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Herbs & Plants (Spices)

Rhus diversiloba

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Botanical Name : Rhus diversiloba
Family: Anacardiaceae
Genus: Toxicodendron
Species: T. diversilobum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Sapindales

Synonyms:Toxicodendron diversilobum. (Torr.&Gray.)Greene, Rhus diversiloba Torr. & A.Gray

Common Names: Western Poison Oak, Pacific poison oak

Habitat : Rhus diversiloba is native to western North America – Vancouver to California. Thickets and wooded slopes in foothills, along streams, in washes and hedgerows below 1500 metres.
Description:
Rhus diversiloba is extremely variable in growth habit and leaf appearance. It grows as a dense 0.5–4 m (1.6–13.1 ft) tall shrub in open sunlight, a treelike vine 10–30 feet (3.0–9.1 m) and may be more than 100 feet (30 m) long with an 8–20 cm (3.1–7.9 in) trunk, as dense thickets in shaded areas, or any form in between It reproduces by spreading rhizomes and by seeds.

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The plant is winter deciduous, so that after cold weather sets in, the stems are leafless and bear only the occasional cluster of berries. Without leaves the stems may sometimes be identified by occasional black marks where its milky sap may have oozed and dried.

The leaves are divided into three (rarely 5, 7, or 9) leaflets, 3.5 to 10 centimetres (1.4 to 3.9 in) long, with scalloped, toothed, or lobed edges. They generally resemble the lobed leaves of a true oak, though tend to be more glossy. Leaves are typically bronze when first unfolding in February to March, bright green in the spring, yellow-green to reddish in the summer, and bright red or pink from late July to October.

White flowers form in the spring, from March to June. If they are fertilized, they develop into greenish-white or tan berries.

Botanist John Howell observed that the toxicity of T. diversilobum obscures its merits:

“In spring, the ivory flowers bloom on the sunny hill or in sheltered glade, in summer its fine green leaves contrast refreshingly with dried and tawny grassland, in autumn its colors flame more brilliantly than in any other native, but one great fault, its poisonous juice, nullifies its every other virtue and renders this beautiful shrub the most disparaged of all within our region.

Cultivation:
Succeeds in a well-drained fertile soil in full sun. Plants do not require a rich soil. The young growth in spring can be damaged by late frosts. Plants have brittle branches and these can be broken off in strong winds. Plants are also susceptible to coral spot fungus. This species is closely related to R. toxicodendron. Many of the species in this genus, including this one, are highly toxic and can also cause severe irritation to the skin of some people, whilst other species are not poisonous. It is relatively simple to distinguish which is which, the poisonous species have axillary panicles and smooth fruits whilst non-poisonous species have compound terminal panicles and fruits covered with acid crimson hairs. The toxic species are sometimes separated into their own genus, Toxicodendron, by some botanists. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.

Propagation:
Seed – best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe. Pre-soak the seed for 24 hours in hot water (starting at a temperature of 80 – 90c and allowing it to cool) prior to sowing in order to leach out any germination inhibitors. The stored seed also needs hot water treatment and can be sown in early spring in a cold frame. 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. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 10cm with a heel, July/August in a frame. Root cuttings 4cm long taken in December and potted up vertically in a greenhouse. Good percentage. Suckers in late autumn to winter

Medicinal Uses:
Californian Native Americans used the plant’s stems and shoots to make baskets, the sap to cure ringworm, and as a poultice of fresh leaves applied to rattlesnake bites. The juice or soot was used as a black dye for sedge basket elements, tattoos, and skin darkening.

An infusion of dried roots, or buds eaten in the spring, were taken by some native peoples for an immunity from the plant poisons.

Chumash peoples used T. diversilobum sap to remove warts, corns, and calluses; to cauterize sores; and to stop bleeding. They drank a decoction made from the roots to treat dysenter

In view of the potential toxicity of the plant, extreme caution is advised in any use of it. See the notes below on toxicity. A leaf has been swallowed in the spring as a contraceptive. A tincture of the fresh leaves has been used in the treatment of eczema and skin diseases. It is also used in the treatment of warts, ringworm etc. A poultice of the fresh leaves has been applied to rattlesnake bites. The leaf buds have been eaten in the spring in order to obtain immunity from the plant poisons A moxa of the plant has been used in the treatment of warts and ringworm. The juice of the plant has been used as a treatment for warts. An infusion of the dried roots has been taken in order to give immunity against any further poisoning. A decoction of the roots has been used as drops in the eyes to heal tiny sores inside the eyelids and to improve vision.

Other Uses:
Basketry; Dye; Ink; Mordant; Oil.

The leaves are rich in tannin. They can be collected as they fall in the autumn and used as a brown dye or as a mordant. An oil is extracted from the seeds. It attains a tallow-like consistency on standing and is used to make candles. These burn brilliantly, though they emit a pungent smoke. The supple stems are used as the warp in basket making. Slender stems are used as circular withes in basket making. An excellent black dye is obtained by exposing the sap to air

Known Hazards :  All parts of the plant contain resinous phenolic compounds known as urushiols. Direct contacr with the plant, exposure to smoke or fumes from a burning plant or even contact with pets or animals that have touched the plant can cause severe allergic dermatitis in some individuals. There is usually a latent period of about 12 – 24 hours from the moment of contact, this is followed by a reddening and severe blistering of the skin. Even plant specimens 100 or more years old can cause problems

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/Toxicodendron_diversilobum
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Rhus+diversiloba

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Herbs & Plants

Compass Plant.

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Botanical Name : Silphium laciniatum
Family: Asteraceae
Tribe: Heliantheae
Genus: Silphium
Species: S. laciniatum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asterales

Synonyms: Compass Plant. Compass-weed. Polar Plant.

Common Names :compass plant or compassplant.  prairie compass plant, Pilotweed, polarplant,Gum weed, Cut-leaf silphium, and Turpentine plant.

Habitat;  It is native to North America, where it occurs in Ontario in Canada and the eastern and central United States as far west as New Mexico. Western United States, especially Ohio.It grows well on moist soil.

Description:
Silphium laciniatum is a  perennial flowering plant. This plant is a taprooted herb producing rough-haired stems usually one to three meters tall. The leaves are variable in shape and size, being 4 to 60 centimeters long and one to 30 centimeters wide. The are hairy, smooth-edged or toothed, and borne on petioles or not.Blooming time is late summer to early fall and colour of the flowers are bright yellow. The back of the flower head has layers of rough, glandular phyllaries. The head contains 27 to 38 yellow ray florets and many yellow disc florets. The fruit is a cypsela which can be almost 2 centimeters long and is tipped with a pappus of two short awns.

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The common name compass plant was inspired by the “compass orientation” of its leaves. The large leaves are held vertically with the tips pointing north or south and the upper and lower surfaces of the blades facing east or west. A newly emerging leaf grows in a random direction, but within two or three weeks it twists on its petiole clockwise or counterclockwise into a vertical position. Studies indicate that the sun’s position in the early morning hours influences the twisting orientation. This orientation reduces the amount of solar radiation hitting the leaf surface. Vertical leaves facing east-west have higher water use efficiency than horizontal or north-south-facing blades.

Early settlers on the Great Plains could make their way in the dark by feeling of the leaves.

Cultivation: 
The plant is cultivated in gardens  in any ordinary garden soil. Prefers a deep moisture retentive moderately fertile soil that is not too nitrogen rich, in sun or dappled shade. Prefers a shady position. A very ornamental plant. Leaves of young plants tip vertically and align themselves north to south to minimise exposure to the midday sun[200]. Plants have a deep and extensive root system which makes transplanting difficult.

Propagation:   
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a greenhouse. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle and plant them out in the summer. Division in spring. This is very difficult due to the deep and extensive root system.

Edible Uses:
A resin exudes naturally from the plant, and can also be obtained by incision. It is an inexpensive substitute for mastic and is used as a chewing gum to sweeten the breath. It forms on the upper part of the flowering stem.

Medicinal Uses:
Parts used : Root
Diuretic;  Emetic;  Expectorant;  Tonic;  Vermifuge.

The resin obtained from the plant is diuretic. It imparts a strong aromatic odour to urine. A tea made from the roots is vermifuge and a tonic for general debility. It is used as an expectorant in coughs and other pulmonary ailments. A decoction of the smaller roots has been used as an emetic. A tea made from the leaves is emetic, it has also been used in the treatment of coughs, lung ailments and asthma.

Both Rosin-weed and Compass-weed ate said to be emetic in decoction, and to have effected cures in intermittent fevers, and to have cured the heaves in horses. They are beneficial in dry, obstinate coughs, asthmatic affections, and pulmonary catarrhal diseases. A strong infusion or extract is said to be one of the best remedies for the removal of ague cake, or enlarged spleen, and for internal bruises, liver affections, and ulcers

Other Uses: The Pawnee made a tisane with it. Many groups burned the dried root as a charm during lightning.

Known Hazards : There is a report that the plant might be toxic.

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/Silphium_laciniatum
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Silphium+laciniatum
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/r/rosinw19.html

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Herbs & Plants

Delphinium Consolida

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Botanical Name : Delphinium Consolida
Family: Ranunculaceae
Genus:     Delphinium
Kingdom: Plantae
Order:     Ranunculales

Synonyms: Lark’s Heel. Lark’s Toe. Lark’s Claw. Knight’s Spur.

Common Name: Larkspur (The common name “larkspur” is shared between perennial Delphinium species and annual species of the genus.)

 

Habitat: Delphinium Consolida is  native throughout the Northern Hemisphere and also on the high mountains of tropical Africa .

Description:

Delphinium Consolida is an annual flowering plant, with upright, round stems a foot high or more, pubescent and divided into alternate, dividing branches. The leaves are alternate, the lower ones with petioles 1/2 inch long, the upper ones sessile, or nearly so. The plant closely resembles some of the species commonly cultivated in gardens.

The leaves are deeply lobed with three to seven toothed, pointed lobes in a palmate shape. The main flowering stem is erect, and varies greatly in size between the species, from 10 centimetres in some alpine species, up to 2 m tall in the larger meadowland species.

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The flowers are in short racemes, pink, purple or blue, followed by glabrous follicles containing black, flattened seeds with acute edges and pitted surfaces. The seeds are poisonous, have an acrid and bitter taste, but are inodorous.

The seeds are small and often shiny black. The plants flower from late spring to late summer, and are pollinated by butterflies and bumble bees. Despite the toxicity, Delphinium species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species, including the dot moth and small angle shades.

Medicinal Uses:

Part Used: Seed.
As in Stavesacre, the part used medicinally is the seed, a tincture of which in like manner acts as a parasiticide and insecticide, being used to destroy lice and nits in the hair. (During the Great War, when the men in the trenches took the trouble to use it, the results were said to be quite successful. – EDITOR.)

The tincture, given in 10-drop doses, gradually increased, is also employed in spasmodic asthma and dropsy.

The expressed juice of the leaves is considered good as an application to bleeding piles, and a conserve made of the flowers was formerly held to be an excellent medicine for children when subject to violent purging.

The juice of the flowers and an infusion of the whole plant was also prescribed against colic.

The expressed juice of the petals with the addition of a little alum makes a good blue ink.

The name Delphinium, from Delphin (a dolphin), was given to this genus because the buds were held to resemble a dolphin. Shakespeare mentions the plant under the name of Lark’s Heel.

The name Consolida refers to the plant’s power of consolidating wounds.

Known Hazards:
All parts of these plants are considered toxic to humans, causing severe digestive discomfort if ingested, and skin irritation.

Larkspur, especially tall larkspur, is a significant cause of cattle poisoning on rangelands in the western United States. Larkspur is more common in high-elevation areas, and many ranchers delay moving cattle onto such ranges until late summer when the toxicity of the plants is reduced. Death is through cardiotoxic and neuromuscular blocking effects, and can occur within a few hours of ingestion.

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/l/larksp09.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delphinium

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Herbs & Plants

Yarrow

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Botanical Name :Achillea millefolium
Family: Asteraceae
Genus: Achillea
Species: A. millefolium
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asterales

Common Names: :yarrow  or common yarrow, plumajillo (Spanish for ‘little feather’),gordaldo, nosebleed plant, old man’s pepper, devil’s nettle, sanguinary, milfoil, soldier’s woundwort, thousand-leaf, and thousand-seal

Habitat : Yarrow is native to temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere in Asia, Europe, and North America. In New Mexico and southern Colorado.Yarrow grows from sea level to 3,500 metres (11,500 ft) in elevation. Common yarrow is frequently found in the mildly disturbed soil of grasslands and open forests. Active growth occurs in the spring

Description:
yarrow is an erect herbaceous perennial plant that produces one to several stems 0.2–1 metre (0.66–3.3 ft) in height, and has a spreading rhizomatous growth form. Leaves are evenly distributed along the stem, with the leaves near the middle and bottom of the stem being the largest. The leaves have varying degrees of hairiness (pubescence). The leaves are 5–20 cm long, bipinnate or tripinnate, almost feathery, and arranged spirally on the stems. The leaves are cauline, and more or less clasping. The plant commonly flowers from May through June.

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The inflorescence has four to 9 phyllaries and contains ray and disk flowers which are white to pink. The generally three to eight ray flowers are ovate to round. Disk flowers range from 15 to 40. The inflorescence is produced in a flat-topped cluster. The fruits are small achenes.

The plant has a strong, sweet scent, similar to chrysanthemums.

Varities:
The several varieties and subspecies include:

:Achillea millefolium subsp. millefolium A. m. subsp. m. var. millefolium – Europe, Asia

*A. m. subsp. m. var. borealis – Arctic regions

*A. m. subsp. m. var. rubra – Southern Appalachians

*A. millefolium subsp. chitralensis – western Himalaya

*A. millefolium subsp. sudetica – Alps, Carpathians

*Achillea millefolium var. alpicola — Western United States, Alaska

*Achillea millefolium var. californica — California, Pacific Northwest

*Achillea millefolium var. occidentalis — North America

*Achillea millefolium var. pacifica — west coast of North America, Alaska

*Achillea millefolium var. puberula — endemic to California

Cultivation;
Achillea millefolium is cultivated as an ornamental plant by many plant nurseries. It is planted in gardens and natural landscaping settings of diverse climates and styles. They include native plant, drought-tolerant, and wildlife gardens. The plant is a frequent component of butterfly gardens. The plant prefers well-drained soil in full sun, but can be grown in less ideal conditions.
click to see

Propagation:
For propagation, seeds require light for germination, so optimal germination occurs when planted no deeper than one-quarter inch (6 mm). Seeds also require a germination temperature of 18-24° (64-75°F). It has a relatively short life in some situations, but may be prolonged by division in the spring every other year, and planting 12–18 in (30–46 cm) apart. It can become invasive.
click to see
Chemical constituents:  up to 1.4% volatile oil (composed of up to 51 % azulene; borneol, terpineol, camphor, cineole, isoartemesia ketone, and a trace of thujone), lactones, flavonoids, tannins, coumarins, saponins, sterols, a bitter glyco-alkaloid (achilleine), cyanidin, amino

Medicinal Uses:
Medicinal Properties: * Anti-inflammatory * Antibacterial * AntiCancer * Antiperspirant/Deodorants * Antirheumatic * Antispasmodic * Astringent * Bitter * Cathartic * Depurative * Digestive * Emmenagogue * Febrifuge * Hypotensive * Insect repellents * Nervine * Styptic * Vulnerary .

Yarrow was once known as “nosebleed”, it’s feathery leaves making an ideal astringent swab to encourage clotting. Yarrow skin washes and leaf poultices can staunch bleeding and help to disinfect cuts and scrapes; taken as a tea it can help slow heavy menstrual bleeding as well. 79 80 Yarrow is a good herb to have on hand to treat winter colds and flu; a hot cup of yarrow tea makes you sweat and helps the body expel toxins while reducing fever. 81The chemical makeup of yarrow is complex, and it contains many active medicinal compounds in addition to the tannins and volatile oil azulene. These compounds are anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and help relax blood vessels. 82,83 Yarrow should be on every man’s short list of remedies since the herb makes itself useful for everything from brewing beer to a hair rinse to prevent baldness.

Chinese * Colds * Cuts & Wounds * Dysmenorrhea * Hypertension * Menorrhagia

Traditional Chinese Medicine:   In China, yarrow is used fresh as a poultice for healing wounds. A decoction of the whole plant is prescribed for stomach ulcers, amenorrhoea, and abscesses.

Known Hazards:
In rare cases, yarrow can cause severe allergic skin rashes; prolonged use can increase the skin’s photosensitivity. This can be triggered initially when wet skin comes into contact with cut grass and yarrow together.

In one study, aqueous extracts of yarrow impaired the sperm production of laboratory rats

It should be avoided  in pregnancy, as it  can cause allergic skin reactions in sensitive people who suffer from allergies related to the Asteraceae family. Moderation is the key to safe use, the thujone content can be toxic over an extended period of time

Other Uses:
Several cavity-nesting birds, including the common starling, use yarrow to line their nests. Experiments conducted on the tree swallow, which does not use yarrow, suggest adding yarrow to nests inhibits the growth of parasites.

Its essential oil kills the larvae of the mosquito Aedes albopictus.

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/Achillea_millefolium#cite_note-49
http://www.anniesremedy.com/herb_detail120.php

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Herbs & Plants

Rhus trilobata

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Botanical Name ; Rhus trilobata
Family: Anacardiaceae
Genus: Rhus
Species: R. trilobata
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Sapindales

Common Names :Sourberry, Skunkbush,  Three-leaf sumac,  Trilobata Skunk Bush, Basketbush, Squawbush.

Habitat ;Rhus trilobata is native to the western half of Canada and the Western United States, from the Great Plains to California and south through Arizona extending into northern Mexico. It can be found from deserts to mountain peaks up to about 7,000 feet in elevation.

Rhus trilobata, Skunkbush sumac, grows in many types of plant communities, such as the grasslands east of the Rocky Mountains, mountainous shrubland, pine, juniper, and fir forests, wetlands, oak woodlands, and chaparral. The plant is destroyed above ground but rarely killed by wildfire, and will readily sprout back up in burned areas.

Description:
This Rhus species closely resembles other members of the genus that have leaves with three “leaflets” (“trifoliate” leaves). These include Rhus aromatica, native to eastern North America, and western Poison-oak. The shape of the leaflets and the habit of the shrub make this species, like some other Rhus, resemble small-leafed oaks (Quercus).
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The Rhus trilobata leaves have a very strong scent when crushed. The aroma is medicinal or bitter, disagreeable enough to some to have gained the plant the name skunkbush. The leaves are green when new and turn orange and brown in the fall. The twigs are fuzzy when new, and turn sleek with age. The flowers, borne on small catkins (“short shoots”), are white or light yellow. Edible fruit, the plant yields hairy and slightly sticky red berries which have an aroma similar to limes and a very sour taste. The acidity comes from tannic and gallic acids. The flowers are animal-pollinated and the seeds are dispersed by animals that eat the berries. The shrub also reproduces vegetatively, sending up sprouts several meters away and forming thickets.

Edible Uses:
The berries, although sour, are edible. They can be baked into bread or mixed into porridge or soup, or steeped to make a tea or tart beverage similar to lemonade.

Medicinal Uses:
The skunkbush sumac has historically been used for medicinal and other purposes. The bark has been chewed or brewed into a drink for cold symptoms, the berries eaten for gastrointestinal complaints and toothache, and the leaves and roots boiled and eaten for many complaints. The leaves have also been smoked.

Skunk bush was employed medicinally by several native North American Indian tribes, who valued it especially for its astringent qualities and used it to treat a range of complaints. Bark: An infusion of the bark has been used as a douche after childbirth. The bark has been chewed, and the juice swallowed, as a treatment for colds and sore gums. Bark has also been used for: Cold remedy, in which the bark is chewed and the juice is swallowed; Oral aid, in which the bark is chewed;

Fruit: The fruit has been eaten as a treatment for stomach problems and grippe. The fruit has been chewed as a treatment for toothache and also used as a mouthwash. A decoction of the fruit has been used as a wash to prevent the hair falling out.  The dried berries have been ground into a powder and dusted onto smallpox pustules.  Veterinary aid.

Leaves: An infusion of the leaves has been used in the treatment of head colds. A decoction of the leaves has been drunk to induce impotency as a method of contraception. A poultice of leaves has been used to treat itches. Leaves are a gastrointestinal aid, in which the leaves are boiled; Diuretic aid, in which the leaves are boiled.

Roots: A decoction of the root bark has been taken to facilitate easy delivery of the placenta. The roots have been used as a deodorant. The buds have been used on the body as a medicinal deodorant and perfume.  Tuberculosis Aid, in which the roots are consumed

Other Uses:
It is sometimes planted for erosion control and landscaping, and is a plant used for reclaiming barren land stripped by mining.The flexible branches were useful and sought after for twisting into basketry and rugs.

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

Skunkbush Sumac


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