Categories
Herbs & Plants (Spices)

Astragalus hamosus

Botanical Name: Astragalus hamosus
Family : Fabaceae
Subfamily : Faboideae
Tribe : Galegeae
United : Plantae
Division : magnoliophyta
Class : magnoliopsida
Subclass: Rosidae
Order : Fabales

Common Name : European milkvetch
Habitat : Astragalus hamosus is native to EuropeMediterranean to Armenia, Ukraine and the Caucasus. It grows on the dry grassland. Semidesert areas in foothills and the low montane belt, on clay, loess, sand and rock debris.

Description:
Astragalus hamosus is an annual herbiculas plant growing to 0.6 m (2ft) by 0.5 m (1ft 8in). The lives in dry fields and meadows terofíticos . It branches from the base but branches are applied to the soil. The leaves have many leaflets , but less and are smaller than in Astragalus boeticus .
It is in flower from May to July, and the seeds ripen from Jul to September.

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The flowers are white, are grouped at the end of a stalk . The fruits perfectly characterize this species as they are strongly curved, they are similar to some fishhooks. It blooms in the spring and the seeds ripen from Jul to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, lepidIt is in flower from May to July, and the seeds ripen from Jul to September. optera.It can fix Nitrogen.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry soil.
Cultivation:
Requires a dry well-drained soil in a sunny position. Grows well in Cornwall. Plants are intolerant of root disturbance and are best sown in situ. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby. When removing plant remains at the end of the growing season, it is best to only remove the aerial parts of the plant, leaving the roots in the ground to decay and release their nitrogen. Many members of this genus can be difficult to grow, this may be due partly to a lack of their specific bacterial associations in the soil.

Propagation:
Seed – sow late winter in a greenhouse. Pre-soak the seed for 24 hours in warm water. If any seed does not swell up in this time then carefully prick it with a needle making sure that you do not damage the embryo, and re-soak for a further 24 hours. Germination usually takes place within 3 – 6 weeks at 13°c. As soon as it is large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in early summer.
Edible Uses: Young seedpods – cooked. They quickly become tough and fibrous. The young seedpods are also used in salads. They have only a mediocre taste, but look very much like certain worms and so are used mainly for their novelty value.
Medicinal Uses:
The plant is demulcent, emollient, galactogogue and laxative. It is useful in treating irritation of the mucous membranes, nervous affections and catarrh.

Known Hazards: Many members of this genus contain toxic glycosides. All species with edible seedpods can be distinguished by their fleshy round or oval seedpod that looks somewhat like a greengage. A number of species can also accumulate toxic levels of selenium when grown in soils that are relatively rich in that element.
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://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Astragalus+hamosus
https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astragalus_hamosus

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Categories
Herbs & Plants

Artemisia annua

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Botanical Name ; Artemisia annua
Family: Asteraceae
Genus: Artemisia
Species: A. annua
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asterales

Common Names :Sweet Wormwood,  Sweet Annie,  Sweet Sagewort or Annual Wormwood, Qing Hao

Habitat : Artemisia annua is native to temperate Asia, but naturalized throughout the world.
It occurs naturally as part of a steppe vegetation in the northern parts of Chahar and Suiyuan provinces in China, at 1000 to 1500 m above sea level.

Description:
Artemisia annua has fern-like leaves, bright yellow flowers, and a camphor-like scent. Its height averages about 2 m tall, and the plant has a single stem, alternating branches, and alternating leaves which range 2.5–5 cm in length. It is cross-pollinated by wind or insects. It is a diploid plant with chromosome number, 2n=18
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Cultivation:
An easily grown plant, succeeding in a well-drained circumneutral or slightly alkaline loamy soil, preferring a sunny position. Plants are longer lived, more hardy and more aromatic when they are grown in a poor dry soil. A fast-growing annual plant, it is tall but neat in habit with a handsome fragrant foliage and is useful for filling gaps at the back of a border. It has become a weed of waste places in many areas of the world. The plant is extremely vigorous and essentially disease and pest free. Qing Hao is a determinate short-day plant. Non-juvenile plants are very responsive to photoperiodic stimulus and flower about two weeks after induction. The critical photoperiod seems to be about 13.5 hours, but there are likely to be photoperiod x temperature interactions. In Lafayette Indiana, USA (40°21’N) plants flower in early September with mature seeds produced in October. The plant is not adapted to the tropics because flowering will be induced when the plants are very small. Most collections of artemisia derive from natural stands with highly variable artemisinin content, some as low of 0.01%. Selections from Chinese origin vary from 0.05 to 0.21%. Swiss researcher N. Delabays reports a clonal selection derived from Chinese material which produces 1.1% artemisin but is very late flowering; proprietary hybrids have been obtained with somewhat lower content but flower earlier. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer.

Propagation:
Seed – sow spring in a cold frame and plant out in late spring or early summer. Alternatively, the seed can be sown late spring in situ

Edible Uses: An essential oil in the leaves is used as a flavouring in spirits such as vermouth.

Medicinal Uses:
Qing Ho, better known in the West as sweet wormwood, is a traditional Chinese herbal medicine. An aromatic anti-bacterial plant, recent research has shown that it destroys malarial parasites, lowers fevers and checks bleeding.  Also used for heat stroke. Used as an infusion.  Externally the leaves are poulticed for nose bleeds, bleeding rashes, and sores.  Research in Thailand and the US shows that A. annua, in the preparation Artesunate, is an effective antimalarial against drug-resistant strains of the disease. Clinical trials have shown it to be 90% effective and more successful than standard drugs. In a trial of 2000 patients, all were cured of the disease. The seeds are used in the treatment of flatulence, indigestion and night sweats.
TCM:
Indications: summer colds, sweatless fevers, malaria, nocturnal sweats, heat excess.  An excellent refrigerant remedy in ailments of “empty-hot” excess.

Sweet Wormwood was used by Chinese herbalists in ancient times to treat fever, but had fallen out of common use, but was rediscovered in 1970’s when the Chinese Handbook of Prescriptions for Emergency Treatments (340 AD) was found. This pharmacopeia contained recipes for a tea from dried leaves, prescribed for fevers (not specifically malaria).

Other Uses:
Essential; Herbicide; Miscellany.

The plant is used in China as a medium for growing Aspergillus which is used in brewing wine. The substances mentioned above in the medicinal uses, used in the treatment of malaria, also show marked herbicidal activity. The plant yields 0.3% essential oi. This has an agreeable, refreshing and slightly balsamic odour and has been used in perfumery.
Known Hazards  : Skin contact with the plant can cause dermatitis or other allergic reactions in some people. The pollen is extremely allergenic.

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/Artemisia_annua
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_RST.htm

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Artemisia+annua

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Categories
Health Quaries

How Much Sunshine is needed to Make Enough Vitamin D?

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Vitamin D deficiency is quite common, and a growing list of diseases and conditions are being linked with it. Regular sun exposure, without sunscreen, causes your skin to produce vitamin D naturally. But how much sun do you need?

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You’ve probably seen some vague guidelines, recommending “a few minutes every day.” But these recommendations are far too general to be useful. The amount of sun you need to meet your vitamin D requirements varies hugely, depending on your location, your skin type, the time of year, the time of day, and even the atmospheric conditions.

The Vitamin D/UV Calculator
Scientists at the Norwegian Institute for Air Research have devised a calculator that will take all those factors into consideration and estimate how many minutes of exposure you need for your skin to produce 25 mcg (the equivalent of 1,000 International Units) of vitamin D.

It’s not the most user-friendly interface and it is very easy to enter the wrong information. But once you get past the technicalities, it’s very interesting to see how much the answers change when you vary the input.

It is also not written for US cities so you can go to this page to find out latitude and longitude of many cites and enter the numbers manually. The easiest way may be to simply google “altitude of [your town]”. Remember to convert it to kilometers. One kilometer is about 3300 feet.

If your latitude is 39 S, enter -39. If your longitude is 76 W, enter -76.
You’ll also need to enter the time of day you are going out in the sun, expressed as UTC (Greenwich Mean Time). Here is a converter that will convert local time into UTC. The calculator uses a 24 hour clock, so hours from 1 PM to midnight are expressed as 13 to 24.

The calculator also wants to know the thickness of the ozone layer. I suggest just setting this one to medium.

Be sure to click the radio button next to the entries. They are often not automatically selected when you fill in the values.

Keep in mind that the exposure times given are considered enough to maintain healthy vitamin D status. If you are starting out with a vitamin D deficiency, you might need more.

Resources:

Nutrition Data August 10, 2009

CNN October 4, 2009

Times Online October 10, 2009

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Categories
Herbs & Plants

Catsear

 


Image via Wikipedia

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Botanical Name:Hypochaeris radicata
Family: Asteraceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Asterales
Tribe: Cichorieae
Genus: Hypochaeris
Species: H. radicata
Other Names:cat’s ear, false dandelion,long-rooted cat’s-ear, long-rooted hypochoere, spotted cat’s-ear

Etymology and differences from dandelions:
Catsear is derived from the words cat’s ear, and refers to the shape and fine-hair on the leaves resembling that of the ear of a cat.

The plant is also known as false dandelion, as it is commonly mistaken for true dandelions. Both plants carry similar flowers which form into windborne seeds. However, catsear flowering stems are forked and solid, whereas dandelions possess unforked stems that are hollow. Both plants have a rosette of leaves and a central taproot. The leaves of dandelions are jagged in appearance, whereas those of catsear are more lobe-shaped and hairy. Both plants have similar uses.

Habitat:The plant is native to Europe, but has also been introduced to the Americas, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.Found in the eastern United States as far north as New Jersey and as far west as Mississippi.

Description:
It is a perennial, low-lying edible herb often found in lawns.The leaves, which may grow up to eight inches, are lobed and covered in fine hairs, forming a low-lying rosette around a central taproot.Cat’s ear dandelion is similar to common dandelion. It has a basal rosette of densely hairy leaves with rounded lobes. This rosette arises from a prominent taproot. If broken, the leaves and flower stalks will emit a milky white sap. Most striking are the bright yellow flowers that are borne on the ends of long stems. Common dandelion plants can be distinguished because young leaves do not have hairs, whereas cat’s ear dandelion leaves have dense hairs. In addition, the leaves of common dandelion are more deeply notched than those of cat’s ear dandelion. On common dandelion, the leaf notches extend almost to the midrib of each leaf.

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When mature these form seeds attached to windborne “parachutes”. All parts of the plant exude a milky sap when cut.Typical stems do not occur, however leafless flower stalks (scapes) are present with 2 to 7 flowers on each stalk. Flower stalks also emit a milky sap when broken.

Hypochaeris species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including The Shark.

Culinary uses:
All parts of the catsear plant are edible; however, the leaves and roots are those most often harvested. The leaves are bland in taste but can be eaten raw in salads, steamed, or in stir-fries. Older leaves can become tough and fibrous, but younger leaves make for good eating. Some bitterness in the leaves may be apparent but is rare.

The root can be roasted and ground to form a coffee substitute.

Medicinal Uses:

Catsear is rich in nutrients and antioxidants – hence its popularity in recipes around the world – and this also means it has long been used for medicinal purposes. Uses include acting as a diuretic for kidney problems, and treating urinary infections, gallstones, rheumatism, constipation and liver infections.

Toxicity:
Catsear is considered a noxious weed for livestock and horses. Ingestion of large amounts of catsear can cause a neurological disorder in horses called stringhalt. Stringhalt causes involuntary twitching in the rear legs of the animal and other problems. The symptoms of catsear exposure may clear out of the system in a few years once grazing on the plant has been eliminated from the horse’s diet.

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/Catsear
http://ipm.ppws.vt.edu/scott/weed_id/hryra.htm
http://www.turffiles.ncsu.edu/Weeds/Dandelion_Cats_Ear.aspx

.http://www.meadowmat.com/wildflower-species/catsear

 

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