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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.

Click to see the pictures:->
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

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.

CLICK  &  SEE  THE  PICTURES

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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Herbs & Plants

Cornus alternifolia

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Botanical Name : Cornus alternifolia
Family: Cornaceae
Genus: Cornus
Subgenus: Swida
Species: C. alternifolia
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Cornales

Synonyms : Swida alternifolia.

Other Names:Green Osier, Alternateleaf dogwood, Alternate Leaf Dogwood, Golden Shadows Pagoda Dogwood, Green Osi

Habitat :Cornus alternifolia is native to eastern North America, from Newfoundland west to southern Manitoba and Minnesota, and south to northern Florida and Mississippi. It is rare in the Southern United States .
C. alternifolia is found under open deciduous trees, as well as along the margins of forests and swamps. These trees prefer moist, well drained soil.

Description:
Cornus alternifolia is a small deciduous tree growing to 25 feet (rarely 30 feet) tall, with a trunk up to 6 inches diameter. The branches develop characteristic horizontal layers separated by gaps, with a flat-topped crown. Its leaves are elliptic to ovate and grow to 2-5 inches long and 1-2 inches broad, arranged alternately on the stems, not in opposite pairs typical of the majority of Cornus species, the leaves are most often arranged in crowded clusters around the ends of the twigs and appear almost whorled. The topside of the leaves are smooth and green, while the undersides are hairy and a bluish color. Its bark is colored gray to brown. It becomes ridged as it ages. C. alternifolia produces small cream colored flowers with four small petals. The flowers are grouped into cymes, with the inflorescences 2-5 inches across. It bears fruit similar to berries with a blackish blue color. These fruits grow 3-4 inches across.

You may click to see the pictures of       

*Bark: Dark reddish brown, with shallow ridges. Branchlets at first pale reddish green, later dark green.

*Wood: Reddish brown, sapwood pale; heavy, hard, close-grained. Sp. gr., 0.6696; weight of cu. ft., 41-73 lbs.

*Winter buds: Light chestnut brown, acute. Inner scales enlarge with the growing shoot and become half an inch long before they fall.

*Leaves: Alternate, rarely opposite, often clustered at the ends of the branch, simple, three to five inches long, two to three wide, oval or ovate, wedge-shaped or rounded at base; margin is wavy toothed, slightly reflexed, apex acuminate. They come out of the bud involute, reddish green above, coated with silvery white tomentum beneath, when full grown are bright green above, pale, downy, almost white beneath.
*Feather-veined, midrib broad, yellowish, prominent beneath, with about six pairs of primary veins. In autumn they turn yellow, or yellow and scarlet. Petioles slender, grooved, hairy, with clasping bases.

*Flowers: April, May. Perfect, cream color, borne in many-flowered, broad, open cymes, at the end of short lateral branches.

*Calyx: The cup-shaped flowers have four petals that are valvate in bud, unwrapping when in bloom with cream colored, oblong shaped petals with rounded ends. The petals are inserted on disk and the stamens are inserted too and arranged alternately to the petals, being four in number also. The stamens are exserted with filaments long and slender. Anthers oblong, introrse, versatile, two-celled; cells opening longitudinally.

*Pistil: Ovary inferior, two-celled; style columnar; stigma capitate.

*Fruit: Drupe, globular, blue-black, one-third inch across, tipped with remnant of style which rises from a slight depression; nut obovoid, many-grooved. October

Cultivation:
Landscape Uses:Specimen, Woodland garden. An easily grown plant, it succeeds in any soil of good or moderate fertility[1], ranging from acid to shallow chalk. Grows well in heavy clay soils and in dry soils. Succeeds in full sun or light shade. Plants are hardy to about -25°c. A fast-growing but short-lived species in the wild, it is closely related to C. controversa. This species is unusual in having alternate leaves whilst almost all other members of this genus have opposite leaves. Plants have a thin bark and this makes them susceptible to forest fires. There is at least one named form selected for its ornamental value. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus. Special Features: Attracts birds, North American native, Attractive flowers or blooms.

Propagation :
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame or in an outdoors seedbed if there is sufficient seed. The seed must be separated from the fruit flesh since this contains germination inhibitors. Stored seed should be cold stratified for 3 – 4 months and sown as early as possible in the year. Scarification may also help as may a period of warm stratification before the cold stratification. Germination, especially of stored seed, can be very slow, taking 18 months or more. Prick out the seedlings of cold-frame sown seeds into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle and grow the plants on for their first winter in a greenhouse, planting out in the spring after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe side shoots, July/August in a frame. Cuttings of mature wood of the current year’s growth, taken with a heel if possible, autumn in a cold frame. High percentage. Layering of new growth in June/July. Takes 9 months.

Medicinal Uses:
Cornus alternifolia was employed medicinally by a number of native North American Indian tribes who valued it particularly for its astringent bark which was used both internally and externally to treat diarrhea, skin problems etc. The inner bark was boiled and the solution used as an enema and this solution was also used as a tea to reduce fevers, treat influenza, diarrhea, headaches, voice loss etc. It was used as a wash for the eyes.  A compound infusion of the bark and roots has been used to treat childhood diseases such as measles and worms. It has also been used as a wash on areas of the body affected by venereal disease. A poultice of the powdered bark has been used to treat swellings, blisters etc. Useful in diarrhea and dysentery; as gargle in sore throats; and in typhoid fever and ague.  It is little used in modern herbalism. Preparation: The fresh bark and young twigs are pounded to a pulp and macerated in two parts by weight of alcohol.

Other Uses:
Ornamental use:
The tree is regarded as attractive because of its wide spreading shelving branches and flat-topped head, and is often used in ornamental plantings. The flower clusters have no great white involucre as have those of the Flowering Dogwood, and the fruit is dark purple instead of red and of intensely disagreeable aromatic flavor.

C. alternifolia is susceptible to Golden Canker (Cryptodiaporthe corni), particularly when drought stressed or heat stressed. Proper siting of the plant in partial to full shade, along with adequate mulch and water, will reduce incidence of this pathogen.

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/Pagoda_dogwood
http://greenspade.com/pagoda-dogwood-cornus-alternifolia
http://www.finegardening.com/plantguide/cornus-alternifolia-pagoda-dogwood.aspx
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_FGH.htm

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Healthy Tips

Black Rice Economical Way to Increase Consumption of Antioxidants

Black rice
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Health conscious consumers who hesitate at the price of fresh blueberries and blackberries, fruits renowned for high levels of healthful antioxidants, now have an economical alternative. It is black rice, one variety of which got the moniker “Forbidden Rice” in ancient China because nobles commandeered every grain for themselves and forbade the common people from eating it.

According to a study presented at the 240th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS), “one spoonful of black rice bran contains more anthocyanin antioxidants than a spoonful of blueberries and better yet, black rice offers more fiber and vitamin E antioxidants, but less sugar.”

Like fruits, “black rice” is rich in anthocyanin antioxidants, substances that show promise for fighting heart disease, cancer, and other diseases. Food manufacturers could potentially use black rice bran or the bran extracts to boost the health value of breakfast cereals, beverages, cakes, cookies, and other foods, Xu and colleagues suggested.

Brown rice is the most widely produced rice variety worldwide. Rice millers remove only the outer husks, or “chaff,” from each rice grain to produce brown rice. If they process the rice further, removing the underlying nutrient rich “bran,” it becomes white rice. Xu noted that many consumers have heard that brown rice is more nutritious than white rice. The reason is that the bran of brown rice contains higher levels of gamma-tocotrienol, one of the vitamin E compounds, and gamma-oryzanol antioxidants, which are lipid-soluble antioxidants. Numerous studies showed that these antioxidants can reduce blood levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL) — so called “bad” cholesterol — and may help fight heart disease. Xu and colleagues analyzed samples of black rice bran from rice grown in the southern United States. In addition, the lipid soluble antioxidants they found in black rice bran possess higher level of anthocyanins antioxidants, which are water-soluble antioxidants. Thus, black rice bran may be even healthier than brown rice bran, suggested Dr. Xu.

The scientists also showed that pigments in black rice bran extracts can produce a variety of different colors, ranging from pink to black, and may provide a healthier alternative to artificial food colorants that manufacturers now add to some foods and beverages. Several studies have linked some artificial colorants to cancer, behavioral problems in children, and other health problems.

Black rice is one of several black-colored heirloom plants producing rice variants such as Indonesian Black Rice, Forbidden Rice. High in nutritional value, black rice is rich in iron. Unlike other black rice from Asia, it is not glutinous or rough. This grain is high in fiber and has a deep, nutty taste. Black “forbidden rice” is so named because originally it was considered the Emperor’s rice and was literally forbidden for anyone else to eat it. It is a deep black color and turns deep purple when cooked. Its dark purple color is primarily due to its high anthocyanin content. It has a relatively high mineral content (including iron) and, like most rice, supplies several important amino acids.

In China, noodles made from black rice have recently begun being produced. At least one United States bread company has also begun producing “Chinese Black Rice” bread. It shares the deep tyrian color of cooked black rice.

Black rice is used mainly in Asia for food decoration, noodles, sushi, and pudding. Dr. Xu said that farmers are interested in growing black rice in Louisiana and that he would like to see people in the country embrace its use.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_rice
Elements4Health

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Herbs & Plants

Kalmi (Ipomoea reptans)

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N Ipoa D1600.
Image via Wikipedia

Botanical Name:Ipomoea reptans
Family: Convolvulaceae
Genus: Ipomoea subgenus
Genus:    Ipomoea
Species:    I. aquatica
Kingdom:    Plantae
Order:    Solanales
Vernacular names: Kangkong, kangkung, water convolvulus, water spinach, swamp spinach, swamp morning glory (En). Kangkong, liseron d’eau, patate aquatique (Fr). Cancon, batata aquática (Po). Mriba wa ziwa (Sw).

In Bengal  it is called Kalmi

Habitat :Ipomoea aquatica is widespread as a swamp weed in all tropical and many subtropical lowland areas. It is a declared aquatic or terrestrial noxious weed in the south-eastern United States. It occurs in nearly all countries of tropical Africa, from Mauritania and Senegal, east to Eritrea and Somalia, and south to South Africa, and also in the Indian Ocean islands. It is a popular cultivated vegetable in South-East Asia and southern China, but is rare in India. It is known as a leafy vegetable in tropical America, where people of Asian origin cultivate it. It is grown on a small scale under protected cultivation in France, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands for Vietnamese, Thai and Indonesian clients. In tropical Africa it is reported as a collected wild vegetable in Benin, DR Congo, Kenya and Tanzania. Asian cultivars are occasionally grown on a small scale for the Asian clientele near big cities. Kangkong can be found in market gardens, e.g. in Côte d’Ivoire and Nigeria.

DESCRIPTION: Water spinach is an herbaceous trailing vine that dwells in muddy stream banks, freshwater ponds, and marshes. This perennial aquatic vine is confined to the tropics and subtropics zones because it is susceptible to frosts and does not grow well when temperatures are below 23.9 C. Water spinach can reproduce sexually by producing one to four seeds in fruiting capsules or vegetatively by stem fragmentation. It is a member of the “morning-glory” family.

CLICK TO SEE THE PICTURES..>….(01)...(1).....(2).…....(3).…..(4)....(5).
Flowers: Funnel shaped, solitary or in few flowered clusters at leaf axils, two inches wide, pink to white in color, and darker in the throat (rarely nearly white).

Leaves: Arrowhead shaped, alternate, one to six inches long, and one to three inches wide

Stems: Vine like, trailing, with milky sap and roots at the nodes; usually to 9 ft. long but can be much longer.

Fruit: An oval or spherical capsule, woody at maturity, 1 cm long, holding 1 to 4 grayish seeds.

History:
The first historical record of W ater spinach is of its cultivation as a vegetable during the Chin Dynasty around 300 A.D. Native to India and Southeast Asia, but widely cultivated and naturalized in Asia, Africa, Australia, Pacific Islands, and South America. This aquatic vine is rich in iron, making it an ancient remedy for anemia. So people emigrating from Asian regions understandably wanted to take this nutritious vegetable along for use in traditional recipes. It is unclear when this plant was introduced in the United States, but this invasive and aggressive plant poses a serious threat to waterways in the Southern United States. W ater spinach has been introduced repeatedly to Florida waters since 1973, despite its state and federal listing as a prohibited plant and noxious weed.

Uses:-
Young shoots and leaves of water spinach are collected for use as a leafy vegetable. Often the whole above-ground plant part of cultivated water spinach , including the tender hollow stems, is consumed. Water spinatch can be stir-fried, steamed, boiled for a few minutes or lightly fried in oil and eaten in various dishes. It is often mixed with hot peppers and garlic, and prepared with meat or fish. In Asia the leaves are sometimes separated from the stems, and the stems are cooked a bit longer. In Africa only the leaves of wild plants are consumed, the stems are removed. The roots are occasionally eaten. Wild kangkong is often collected as fodder for cattle and pigs.

In Indonesia, kangkong or water spinach  is traditionally given at dinner to young children to make them quiet and help them sleep well. In Asia it is used in traditional medicine. The sap is used as an emetic, purgative and sedative, and flower buds are applied to ringworm. In Sri Lanka kangkong is used to treat diabetes mellitus.

Properties:
The nutritional composition of raw kangkong per 100 g edible portion is: water 92.5 g, energy 80 kJ (19 kcal), protein 2.6 g, fat 0.2 g, carbohydrate 3.1 g, dietary fibre 2.1 g, Ca 77 mg, Mg 71 mg, P 39 mg, Fe 1.7 mg, Zn 0.2 mg, vitamin A 6300 IU, thiamin 0.03 mg, riboflavin 0.10 mg, niacin 0.90 mg, folate 57 ?g, ascorbic acid 55 mg (USDA, 2002). The nutritional value of leaf-blades is higher than that of petioles and stems; unfortunately, sources do not state whether stems and leaves or leaves only were analysed. Accumulation of heavy metals in kangkong has been reported for Asia because the plants often grow in polluted water.

Medicinal Uses:
Kangkong showed oral hypoglycaemic activity in tests with diabetic humans and rats; it was shown that an aqueous leaf extract can be as effective as tolbutamide in reducing blood glucose levels.

Health risk:
If harvested from contaminated areas, and eaten raw, I. aquatica may transmit Fasciolopsis buski, an intestinal fluke parasite of humans and pigs, causing fasciolopsiasis.

Study in animals;
Studies conducted with pregnant diabetes-induced rats have shown a blood sugar-lowering effect of Ipomoea aquatica by inhibiting the intestinal absorption of glucose.

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.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/html/taxon.pl?20218
http://www.discoverlife.org/mp/20o?search=Ipomoea+aquatica&guide=North_American_Invasives
http://database.prota.org/PROTAhtml/Ipomoea%20aquatica_En.htm
.

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