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Fruits & Vegetables Herbs & Plants

Paw Paw

Botanical Name: Asimina triloba,
Family:
Annonaceae
Genus:
Asimina
Species:
A. triloba
Kingdom:
Plantae
Order:
Magnoliales
Names: The name, also spelled paw paw, paw-paw, and papaw, probably derives from the Spanish papaya, perhaps because of the superficial similarity of their fruit. Pawpaw has numerous other common names, often very local, such as prairie banana, Indiana (Hoosier) banana, West Virginia banana, Kansas banana, Kentucky banana, Michigan banana, Missouri Banana, the poor man’s banana, and Ozark banana.

Habitat: Native to North America.They are understory trees found in well drained deep fertile bottomland and hilly upland habitat.


Description:
It is a small, tropical~looking tree, seldom taller than 25 feet. Grown in full sun, the Pawpaw tree develops a narrowly pyramidal shape with dense, drooping foliage down to the ground level. In the shade it grows tall, with a more open branching habit, horizontally held leaves, and few lower limbs. Pawpaw (Asimina) is a genus of small clustered trees with large leaves and fruit. The genus includes the largest edible fruit indigenous to the continent.  Pawpaw is in the same family (Annonaceae) as the custard-apple, cherimoya, sweetsop, ylang-ylang and soursop, and it is the only member of that family not confined to the tropics.

click to see the pictures..>…..(01)....(1)…...(2).…...(3)…..(4).…(5)...……………….
Pawpaws are shrubs or small trees, reaching heights of 2 to 12 m tall. The northern, cold-tolerant common pawpaw (Asimina triloba) is deciduous, while the southern species are often evergreen.

The leaves are alternate, simple ovate, entire, 20 to 35 cm long and 10 to 15 cm broad.

The fetid flowers are produced singly or in clusters of up to eight together; they are large, 4 to 6 cm across, perfect, with six sepals and petals (three large outer petals, three smaller inner petals). The petal color varies from white to purple or red-brown.

The fruit is a large edible berry, 5 to 16 cm long and 3 to 7 cm broad, weighing from 20 to 500 g, with numerous seeds; it is green when unripe, maturing to yellow or brown. It has a flavor somewhat similar to both banana and mango, varying significantly by cultivar, and has more protein than most fruits.

The fruits are quite popular, but the shelf life of the ripe fruit is almost non-existent, for it soon ripens to the point of fermentation. Those who wish to preserve the fruit for the future do so by dehydration, making it into jams or jellies, or pressure canning by using the numerical values for bananas. In southern West Virginia pawpaws are made into a native version of banana nut cake or fruit cake, and baked inside canning jars, the lids heat-sealed to keep the food for at least a year.

* Bark: Dark brown, blotched with gray spots, sometimes covered with small excrescences, divided by shallow fissures. Inner bark tough, fibrous. Branchlets light brown, tinged with red, marked by shallow grooves.
* Wood: Pale, greenish yellow, sapwood lighter; light, soft, coarse-grained and spongy. Sp. gr., 0.3969; weight of cu. ft. 24.74 lbs.
* Winter buds: Small, brown, acuminate, hairy.
* Leaves: Alternate, simple, feather-veined, obovate-lanceolate, ten to twelve inches long, four to five broad, wedge-shaped at base, entire, acute at apex; midrib and primary veins prominent. They come out of the bud conduplicate, green, covered with rusty tomentum beneath, hairy above; when full grown are smooth, dark green above, paler beneath. When crushed they have a scent similar to a green bell pepper. In autumn they are a rusty yellow, which make spotting pawpaw groves possible from a long distance. Petioles short and stout with a prominent adaxial groove. Stipules wanting.
* Flowers: April, with the leaves. Perfect, solitary, axi
llary, rich red purple, two inches across, borne on stout, hairy peduncles. Ill smelling. The triloba refers to the shape of the flower, which is not unlike a tricorner hat.
* Calyx: Sepals three, valvate in bud, ovate, acuminate, pale green, downy.
* Corolla: Petals six, in two rows, imbricate in the bud. Inner row acute, erect, nectariferous. Outer row broadly ovate, reflexed at maturity. Petals at first are green, then brown, and finally become dull purple and conspicuously veiny.
* Stamens: Indefinite, densely packed on the globular receptacle. Filaments short; anthers extrorse, two-celled, opening longitudinally.
* Pistils: Several, on the summit of the receptacle, projecting from the mass of stamens. Ovary one-celled; stigma sessile; ovules many.
* Fruit: September, October

Cultivation: Pollinated by scavenging fruit flies, carrion flies and beetles, the flowers emit a weak to no scent which attracts few, if any, pollinators, thus limiting fruit production.

Larger growers sometimes locate rotting fruit or roadkill meat near the trees at bloom time to increase the number of pollinators. Asimina triloba is the only larval host of the Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly.

Asimina triloba is often called prairie banana because of its banana-like creamy texture and flavor.

The pawpaw is native to shady, rich bottom lands, where it often forms a dense undergrowth in the forest. Where it dominates a tract it appears as a thicket of small slender trees, whose great leaves are borne so close together at the ends of the branches, and which cover each other so symmetrically, that the effect is to give a peculiar imbricated appearance to the tree.

Although it is a delicious and nutritious fruit, it has never been cultivated on the scale of apples and peaches, primarily because only frozen fruit will store or ship well. It is also difficult to transplant because of fragile hairy root tentacles that tend to break off unless a cluster of moist soil is retained on the root mass. Cultivars are propagated by chip budding or whip grafting.
Uses:
In recent years the pawpaw has attracted renewed interest, particularly among organic growers, as a native fruit which has few to no pests, and which therefore requires no pesticide use for cultivation. The shipping and storage problem has largely been addressed by freezing. Among backyard gardeners it also is gaining in popularity because of the appeal of fresh fruit and because it is relatively low maintenance once planted. The pulp is used primarily in baked dessert recipes and for juicing fresh pawpaw drink or drink mixtures (pawpaw, pineapple, banana, lime, lemon and orange tea mix). In many recipes calling for bananas, pawpaw can be used with volumetric equivalency.

The commercial growing and harvesting of pawpaws is strong in southeast Ohio. The Ohio Pawpaw Growers’ Association annually sponsors the Ohio Pawpaw Festival at Lake Snowden near Albany, Ohio.

Because of difficult pollination, some may believe the flowers are self-incompatible. Cross pollination of at least two different varieties of the plant is recommended. The flowers produce an odor similar to that of rotting meat to attract blowflies or carrion beetles for cross pollination. Lack of pollination is the most common cause of poor fruiting, and growers resort to hand pollination, spraying fish emulsion, or to hanging chicken necks or other meat to attract pollinators.

This colonial tree has a strong tendency to form colonial thickets if left unchecked. It is ideal for creating a swift-growing habitat particularly in areas where frequent flooding can threaten erosion. The root systems are capable of holding streambanks steady, and grow well even in cold hollows with little exposure to winter sunlight.Click to learn more:...(1) ……(2).


Constituents & Uses:
The leaves, twigs, and bark of the tree also contain natural insecticides known as acetogenins, which can be used to make an organic pesticide[citation needed]. Pawpaw fruit may be eaten by foxes, possums, squirrels and raccoons. However, pawpaw leaves and twigs are seldom bothered by rabbits or deer. Bears particularly enjoy the fruit.

The delicious and nutritious fruit look like short, fat bananas. They have a fragrant aroma, a custardy texture, and a tropical taste. The best ones are rich, creamy and sweet, reminding some people of banana cream pie. Compared to apples, peaches and grapes, Pawpaw is higher in food energy, and has more than double the amount of vitamin C, and is much higher in minerals. It is higher in protein, fiber, and carbohydrate. It has a much higher content of amino acids in a good balance. It has mainly unsaturated fatty acids, and is a good source of linoleic and linolenic acids. They are high in antioxidants. Pawpaws are related to the tropical Annonacae, such as the Cherimoya .

History
The earliest documentation of pawpaws is in the 1541 report of the de Soto expedition, who found Native Americans cultivating it east of the Mississippi River. The Lewis and Clark Expedition depended and sometimes subsisted on pawpaws during their travels. Chilled pawpaw fruit was a favorite dessert of George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson was certainly familiar with it as he planted it at Monticello. The Ohio Pawpaw Growers’ Association lobbied for the pawpaw to be the Ohio state native fruit in 2006; this was made official in 2009.

Medicinal Properities:
Growers hope that potential medical use will eventually lead to increased market demand from the pharmaceutical industry.

The seeds also have insecticidal properties. Some Native American tribes dry and powder them and apply the powder to children’s heads to control lice; specialized shampoos now use compounds from pawpaw for the same purpose.

Currently, pawpaw extract is being reviewed as an alternative cancer treatment alongside conventional and approved treatments. This is not meant to replace conventional treatments, but is being examined for acetogenins and ATP production. Because acetogenin contents vary widely from tree to tree, only standardized extracts are acceptable.

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/Pawpaw
http://www.blossomnursery.com/pawpaw_TREE_&_FRUIT.html

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Herbs & Plants

Verbascum thapsus

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Botanical Name: Verbascum thapsus
Family: Scrophulariaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Lamiales
Genus: Verbascum
Species: V. thapsus

Common NamesMullein
V. thapsus is known by a variety of names. European reference books call it “Great mullein”. In North America, “Common mullein” is used. In the 19th century it had well over 40 different common names in English alone. Some of the more whimsical ones included “Hig candlewick”, “Bullicks lungwort”, “Adams-rod”, “Feltwort“, “Hare’s-beard” and “Ice-leaf”. Vernacular names include innumerable references to the plant’s hairiness: “Woolly”, “Velvet” or “Blanket Mullein“,  “Beggar’s”, “Moses'”, “Poor Man’s”, “Our Lady’s” or “Old Man’s Blanket”, and so on (“Flannel” is another common generic name).

Some names refer to the plant’s size and shape: “Shepherd’s Club(s)” or “Staff”, “Aaron’s Rod” (a name it shares with a number of other plants with tall, yellow inflorescences), and a plethora of other “X’s Staff” and “X’s Rod”. The name “Velvet” or “Mullein Dock” is also recorded, where “dock” is a British name applied to any broad-leaved plant

Habitat:
Verbascum thapsus has a wide native range including Europe, northern Africa and Asia, from the Azores and Canary Islands east to western China, north to the British Isles, Scandinavia and Siberia, and south to the Himalayas. In northern Europe, it grows from sea level up to 1,850 m altitude,  while in China it grows at 1,400–3,200 m altitude.

It has been introduced throughout the temperate world, and is established as a weed in Australia, New Zealand, tropical Asia, La Réunion, North America, Hawaii, Chile, Hispaniola and Argentina. It has also been reported in Japan.

In the United States it was imported very early in the 18th. century and cultivated for its medicinal and piscicide property. By 1818, it had begun spreading so much that Amos Eaton thought it was a native plant. In 1839 it was already reported in Michigan and in 1876, in California. It is now found commonly in all the states. In Canada, it most common in Southern Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia, and in the Maritime Provinces, with scattered populations in between.

Great Mullein most frequently grows as a colonist of bare and disturbed soil, usually on sandy or chalky soils. It grows best in dry, sandy or gravelly soils, although it can grow in a variety of habitats, including banksides, meadows, roadsides, forest clearings and pastures. It germinates almost solely in bare soil, at temperatures between 10 °C and 40 °C. This ability to grow in a wide range of habitats has been linked to strong phenotype variation rather than adaptation capacities. While it can germinate in total darkness if proper conditions are present (tests give a 35% germination rate under ideal conditions), in the wild, it will only do so if the seeds are exposed, or very close to the soil surface. While it can also appear in areas where some vegetation exist, growth of the rosettes on bare soil is four to seven times more rapid.

Description:
Verbascum thapsus  is a hairy biennial plant that can grow to 2 m or more tall. Its small yellow flowers are densely grouped on a tall stem, which bolts from a large rosette of leaves. It grows in a wide variety of habitats, but prefers well-lit disturbed soils, where it can appear soon after the ground receives light, from long-lived seeds that persist in the soil seed bank. It is a common weedy plant that spreads by prolifically producing seeds, but rarely becomes aggressively invasive, since its seed require open ground to germinate. It is a very minor problem for most agricultural crops, since it is not a very competitive species, being intolerant of shade from other plants and unable to survive tilling. It also hosts many insects, some of which can be harmful to other plants. Although individuals are easy to remove by hand, populations are difficult to eliminate permanently.

Verbascum thapsus is a dicotyledonous biennial that produces a rosette of leaves in its first year of growth. The leaves are large, up to 50 cm long, and are covered with woolly, silvery hairs. The second year plants normally produce a single unbranched stem 1–2 m tall, with some plants reportedly having stems reaching up to 3.5 m tall. In the East of its range in China, it is, however, only reported to grow up to 1.5 m tall. The tall pole-like stems end in a dense spike of flowers, that can occupy up to half the stem length. All parts of the plants are covered with star-shaped trichomes. Its chromosome number is 2n = 36.
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On flowering plants the leaves are alternately arranged up the stem. The leaves are thick, and decurrent on the stem, with much variation especially between the upper and lower leaves on the stem, with leaf shape ranging from between oblong to oblanceolate, ranging in size up to 50 cm long and 14 cm across (19 inches long and 5 inches wide).They become smaller higher up the stem, and less strongly decurrent lower down the stem. The flowering stem is solid and 2–2.5 cm (nearly an inch) across, and occasionally branched just below the inflorescence, usually when damaged. After flowering and seed release the stem and fruits usually persist in winter[10] after drying into hard, stiff structures topped with densely packed, ovoid shaped, dry seed capsules. The dried stems are most often dark brownish, and often persist standing until the next spring or even into the next summer. The plants produce a shallow taproot.

The flowers are pentamerous with five stamen that are fused to the petals, a 5-lobed calyx tube and a 5-petalled corolla, the latter bright yellow and an 1.5–3 cm (0.5–1 inch) wide. The flowers are almost sessile, with very short pedicels (2 mm, 0.08 in). The five stamens are of two types, with the three upper stamens being shorter, with filaments covered by yellow or whitish hairs, and having smaller anthers, while the lower two stamens have glabrous filaments and larger anthers. The plant produces small ovoid (6 mm, 0.24 in) capsules that split open by way of two valves, each capsule containing large numbers of minute brown seeds less than a millimetre (0.04 in) in size, with longitudinal ridges. A white-flowered form V. thapsus f. candicans occurs. Flowering lasts for up to three months from early to late summer (June to August in northern Europe), with flowering starting at the bottom of the spike and progressing irregularly up the spike; each flower opens for part of a day and only a few open at the same time around the stem.

Edible Uses:  
Tea: An aromatic tea can be made by boiling 1 tbs. dried leaves or root, in 1 cup water for 5 – 10 min. A sweeter tea can be made by infusing the fresh or dried flowers. Or for children and the elderly use milk instead of water. Sweeten if desired.

Main  Uses: 
Great Mullein has been used since ancient times as a remedy for skin, throat and breathing ailments. It has long had a medicinal reputation, especially as an astringent and emollient. It contains mucilage, several saponins, coumarin and glycosides. Dioscorides recommended it for diseases of the lung and it is nowadays widely available in health and herbal stores.

Medical uses

Great Mullein has been used as an alternative medicine for centuries, and in many countries throughout the world, the value of Great Mullein as a proven medicinal herb is now backed by scientific evidence. Some valuable constituents contained in Mullein are Coumarin and Hesperidin, they exhibit many healing abilities. Research indicates some of the uses as analgesic, antihistaminic, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, antioxidant, antiviral, bacteristat, cardio-depressant, estrogenic, fungicide, hypnotic, sedative and pesticide are valid.
Dioscorides first recommended the plant 2000 years ago, against pulmonary diseases, and this has remained one of its primary uses, especially against cough. Leaf decoctions or herbal teas were used for expectoration, consumption, dry cough, bronchitis, sore throat and hemorrhoids. Leaves were also smoked against pulmonary ailments, a tradition that in America was rapidly transmitted to Native American peoples. They used the non-indigenous plant to make syrups against croup. The combination of expectorant saponins and emollient mucilage makes the plant particularly effective for cough. All preparations meant to be drunk have to be finely filtered to eliminate the irritating hairs.

Oil from the flowers was used against catarrhs, colics and, in Germany, earaches, frostbite, eczema and other external conditions. Topical application of various V. thapsus-based preparations was recommended for the treatment of warts, boils, carbuncles, hemorrhoids, and chilblains, amongst others. Recent studies have found that Great Mullein contains glycyrrhizin compounds with bactericide and potential anti-tumoral action. These compounds are concentrated in the flowers. Different extracts have varying levels of efficiency against bacteria. In Germany, a governmental commission sanctioned medicinal use of the plant for catarrhs. It was also part of the National Formulary in the United States[66] and United Kingdom. The plant’s leaves, in addition to the seeds, have been reported to contain rotenone, although quantities are unknown.

In Spanish, Great Mullein is called Gordolobo. Gnaphalium conoideum was used in a fashion similar to Mullein by the Mexican Aztecs, which caused confusion in naming, and both are sold under the name “Gordolobo”, (although V. thapsus is not found in Mexico). This situation has led to at least one case of poisoning due to confusion of G. conoideum with Senecio longilobus.

It is widely used for herbal remedies with emollient and astringent properties. It is especially recommended for coughs and related problems, but also used in topical applications against a variety of skin problems. It was traditionally smoked for lung conditions.  It is also a diuretic used to relieve urinary tract inflammation, diarrhea, and inflammation, colitis, or other bleeding in the bowel.  The flowers extracted into olive oil make a preparation that is known to reduce the pain and inflammation of earache, insect bites, bruises, hemorrhoids, and sore joints.  A distilled flower water or a poultice has been placed on burns, ringworm, boils and sores.  The leaves are used in homeopathic products for migraine and earache.

Medicinally, it is expectorant, anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, astringent, and demulcent (which means soothing). Mullein tea is primarily used as an effective treatment for coughs and lung disorders. Due to its mucilage content, Mullein is also a soothing emollient for inflammatory skin conditions and burns.


Other uses

Dye, Insecticide, Insulation, Lighting, Tinder, Wick. A yellow dye is made from the flowers by boiling them in water. When used with dilute sulphuric acid they produce a rather permanent green dye, this becomes brown with the addition of alkalis. An infusion of the flowers is sometimes used to dye the hair a golden color. The leaves contain rotenone, which is used as an insecticide. The dried leaves are highly flammable and can be used to ignite a fire quickly , or as wick for candles.
Like many ancient medicinal plants (Pliny the Elder describes it in his Naturalis Historia), Great Mullein was linked to witches, although the relationship remained generally ambiguous, and the plant was also widely held to ward off curses and evil spirits.The seeds contain several compounds (saponins, glycosides, coumarin, rotenone) that cause breathing problems in fish, and have been widely used as piscicide for fishing.

The plant was also used to make dyes and torches.  The flowers provide dyes of bright yellow or green, and have been used for hair dye.The dried leaves and hair were made into candle wicks, or put into shoes to help with insulating them. The dried stems were also dipped into suet or wax to make torches. Due to its weedy capacities, the plant, unlike other species of the genus (such as V. phoeniceum), is not often cultivated.

Folklore
An old superstition existed that witches used lamps and candles provided with wicks of Mullein in their incantations, and another of the plant’s many names, ‘Hag’s Taper’, refers to this. Both in Europe and Asia the power of driving away evil spirits was ascribed to the Mullein. Being a sure safeguard against evil spirits and magic, and from the ancient classics, it was this plant which Ulysses took to protect himself against the wiles of Circe. 

Mullein oil: Use flowers or root. Place in blender or crush, fill jar, cover with olive oil, set in warm place for 2 weeks. Strain before use.

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/Verbascum_thapsus
http://www.piam.com/mms_garden/plants.html

http://altnature.com/gallery/mullien.htm

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

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Herbs & Plants

Live-forever (Sedum purpureum)

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Botanical Name:Sedum purpureum
Family: Crassulaceae
Subfamily: Sedoideae
Tribe: Sedeae
Subtribe: Sedinae
Genus: Sedum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Saxifragales

Common Name:Live-forever

Habitat:
Live forever grows best in open woods and along roadsides. As evidenced by the common name, this wildflower is robust and can even thrive in disturbed areas. It’sgeographic   origin  is  Northwest Pacific .

Description:
It is a Perennial  plant.Mature size: Height 4 inches (10 cm).
Width: 12 inches <30 cm>.
Flowering period:
Summer.
Flowering attributes: Star-shaped, yellow flowers in tight clusters.
Leaf attributes: Rosettes of fleshy purple leaves covered with a silvery-white waxy powder.
Growth habit: Mat forming.
Light: Full sun.
Soil: Any type soil.
Propagation Methods: Short stem pieces root readily in garden soil. | Divide in spring.

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Flowers:
Live forever flowers are quite small, measuring 8 mm in width. The petals are a deep purplish-pink at the tapered, distal end and are light pink or white towards the center. The flowers are radially symmetrical and form a star-shaped bloom. The stamens are overly-pronounced and the sepals are short. Flowers are arranged in dense rounded clusters that grow out of the terminal shoot.

Fruit:

The fruit is relatively small withbrown seeds inside. This fruit grows out of the live forever flower and matures when the petals fall off and the fruit left on the stalk dries.

Leaves:
The leaves of the live forever can grow moderatley large, averaging approximately 2.5-6.5 cm in length, and are broadly long-to-ovate. They are coarsely-, regularly-toothed, smoothed skinned, and fleshy.

Fun Facts:
Live forever is amazingly persistent and can regenerate from any fragment of its composition. This trait, along with its robust appearance, account for the meaning of its common name.

The leave of the live forever are so robust that they can be separated to make “ballon purses” (fun exercise for children).

Medicinal Uses:

In the first century A.D., Pliny, the Roman naturalist, stated that the juice of this plant was good for treating wounds and fistulas. In more recent herbal medicine, it has been prescribed to be taken internally for the treatment of ulcers, lung disorders, and diarrhea; and externally it has been prescribed for slow healing ulcers.

The fresh leaves yield a juice that is used as an astringent to help heal wounds. The plant has enjoyed a reputation as an internal remedy for ulcers, lung disorders, and dysentery and as an external astringent for the treatment of slow-healing wounds. It is a popular remedy for diarrhea, stimulates the kidneys and has a reputation in the treatment of cancer. A poultice of the crushed leaves has been used in the treatment of boils and carbuncles.

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.piam.com/mms_garden/plants.html
http://www.biosurvey.ou.edu/okwild/livfor.html
http://www.bio.brandeis.edu/fieldbio/Wildflowers_Kimonis_Kramer/PAGES/LIVEFOREVER_PAGE_FINAL.html
http://www.rainyside.com/features/plant_gallery/perennials/Sedum_spathulifoliumPurpureum.html

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

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Herbs & Plants

Barberry (Berberis Vulgaris)

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Botanical Name: Berberis vulgaris (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Berberidaceae

Synonyms: Berbery. Pipperidge Bush. Berberis Dumetorum.Jaundice Berry

Parts Used:Stem-bark and root-bark. The stem-bark is collected by shaving and is dried spread out in trays in the sun, or on shelves in a well-ventilated greenhouse or in an airy attic or loft, warmed either by sun or by the artificial heat of a stove, the door and window being left open by day to ensure a warm current of air. The bark may be also strung on threads and hung across the room.

When dried, the pieces of bark are in small irregular portions, about 2 inches long and 1/2 inch wide, and of a dark-yellowish grey colour externally, and marked with shallow longitudinal furrows. It frequently bears the minute, black ‘fruits’ of lichen. The bark is dark yellowish brown on the inner surface separating in layers of bast fibres.

The bark has a slight odour and a bitter taste, and colours the saliva yellow when chewed.

The root-bark is greyish brown externally and is dried in a similar manner after being peeled off. When dry, it breaks with a short fracture. It contains the same constituents as the stem-bark and possesses similar qualities.

Taste:  :Sour and pleasantly tart, with acidity approaching that of tamarind.

Etymology: The common name barberry and botanical genus name berberis derive from the Middle English barbere, in turn derived from the Latin barbaris and from the Greek barbaroi “stammerers” (any foreigner who could not speak Greek was a barbaros who was said to utter nonsense such as “bar-bar”). The term is ultimately derived from an Indo-European root and appears in Sanskrit as barbaras “stammering”.
The name was passed to Arabic as al-Barbar, originally any people whom the Moors encountered who could not speak Arabic (notably the Berber people, whose language has never been Arabic). In contemporary English we still refer to those of supposed uncultured origin as “barbarians”.
The species name vulgaris is Latin for “common”. The English name holy thorn has obvious biblical connotations and the French épine-vinette also refers to the sharp thorns.


Habitat:
The Common Barberry, a well-known, bushy shrub, with pale-green deciduous leaves, is found in copses and hedges in some parts of England, though a doubtful native in Scotland and Ireland. It is generally distributed over the greater part of Europe, Northern Africa and temperate Asia. As an ornamental shrub, it is fairly common in gardens.

Description:
-The stems are woody, 8 to 10 feet high, upright and branched, smooth, slightly grooved, brittle, with a white pith and covered with an ash-coloured bark.
The leaves of the barren shoots of the year are alternate, 1 to 1 1/2 inch long, shortly petioled, presenting various gradations from leaves into spines, into which they become transformed in the succeeding year. The primary leaves on the woody shoots are reduced to three-forked spines, with an enlarged base. The secondary leaves are in fascicles from the axil of these spines and are simple, oval, tapering at the base into a short foot-stalk, the margins finely serrate, with the teeth terminating in small spines.

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The flowers are small, pale yellow, arranged in pendulous racemes, produced from the fascicles of leaves, towards the ends of the branches. Their scent is not altogether agreeable when near, but by no means offensive at a distance. Their stamens show remarkable sensibility when touched springing and taking a position closely applied to the pistil. Insects of various kinds are exceedingly fond of the Barberry flower. Linnaeus observed that when bees in search of honey touch the filaments, they spring from the petal and strike the anther against the stigma, thereby exploding the pollen. In the original position of the stamens, Iying in the concavity of the petals, they are sheltered from rain, and there remain till some insect unavoidably touches them. As it is chiefly in fine, sunny weather that insects are on the wing, the pollen is also in such weather most fit for the purpose of impregnation, hence this curious contrivance of nature for fertilizing the seeds at the most suitable moment.

The berries are about 1/2 inch long, oblong and slightly curved; when ripe, of a fine, red colour and pleasantly acidulous.

The leaves are also acid, and have sometimes been employed for the same purposes as the fruit. Gerard recommends the leaves ‘to season meat with and instead of a salad.’

Cows, sheep and goats are said to eat the shrub, horses and swine to refuse it, and birds, also, seldom touch the fruit, on account of its acidity; in this respect it approaches the tamarind.

Berberis vulgaris (European Barberry) is a shrub in the family Berberidaceae, native to central and southern Europe, northwest Africa and western Asia; it is also naturalised in northern Europe, including the British Isles and Scandinavia, and North America.

It is a deciduous shrub growing up to 4 m high. The leaves are small oval, 2-5 cm long and 1-2 cm broad, with a serrated margin; they are borne in clusters of 2-5 together, subtended by a three-branched spine 3-8 mm long. The flowers are yellow, 4-6 mm across, produced on 3-6 cm long panicles in late spring. The fruit is an oblong red berry 7-10 mm long and 3-5 mm broad, ripening in late summer or autumn; they are edible but very sour, and rich in Vitamin C.

Cultivation and uses
It is generally propagated by suckers, which are put out in plenty from the roots, but these plants are subject to send out suckers in greater plenty than those which are propagated by layers, therefore the latter method should be preferred.

The best time for laying down the branches is in autumn (October), and the young shoots of the same year are the best- these will be well rooted by the next autumn, when they may be taken off and planted where they are designed to remain.

Barberry may also be propagated by ripened cuttings, taken also in autumn and planted in sandy soil, in a cold frame, or by seeds, sown in spring, or preferably in autumn, 1 inch deep in a sheltered border when, if fresh from the pulp, or berry, they will germinate in the open in the following spring.

The plant is both poisonous and medicinal. In Europe, the berries are traditionally used for making jam. In southwestern Asia, especially Iran, the berries are used for cooking, to spice rice for example. The plant, except for its fruits and seeds, is mildly poisonous. Its most potent agent is berberine, which is also known to have a number of therapeutical effects.

It is an intermediate host for Puccinia graminis (black rust), a rust disease of wheat. Wheat farmers had accused barberries of spreading rust as early as 1660, but were derided as superstitious by the jam makers. The matter was not settled scientifically until 1865. Because of the impact of this disease on wheat crops, cultivation of European Barberry is prohibited in many areas

Constituents:
The chief constituent of Barberry bark is Berberine, a yellow crystalline, bitter alkaloid, one of the few that occurs in plants belonging to several different natural orders. Other constituents are oxyacanthine, berbamine, other alkaloidal matter, a little tannin, also wax, resin, fat, albumin, gum and starch.

Uses: Common barberry is a complex plant which is toxic but has both culinary and medicinal applications. In Europe, the berries are traditionally used for making jam. In South-Western Asia, especially Iran, the berries are used as a culinary spice, typically to lend flavour, aroma and colour to rice.
Barberry is a host for puccinia graminis “black rust”, a disease of wheat. Wheat farmers had accused barberries of spreading rust as early as 1660, but were derided as superstitious by jam makers. The accusation was scientifically proven in 1865, since which date cultivation of European barberry has been prohibited in many areas because of the impact of the disease on wheat crops.
Barberry stem bark and root bark are used both as a homeopathic medicine and as a herbal medicine recommended (in modest quantities) to aid the secretion of bile, aid with liver problems, act as a purgative and help regulate the digestive processes. Taken in larger amounts, however, berberine causes a variety of unpleasant symptoms.


Medicinal Action and Uses:
Tonic, purgative, antiseptic. It is used in the form of a liquid extract, given as decoction, infusion or tincture, but generally a salt of the alkaloid Berberine is preferred.

As a bitter stomachic tonic, it proves an excellent remedy for dyspepsia and functional derangement of the liver, regulating the digestive powers, and if given in larger doses, acting as a mild purgative and removing constipation.

It is used in all cases of jaundice, general debility and biliousness, and for diarrhoea.

Preparations: Powdered bark, 1/4 teaspoonful several times daily. Fluid extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm. Solid extract, 5 to 10 grains.

It possesses febrifuge powers and is used as a remedy for intermittent fevers. It also forms an excellent gargle for a sore mouth.

A good lotion for application to cutaneous eruptions has also been made from it.

The berries contain citric and malic acids, and possess astringent and anti-scorbutic properties. They are useful in inflammatory fevers, especially typhus, also in bilious disorders and scurvy, and in the form of a jelly are very refreshing in irritable sore throat, for which also a syrup of Barberries made with water, proves an excellent astringent gargle.

The Egyptians are said still to employ a diluted juice of the berries in pestilential fevers, and Simon Paulli relates that he was cured of a malignant fever by drinking an infusion of the berries sweetened with sugar and syrup of roses.

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.

RECIPES
Barberry Drops
The black tops must be cut off; then roast the fruit before the fire till soft enough to pulp with a silver spoon through a sieve into a china basin; then set the basin in a sauce pan of water, the top of which will just fitit, or on a hot hearth, and stir it till it grows thick. When cold, put to every pint 1 1/2 lb. of sugar, the finest double-refined, pounded and sifted through a lawn sieve, which must be covered with a fine linen to prevent its wasting while sifting. Beat the sugar and juice together 3 1/2 hours if a large quantity, but 2 1/2 for less; then drop it on sheets of white, thick paper, the size of the drops sold in the shops. Some fruit is not so sour and then less sugar is necessary. To know if there be enough, mix till well incorporated and then drop; if it runs, there is not enough sugar, and if there is too much it will be rough. A dry room will suffice to dry them. No metal must touch the juice but the point of a knife, just to take the drop off the end of the wooden spoon, and then as little as possible.
To prepare Barberries for Tartlets-: Pick Barberries that have no stones, from the stalks, and to every pound weigh 3/4 lb. of lump sugar; put the fruit into a stone jar, and either set it on a hot hearth or in a saucepan of water, and let them simmer very slowly till soft; put them and the sugar into a preserving-pan, and boil them gently 15 minutes. Use no metal but silver.

Barberries in Bunches

Have ready bits of flat white wood, 3 inches long and 1/4 inch wide. Tie the stalks of the fruit on the stick from within an inch of one end to beyond the other, so as to make them look handsome. Simmer them in some syrup two successive days, covering them each time with it when cold. When they look clear they are simmered enough. The third day do them like other candy fruit.

Mrs. Beeton (an old edition) says
:
‘Barberries are also used as a dry sweetmeat, and in sugar-plums or comfits; are pickled with vinegar and are used for various culinary purposes. They are well calculated to allay heat and thirst in persons afflicted with fevers. The berries arranged on bunches of nice curled parsley, make an exceedingly pretty garnish for supper-dishes, particularly for white meats, like boiled fowl à la Béchamel; the three colours, scarlet, green and white contrasting so well, and producing a very good effect.’

Resources:

http://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/b/barcom12.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berberis_vulgaris

http://www.aidanbrooksspices.blogspot.com/2007/10/barberry.html

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