid.org/plants/kanna/
http://www.herbalfire.com/kanna-sceletium-tortuosum.html

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Herbs & Plants

Schinziophyton rautanenii

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Botanical Name : Schinziophyton rautanenii
Family: Euphorbiaceae
Subfamily: Crotonoideae
Tribe: Ricinodendreae
Genus: Schinziophyton
Hutch. ex Radcl.-Sm.
Species: S. rautanenii
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Malpighiales

Common Names:Mongongo nut, Feather weight tree, Manketti Tree

Habitat :The Schinziophyton rautanenii is distributed widely throughout southern Africa. There are several distinct belts of distribution, the largest of which reaches from northern Namibia into northern Botswana, south-western Zambia and western Zimbabwe. Another belt is found in eastern Malawi, and yet another in eastern Mozambique.

The manketti tree prefers hot and dry climates with low amounts of rain. It also prefers to grow in wooded hills and sand dunes.

Its habitat is dotted with trees and does not receive enough rain to be considered a prairie. The countries that lie in this biome are Mauritania, Guinea, Liberia, Ethiopia, Sudan, Chad, Mali, Niger and Uganda.

Description:
Schinziophyton rautanenii is a deciduous  tree.It  has a large, straight trunk with stubby and contorted branches and a large spreading crown. It has an upright manner of growth and is about 49 to 66 feet (15 to 20) meters tall. The leaves are a distinctive hand shape and are compound. The leaflet is a wide lance to an egg shape. They are composed of seven leaflets that are carried on hairy stalks that are up to 6 inches (15 cm) in length. The leaves are about 6 inches (15 cm) long and both sides are dark green in color. They are covered in fine hairs and are arranged alternately on branches.

CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

The flowers are somewhat oval in shape, and are about 1 1/4 inch (3.5 cm) long, 3/4 inch (2.5 cm) wide, and are about 1/2 inch (10 mm) in diameter. They flower in early summer. The whitish flowers are carried in slender loose spays.

Leaves alternate, digitately compound, consisting of 5-7 leathery segments usually hairless below and with grey wooly hairs above. There are usually 1 or 2 black glands on the upper side of each leaf-stalk.

Flowers whitish or yellow, dioecious, in loose rusty sprays. Male flowers in long rusty sprays, female shorter in length.

Fruit ovoid, waxy and brown in colour; weighing 7-10 g with a thick leathery skin, fleshy, dry, spongy pulp 2-5 mm thick, shell tough 3-7 mm thick.

Seeds 1 or 2 in the fruit.

The taproot on the  tree goes down until it reaches water. In this case, it is long because it is located in the savanna. The lateral root is very small.

Edible Uses:
So popular are the fruit and nuts of the mongongo tree that they have even been described as a “staple diet” in some areas, most notably amongst the San bushmen of northern Botswana and Namibia. Archaeological evidence has shown that they have been consumed amongst San communities for over 7,000 years. Their popularity stems in part from their flavour, and in part from the fact that they store well, and remain edible for much of the year.

The fruit is edible and can be eaten fresh, dried or cooked and have a pleasant taste likened to that of plums. The fruit retains its flavour even when dry.

Dry fruits are first steamed to soften the skins. After peeling, the fruits are then cooked in water until the maroon-coloured flesh separates from the hard inner nuts. The pulp is eaten, and the nuts are saved to be roasted later. Alternatively, nuts are collected from elephant dung; the hard nut survives intact through the digestive process and the elephant does the hard work of collecting the nuts. During roasting of the nuts, direct contact with the fire is avoided, using sand to distribute the heat evenly. Once dry, the outer shell cracks easily, revealing the nut, encased within a soft, inner shell. The nuts are either eaten straight, or pounded as ingredients in other dishes.

. The fruit is normally skinned after steaming in a pot with little water, then boiled in fresh water to separate the nuts. The fruit is used in making aromatic soups and sweet porridge, they can be dried and consumed as sweetmeats. During roasting direct contact of seeds with the fire coals is avoided by roasting in a sand heap. Fruit carbohydrate content is between 65-77%, fibre 2.5-3%, crude protein 6-9% and Ca levels are 85-100 mg/ 100 g. In the abscence of moisture fruits can remain edible for up to 8 months if left on ground where they fall.

The fruit pulp is fermented to give a refreshing potent beer, distilled for alcohol.

Nutritional value:-
Per 100 grams shelled nuts:

*57 g fat:
*44% polyunsaturated
*17% saturated
*18% monounsaturated
*24 g protein
*193 mg calcium
*527 mg magnesium
*4 mg zinc
*2.8 mg copper
*565 mg vitamin E (and tocopherol)

Medicinal Uses:
The roots are used as a remedy for stomach pains and diarrhea, the nuts tied around the ankles are said to relieve leg pains.

Other Uses:
The oil from the nuts has also been traditionally used as a body rub in the dry winter months, to clean and moisten the skin, while the hard, outer nut-shells are popular as divining “bones”. The wood, being both strong and light, makes excellent fishing floats, toys, insulating material and drawing boards. More recently, it has been used to make dart-boards and packing cases.

The plant has potential use in desert encroachment prevention and sand dune stabilization. Its hardiness makes it ideal for arid land reclamation.
Erosion control: S. rautanenii roots protect sandy soils from wind and water erosion.

Fruit enjoyed by both cattle and game. Fruit pulp and the seed meal which is very rich in protein was fed to cattle up to 1962, however this feed is suspected to cause a discolouration of beef. Elephants feed on the bark.

Truncheon-cuttings used for fencing around homes in southern Angola.  In some places the tree is highly held culturally and venerable.

Offers shade in hot areas e.g. in the Kalahari desert.


 

Known Hazards: :  Toxicological results suggest a tenous link between oil use and goitre.

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/Mongongo
http://www.blueplanetbiomes.org/manketti.htm
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_LMN.htm

http://worldagroforestry.org/treedb2/speciesprofile.php?Spid=17950

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Herbs & Plants

Cleome gynandra

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Botanical Name : Cleome gynandra
Family: Cleomaceae /Capparaceae (APG: Brassicaceae)
Genus: Cleome
Species: C. gynandra
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Brassicales
Synonyms  : Cleome pentaphylla L. (1763), Gynandropsis pentaphylla (L.) DC. (1824), Gynandropsis gynandra (L.) Briq. (1914).

Common Names : Cat whiskers,African cabbage,African cabbage, spider wisp (Eng.); oorpeultjie, snotterbelletjie (Afr.); Morotho (Northern Sotho); Muruthu (Venda)
Vernacular names :  Spiderplant, cat’s whiskers, spider flower, bastard mustard (En). Caya blanc, brède caya, mouzambé (Fr). Musambe (Po). Mgagani, mkabili, mkabilishemsi, mwangani mgange (Sw).

Habitat : The origin of Cleome gynandra is not known. There are claims that it has a southern Asian origin, but others suggest that it originates from Africa or Central America. Cleome gynandra occurs throughout the tropics and subtropics. In Africa, it is mainly found near human settlements, possibly escapes from earlier introductions. It occurs probably in all countries of tropical Africa,  has now  become widespread in many tropical and sub-tropical parts of the world.

Description:
Erect annual herb up to 150 cm tall, strongly branched, with long taproot and few secondary roots; stem densely glandular. Leaves alternate, palmately compound with (3–)5(–7) leaflets; stipules absent; petiole 2–10 cm long, glandular; leaflets almost sessile, obovate to elliptical or lanceolate, 2–10 cm × 1–4 cm, cuneate at base, rounded to obtuse, acute or acuminate at apex, margins finely toothed, sparsely to distinctly hairy. Inflorescence a terminal raceme up to 30 cm long, bracteate. Flowers bisexual, white or tinged with purple; pedicel 1.5–2.5 cm long; sepals 4, free, ovate to lanceolate, up to 8 mm long; petals 4, elliptical to obovate, up to 1.5 cm long, clawed; androgynophore 1–1.5 cm long; stamens 6, purple; ovary superior, stalked, 2-celled. Fruit a long, narrow, cylindrical capsule up to 12 cm × 1 cm, stalked and beaked, usually green or yellow, dehiscing from below with 2 valves, many-seeded. Seeds subglobose, 1–1.5 mm in diameter, grey to black, irregularly ribbed. Seedling with oblong cotyledons; first leaves 3-foliolate.

CLICK TO SEE THE PICTURES
Edible Uses:

Fresh leaves are cooked and eaten as spinach or dried and stored for later use as a relish with porridge. They are rich in magnesium, iron and nicotinic acid.
The tender leaves, young shoots and occasionally flowers are eaten boiled as potherb, relish, stew or side dish. The leaves are utilized in fresh form or dried as powder. Sometimes the leaves are bitter and then cooked with milk and/or with other leafy vegetables such as cowpea leaves, amaranth, nightshades (Solanum spp.) and Cleome monophylla L. In other areas the leaves are boiled and the cooking water is discarded. In several countries, pounded groundnut paste (peanut butter) is added to improve the flavour. The leaves may be blanched, made into small balls and sun- or air-dried. This is a popular product in southern Africa, which finds a ready market when available during the rainy season. These balls or leaf powder can be stored up to a year and are soaked in water before being used in cooking. The seeds may be used as a substitute for mustard.

Nutrition analysis has found it to be high in certain nutrients including amino acids, vitamins and minerals as a result it forms an important part of diets in Southern Africa.

Chemical Constituents:

A study has shown that Cleome gynandra uses NAD-malic enzyme type C4 photosynthesis and has the characteristic traits associated with this including changes in “leaf biochemistry, cell biology and development”.  Cleome gynandra is closely related to Arabidopsis thaliana (a C3 photosynthetic plant) in an evolutionary manner and therefore offers comparison with this well studied model plant.


Medicinal Uses:

In several communities, boiled spiderplant leaves are traditionally given to mothers before and after delivery of a child, and in other situations where blood has been lost, e.g. to warriors. Similarly, an infusion of the leaves is used to treat anaemia. The leaves and seeds are used medicinally as rubefacient and vesicant, and to treat rheumatism, externally as well as internally. An infusion of the roots is used as a medicine for chest pain, the leaves to treat diarrhoea. Spiderplant seeds thrown in water can kill fish, which then float to the surface. The glands on the stems and leaves have insect repellent properties; cabbage and related crops intercropped with spiderplant suffer less from diamond back moth larvae. Similarly, in French bean intercropped with spiderplant, the beans are less affected by flower thrips and are therefore of better quality for export.

Other Uses:
The seeds are used to feed birds. The seed contains an edible polyunsaturated oil, which is extracted by simple pressing and does not need refining. The seed cake can be used as animal food.

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.prota4u.org/protav8.asp?h=M4&t=Cleome,gynandra&p=Cleome+gynandra
http://vaniindia.org.whbus12.onlyfordemo.com/herbal/plantdir.asp
http://www.plantzafrica.com/plantcd/cleomegyn.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cleome_gynandra

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