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Results tagged “may-10”

May 10, 2013: Clematis cirrhosa

Clematis cirrhosa

Today's entry was both photographed and written by Taisha. She writes:

To highlight tomorrow's upcoming plant sale and event, A Growing Affair, I chose a plant that will be included in the sale. I did want to do a grass, as Daniel will be manning that post, however they weren't cooperating photographically yesterday and instead Clematis cirrhosa, aka early clematis or winter-flowering clematis, caught my eye.

Clematis cirrhosa from the Ranunculaceae is native to the Mediterranean. This species belongs to the subgenus Montanae, which uniquely possess nodding flowers and small bracts on the pedicels. This evergreen climber can reach 8m in height on a slender, 6-ribbed stem. Flowers are solitary or paired and generally have 4 sepals that are creamy-white and can sometimes be flecked with purple markings inside and green on the exterior. The fruit is an achene (a dry indehiscent fruit) with a silky plumose tail, as seen clearly in today's photo.

Plants do well in sunny spots with moderately-draining soils. It is recommended to keep the roots cool by shading the base of the plant. During hot summers, this species may go into dormancy, but no need to panic, as when the temperature drops in autumn it will start to re-grow. To avoid a single stem and promote branching, cut back this "group one" clematis in the early summer. Any pruning should be done immediately after flowering to ensure a nice display for next year, as the new flowers grow from nodes of the previous year's shoots. Clematis can be propagated either by double leaf bud cuttings or layering in the spring, or grown by seed.

Clematis cirrhosa has been noted to have antifungal activity (see: Ali-Shtayeh, MS & SI Ghdeib. 1998. Antifungal activity of plant extracts against dermatophytes. Mycoses. 42:665-672). An aqueous extract made from the plants secondary metabolites was 90-100% effective in reducing colony growth of Trichophyton violaceum, a fungus that can cause scaly lesions of skin, nails, beard and scalp.

May 10, 2012: Peumus boldus

Peumus boldus

Another in the series on white-flowered medicinal plants written by Katherine, today's entry has an illustration from Köhler's Medizinal-Pflanzen (in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons). Katherine writes:

Peumus boldus was described and published by Molina in 1782. Synonyms include Ruizia fragrans and Boldoa fragrans. Among its many common names are boldo, boldu, boldina, and baldina. This Chilean endemic species is the only representative of the genus.

Mature plants of this dioecious (individual plants are either male or female) evergreen tree attain about 6-8m (15-25 ft) in height. Shown in the illustration with pink-tinged white flowers, photographs of living material range from white to a pale yellow colour. The Plants for a Future database entry on Peumus boldus notes: "The small fruits are dried and used as beads in necklaces. When warmed by the body or the sun they release the scent of cinnamon". The leaves are the primary part of the plant used, however.

Wikipedia touches on some of the uses of the leaves: "In Chile, Uruguay, and Paraguay boldo is frequently mixed with yerba mate or other teas to moderate its flavor. In Brazil and Paraguay, many families keep a boldo plant at home for this purpose, although boldo teabags are readily available in nearly all supermarkets. It is believed in Southeastern Brazil that the leaves of the boldo plant can be used as an effective hangover and upset stomach cure." A longer list of traditional medicinal uses is available from Plants for a Future (linked above), including: treatment of gallstones, liver pain, gonorrhoea, urinary tract infections, intestinal parasites and rheumatism.

The European Medicines Agency, in its Evaluation of Medicines for Human Use, noted in its final assessment report on Peumus boldus (PDF): "[Assessor's Overall Conclusions] Sufficient data are available to develop a Community herbal monograph on the traditional use of Peumus boldus Molina, folium provided the indications are suitable for self-medication. The proposed indications are in accordance with the Commission E monograph (Blumenthal, 2000): Traditional herbal medicinal product for symptomatic relief of dyspepsia and mild spasmodic disorders of the gastrointestinal tract."

but cautioned:

"Duration of use should be limited to 2 weeks. Use of boldo leaf is not recommended in children and adolescents and should be avoided during pregnancy and lactation. Boldo leaf is contra-indicated where there is obstruction of the bile duct, cholangitis liver disease, gallstones or any other biliary disorder that would require medical supervision. The use of comminuted herbal substance as such and of ethanolic extracts of boldo leaf are not considered acceptable for traditional herbal medicinal products in view of the potential risks associated with the toxic ascaridole (see Health Issues) constituent".

May 10, 2011: Cornus florida

Cornus florida

A bit of a silly common name for this small tree, flowering dogwood (all dogwoods of reproductive age have flowers...), but that shouldn't detract from its springtime elegance. Cornus florida is another native of the eastern USA, but also nudges into Canada at the extreme edge of southern Ontario. A subspecies, Cornus florida subsp. urbiniana, is only found in eastern Mexico.

Cornus florida is threatened throughout much of its range thanks to the introduction of a fungus in the mid-1970s, Discula destructiva. Fungal infection of these dogwoods causes the disease dogwood anthracnose. Infection may or may not be terminal for individual trees, but it also weakens the trees and makes them susceptible to insects or other diseases. Over a long period of time, as random events occur and accumulate, significant mortality may result and this seems to be indicated in Jenkins, M. and White, P. 2002. Cornus florida L. Mortality and Understory Composition Changes in Western Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society. 129(3): 194-206. Jenkins and White found that higher relative mortality occurred over the two or so decades from 1977-1979 to 1995-2000 with smaller trees, and in cove forests and alluvial forests.

Read more about Cornus florida via the Silvics of North America or see additional photographs via the USDA PLANTS database: Cornus florida.

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