Tag Archives: herbs

Australian National Botanical Gardens

Australian National Botanical Gardens
* GPO Box 1777 * Canberra, Australia Capital Territory * 2601 * Australia * +61 2 6250 9599 * http://www.anbg.gov.au/ *

In the heart of Australia’s Capital Territory and City of Canberra is the Nation’s most exquisite National Botanical Gardens. Radiating like a gem in the midland plains, this fabulous collection of Eucalypti, plants, trees, shrubs, vines, orchids, and botany is any garden lover’s paradise. It is operated by the Australian Government’s Department of the Environment and Heritage. The park encompasses the largest living collection of native Australian flora in the world. The goal of the center is to understand, study, and promote Australia’s flora locally, regionally, and around the world; hosting a variety of botanical resources for researchers while protecting and cultivating endangered native plants. The Garden was first conceived in Canberra’s development plans of the 1930’s when the Advisory Council set up a framework for its development, planning a large site on Black Mountain. The first trees were planted in September 1949, though not opening its gates until October of 1970. The Gardens encompass over 90 hectares on Black Mountain, of which 40 is currently developed and embracing thematic sections in the park housing plants with shared taxonomy of over 5,500 cultivated species. The Gardens have a Rainforest Gully, a Rocky Garden, A Sydney Region Flora area, A Mallee Plants section, Banksias, waratahs, grevilleas, Callistemon, Leptospermum, Melaleuca, A Eucalypt Lawn, Wattles, and a Research facility, gift shop, and cafe. The National Herbarium is also on site housing the largest collection of dried, pressed, and recorded plant specimens in Australia. The facility manages several large plant databases of Australian plants based on its collections. For any botanist or plant enthusiast, the Botanical Gardens is a must see while in Canberra. “Extroadinary”. Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5. Visited on April 24, 2011 by Thomas Baurley.

Australian National Botanical Gardens: Botanical Resource Center

sign at the gardens: “Botanica Resource Center: Plant identification at your fingertips
The Botanical resource center is a learning place for visitors to discover, identify, and explore flor of the A.C.T. and southeastern N.S.W. This self help collection is available for use by students, plant surveyors, and people who want to learn more about plants. To explore this library of pressed plant specimens and computer plant identification resources contact the Australian National Botanical Gardens Visitor Centre.”

    Bibliography & Recommended Reading:

  • Australian National Botanical Gardens. ~ About Us. referenced in 2011 from website; ANBG: http://www.anbg.gov.au.
  • Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. ~ “Autralian Nationa
    l Botanical Gardens
    ; referenced in 2011 from website; author unknown. Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org.

Plants, Species, Photos, and more information: Continue reading Australian National Botanical Gardens

Share

Gorse

 

 

 

 

Gorse

Ulex europaeus or common names: Gorse, furze, furse, or whin

Taxonomy: Kingdom: Plantae; Division: Magnoliophyta; Class: Magnoliopsida; Order: Fabales; Family: Fabaceae; Subfamily: Faboideae; Genus: Ulex; Species: U. europaeus; Binomial name: Ulex europaeus L.

Gorse is a common name for the Ulex europaeus, a genus of roughly 20 species of spiny evergreen shrubs that are native to Western Europe and Northwest Africa. It is closely related to the ‘Broom’ Family hosting green stems with small leaves. The plant is extremely dry in its branches and leaves – making it a severe fire hazard with an explosive burst with wildland fires. Because of the quick fire explosions and passing on of the waves of flames – gorse is very good at withstanding fire damage and spreads its seed pods best when torched by wildfire. Burnt stumps will sprout new growth from the roots. The branches host extreme spininess with shoots branching out 1-4 cms long. It can grow up to 2-3 meters tall (7-10 feet). Leaves of younger plants are trifoliate resembling a small clover leaf before they evolve into scales or small spines. All of the species host yellow flowers. Many of these species grow in sunny sites in dry, sandy soils. Flowers bloom from late autumn throughout the winter season with flowers strongest in the spring. Some gorse is always in flower and host a coconut-like scent. Gorse is the perfect environment for wildlife nesting and protecting its inhabitants from predators due to the dense thorny cover.
Culinary: The flowers are edible and often used in salads, tea, and in the manufacture of a non-grape based wine. It is high in protein and commonly used to feed livestock as fodder.
Common uses: Used as livestock fodder. Bundles of gorse used to fire traditional bread ovens. According to Jasmine ( jasmine@archaeosophia.co.uk / http://www.archaeosophia.co.uk ) “Gorse may also used in the vitrification of Iron Age hill-forts in Scotland; experimental archaeology has shown that the temperatures it can reach are high enough to turn rock to glass. The fires would have to be kept burning for about a week to maintain the process… In 1934, Vere Gordon Childe and his colleague designed a test wall that was 12 feet long, six feet wide and six feet high, which was built for them at Plean Colliery in Stirlingshire. “They used old fireclay bricks for the faces and pit props as timber, and filled the cavity between the walls with small cubes of basalt rubble. They covered the top with turf and then piled about four tons of scrap timber and brushwood against the walls and set fire to them. Because of a snowstorm in progress, a strong wind fanned the blazing mixture of wood and stone so that the inner core did attain some vitrification of the rock”. Modern foresters can attest to gorse fires raging across hillsides well in excess of 800 degrees centigrade on open ground – a covered, stoked fire fed over time would be capable of vitrification and gorse not only freely covers most Scottish hillsides, but is one species which seems to actively flourish after fires – the perfect renewable resource.” [Thanks Jasmine!]
Folklore: ‘When gorse is in flower, kissing is in fashion” is a common rhyme.

 

 

 


Gorse
The Curraugh, Kildare, Ireland

Our Official Page on Gorse is now located at: http://www.treeleavesoracle.org/treelore/gorse/.

Our Official Page on “Foxglove” is located at http://www.treeleavesoracle.org/treelore/foxglove/.

Photos are copyrighted and cannot be reproduced without permission of authors Tom Baurley or Leaf McGowan. Photos can be purchased via Technogypsie.com at Technogypsie Photography Services for nominal use fees. Articles and Research papers are done at the Author’s expense. If you donate below, you’ll help contribute to the costs of the research that provided this article. Any Reviews can request a re-review if they do not like the current review or would like to have a another review done. If you are a business, performer, musician, band, venue, or entity that would like to be reviewed, you can also request one (however, travel costs, cost of service (i.e. meal or event ticket) and lodging may be required if area is out of reviewer’s base location at time of request).

These reviews are done by the writer at no payment unless it is a requested review and the costs for travel, service, and lodging was covered – in which case, expenditure reimbursement will not affect review rating or content. If you enjoy this review and want to see more, why not buy our reviewer a drink to motivate them to write more? or help cover the costs they went through to do this review?







 

Share

The Blarney Poison Garden


The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland

The Poison Garden:
Blarney Castle, Ireland * 021-4385252 * vwww.blarneycastle.ie *

One of the most intriguing features of the castle grounds of Blarney Castle for a botanist, scientist, or herbalist is the castle’s “Poison Garden”. A collection of plants embracing the world’s most deadliest toxins, one can walk amongst danger and see, smell, and view from close proximity what plants take the lives of hundreds of thousands of human lives annually. The garden has been active since the 18th century and a popular tourist attraction along with the other gardens on the grounds as the estate extends to over 1,000 acres of gardens (the poison garden is just a small tiny yard). The garden is located hidden behind the Castle’s battlements. Some of the more toxic or illegal of substances are located within large black conical iron cages to protect them from the tourist and the viewer from their toxicity. Some of the garden’s plants are controlled substances and therefore heavily monitored. During my 2010 and 2012 visits, many of the caged plants were empty, including the cannabis specimen. This specimen was Taken by the local gardai in 2010. Upon a visit in 2013, the Cannabis plant is not only present but enormous.

120313-117
Cannabis plant, Blarney Castle’s Poison Garden, Ireland

Of the ones I photographed and wrote about below, are:

Continue reading The Blarney Poison Garden

Share

Cherry Laurel



Cherry Laurel
The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland


Cherry Laurel:
Prunus laurocerasus [ Plantae: Magnoliophyta: Magnoliopsida: Rosales: Rosaceae: Prunus: Prunus laurocerasus ]

Common Names:
Cherry Laurel, English Laurel

Localities:
Native to regions bordering the Black Sea in southwestern Asia and southeastern Europe, from Albania to Bulgaria east through Turkey and Iran. It is a invasive species in the United Kingdom and Pacific Northwest of the United States.

Species:
There are over 40 cultivars; Numerous varieties of Cherry Laural, Magnofolia is the large leaf’ed one, Otto Luyken is compact with abundant flowers, Schipkaensis is the hardiest wid spreading smaller leaved plant; Zabeliana has narrow willow type leaves.

Description:
A low, compact spreading evergreen shrub or upright small tree, with a maximum height of 20-25 feet and 18 feet width with 2-6 in long / 1/2 to 1 inch wide narrowly oblong smooth edged dark green above and paler green below leaves. The shiny leathery leaves flower into fragrant white 1/4 inch long flowers in narrow cylindrical clusters 2-5 inches long in late spring and summer. The flowers blossom into 1/2 inch long oval green drooping fruits that are believed to be mildly poisonous. It has a rapid growth patern coupled with being a evergreen, tolerant of drought and shade, thereby out competing and killing off native plant species making it an invasive species in some parts of the world.

Cultivation:
Can handle difficult growing conditions including shaded and dry soils.

Common Uses:
Common as a garden ornamental and a favorite in North American yards. Common in landscaping. Leaves repel weevils, fleas, and lice.

Culinary Uses:
Cherries are edible, but the rest of the plant can be poisonous. Leaves are used like bay leaves (laurel family) as a culinary spice albeit the leaves has toxins.

Medicinal Uses:
Most parts of the plant are poisonous including the seeds as they contain cyanogenic glycosides and amygdalin.

Magical Uses:
The leaves can be used to ward off evil spirits.

Folklore and History:


Cherry Laurel
The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland

Share

The Chaste Tree



Vitus agnus – Chastus – Chaste tree
The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland


Chaste Tree:
Vitex agnus-castus [ Plantae: Angiosperms: Eudicots: Asterids: Lamiales: Lamiaceae: Vitex: Vitex agnus-castus ]

Common Names: Vitex, Chaste Tree, Chasteberry, Hemp tree, Abraham’s Balm, Chaste Lamb-Tree, Safe Tree, monk, or Monk’s Pepper

Localities:
Native of the Mediterranean region; woodlands of southern Europe and dry areas of western Asia.

Species:

Description:
The Chaste Tree is an sprawling deciduous aromatic tree or large shrub that grows height and equal width of 1-5 meters and is most notable for its aromatic flowers and leaves. Its palmately compound leaves and tender stem grow upwards of 10 cm with 5-7 fingerlike leaflets (similar in appearance to the leaves of a marijuana plant), blossoming into violet to blue to deep purple flowers and fruits on new wood in late spring and early summer that bear medicinal seeds.

Cultivation:
Best cultivated in warm temperate and subtropical regions, native to woodlands and dry areas requiring full sun or partial shade with well-drained soil.

Common Uses:
Is a popular fruit plant used to improve nutrition, boost food security, foster rural development, and supports sustainable landscaping. Branches were used to make furniture.

Culinary Uses:
The seeds are sometimes used as a seasoning, similar to black pepper.

Medicinal Uses:
The seeds of the Chaste Tree are medicinal and harvested by gently rubbing berries loose from the stem. Leaves ,flowers, and berries are consumed as decoctions, tinctures, teas, syrups, elixirs, or raw and help interact with hormonal circadian rhythms, as a tonic for male/female reproductive systems, and improve fertility. It is a carminative, a anxiolytic, a aphrodisiac, and an anaphrodisiac. Extracts have proven effective in managing premenstrual stress syndrome (PMS) and cyclical breast pain (mastalgia). Low doses it is used to suppress sexual desire by inhibiting activation of dopamine 2 receptors, but in higher doses the binding activity is sufficient to reduce the release of prolactin thereby influencing levels of follicle-stimulating hormones and estrogen in women and testosterone in men. It is also described in literature as a fertility-promoting herb used as such from Ancient Greek times to increase odds of conceiving a baby and to reat symptoms associated with hormonal imbalance, skin conditions, and PMS. Science has found confirmation with this to help stimulate and stabilize reproductive hormones involved in ovulation, cycle balance, and menstrual regularity. A hot decoction of the seeds are used as a contraceptive.

Magical Uses:
Believed to invoke chastity and celibacy, quieting desires of the flesh.

Folklore and History: Called Monk’s Pepper as it was once used by monks as a anti-libido medicine to remain chaste – which gave name to the Chaste Tree. It was believed in ancient times to be a anaphrodisiac though others claim it to be an aphrodisiac. The Chaste tree was associated with various Greek festivals – especially one held in honor of Demeter, the Greek Goddess of agriculture / fertility / marriage / and women who remained chaste during the festival who used tree blossoms to adorn the temples during the festivities. Roman virgins carried twigs of the tree as a symbol of their chastity. Hera, the Goddess protectress of marriage, was born under as chaste tree. Pliny claimed it “checks violent sexual desire”. Also said if one keeps a twig in their hand or in their girdle won’t suffer from chafing between the thighs.

Share

Oleander



Oleander
The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland


Oleander
Nerium oleander [ Plantae: Angiosperms: Eudicots: Asterids: Gentianales: Apocynaceae: Apocynoideae: Wrightieae: Nerium: Nerium oleander ]

Common Names: Oleander

Localities:
Commom from Morocco to Portugal eastward into the Mediterranean and throughout southern Asia to Yunnan and southern China.

Species:

Description:
The Oleander tree is a poisonous evergreen shrub or small tree that grows upwards of 2-6 meters tall with spreading or erect branches sprouting thick and leathery dark green narrow lanceolate leaves in pairs or whorls of three, upwards of 5-21 cm long, 1-4 cm broad with a margin; blossoming white / pink / red/ or yellow 2.5-5 cm diameter flowers in clusters at the end of each branch with deep 5 lobed corollas with a fringe round the central corolla tube. These produce long narrow capsulated fruits 5-23 cm long that open at maturity to release numerouse downy seeds.

Cultivation:
Grows typically around dry stream beds. Best in warm subtropical regions. It is drought tolerant and tolerate occasional light frost. It is deer resistant and tolerant of poor soils and drought. It is very easy to grow as it is adaptable and requires little maintenance able to survive without water for weeks.

Common Uses:
Gardening ornamental, oddly very common in school yards though very toxic to children.

Culinary Uses:
If ingested in sufficient quantity is very toxic.

Medicinal Uses:
Oleander is one of the most poisonous plants in the world with numerous toxic compounds. The most potent toxins in oleander are oleandrin and neriine which are cardiac glycosides which are present in all parts of the plant, concentrated in the sap. The bark contains rosagenin known for its strychnine-like effects. Upwards of 10-20 leaves consumed by an adult can create adverse reactions and a single leaf lethal to a child. In Southern India, mashing and ingesting oleander seeds are a common method for suicide. Ingestion creates gastrointestinal and cardiac effects, with nauseau, vomiting, excess salivation, abdominal pain, diarrhea with or withou blood, and colic. Poisoning requires immediate treatment, with charcoal being common to absorb toxins and digoxin immune fab as the best antidote. It is very toxic to livestock with as little as 100 g of leaves able to kill a adult horse. There are internet rumors that Oleander is a potential treatment for skin cancer and for anti-viral treatments. It has been endorsed in the supplement “OPC Extract” for its use in treating HIV.

Magical Uses:

Folklore and History: Its name was derived from the old latin name for flower used first in the ancient city of Volubilis in Morocco. Pliny the Elder wrote in 77 CE that despite its toxicity was a effective snakebite cure if taken in wine with rue. Historically used in Mesopotamia 15th c. BCE for healing; Babylonians mixed oleander with licorice to treat hangovers, and Arab physicians used it as a cancer treatment as early as 8th century CE. The Bible refers to Oleander as “the Desert Rose”.

Share

Poison Ivy



Poison Ivy/Oak
The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland


Poison Ivy
Toxicodendron radicans [ Plantae: Angiosperms: Eudicots: Rosids: Sapindales: Anacardiaceae: Toxicodendron: Toxicodendron radicans ]

Common Names:

Localities:
Poison Ivy grows throughout North America, in the United States and through Quebec, Ontario, and Manitoba of Canada as well as the mountainous regions of Mexico.

Species:
Its similar species, poison oak – Toxicodendron rydbergii is found in the western United States.

Description:
Poison Ivy is a dioecious poisonous North American plant growing either as a trailing vine (upwards of 10-25 cm), a shrub (upwards of 1.2 meters), or as a climbing vine growing on trees. It is an understory plant in the forest. This vine has reddish hairs that are like leaves, that branch off light to dark green leaves that turn bright red in the fall. Leaflets of mature leaves are shiny ranging from 3-12 cm long, but rarely upwards of 30 cm in length, each leaflet has few to no teeth along its edges and hosting a smooth surface, clustering alternate on the vine that produces numerous aerial rootlets as well as adventitious roots that can spread from rhizomes or root crowns. It blossoms inconspicuous yellowish or greenish white flowers bundled in clusters up to 8 cm above the leaves from May to July. Flowers fruit into berry-like drupes that mature from August to November with a greyish white color feeding many birds and animals that disperse the seeds in their droppings.

Cultivation:
Is found in wooded areas along plant edge areas, in exposed rocky areas, open fields, and disturbed areas. It is shade tolerant. It is not sensitive to soil moisture but does not grow in deserts or arid conditions. It can habitate a wide variety of soil types, as well as areas subject to seasonal flooding, or brackish water.

Common Uses:

Culinary Uses:

Medicinal Uses:
Poison Ivy produces urushiol, a clear liquid in the sap that causes an itching rash to those who encounter it. It creates a reaction that is urushiol-induced to cause dermatitis that 70-85% of the human population allergically reacts to that can progres to anaphylaxis. Poison Ivy attacks upwards of 350,000 people a year. If the plant is burned and the smoke inhaled, it will cause a rash on the lungs causing pain and possible fatal respiratory issues; If eaten it will damage the mouth and digestive tract. The rash can lasts 1-4 weeks depending on severity and treatment. Its oil can stay active for several years, so handling dead leaves and vines, exposed gloves or clothes, can cause a reaction.

Magical Uses:

Folklore and History: “Leaves of three, let it be”; “Raggy rope, don’t be a dope”; “One, two, three? don’t touch me!”; “Berries white, run in fright”; “Berries white danger in sight”; “LOnger middle stem, stay away from them”; “Red leaflets in the spring, it’s a dangerous thing”; “Side leaflets like mitens, will itch like the dickens”; “If butterflies land there, don’t put your hand there”; and “If it’s got hair, it won’t be fair”; are folk rhymes to teach children to avoid the plant.


Poison Ivy/Oak
The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland

Share

White Hellebore: Veratrum album


Veratrum album, White helleborene
The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland

White Hellebore
Veratrum album [ Plantae: Angiosperms: Monocots: Liliales: Melanthiaceae: Veratrum: Veratrum album ]

Common Names: Bearsfoot, stinking hellebore, sabadilla, European Hellebore, Weisse Niesswurz, False Helleborine, White Veratrum

Localities:
White Hellebore is common throughout Europe, Lapland to Italy but does not occur in the British Isles; also found in Eurasia, the Alps, the Pyrenees, Russia, East Asia, Siberia, Northern China, Japan, and Northern Africa.

Species:
Helleborus orientalis (used for indigestion and diarrhea); Veratrum Californicum is a species found in Colorado and the Western U.S>;

Description:
White Hellebore is a perennial herb that grows up to 3.5 to 5 feet high with a blackish or brownish-white fleshy oblong horizontal rhizome that is as thick as a finger, which when fresh has an alliaceous odor but loses its smell fast as it drys. It is whitish or pale yellow white internally. Stem is straight, round, and striated that sprouts alternate plaited and broad-ovate leaves that blossom yellowish-white hermaphrodite flowers that have 8 lines in diameter and five large petal like sepals with 8-10 inconspicuous tubular petals with many stamens 3-10 pistils.

Cultivation:
Grows in moist grassy sub-alpine meadows and open woodlands.

Common Uses:
White Helloebore is primarily used for veterinary medicine. It was first used as a pesticide in Rome and Greece. It is used externally to kill lice. It was one of the four classic poisons in the classical world.

Culinary Uses:
The rhizome is sweet tasting at first, then biter and acrid leaving the tongue tingly and numb.

Medicinal Uses:
White Hellebore is extremely poisonous as a violent irritant and is one of the principal poisons used in European history for arrows and daggers. The parts of the plant used are primarily the root and rhizome. When powdered it is ash-colored and deteriorates the longer you keep it. It contains jervine, pseudo-jervine, rubijervine, veratralbine, and veratrine. It has fatty matter composed of olein, sterin, and volatile acids. If sniffed it causes profuse runny nose, when swallowed it causes sore mouth, swelling of the tongue, gastric heat, burning, severe vomiting and profuse diarrhea. It produces narcotic symptoms, stupor, and convulsions. This leads to vertigo, weakness, tremors, feeble pulse, loss of voice, dilation of pupils, spasms of the ocular muscles, blindness, cold sweating, and mental disturbances. Poisoning is treated by injections of coffee, opiates, and demulcents. In minor doses it is efficient on bowel disorders and/or gushing watery diarrhea with spasmodic or cramp-like actions on the intestines and is why its often used to treat cholera infantum, cholera morbus, and asiatic cholera. Originally used in cerebral affections such as mania, epilepsy, gout, and sometimes as a substitute for colchicum. It was on occasion used as an ointment for skin diseases such as scabies or to kill lice. It was also used as an errhine or sternutatory when diluted with starch for treating amaurosis and chronic affections of the brain. It has a paralyzing effect on the nervous system though scarcely used internally even though its alkaloids are used in the pharmaceudical industry. It contains the amorphous alkaloid Veratralbine (C26H43N05) and the three crystallize alkaloids ervine (C26H37NO3), pseudo-Jervine (C29H43NO7), and Rubijervive (C26H43NO3). Today it is primarily used to kill lice and cure scabies as many of its other applications are too risky. Historically though used to treate toothaches, epistaxis, brochial and respiratory affections, asthma, pneumonia, whooping cough, gastric disorders, cholera, colic, constipation, diarrhea, pregnancy disorders, sciatica, hernia, inflammation of the uterus, influenza, typhoid fever, yellow fever, measles, scarlatina, tapeworm, meningitis, epilepsy, opium poisoning, lock jaw, collapse, fainting, angina pecoris, and apoplexy.

Magical Uses:

Folklore and History: It is in the family of four classic deadly poisons used throughout history along with deadly nightshade, hemlock, and aconite. Its name “Hellebore” comes from the Greek “Elein” which means “to injure” and “bora” meaning “food”. Its use dates back to 1400 BCE when it was used as a pergative to cleanse the mind of all perverse habits .


Veratrum album, White helleborene
The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland

Continue reading White Hellebore: Veratrum album

Share

Foxglove: Digitalis L.


In the field at Lanyon Quoit, Cornwall, England

Foxglove

Digitalis L.; common names: ‘Witches’ Gloves’, ‘Fairy’s Glove’, ‘Gloves of Our Lady’, ‘Virgin’s Glove’, ‘Fairy Caps’, ‘Folk’s Glove’, ‘Fairy Thimbles’, ‘fairy-folks-fingers’, ‘lambs-tongue-leaves’, ‘bloody fingers’, ‘deadman’s bells’.

Taxonomy: Kingdom: Plantae; Angiosperms; Eudicots; Asterids; Lamiales; Plantaginaceae; Digitalis L.; several species including: Digitalis cariensis; Digitalis ciliata; Digitalis davisiana; Digitalis dubia; Digitalis ferruginea; Digitalis grandiflora; Digitalis laevigata; Digitalis lanata; Digitalis leucophaea; Digitalis lutea; Digitalis obscura; Digitalis parviflora; Digitalis purpurea; Digitalis thapsi; Digitalis trojana; Digitalis viridiflora.

This beautiful plant has meant a lot to me through my life – mainly because it saved my daughter’s life. As my daughter was born premature, her heart didn’t close/form properly before arrival – and the first part of her life she had to take dijoxin which is formulated from the Foxglove plant. What a wonderful essence on this planet. Digitalis or Foxglove, is over 20 species of herbaceous perennials, biennials, and shrubs that are native to western Europe, western/central Asia, and northwestern Africa. Leaves are spirally arranged, simple 10-35 cm long/5-12 cm broad grey-green downy with fine toothed margins forming a tight rosette during the first year of the plant’s life. Second year plants are typically 1-2 m tall with showy, terminal, elongated cluster leaves with tubular, pendant, and colorful flowers that are spotted within the flower tube’s bottom. The numerous tubular flowers bloom off a spike ranging in color from purple to white during the summer months. Flowering occurs usually early summer with some flower stems developing later in the season. “Digitalis” means “finger-like” describing to the ease with which one of its flowers can be fitted over a fingertip. The folk name “fox glove” may come from its similar shape and appearance to the ‘foxes glew’, a historic instrument that consisted of a ring of bells hung on an arched support. Its tubular flowers blossom off a tall spike. The colors of the flowers vary from purple to pink, white, and yellow. Digitalis purpurea, aka “Common Foxglove” is the most common species that is grown often as an ornamental plant. Common foxglove produces only a stem with long basal leaves. It grows in acidic soils under partial sunlight to deep shade, found commonly along roadsides, open woods, woodland clearings, moorlands, bogs, heath margins, sea-cliffs, rocky mountain slopes, and hedge banks.

Cultivation:
Foxglove prefers partial shade in a well-drained acidic soil that is rich in humus. Established plants will tolerate dry shade. The plant is susceptible to crown rot and needs adequate drainage.

Common uses:
Foxglove is common to gardens for its flowers and appeal.

Medicinal: Digitalis is the main ingredient in the cardiac glycoside “digoxin”. ‘Digitalin’ is also a group of cardiac medicines extracted from foxglove. These are used to treat heart conditions by increasing cardiac contractility and as an antiarrhythmic agent to control the heart rate, particularly in irregular or fast atrial fibrillation. Some use digitalis as a weight loss aid even though this is proven unsafe. Folklorists have also suggested its success with epilepsy and other seizure disorders. Historically used for heart treatment. It has also been employed in the treatment of internal hemorrhage, in inflammatory diseases, in delirium tremors, in epilepsy, in acute mania and various other diseases, with real or supposed benefits. It is also a powerful diuretic and valuable remedy for dropsy. County Cork, Ireland it was found to be handy in taking the soft leaves at the plant’s center to utilize for healing cuts. It is for strengthening the heart and regulating heartbeat.


Foxglove

Safety: Very toxic, those suffering an overdose of digitalis may experience anorexia, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and sometime xanthopsia (jaundiced or yellow vision) with the appearance of halos or blurred outlines. Bradycardia can also occur. Depending on the species, it may contain several deadly physiological and chemically related cardiac and steroidal glycosides which lead to the folk names “Dead Man’s Bells” and “Witches Gloves”. The entire plant is toxic including roots and seeds. A nibble can be enough to cause death. Symptoms include but are not limited to nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, wild hallucinations, delirium, severe headache, irregular and slow pulse, tremors, various cerebral disturbances, especially of a visual nature, convulsions, and deadly disturbances of the heart. The plant is toxic to animals including all classes of livestock and poultry, as well as felids and canids.
Other uses: Ornamental plant found in gardens. Development of poison through history. Domestic use of the leaves to darken the lines engraved on stone floors creating a mosaic like appearance. 19th century Dubliners dried the leaves and used it as snuff by old women.
Folklore: Northern legends stating that bad fairies gave these blossoms to the fox so that s/he might put them onto their toes to soften tread when prowling among the roosts. Other legends state that the blossoms are to mark where the elves had placed their fingers or that they were warning signs for the baneful juices secreted by the plant as in Ireland’s name for it as “Dead Man’s Thimbles”. Irish folklore considered it unlucky to bring into the home. The Latin “Digitalis” translates to “measuring a finger’s breadth”. It was named after “Fox glove” after “folk’s glove” whereas folk referred to woodland faeries and believed to be their gloves that they wore during raids on chicken coops blaming the thefts on thieves.


Foxglove near Lanyon Quiot, Cornwall, England

Continue reading Foxglove: Digitalis L.

Share

Camellia: Green Tea



Camellia sinensis Tea
The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland


Camellia: Green Tea
Camellia sinensis [ Plantae: Angiosperms: Eudicots: Asterids: Ericales: Theaceae: Camellia: Camellia sinensis ]

Common Names: Green Tea, White Tea, Oolong, Pu-erh, black tea, tea plant, tea tree, tea shrub

Localities:
It is native to mainland China South and Southeast Asia, but is cultivated across the world in tropical and subtropical regions.

Species:

Description:
The infamous Chinese “Green Tea” plant, it is a flowering evergreen shrub/ small tree/ plant that can grow upwards of 6 feet from a strong taproot. It blossoms into yellow-white 2.5-4 cm diameter and 7-8 petal flowers.

Cultivation:
It is commonly cultivated in tropical and subtropical climates that have at least 127 cm annual rainfall. The plant will grow into a tree naturally. It typically blossoms in the fall. It needs full sun to partial shade and well drained, neutral to slightly acidic soil rich in organic mater.

Common Uses:

Culinary Uses:
Most commonly used for Chinese Tea, especially White Tea, Green Tea, Oolong, Pu-erh tea, and black tea differing on its oxidation. Its seeds are pressed into tea oil that is used for seasoning and cooking oil. It is a natural caffeine source and is used as a tea to gain energy.

Medicinal Uses:
The leaves are used in Chinese medicine to treat asthma (as a brochodilator), angina pectoris, peripheral vascular disease, coronary artery disease, and other illnesses. It is good for treating bad breath. The tea is used to increase alertness (contains caffeine), cancer prevention, lowering cholesterol, and preventing Parkinson’s disease. Over-use has had various side effecs including nauseau, diarrhea, upset stomach, headaches, and dizziness.

Magical Uses:
Traditionally used in ceremonies to increase awareness during long meditations.

Folklore and History: The plant is named after the Latin term “Sinensis” which means “Chinese”. “Camellia” is named after the Rev. George Kamel who was a 1661-1706 Czech-born Jesuit priest who was a popular botanist and missionary to the Phillipines.

Share

Rhubarb: Rheum rhabarbarum


Rhubarb
The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland

Rhubarb
Article by Thomas Baurley, Technogypsie Productions © November 23, 2010 published – all rights reserved.
Original and extensive article at http://www.treeleavesoracle.org/treelore/?p=1215

Rheum rhabarbarum [ Plantae: Eudicots: Core Eudicots: Polygonaceae: Rheum: R. rhabarbarum ]

Common Names:

Localities:
Grown throughout the world in heated greenhouses, it is a common vegetable all over.

Species:

Description:
Rhubarbs are a popular herbaceous perennial plant that grows up from short thick rhizomes sprouting with large triangular-shaped leaves with long fleshy petioles blossoming into a large compound of leafy greenish-white to rose-red inflorescence small grouped flowers. The crimson rhubarb stalks vary in color from crimson red, speckled light pink, or light green.

Cultivation:
It is commonly grown in hothouses which is ready for harvest mid-late spring though grown year-round in warm climates. It can be forced or encouraged by raising of the local temperature as it is a seasonal plant. It can be planted in containers.

Common Uses:
A rich brown dye close in color to walnut husks is created from its root.

Culinary Uses:
The leaves are toxic. Fresh raw stalks are crisp with a strong tart taste, commonly cooked as an alternative to celery but used in pies and other foods for its tart flavor. It is considered a vegetable. It is often dehydrated and infused with fruit juice such as strawberries to mimic strawberry rhubarb pie. It is used in pies, jams, jellies,fruit wines, sauces, and preserves. It was a quick snack for children in the UK who dipped it in sugar.

Medicinal Uses:
The leaves are toxic and poisonous as it has oxalic acid, nephrotoxic, and corrosive acid in its leaves. The roots are used as a strong laxative for over 5,000 years. It has an astringent effect on the mucous membranes of the mouth and nose, is rich in anthraquinones, emodin, rhein, and are cathartic. It is commonly used as a dieting aid.

Magical Uses:

Folklore and History: Rhubarb is associated with the legend of Shen Nung, the Yan Emperor, in 2700 BCE as a strong medicinal herb and was harvested by Marco Polo in his travels. It was believed to be derived from Rha, the ancient name of the Volga, where the plant was found growing on its banks. Comes from the Greek root “rheo” meaning “to flow” in relation o its purgative properties. During the Ming Dynasty, a Ming general attempted suicide by eating rhubarb medicines.

Continue reading Rhubarb: Rheum rhabarbarum

Share

Black Cohosh


Black Cohosh
The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland

Black Cohosh
Article by Thomas Baurley, Technogypsie Productions © November 23, 2010 published – all rights reserved.
Original and extensive article at http://www.treeleavesoracle.org/treelore/?p=1215

Cimicifuga racemosa, Actea racemosa [ Plantae: Magnoliophyta: Magnoliopsida: Ranunculales: Ranunculaceae: Actaea: Cimicifuga racemosa, Actea racemosa ]

Common Names: black cohosh, black bugbane, black snakeroot, macrotys, bugbane, bugwort, rattleroot, rattleweed, or fairy candle

Localities:
North America; extreme south of Ontario south to central Georgia; west to Missouri and Arkansas; Found throughout areas of eastern and central United States.

Species:

Description:
Black Cohosh is part of the buttercup family. It is a tall smooth glabrous herbaceous perennial plant that has large compound leaves sprouting up from an underground rhizome reaching a height of 25-60 centimeters. Its leaves grow upwards of 1 meter long and broad in repeated sets of three leaflets and having a coarsely toothed serrated margin. It blossoms flowers in late spring and early summer on a tall stem roughly 75-250 cm tall forming racemes upwards of 50 cm in length with no petals or sepals, rather tight clusters of 55-110 white 5-10 mm long stamens surrounding a white stigma and hosting a sweet fetid smell attracting flies, gnats, and beetles. It produces a dry follicle fruit 5-10 mm long with a carpel containing several seeds.

Cultivation:
The plant grows in a variety of woodland habitats especially small woodland openings. In a garden, best sown in dependably moist fairly heavy soil.

Common Uses:
The juice of the plant is used as an insect repellent.

Culinary Uses:

Medicinal Uses:
Extracts have analgesic, sedative, and anti-inflammatory properties. Roots and rhizomes used primarily for women’s health, it was used by Native Americans and is currently used for menstrual cramps, hot flashes, arthritis, muscle pain, sore throats, coughs, kidney problems, depression, and indigestion. A salve made of Black Cohosh is used to treat snake bites. Today in herbal healing and homeopathy, it is used to treat hot flashes, mood swings, night sweats, vaginal dryness, menopause, menstrual cramps, menopausal symptoms, mood disturbances, heart palpitations, and bloating. It is the fresh or dried roots and underground stems (rhizones) that is used for herbal treating. Its active chemical compound is 26-deoxyactein. Science has found that Black Cohosh will improve some menopausal symptoms short term for upwards of six months. It hasn’t been determined as per the safety in used for pregnant or breastfeeding women or children. It is sometimes used by midwives to induce labor. It is not recommended for those with hormone-sensitive conditions such as breast cancer, prostate cancer, ovaries cancer, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, hormone replacement therapy, oral contraceptives, using cisplatin for chemotherapy, or other conditions without discussing with a physician first. Side effects can include indigestion, headaches, nauseau, perspiration, vomiting, heaviness in the legs, weight gain, and low blood pressure; while excessive use could cause liver damage, seizures, visual disturbances, and slow or irregular heartbeats. Black Cohosh also contains salicylic acid, so is reactant to those allergic to aspirin or salicylates.

Magical Uses:

Folklore and History: Traditionally Black Cohosh was used by various Native American tribes as a folk remedy for women’s health conditions. It is believed to possess estrogen-like essences and therefore very helpful in treating women concerns, and while it works, science has not yet been able to explain its process of success.


Black Cohosh
The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland

120313-136

Continue reading Black Cohosh

Share

European Mandrake



European Mandrake
The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland


European Mandrake
Mandragora officinarum [ Plantae: Solanaceae: Mandragora officinarum ]

Common Names: Alraunwurzel, Mandrake, Satan’s Apple, mandragora, love apple, Circe’s plant, Dudaim.

Localities:
European Mandrake is native to southern Europe, particularly the Mediterranean, and especially Greece and Italy. Found often in uncultivated fields and stoney wastelands.

Species:

Description:
A stemless plant that hosts a short brown thick massive root grouping spreading downwards of 3-4 feet deep similar looking like parsnip. The short stem is topped by ovate leaves, blossoming with small greenish-yellow or purple bell-shaped flowers off 3-4″ stalks bearing fruit of orange color fleshy berries. Its often confused with the American Mandrake (may apple), which it has no relation to, except similar fleshy yellow-orange fruits. The roots are often forked look like a human body shape with head, arms, and legs.

Cultivation:
Can be grown from seed in deep planters. Seeds usually germinate within 14 days. Does best in deep well drained soil and full or partial sun exposure.

Common Uses:

Culinary Uses:
In Israel the fruits are used to make alcohol.

Medicinal Uses:
European Mandrake is considered one of the most magical herbs in the apothecary. It is an soporific, anesthetic, emetic, anodyne, Parasympathetic depressant, hallucinogen, hypnotic, and a poison. It is used as a narcotic and a pain reliever. It eases rheumatism. It is used often for sex and fertility magick. European Mandrake is used to treat melancholy, as an emetic, and an anesthetic. It is also very poisonous. The fruits are known to increase sperm count, treat impotence, and as a sex enhancer. Popular anesthetic during the Middles Ages and as a narcotic during the Elizabethan period.

Magical Uses:
In Israel the fruits are made into a aphrodisiac and to boost fertility. Known to heighten female interest in sex. European Mandrake is also used to expel demons. A mandrake root placed in the home will protect it from evil spirits. Money stored near European Mandrake will increase its abundance and increases prosperity. Also used for healing, inducing love, facilitating pregnancy, and restful sleep. It enhances creativity, psychic awareness and abilities. THe root carved into amulets of protection, love attraction, aura purity, and as a emblem of magick. Used to create “Moon Water” by taking a piece of the root under moonlight to be submerged into a chalice of water.

Folklore and History:Because of the anthropomorphic shape of the root, much belief in the root being a humanoid spirit is found in the magical repertoires that if one uprooted it from the ground it would shriek and screams so intense it would cause death unto those who heard it or make them go insane. Many collectors would loosen the soil around the root, attach a cord to the collar of a dog, and have the dog pull the root from the ground otherwise collected in moonlight with a proper prayer and ritual. Believed human hands should not come in contact with he plant. It is used to invoke Circe, Diana, and Saturn. It is related to the element of fire and the planet Mercury.


European Mandrake
The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland

Share

Opium Poppy: Papaver somniferum


Opium Poppy
The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland

Opium Poppy
Papaver somniferum [ Plantae: Magnoliophyta: Magnoliopsida: Ranunculales: Papaveraceae: Papaver: Papaver somniferum ]

Common Names: poppy tears, lachryma papaveris.

Localities:
Grown ornamenatlly throughout Europe, North America, South America, and Asia.

Species:
There are many varieties of Poppy that varie from species to species, most notable through shape of the petals, numbers of flowers, fruits, seeds, colors, and production of opium.

Description:
The Opium Poppy, is a world class illegal drug that is derived from Papaver somniferum.

Cultivation:
To cultivate the Opium Poppy in the UK does not require a license, but does require one if you plant to extract opium for medicinal purposes. It is illegal to extract opium or any of the alkaloids in Italy and in the United States its a Schedule 2 controlled substance even prohibiting opium poppy and poppy straw. It is not enforced for poppies that is grown or sold as ornamentals or for food even though opium tea with high morphine content can be abstracted from poppies found at flower shops.

Common Uses:
It is a real popular plant for ornamental purposes, especially as the “common garden poppy”. Used as gifts or ornamentals in flower shops and gardens. Poppy seed oil is used for the manufacture of paints, varnishes, and soaps.

Culinary Uses:
Poppy seeds are an important food item and is the source for poppyseed oil. The oil is used widely for cooking oil. The seeds are very common to be found on muffins, breads, pies, and bagels. If someone consumes four poppy seed bagels, they could test positive for narcotics. Poppy seed paste (made from oil and seeds) is used in a nut roll called Polish makowiec. Poppy seeds are commonly used in North and South Indian Cuisine and are called “gasagasa”, “khuskhus”, “gasagasalu”, and “posto dana”. They are also commonly used in curries.

Medicinal Uses:
Opium is the source of many opiates in drug culture and pharmaceutical medicine such as morphine, thebaine, codeine, papaverine, and noscapine. It is a astringent, antispasmodic, aphrodisiac, diaphoretic, expectorant, hypnotic, narcotic, and sedative. Opium was used throughout history for treating asthma, stomach sickness, and bad eyesight. Opium is the dried latex that comes from the opium poppy. This substance contains upwards of 12% morphine, an alkaloid used to produce heroine. Opium, morphine, and heroine are used as pain relievers, tranquilizers, and sleep aids. Poppy was also used for toothaches and coughs.

Magical Uses:

Folklore and History:

The latin name means “sleep bringing poppy” which describes the sedative properties of the plant. Images of poppies are found on Sumerian artifacts over 4,000 years old. It was known to the Ancient Greeks who manufactured opium from it and found archaeologically at Kalapodi and Kastanas. In the 1830’s, Britain and China had wars over the sale of Opium called “The Opium Wars”. Late 1800’s to early 1900’s narcotic alkaloids morphine and codeine were available in over the counter drugs such as cough syrup and teething medications.


Opium Poppy
The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland

Continue reading Opium Poppy: Papaver somniferum

Share

Poison Hemlock



Poison Hemlock
The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland

Poison Hemlock
Conium maculatum [ Plantae: Magnoliophyta: Magnoliopsida: Apiales: Apiaceae: Apioideae: Conium maculatum ]

Common Names:
Hemlock, Poison Hemlock, Devils’ porridge, beaver poison, herb bennet, musquash root, poison parsley, spotted corobane, and spotted hemlock, California fern, deadly hemlock, Nebraska fern, poison parsley, poison stinkweed, snake-weed, spotted hemlock, wode whistle.

Localities:
Native to Europe and the Mediterranean, West Asia, North as well as South Africa. It is naturalized in other parts of Asia, North America, Australia, and New Zealand.

Species:

Description:
Poison Hemlock is a perennial herbaceous flowering plant that can grow upwards of 2.5 meters tall with a smooth green spotted or red/purple streaked lower smooth stem and finely divided, lacy, triangular leaves (similar to that of parsley) that can grow upwards of 50 centimeters long and 40 centimeters wide. The flowers are clustered in umbels up to 10-15 centimeters across and are small and white. When crushed, the leaves produce a rank, unpleasant odor.

Cultivation:
Commonly found in poorly drained soils near streams, ditches, and ponds as well as roadsides, cultivated fields, and waste areas. It is a highly invasive species in 12 of the United States so pay attention to this before planting or cultivating.

Common Uses:

Culinary Uses:

Medicinal Uses:
All parts of the plant is highly poisonous, to humans as well as animals, but once the plant leaves are dried, the poison potency is reduced. Hemlock contains pyridine alkaloids coniine, N-methylconiine, conhydrine, pseudoconhydrine and ?-coniceine. Conine has a chemical structure similar to nicotine and is a neurotoxin that disrupts the central nervouse system in humans and livestock. Ingestion can cause a burning sensation in the mouth, salivation, emesis, diarrhea, muscle tremors, muscular weakness, dim vision, convulsions, coma, and respiratory collapse leading to death. In ages past, Hemlock was used as a sedative and for its antispasmodic traits. It was used to treat arthritis. Overdose can produce paralysis and loss of speech, followed by depression of the respiratory function, and then death. Hemlock causes birth defects in swine, cattle, sheep, and goats.

Magical Uses:
Hemlock is very associated with British Witchcraft.

Folklore and History:
In Ancient Greece, Hemlock was utilized to poison condemned prisoners – the most famous of which was Socrates in 399 BCE. As Plato describes Socrates’ death: “The man … laid his hands on him and after a while examined his feet and legs, then pinched his foot hard and asked if he felt it. He said ‘No’; then after that, his thighs; and passing upwards in this way he showed us that he was growing cold and rigid. And then again he touched him and said that when it reached his heart, he would be gone. The chill had now reached the region about the groin, and uncovering his face, which had been covered, he said — and these were his last words — ‘Crito, we owe a cock to Asclepius. Pay it and do not neglect it.’ ‘That,’ said Crito, ‘shall be done; but see if you have anything else to say.’ To this question he made no reply, but after a little while he moved; the attendant uncovered him; his eyes were fixed. And Crito when he saw it, closed his mouth and eyes.” It has shown up in records to have an association with British Witchcraft. There is a long history about children accidentally being poisoned by it when they made whistles from the hollow stems.

Share

Delphinium



Delphinium
The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland

Larkspur: Delphinium
Delphinium staphisagria [ Plantae: Magnoliophyta: Magnoliopsida: Ranunculales: Ranunculaceae: Delphinium: Delphinium staphisagria ]

Common Names:
Larkspur, Lark’s Heel, Lark’s Claw, Knight’s Spur.

Localities:
Found throughout the Northern Hemisphere and mountains of tropical Africa.

Species:
There are roughly 300 species.

Description:
Delphinium is a perennial flowering plant belonging to the buttercup family and is also called Larkspur. It has deeply lobed 3-7 tooth palmate shape leaves, has a erect flowering stem ranging from 10 centimeters in one species upwards of 2 meters in another and becomes topped with a raceme of multi-colored flowers ranging from purple, blue, red, white, and yellow. Purple is the most common color. Each flower has 5 petal sepals that grow together to create a hollow pocket with a spur at the end from late spring to late summer. Within he sepals are four true petals. It produces small shiny black seeds.

Cultivation:
Commonly pollinated by buterflies and bumble bees, larkspur can be cultivated by seed(though seeds require a pre-chilling to get germination going) . Larkspur prefers chalky loam soils and commonly grows wild in cornfields. Needs alot of full sunshine. It does crowd out others and steals the nurishments in the soil from other plants. Staking helps alot because it gives it support that it needs.

Common Uses:
Juice of the flowers, mixed with alum, creates a blue ink.

Culinary Uses:
Most species are toxic, but is a food source for a variety of moths.

Medicinal Uses:
All parts of the plant contain alkaloid delphinine and are very poisonous. Eating Larkspur can lead to vomiting and death. Early reports of drinking small amounts of larkspur helped against the sting of scorpions. Other herbals state the seeds can be used to compat parasites, especially lice and their nits. A tincture from Larkspur is used to treat eye diseases, asthma and dropsy.

Magical Uses:
In Transylvania it was believed to keep witches away from stables.

Folklore and History:
The Latin name relates to the Greek workd “delphis” for dolphin which alludes to the shape of the opening flower.

Share

Columbine



Columbine

The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland

Columbine: Aquilegia

Aquilegia canadensis [ Plantae: Magnoliophyta: Magnoliopsida: Eudicots: Ranunculales: Aquilegia: Aquilegia canadensis ]

Common Names:

Localities:
Northern Hemisphere. It is native to the Alps. Common throughout Eastern North America as well as Utah, California, and Alaska.

Species:
There are about 60-70 species of Columbine.

Description:
Columbines are an perennial airy plant with attractive foliage that will come in diverse colors that some describe to look like jester’s caps and some of the plants are bi-colored ranging from reds, yellows, whites, blues, pinks, and purple blossoms. The plant in its infancy is clover-like but grows upwards of 2 feet in height during full bloom which occurs in late spring to early summer. It produces a follicle fruit.

Cultivation:
Columbine is a self-seeding plant so requires little for spreading it. It likes partial shade in meadows, woodlands, and footpaths with well-drained soils. It often is found on rocky ledges in the wild. The plants are drought tolerant. It is propogated by its seed.

Common Uses:

Culinary Uses:
Native Americans used Colombine leaves as a condiment with other fresh greens which adds sweetness to the dish and is safe in small quantities.

Medicinal Uses:
Columbines produce cardiogenic toxins. While the leaves are safe in small quantities, the seeds and roots are highly poisonous which cause severe gastroenteritis and heart palpiations. Native Americans utilized small amounts of the root to treat ulcers. However due to its toxicity, its highly recommended to avoid use internally. Early doctors powdered dried columbine flowers to make an antitoxin drink. Native Americans used small amounts of crushed seeds to cure headaches and improve a person’s love life.

Magical Uses:
It is symbollic of Venus, the Goddess of Love. Native Americans made a paste from crushed seeds or dried flowers to make a love potion.

Folklore and History:
The name comes from the Latin “Columba” which refers to doves as some believe there is a resemblance in the inverted columbine flower to five doves nested together. “Aquilegia” comes from the Latin word “aquila” for “eagle” because the shape of he flower petals resemble an eagle’s claw.

Share

Skullcap



Scutellaria luterifolia

The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland

Scutellaria laterifolia

Scutellaria laterifolia [ Plantae: Angiosperms: Eudicots: Asterids: Lamiales: Lamiaceae: Scutellaria: Scutellaria laterifolia ]

Common Names:
Blue Skullcap, Hoodwort, Virginian Skullcap, Mad-dog Skullcap

Localities:
Native to North America especially New York to West Virginia, south to South Carolina, Alabama, and Missouri; cultivated in Europe and the rest of the world.

Description:
Skullcap is a hardy perennial belonging to the mint family that grows upright 60-80 centimeters in height. The plant produces vivid blue flowers that grow upwards of 1 centimeter in length that are produced along the length of side branches off the leaf axils. The root is a creeping short rhizone that submits hairy square stems 6-18 inches high, branched often with opposite leaves being heart-shaped at its base 1/2 to 2/5 inches long wih scalloped or toothed edges. The plant produces racemes blue to lavender flowers on its leaf axils of the upper plant that are hooded, tube shaped, and two lipped from May to August.

Species:
There are over 350 species of Skullcap.

Cultivation:
Skullcap loves wetland terrain, especially marshes and meadows best in a sunny area and utilizing ordinary garden soil. Seeds should be sown in early spring after frost danger is gone.

Common Uses:
It is used commonly as a incense and herbal tea.

Culinary Uses:
It is used as a herbal tea.

Medicinal Uses:
Skullcap is most prominantly utilized as a mild sedative and sleep aid. Its leaves, stems, and roots contain baicalin, baicalein, and wogonin. Baicalin is best used for its anti-inflammatory properties and as a topical analgesic. Blue Skullcap also has chrysin glucuronide which aids in body building to inhibit conversions of angrogens to estrogens. Skullcap is a known tonic, sedative, abortifacient, anti-inflammatory, astringent, emmenogogue, febrifuge, and nervine. It has been suitable for treating epilepsy, insomnia, hysteria, anxiety, delerium tremens, withdrawal from barbiturates and tranquilisers. It can be used to promote menstruation, miscarriage, as well as to treat throat infections. Once believed to be a remedy for rabies hence the name “Mad Dog Weed”. The Cherokee and other tribes use it as a strong emmenagogue and for female medicine. It is a nervous sedative and good for combatting nervous fear. It also addresses cardiac irritability, nervous irritation, and the spasms of children especially during dentition. Has been used for headaches, tremors, chorea, muscle twitching, nausea, sour eructations, pain, disress, seminal emissions, impotency, sharp stinging pain in the upper extremities, night terrors, sleeplessness, sudden wakefulness, frightful dreams, and insomnia. Overdose can cause giddiness, stupor, confusion, and twitching. It has been linked to liver damage.

Magical Uses:
It is often used as a ceremonial plant by various Native American tribes to introduce young girls into womanhood. It is also used to produce visions.

Folklore and History:

Share

Wormwood: Artemisia absinthium


Wormwood

The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland

Wormwood
Artemisia absinthium [ Plantae: Angiosperms: Eudicots: Asterids: Asterales: Asteraceae: Artemisia: Artemisia absinthium ]

Common Names:
Wormwood, absinthium, absinthe wormwood, common wormwood, Green Ginger or grand wormwood

Localities:
Temperate Eurasia and Northern Africa; naturalized in much of North America.

Description:
Wormwood is a herbaceous perennial plant with a hard woody rhizome, straight stems that grow upwards of .8-1.2 meters tall, are grooved, branched, and silvery green spirally arranged leaves in color on the top leaf with white below covered in silky silvery-white trichomes bearing minute oil-producing glands. The bipinnate to tripinnate basal leaves with long petioles can achieve up to 25 cm length, and its cauline leaves located on the stem are smaller with 5-10 cm length which are less divided and hosting short petioles and simple sessile uppermost leaves. Wormwood produced spherical bent-down headed tubular pale yellow flowers that cluster and appear leafy and branched panicles from early summer and autumn. The plant creates a small achene fruit that disperses seeds by gravity.

Species:
There are over 400 species of artemisia.

Cultivation:
Wormwood best grows on uncultivated arid ground in rocky slopes, along footpaths, and in fields. It is easiest cultivated in dry soil, but initially should be planted under bright exposure in fertile mid-weight soils rich in nitrogen. It is propogated by growth cuttings in March or October, or via seeds planted in starter beddings. It is often harvested in the spring when it is young for cooking and alcohol additives.

Common Uses:
Often used as an additive in insect sprays for plants. Good for companion planting because of this as its roots secrete inhibiting effects on the growth of other plants, especially weeds, and can repel insect larvae. It is used to repel fleas and moths in houses.

Culinary Uses:
It is the major ingredient in Absinthe alcohol as well as a flavoring for other spirits and wines, including bitters, vermouth, and pelinkovac. In the Middle Ages it was used to spice Mead. It is also a traditional color and flavor agent for green songpyeon (steamed dumpling) eaten during the Korean Thanksgiving festival. In Morrocco it is added to mint tea.

Medicinal Uses:
Wormwood contains thujone, tannic and resinous substances, malic acid, and succinic acid. Medicinally it is used as a stomachic, antispasmodic, cholagogue, tonic, antiseptic, carminative, febrifuge, and anthelmintic. It is known for combatting indigestion, gastric pain, or as an antiseptic. It has been an ingredient in teas to help pregnant women during labor pains. It is also used as a cardiac stimulant to improve blood circulation. Its pure oil is very poisonous. Used to attack intenstinal worms.

Magical Uses:

Folklore and History:
Wormwood comes from the Greek “Apsinthion” which may mean “unenjoyable” referring to its bitter nature. The name “Wormwood” comes from Middle English “Wormwode” and nicknamed as such for its beneficial combat for intestinal worms. The Latin “Artemisia” is named after the Greek wife and sister of the Persian King Mausolous. She was an infamous botanist and medical researcher for her time.


Wormwood

Continue reading Wormwood: Artemisia absinthium

Share

Wolfsbane: Aconitum vulparia

Official article now located at: http://www.treeleavesoracle.org/treelore/?p=1333


Wolfsbane
The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland

Wolfsbane
Aconitum vulparia [ Plantae: Angiospermae; Eudicots; Ranunculales; Aconiteae; Family: Ranunculaceae: Genus: Aconitum: Aconitum vulparia ]

Common Names:
Wolfsbane, Badger’s Bane, aconite, monkshood, wolfsbane, leopard’s bane, women’s bane, Devil’s helmet or blue rocket.

Localities:
Alps, Europe.

Description:
This herbaceous perennial grows naturally in damp woods, in the Northern hemispheres, especially in the Alps where it is an endangered species. It likes moist retentive well drained soil atop mountain meadows with snow melt. It is a plant that produces dark green leaves that lack stipules, are palmate lobed with 5-7 segments each with 3 lobed coarse sharp teeth, spiral or alternate leaf arrangement, with lower leaves having long petioles, growing tall erect stemmed crowned by racemes of large sulphur-yellow flowers from June to August with numerous stamens. The higher the elevation, the more flowers produced, and longer they last. The flowers are well know for having one of 5 petaloid sepals called the galea in the form of a cylindrical helmet that gives itself the English name monkshood. These are 2-10 petals in forms of nectaries, with two upper large petals, located under the hood of the calyx and supported on long stalks, with a hollow spur at the apex containing nectar, and other petals being small or non-forming with 3-5 carpels partially fused at the base. The plant produces a dry unilocular follicle fruit that has many seeds formed from one carpel and dehiscing by the ventral suture to release the seeds when ready to reproduce.

Species:
There are over 250 species.

Cultivation:
Wolfsbane is easily propagated by divisions of the root or by seeds. The plant can be sown from seeds, although this method is challenging and is recommended to be germinated in a wet paper towel wrapped up in a unsealed plastic baggie for 4 weeks at regular room temperature (but no direct light). After germination, place in freezer for 6 weeks, then sow in sterile planting soil once temperatures get to 40-50 degrees Fahrenheit outdoors. Imitate its natural habitat of high elevations, cold, and icy terrain.

Common Uses:
Commonly used as an arrow poison throughout history for hunting and warfare.

Culinary Uses:
The roots are occasionally mistaken for those of horse radish. When touched to the lips will produce the feelings of numbness and tingling.

Medicinal Uses:
Most of the species of Aconitum contain large quantities of the deadly poison alkaloid pseudaconitine. Wolfsbane can cause severe itching and dermatitis if in contact with human skin, and the poison can be absorbed into the body quickly even with the slightest cut on the skin. Strongly recommended to always wear gloves when handling it. The tiniest amount can be fatal. It is traditionally used in Asian medicine to increase pitta (fire, bile) dosha and to enhance penetration in small doses. In Chinese medicine it is used to treat Yang deficiency or general debilitation. It is a known anodyne, diuretic, and diaphoretic. Internally, Wolfsbane is used to slow the pulse, as a sedative for pericarditis and/or heart palpitations, or diluted as a mild diaphoretic, and to reduce feverishness in treatments of colds, pneumonia, quinsy, laryngitis, croup, and asthma. Initial poisoning will cause gastrointestinal including nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea followed by burning, tingling, and numbness in the mouth and face, and of burning in the abdomen. It can cause hypertension, sweating, dizziness, difficulty in breathing, headache, and confusion. It is a potent neurotoxin that blocks tetrodotoxin-sensitive sodium channels.

Magical Uses:
A herb associated with Saturn and Mars used in classical witchcraft. Sacred to the Goddess Hecate. The herb is used to reverse shape shifting spells and protects homes from werewolves. Some claim that witches dipped flints into the juice of wolfsbane as poisoned weapons, these flints were called elf-bolts. Used as an incense to honor Hecate and to receive omens/oracles from her. It is an anti-shapeshifting drug, so can help see people’s real forms. Its used for much baneful magic.

Folklore and History:
It is believed that this plant got the name “Wolfsbane” because early Germans used it to poison wolves. In Greek Myth, Medea attempted to poison Theseus with a cup of wine poisoned with wolfsbane.

Continue reading Wolfsbane: Aconitum vulparia

Share

Birthwort: Aristolochia clematitis

Official page is now located at: (check this one for revisions and updates)
http://www.treeleavesoracle.org/treelore/?p=1295


Birthwort

The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland

Birthwort
Aristolochia clematitis [ Plantae: Aristolochiaceae: Aristolochia clematitis ]

Common Names:
Birthwort, Virginia Snakeroot, Snakeroot, Dutchman’s Pipe, Pipevine, etc.

Localities:
Found throughout the Mediterranean, Asia Minor, and the Caucasus, it is found in many other regions.

Description:
A perennial flowering plant that grows upwards of three feet, possesses an unpleasant smell, and blossoms dirty yellow flowers. Its flowers resemble a birth canal or a pipe, hence lending to the name. The root is spindle-shaped, ranging from 5 cm to 3 dm in length, about 2 cm thick, fleshy, brittle, greyish on the outside, brownish-yellow inside, bitter tasting, and hosting a strong disagreeable odor.

Species:

There are over 350 species, including but not limited to: Aristolochia clematitis (Birthwort); Aristolochia serpentaria (Virginia Snakeroot, Virginia Snakeroot, Snakeweed); Aristolochia reticulata (Snakeroot) ; Aristolochia klugii (Amazonian Snakeroot/Birthwort) ; Aristolochia bracteata (Sudanese Snakeroot/Birthwort) ; Aristolochia rotunda (European Snakeroot/Birthwort); Aristolochia kaempferi and A. fangchi (Chinese Snakeroot/Birthwort) ; Aristolochia indica (Indian Birthwort); Aristolochia mexicana, A. watsonii, A. wrightii (Indian Root, Birthroot, Snakeroot, Dutchman’s Pipe, Spanish: Yerba del Indio, Raiz del India, Inmortal, Comino, Guaco, Yerba del Pasmo, Tlacopatli (Nahuatl) ; Aristolochia grandiflora (Duck Flower, Alcatraz, Spanish: Hierba del Indio, Contribo).

Cultivation:

Common Uses:

Culinary Uses:

Medicinal Uses:
Due to the “Doctrine of signatures” this plant was used a lot in childbirth – a preparation was prepared for women in labor to expel the placenta. However, the aristolochic acid often killed the patient. This plant is so dangerous that not many parts of the plant are ever used anymore. It is highly toxic and lead to the development of tumors if low doses are taken over an extended period of time. Traditionally its fresh juice was used to induce labor. Theophrastus (372-286 BCE) claimed its success with treating disorders of the uterus, reptile bites, and sores to the head. Native Americans used it to treat snake bites, treat stomach aches, toothaches, and fevers. The Aztec used it to treat abscesses, dysentery, and deafness. It is a anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, analgesic, abortifacient, diaphoretic, nervine, tonic, wound healer, and is known to induce menstruation. It stimulates white blood cell activity and is also carcinogenic and damaging to the kidneys. Decoctions were used to heal ulcers as well as asthma and bronchitis. In Sudan was used for scorpion stings. In India it is used as a contraceptive. Aristolochia serpentaria (Virginia Snakeroot) (as well as A. pfeiferi, A. rugosa and A. trilobata) were used alot for treating snakebites, hence the folk name “Snakeroot” even though the Aristolochic acid doesn’t appear to bind and deactivate the Phospholipase A2 of most snake venom. This species though is said to be instrumental in helping bilious, typhoid, typhus fever, small pox, pneumonia, amenorrhoea, and fevers as well as for the bites of mad dogs. The powdered root (1/2 to 1 drachm) has been said to be an aromatic stimulant in rheumatism and gout after childbirth.

Magical Uses:

Folklore and History:
Birthwort came from the term “Aristolochia” which means “excellent birth” as its fresh juice once was used to induce labor.

Share

Henbane




Henbane
The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland

Henbane

Hyoscyamus niger [ Plantae: Angiosperms: Eudicots: Asterids: Solanales: Solanaceae: Hyoscyamus: Hyoscyamus niger ]

Common Names:
stinking nightshade, black henbane, Common Henbane, Hyoscyamus, Hog’s-bean, Devil’s Eye, Jupiter’s-bean, Symphonica, Cassilata, Cassilago, Deus Caballinus.

Localities:
Originates in Eurasia and very common throughout central and southern Europe, Western Asia, India, and Siberia, but now is found throughout the world.

Description:
An annual plant with a almost unbranched stem that is smaller and less downy than the biennial form, leaves shorter and less hairy with yellow flowers in July or August, and its biennial member in May and June. It can grow to a height of 1-2 feet, flowering, and perfecing seeds. Underground has a thick fleshy room with crowns that arise in spring as atall branched flowering stem. The biennial plant spreads out flat on all sides from the crown and root like a rosette, oblong, and egg-shaped, with acute points, stalked and more or less sharply toothed, a foot in length with greyish-green color and covered with sticky hairs. Leaves will perish with winter. Flowering stems push up from root-crown in spring, reaching 3-4 feet in height, becoming branched and furnished with alternate, oblong, unequally lobed stalkless leaves. Most of the leaves are stem clasping and varying in size, but not often more than 9-10 inches in length.

Species:
There are 11 species. Henbane is a member of Solanaceae family, which is in lineage with Potatoes, Tobacco, Belladonna, and Tomatoes.

Cultivation:
Cultivated varieties produce more medical matter than the wild. Grows on most soils, especially sandy beaches near the sea, chalky slopes, or loamy soil. Seeds can lie dormant for a season or more and sometimes dies in patches. Requires light, moderately rich and well drained soils. Seeds should be sown in early May or when ground warms, thinly, in rows 2-2.5 feet apart, with seedlings thinned out 2′ apart. Leaves should be collected when plant is in full flower. When drying, it loses 80-86 percent of its weight, 100 lbs yielding 14-20 lbs. of dry herb. Seeds should be gathered in August, kiln-dried for medicinal purposes, though sun-dried for certain treatments.

Common Uses:

Culinary Uses:
Henbane was often added to ‘gruit’ which is traditionally used as a flavoring for beer until it was replaced by hops in the 11-16th centuries.

Medicinal Uses:
The fresh leaves, flowering tops and branches, and seeds are the most commonly used parts of Henbane. The leaves, seeds, and juice was taken internally to create unquiet sleep, mimicking a sleep of drunkenness that continued long and death-like. It is an antispasmodic, hypnotic, and mild diuretic. It was omitted from the London Pharmacopoeia from 1746 and 1788, then restored in 1809, due to experiments by Baron Storch, who prescribed it fo epilepsy and other nervous convulsive diseases. Henbane is toxic to animals even in low doses, often leading to death; but does not affect the Cabbage Moth which eats henbane. Hyoscyamine, scopolamine, and other tropane alkaloids are found in the seeds and foliage. Effects from ingestion of henbane causes hallucinations, dilated pupils, flushed skin, restlessness, and sometimes convulsions, vomiting, hypertension, tachycardia, hyperpyrexia, and ataxia. Use of Henbane in medicine goes back to ancient times, as was recommended by Dioscorides (1st c. C.E.) who used it to procure sleep and allay pain. Culpepper claimed that its leaves will cool hot inflammations in the eyes and that it assuages pains of gout, sciatica, pains in the joints that arise from a hot cause. It can be used as a anodyne, hypnotic, or a seditive. Can be used to treat Twilight Sleep and used for acute mania and delirium tremens. Seeds are used as a domestic remedy for toothache. Smoke from the seeds on a hot plate can be applied to the mouth with a funnel or a poultice as a means of application for toothaches. Smoking leaves and seeds in a pipe can be used to treat neuralgia and rheumatism.

Magical Uses:
Throughout the history of magic, Henbane was combined with mandrake, deadly nightshade, and datura to create magical brews that were psychoactive anaesthetic potions used in flying ointments that created visual hallucinations and the feeling of flying. It was often applied via a broomstick by witches into the genitals giving effect of the lore of a witch flying on a broomstick. Commonly used in magic for its power of throwing its victims into convulsions. Anodyne necklaces made fro mthe root were hung on children’s necks as charms to prevent fits and for easy teething. The plant is believed to have been added as death offerings in burial to connect the deceased with easing the spirit out of the body to ease its passage into the otherworld. It was a common herb to produce prophecy and the priestessed of the Delphi Oracle were believed to inhale smoke from smouldering henbane in order to retrieve oracles and omens. It is also commonly used in necromancy.

Folklore and History:
Culturally it was used throughout continental Europe, Asia, and the Arabic world onwards through England during the Middles Ages. According to Pliny, The Ancient Greeks utilized Henbane as well. The Priestesses of Apollo used the plant to produce oracles. The name of Henbane goes back to 1265 with the belief that “hen” meant “death”. In 1910, Hawley Harvey Crippen, an American homeopath in London, extracted scopolamine from henbane in order to poison his wife. Henbane is believed to have been the “hebenon” that was poured into the ear of Hamlet’s father. The dead in Hades were crowned with Henbane as they wandered aimlessly beside the river Styx. To the Germans, it is believed that Henbane can attract rain and can produce sterility in land and livestock. Often used by witches to raise storms and blight crops.


Henbane
The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland


Share

Common Rue: Ruta Graveolens

Main article is now located at: http://www.treeleavesoracle.org/treelore/?p=1307
Check here for updates, new editions, and new information.


Ruta Graveolens / RUE
The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland

Rue: Ruta Graveolens
Ruta Graveolens [ Plantae: Angiosperms: Eudicots: Rosids: Sapindales: Rutaceae: Rutoideae: Ruteae: Ruta: Ruta Graveolens ]

Common Names:

Localities:
Commonly found throughout the Mediterranean, Southern Europe, Macaronesia, and southwest Asia.

Description:
Rue is a hardy evergreen shrubby plant that is highly scented disagreeble odor, ranging from 20-60 cm tall, with upwards of 8-40 species. The most popular “Rue” is “Common Rue”. Stems are woody in the lower part, Its leaves are alternate tripinnate or bipinnate with feathery appearance, green to blue green in color hosting yellow flowers with 4-5 petals that are approximately 1 cm in diameter usually from June to September, eventually forming 4-5 lobed capsulated fruit that hosts numerous sees.

Species:
Ruta angustifolia – Egyptian Rue; Ruta chalepensis – Fringed Rue; Ruta corsica – Corsican Rue; Ruta graveolens – Common Rue; Ruta montana – Mountain Rue

Cultivation:
Grows anywhere, but thrives best in partially sheltered and dry areas. It can be propogated by seeds sown outside and scattered in spring, raking and beds kept free of weeds so that the seedlings when 2 inches high can be transplanted into fresh beds. Best to allow 18 inch spacing. With cuttings done in the spring, insert in soil until well rooted in shady borders or by rooted slips taken in spring until readily grown. Poor, dry, rubbishy soil is very good.

Common Uses:
Often used to ward off fleas and other biting insects and a common herbal insect repellent.

Culinary Uses:
Rue is very bitter with a nauseous taste, but utilized in many Middle Eastern cuisines, especially as an additive to grappa in Italy. It was a common element to ancient Roman recipes. Often added to salads.

Medicinal Uses:
Used for much medicine in England, it is a main ingredient for poison antidotes. Piperno the physician in 1625 recommended Rue to combat epilepsy, vertigo, and malady – often to be worn around the neck of the sufferer. Pliny claimed it was good to improve eyesight and focus. Believed by Italian artists to make eyesight sharp and clear aiding in detailed drawings. Juice of Rue is often utilized to fend off ear aches. It was seen early to ward off contagion, attacks of fleas, and other insects. Culpepper recommends it for sciatica and pains in the joints, also for shaking fits of agues, etc. Volatile oil made from rue contains caprinic, plagonic, caprylic, and oenanthylic acids as well as rutin. Often distilled from the fresh herb used as a wine, decoctions and infusions for medicinal usage or tea as an emmenogogue. In large quantities it is an acro-narcotic poison. Used sometimes to address hysterical affections, coughs, croup, colic, and flatulence as it is a mild stomachic. On the skin its an active irritant and sometimes used as a rubefacient, helping ease the severe pains of sciatica. it can risk dermatitis on the skin and cause rashes, especially if under the hot sun when oils are rich on the outside, it can blister skin like a poison ivy rash. Taken as a tea often used to combat nervous nightmares and leaves rubbed to the temples are said to relieve headaches. However, taking the plant intself internally has been known to produce vomiting, convulsions, and stomach pains. The compresses of the leaves applied to chests can combat chronic bronchitis. Leaves chewed are believed to calm nervous headaches, giddiness, hysterical spasms, and palpitations.

Magical Uses:
The Ancient Greeks see it as a “anti-magical herb” because it served as remedies to nervous indigestion they suffered when eating before strangers which was blamed on witchcraft. Throughout the Middle Ages it was seen as a powerful defense against witches and a main ingredient in many spells. Crushed herb is known to ward off evil spirits and witches. Rue is also believed to summon second sight. Holy water was sprinkled with rue brushes at ceremonies preceding Sunday celebrations of high mass, giving it the name Herb of Repentance or Herb of Grace. Often boiled together with treacle, conserving the rue, and used to cure croup in poultry or to fend off diseases in cattle.

Folklore and History:
The name comes from “Ruta” (Greek ‘reuo’) meaning “to set free” as the herb is known to be very good at affecting various diseases. Used by many ancient cultures, it was written about by Hippocrates who commended it as a chief ingredient for combating poisons in antidotes. Said by Gerard that “If a man be anointed with the juice of rue, the poison of wolf’s bane, mushrooms, or toadstooles, the biting of serpents, stinging of scorpions, spiders, bees, hornets and wasps will not hurt him.”, it was commonly sprinkled in houses to kill all the feas and as an insecticide. It is one of the ingredients in the “Vinegar of the Four Thieves”. It is the floral symbol of repentance, sorrow, and of regret.


Rue
The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland

Continue reading Common Rue: Ruta Graveolens

Share

American Mandrake



American Mandrake
The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland

American Mandrake

Podophyllum peltatum [ Plantae: Angiosperms: Eudicots: Core eudicots: Caryophyllales: Amaranthaceae: Amaranthus: Podophyllum peltatum ]

Common Names:
Mayapple, Devil’s Apple, Hog-apple, Indian Apple, American Mandrake, American May Apple, Racoonberry, Wild Lemon, Witches Umbrella

Localities:
Eastern North America – Southern Maine to Florida, west to Texas and Minnesota.

Description:
American Mandrake, while confused for European Mandrake because of its humanoid root form, is a barberry rather than a nightshade so doesn’t contain tropanes. Some describe it as looking like a small umbrella rising out of the floor of the forest. There could be upwards of thousands of stems in the colonies resembling mini forests since they branch out from the same root system are genetically identical as from a single plant. But it is still beneficial yet deadly. Easy to identify because of its single stem and umbrella-like leaf arrangements. It grows wild in damp North American woodlands. Its a perrenial native that grows in moist soils in rich woods, thickets, and pastures. American Mandrake grows upwards of 18 inches high with the stem separating into 2 large dark green long stemmed palmate lobed leaves that look like umbrellas that are protecting the large white flower that is on a short peduncle that grows right in between the leaves flowering from April to May. Spring flowers of the American Mandrake turn into crab apple sized edible fruits that are gathered in late summer when fully ripe. May Apple colonies do not flower until it is 12 years old, then display blossoms resembling small satellite dishes followed by the fruit. The colonies grow very slowly averaging 4 inches a year. Mandrake roots are in humanoid shape, dark brown, fibrous, and jointed.

Cultivation:
American Mandrake is fairly easy to grow using seedling transplans or seeds sown in the fall and prefers rich well drained soil and partial shade. Roots are usually gathered after the foliage dies back and then dried for later use.

Common Uses:

Culinary Uses:
Its ripe fruit is edible, but the rest of the plant (especially the root) contains a powerful cytotoxin (cell killer). Fruit is eaten when fully ripe either raw, cooked, or made into jams, jellies, marmalades, and pies. May apple is very aromatic and has a sweet flavor. The seeds and rinds are poisonous and not edible.

Medicinal Uses:
This plant is currently used in chemotherapy against cancer. Most of the plant contains a powerful cytotoxin (cell killer), especially he root. Root and plant contain Quercetic, Kaempferol, Podophyllin, Isorhamnetin, Gallic acid, Berberine, and Alpha-peltatin; all of which are utilized in healing and anticancer remedies. It is also used for skin cancer treatment. The root is the most medicinal part of the plant as it is antibilious, cathartic, cytostatic, hydrogogue and purgative. Resin from the root is used in the treatment of warts. The herb produces nausea and vomiting, inflammation of the stomach and intestines, and can be fatal. Even in moderate doses it is a drastic purgative with cholagogue action. Native Americans used the plant for a powerful laxative, treating intestinal worms, as a cure for warts, snakebite, and insecticide for their crops. It was also used commonly to committ suicide. Pioneers made an extract from the roots as a cathartic and cure for constipation. Reports from pharmaceutical workers describe severe skin sores and eye inflammations just from handling the poisonous root. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration deems the plant as “unsafe”.

Magical Uses:
An extremely magical plant, Mandrake (American or European) is utilized in much spellcraft because its root takes on a humanoid form and good to use in sympathetic and contact magic. It is ruled by Saturn.

Folklore and History:
The plant is extensively used by Native Americans. American witches have and still use the plant as a poison, cure, and medicine. Just as its European counterpart, its often nicknamed Manroot (mandrake) for its shape, and believed to be alive screaming when pulled from the ground would render a man permanently insane.

Share

Love Lies Bleeding



Love Lies Bleeding
The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland

Love Lies Bleeding

Amaranthus caudatus [ Plantae: Angiosperms: Eudicots: Core eudicots: Caryophyllales: Amaranthaceae: Amaranthus: A. caudatus ]

Common Names:

Amaranth, Amaranthus, Love Lies Bleeding, love-lies-bleeding, love-lies-a’bleeding, pendant amaranth, tassel flower, velvet flower, foxtail amaranth, and quelite.

Localities:
Grows throughout the world, especially North and South America, Asia, India, Africa, the Pacific Islands, the Caribbean, and Eurasia.

Description:
“Love Lies Bleeding” is an annual that can grow upwards of 36 to 48 inches or 3-8 feet high. Amaranthus when in bloom produces a pale pink, fuchsia, red, or purple flower color in mid to late summer and/or early fall. Amaranthus is herbaceous and is a species of annual flowering plant. Its red color is due to a high content of betacyanins making it a popular ornamental.

Cultivation:
When planting Amaranthus, one should space the plants between 18 and 24 inches apart. They need full sun. It can handle both humid and arid conditions. They need average watering regularly, but should not be overwatered. Soil should have a 5.6 to 6.0 acidic soil pH or a 6.1 to 6.5 mildly acidic pH. Amaranthus can be propograted from seed either indoors before the last frost or outside after the last frost. When collecting the seedheads, allow to dry on the plants, removing and collecting seeds.

Common Uses:

Culinary Uses:
Most of the plant, such as the leaves and seeds, are edible and often used as food in India and South America as well as Asia, India, Africa, the Pacific Islands, the Caribbean, and Eurasia. It was the principle grain crop of he Aztecs who called it the “golden grain of the gods”. With the Kiwicha variety, when the grain seeds are heated, they pop to create a crunchy white product that tastes like nutty popcorn often utilized as a delicious snack or as a cold cereal with milk and honey, as breading on chicken or fish, or in sweets with honey. The grain is also made into a flour and rolled into flakes, puffed, or boiled for porridge.

Medicinal Uses:

Magical Uses:

Folklore and History:
Known as the “Golden Grain of the Gods” by the Aztec. It was widely dispersed as much as corn was in the Americas.

Share

Coconut Palm: Cocos nucifera

Baurley, Thomas 11/26/2009 “Coconut Palm: Cocos nucifera”. Official web page: http://www.treeleavesoracle.org/treelore/?p=1347. © 2009 – Technogypsie Productions: Colorado Springs, Colorado. If you enjoy this article, please treat the author to a drink or donate to keep this article preserved online.


Coconut Trees, Big Island, Hawaii

Coconut Palm
Taxonomy: Plantae: Gymnospermae: Cycadopsida: Commelinids: Arecales: Arecaceae: Arecoideae: Cocoeae: Cocos nucifera. Common names: Nut, Coco, Coconut

Description: Most of the world is familiar with coconuts, the fruit and seed of which comes from the Coconut Palm. Its one of the ever-more popular icons of tropical beaches and regions, uninhabited islands, Florida, Hawaii, and the Bahamas. The Coconut Palm is part of the Palm Family (Arecaceae) and holds its only species. Its a large palm that can grow upwards of 30 meters tall with pinnate leaves 4-6 meters long and pinnae from 60-90 cm long. When the old leaves break away from the trunk it leaves it clean and smooth. A largely tropical decoration plant, it is also used throughout the world for cooking, health, refreshment, beverages, and manufacture. Every part of the Coconut Palm has a use. The fruit of the plant is light, buoyant, and highly water resistant making it very easy to propagate and spread across the world via the oceans and seas. The flowers of the plant are polygamomonoecious possessing both male and female flowers in the same inflorescence that occur continuously. The fruit of the tree is a coconut, within the inner surface of the shell, a ‘nut’ that is an edible endosperm containing coconut juice/milk that is sweet and/or salty. Botanically its a simply dry nut containing a husk (mesocarp) composed of fibers (coir) hosting an inner stone (endocarp) that is the hardest part of the nut which contains 3 germination pores visible on the outside surface once the husk is removed. Through these holes the radicle emerges when the embroyo germinates. The coconut meat is within the shell and consists of a white fleshy edible albuminous endosperm that is highly noted for its medium-chain saturated fat, containing less sugar and more protein than many popular fruits like bananas, apples, oranges, and is high in iron, phospherus, and zinc. In the hollow interior space of the nut is air and a liquid referred to as “coconut water”. When the coconut fruit is still green, the husk is very hard, and only fall if attacked by molds. When the fruit falls naturally, the husks become brown, coir is dry and soft, and less hazardous when it falls. Coconuts can be very damaging when they fall to people, automobiles, and houses. They have been known to cause fatalities.


Beware of falling coconuts, Kalapana Village, Big Island, Hawaii

History::
The exact origin of the “Coconut” is a controversy, ranging from scholars believing it to be native to South Asia while others claim it is from northwestern South American; Fossil evidence shows coconut plants in New Zealand from 15 million years ago; even older fossils in Kerala, Rajasthan, Thennai, and India. First referred to in the 2nd-1st c. B.C.E. in Sri Lanka. Coconuts were believed to be introduced to Hawaii by the Polynesians, to Europe by Portuguese sailors, etc. The name “coconut” came to be from the description of the brown and hairy surface of the nut that reminded the Portuguese explorers of a ghost or witch called “Coco”. Then Marco Polo in 1280 called it nux indica derived from the Arab’s name jauz-al-Hindi. The British retained the coco name and added “nut” to it.

Folklore and Magical beliefs::
Because of how the fruit appears, Portuguese travelers thought the fruit looked like “Coco” the scary witch from within their folklore, that used to be represented as a carved vegetable lantern. Coconut shell is sometimes used to ‘ward away the evil eye’ in South India. In the Philippines, dried half shells are used for a folk dance called the “maglalatik” for an musical instrument that demonstrates or tells the tale about conflicts about coconuts within the Spanish era. The Coconut is used often in rituals – with the Kaveri River worship in India it was seen as an essential element of several Hindu rituals where coconuts were decorated with bright metal foils. Often offered to Hindu God/desses, rivers, and seas in hopes of honor, tribute, or answers to prayers for successful/bountiful catches. In Hindu wedding rituals the coconut is placed over the opening of a pot (representing the womb) or breaking the coconut to ensure blessings as a successful completion of an activity or used in prayers. With Tantra sometimes coconuts are used to represent the human skull.


Coconut, Big Island, Hawaii

Continue reading Coconut Palm: Cocos nucifera

Share

United States Botanical Gardens (D.C.)


United States Botanical Gardens, Washington, D.C. 2/17/09

United States Botanical Gardens: (A HREF=”http://www.usbg.gov/”>http://www.usbg.gov/)
is one of the Nation’s most important botanical gardens. It is located on the grounds of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C., near Garfield Circle, at the east end of the National Mall. The facility is supervised by the Congress through the Architect of the Capitol who is the groundskeeper of the Capitol. Open daily even on federal holidays (except June 3) until 5 pm. It is the oldest and most continually-operating botanical gardens in the U.S. In 1838 Charles Wilkes set out on the United States Exploring Expedition commissioned by Congress to circumnavigate the globe and explore the Pacific Ocean. During this trip (the “Wilkes Expedition”), Wilkes collected live and dried specimens of plants and was one of the first to use wardian cases to maintain live plants on long voyages. Wilkes returned in 1842 with a massive collection of plants previously unknown in the United States. These dried specimens comprised the core of what is now the National Herbarium, a herbarium curated by the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History. The live specimens and seeds came to be housed in the Old Patent Office greenhouse, and were cared for there until 1850. At that time, a botanic garden was built to house the collection in front of the Capitol, where the Capitol reflecting pool is now located. The Building was moved to its present location in 1933 just to the southwest of the Capitol, bordered by Maryland Avenue on the north, First Street on the east, Independence Avenue on the south, and Third Street on the west. The Gardens are separated into the following sections;

  • The Garden Court
  • Rare and Endangered Plants (rare species, endangered species)
  • Plant Exploration
  • Orchid House (orchids)
  • Medicinal Plants (medicinal plants)
  • Desert (desert species)
  • Oasis (oasis)
  • Garden Primeval (primeval)
  • Plant Adaptation
  • Jungle (jungle species; this is the largest of the rooms, and includes a second-story catwalk so that the jungle canopy may be observed from both below and above)
  • Children’s Garden (courtyard; features many thriving temperate annuals used to encourage interest in plants)
  • Southern Exposure (courtyard),on the south side of the building, is surrounded by glass walls, receiving more warmth. It features many plants from the Southeast and Southwest, which would not be able to live in the colder District of Columbia climate if not for the microclimate)

The Oasis and administrative offices are the only places in the complex with air conditioning. Each room is closely monitored by a computer-operated sensors to maintain the environment best suited to the plants in that room. Humidity, sunlight and temperature are regulated by means of a misting system, retractable shades and levered windows. All plants are watered daily by hand. The gardens are fragrant, beautiful, and not to be missed when visiting Washington, D.C. Rating: 5+ stars out of 5.
Continue reading United States Botanical Gardens (D.C.)

Share