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Herbs & Plants

Zanthoxylum clava-herculis

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Botanical Name: Zanthoxylum clava-herculis
Family: Rutaceae
Genus: Zanthoxylum
Species: Z. clava-herculis
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Sapindales

Synonyms: Zanthoxylum carolinianum. Zanthoxylum catesbianum. Zanthoxylum clavatum.

Common Names: Hercules Club. Prickly Ash – Southern, Hercules’ club, Southern Prickly Ash, Pepperwood, or Southern prickly ash

Habitat :Zanthoxylum clava-herculis is native to South-eastern N. America – Virginia to Florida, west to Texas and Arkansas. It is usually found as scattered trees near the coast in light sandy soils, often on bluffs of islands, river banks or dunes. Best growth is from plants in most rich soils with good drainage.
Description:
Zanthoxylum clava-herculis is a deciduous small Shrub or tree, growing to 3 m (9ft 10in) at a medium rate.It is in leaf 1-Mar It is in flower from May to June, and the seeds ripen from Sep to October. The leaves are alternate, very tardily deciduous or evergreen, pinnately compound, 7-9 narrowly elliptical to lanceolate leaflets, leaflets with round-pointed teeth, waxy-shiny above, light green below, 5-8 inches overall, rachis may bear spines. The flowers are dioecious; in terminal many-branched racemes, individual flowers tiny and yellow-green, with 5 petals, appearing in early spring.
(Individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required)The plant is not self-fertile.Fruits are follicles produced in clusters, individual fruits enclosed in a brown husk that splits open at maturity to reveal a shiny red-brown to black seed.

Twigs are Stout, green changing brown-green, bearing sharp scattered single spines, leaf scars shield-shaped, terminal buds rounded and green to brown. The bark is very unique, gray-brown and smooth, with large spine-tipped corky-pyramidal projections, losing spines with age.

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Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil
Cultivation:
Landscape Uses:Border, Massing. Prefers a good deep well-drained moisture retentive soil in full sun or semi-shade. Plants are hardy to at least -15°c. The leaves are often persistent until the following spring when the new leaves are produced. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required. Flowers are formed on the old wood. Special Features:North American native, Attracts butterflies, Inconspicuous flowers or blooms.

Propagation:
Seed – best sown in a greenhouse as soon as it is ripe in the autumn. Stored seed may requires up to 3 months cold stratification, though scarification may also help. Sow stored seed in a cold frame as early in the year as possible. Germination should take place in late spring, though it might take another 12 months. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in a cold frame for their first winter. Plant them out in early summer. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame. Root cuttings, 3cm long, planted horizontally in pots in a greenhouse. Good percentage. Suckers, removed in late winter and planted into their permanent positions.

Edible Uses:
The following report is for Zanthoxylum americanum, it is probably also applicable to this species. Seed – used as a condiment. A pepper substitute. The fruit is rather small, about 4 – 5m in diameter, but is produced in dense clusters which makes harvesting easy. Each fruit contains a single seed.
Medicinal Uses:
Zanthoxylum clava-herculis is quite widely used in herbal medicine, it has the same properties as Z. americanum, but is said to be more active. All parts of the plant, but especially the bark and roots, contain the aromatic bitter oil xanthoxylin. This has a number of applications in medicine. The fruit has a similar medicinal action to the bark. The bark and roots are irritant, odontalgic and antirheumatic. Along with the fruit they are diaphoretic, stimulant and a useful tonic in debilitated conditions of the stomach and digestive organs. They produce arterial excitement and are of use in the treatment of fevers, ague, poor circulation etc. The fruits are considered more active than the bark, they are also antispasmodic, carminative, diuretic and antirheumatic. The pulverized root and bark are used to ease the pain of toothache. One report says that it is very efficacious, but the sensation of the acrid bark is fully as unpleasant as the toothache. Chewing the bark induces copious salivation. Rubbing the fruit against the skin, especially on the lips or in the mouth, produces a temporary loss of sensation. A tea or tincture of the bark has been used in the treatment of rheumatism, dyspepsia, dysentery, heart and kidney troubles etc. A tea made from the inner bark has been used to treat itchy skin.

Other Uses: Wood – light, soft, weak and close-grained. It weighs 31lb per cubic foot. Too small for commercial use

Known Hazards: Absorption of gut iron reduced. sun sensitivity, bruising and bleeding. May interfere with cardiac glycoside therapy. May interfere with blood clotting drugs.
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:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zanthoxylum_clava-herculis
http://dendro.cnre.vt.edu/dendrology/syllabus/factsheet.cfm?ID=649
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Zanthoxylum+clava-herculis

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Herbs & Plants

Satureja douglasii

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Botanical Name : Satureja douglasii
Family: Lamiaceae
Genus: Clinopodium
Species: C. douglasii
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Lamiales

Synonyms: Micromeria douglasii – (Benth.)Benth.,Satureja douglasii – (Benth.)Briq.,Thymus chamissonis – Benth.,Thymus douglasii – Benth.

Common Names :Yerba buena (The plant’s most common name, the same in English and Spanish, is an alternate form of the Spanish hierba buena (meaning “good herb”). The name was bestowed by pioneer Catholic priests of Alta California as they settled an area where the plant is native. It was so abundant there that its name was also applied to the settler’s town adjacent to Mission San Francisco de Asís. In 1846, the town of Yerba Buena was seized by the United States during the Mexican-American War, and its name was changed in 1847 to San Francisco, after a nearby mission. Three years later, the name was applied to a nearby rocky island; today millions of commuters drive through the tunnel on Yerba Buena Island that connects the spans of the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge)

Habitat : Satureja douglasii is  native to California and is also found outside of California, but is confined to western North America.It grows in Coniferous woods.
Yerba Buena is found in woods near coast and coast ranges from Los Angeles to British Columbia. Prefers shade and moisture.

Description:
Satureja douglasii  is a creeping flat low growing   perennial herb that can spread to 3′ but is easily held to 1′. A good ground cover without being aggressive, easy to keep small. The stems grow across the ground not with rhizomes.   Yerba Buena usually grows in shade as an understory plant, usually associated with trees like oaks (Quercus), bays (Umbellularia californica) and madrones (Arbutus menziesii).
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It is hardy to zone 7. It is in flower from April to May. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.

The plant prefers light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils, requires well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires dry or moist

Cultivation:
Prefers an open position in a well-drained soil. Succeeds in poor soils. Plants grow best and live longer when grown in an open sunny position and a dry sandy soil. A prostate plant, the stems forming roots at the leaf axils wherever they come into contact with the soil. The bruised leaves release a most refreshing lemony scent resembling verbena.

Propagation:
Seed – sow spring in a greenhouse. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Basal cuttings in early summer. Harvest the shoots with plenty of underground stem when they are about 8 – 10cm above the ground. Pot them up into individual pots and keep them in light shade in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the summer. Division of the rooted prostrate stems in the spring.

Edible Uses:
Edible Uses: Tea.

The dried leaves, steeped in boiling water, make a palatable mint-flavoured tea. The dried leafy spines are used according to other reports

Medicinal Uses
Anthelmintic; Aphrodisiac; Blood purifier; Digestive; Febrifuge; Kidney; Sedative; Tonic.

The whole plant is aphrodisiac, blood purifier, mildly digestive, febrifuge, sedative and tonic. An infusion can be used in the treatment of insomnia, colic, upset stomachs, kidney problems, colds and fevers. A decoction of the plant has been used to get rid of pinworms. The decoction has also been used as an aphrodisiac. A poultice of the warm leaves have been applied to the jaw, or the plant held in the mouth, as a treatment for toothache.

Other Uses
Essential.

The leaves have been placed in clothing as a perfume

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/Yerba_buena
http://www.laspilitas.com/nature-of-california/plants/satureja-douglasii
http://digedibles.com/database/plants.php?Micromeria+chamissonis
http://www.baynatives.com/plants/Satureja-douglasii/

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Herbs & Plants

Umbellularia californica

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Botanical Name :Umbellularia californica
Family :LauraceaeLaurel family
Genus : Umbellularia (Nees) Nutt. – California laurel
Species: Umbellularia californica (Hook. & Arn.) Nutt. – California laurel
Kingdom : Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom : Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class : Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Subclass: Magnoliidae
Order :Laurales

Common Name :California Laurel

Habitat : Umbellularia californica is a large tree native to coastal forests of California and slightly extended into Oregon.It ranges near the coast from Douglas County, Oregon south through California to San Diego County. It is also found in the western foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. It occurs at altitudes from sea level up to 1600 m.

Description:
An evergreen shrub to tree. Its final height is 47′  average (in 100+years). It grows only a few inches a year here along the coast it may grow a much as 4′ or so each year. The leaves are aromatic like its cousin from Greece. Native to the mountains of Calif. and into Oregon. It likes sun in the mountains and along the coast where the rainfall is above 30 inches/year. In the interior give part shade and moderate water. Its leaves used as seasoning. It tolerates serpentine soil. A refined plant. No cold damage at 10 deg., burnt to the ground at 0.Easy to hold at 6-8\’. Good in containers. This species releases terpenes that inhibit seedlings (weeds). (Rice)

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It is the sole species in the genus Umbellularia.

Its pungent leaves have a similar flavor to bay leaves (though stronger), and it may be mistaken for Bay Laurel.The fragrant leaves are smooth-edged and lens shaped, 3–10 cm long and 1.5–3 cm broad, similar to the related Bay Laurel though usually narrower, and without the crinkled margin of that species.

The flowers are small, yellow or yellowish-green, produced in a small umbel (hence the scientific name Umbellularia, “little umbel”).

An unripe Bay nutThe fruit, also known as “California Bay nut”, is a round and green berry 2–2.5 cm long and 2 cm broad, lightly spotted with yellow, maturing purple. Under the thin, leathery skin, it consists of an oily, fleshy covering over a single hard, thin-shelled pit, and resembles a miniature avocado. Genus Umbellularia is in fact closely related to the avocado’s genus Persea, within the Lauraceae family. The fruit ripens around October–November in the native range.
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In Oregon, this tree is known as Oregon Myrtle, while in California it is called California Bay Laurel, which may be shortened to California Bay or California Laurel. It has also been called Pepperwood, Spicebush, Cinnamon Bush, Peppernut Tree and Headache Tree. This hardwood species is only found on the Southern Oregon and Northern California Coast. It has a color range from blonde (like maple) to brown (like walnut). Myrtlewood is considered a world-class tonewood and is sought after by luthiers and woodworkers from around the world.

Historical usage:
Umbellularia has long been valued for its many uses by Native Americans throughout the tree’s range, including the Cahuilla, Chumash, Pomo, Miwok, Yuki, Coos and Salinan people.

The leaf has been used as a cure for headache, toothache, and earache—though the volatile oils in the leaves may also cause headaches when used in excess. Poultices of Umbellularia leaves were used to treat rheumatism and neuralgias. Laurel leaf tea was made to treat stomach aches, colds, sore throats, and to clear up mucus in the lungs. The leaves were steeped in hot water to make an infusion that was used to wash sores.  The Pomo and Yuki tribes of Mendocino County treated headaches by placing a single leaf in the nostril or bathing the head with a laurel leaf infusion.

Both the flesh and the inner kernel of the fruit have been used as food by Native Americans. The fatty outer flesh of the fruit, or mesocarp, is palatable raw for only a brief time when ripe; prior to this the volatile aromatic oils are too strong, and afterwards the flesh quickly becomes bruised, like that of an overripe avocado. Native Americans dried the fruits in the sun and ate only the lower third of the dried mesocarp, which is less pungent.

The hard inner seed underneath the fleshy mesocarp, like the pit of an avocado, cleaves readily in two when its thin shell is cracked. The pit itself was traditionally roasted to a dark chocolate-brown color, removing much of the pungency and leaving a spicy flavor. Roasted, shelled “bay nuts” were eaten whole, or ground into powder and prepared as a drink which resembles unsweetened chocolate. The flavor, depending on roast level, has been described variously as “roast coffee,” “dark chocolate” or “burnt popcorn”. The powder might also be pressed into cakes and dried for winter storage, or used in cooking. It has been speculated that the nuts of U. californica contain a stimulant;  however this possible effect has been little documented by biologists.

Modern usage
The leaf can be used in cooking, but is spicier and “headier” than the Mediterranean bay leaf sold in groceries, and should be used in smaller quantity. Umbellularia leaf imparts a somewhat stronger camphor/cinnamon flavor compared to the Mediterranean Bay.  The two Bay trees are related within the Laurel family, along with the Cinnamons.

Some modern-day foragers and wild food enthusiasts have revived Native American practices regarding the edible roasted fruit, the bay nut.

U. californica is also used in woodworking. It is considered a tonewood, used to construct the back and sides of acoustic guitars. The wood is very hard and fine, and is also made into bowls, spoons, and other small items and sold as “myrtlewood”.

U. Californica is also grown as an ornamental tree, both in its native area, and elsewhere further north up the Pacific coast to Vancouver in Canada, and in western Europe. It is occasionally used for firewood.

One popular use for the leaves is to put them between the bed mattresses to get rid of, or prevent flea infestations.

Medicinal Uses:
The plant is still used a  pain reliever for headaches and rheumatism.  A tea from the leaves is one method of administration.  For rheumatism, early settlers used a hot bath in which they had steeped laurel leaves.  Others blended the oil from the leaves with lard and rubbed the mixture on the body.  The crushed leaves are an excellent herbal “smelling salt,” held briefly under the nose of a person who is faint or has fainted.  Prolonged breathing of the crushed leaves can cause a short-term frontal headache which can be cured, oddly enough, by a tea of the leaves.  The crushed leaves make an excellent tea for all headaches and neuralgia, possessing substantial anodyne effects and they further have value as a treatment for the tenesmus or cramps from diarrhea, food poisoning, and gastroenteritis in general—two to four leaves crushed and steeped for tea, repeated as needed.  California laurel was employed medicinally by some native North American Indian tribes who used it particularly as an analgesic to treat a variety of complaints. It has a beneficial effect upon the digestive system. An infusion has been used by women to ease the pains of afterbirth. Externally, an infusion has been used as a bath in the treatment of rheumatism. A decoction of the leaves has been used as a wash on sores and to remove vermin from the head. They are harvested as required and can be used fresh or dried.  A poultice of the ground seeds has been used to treat sores.  The seeds have been eaten as a stimulant.

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.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_C.htm
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=UMCA
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Umbellularia
http://www.laspilitas.com/nature-of-california/plants/umbellularia-californica

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