Malva sp. (Mallow)

Distribution and Importance of the Plant Although about 1000 species are designated with the common name of mallow, approximately 30 species belonging to the genus Malva (of the Malvaceae family) are known for their medicinal value, mostly in a traditional sense. The common (blue or high) mallow (Malva sylvestris L.) is a biennial to short-lived perennial with prostrate to semi-erect stems (10-80 cm long) and long-stalked rounded leaves with a heart-shaped base and five to seven broad shallow-toothed lobes (). The leaves of M. sylvestris var. incanescens Gris are hairy. The flowers (appearing from May to September) are pale lilac to bright mauve-purple and the seeds are flat button-like nutlets. The plant is found naturally in marginal or waste lands, hedgerows and roadsides and is approximately 1 m high, with stalked, roundish, five- to seven-lobed leaves (). Plant parts abound with a mild mucilage. Malva aegyptia (Egyptian mallow) is an annual species, endemic in the Mediterranean countries, 20-50 cm high with purple-blue flowers. Malva cretica (Crecian mallow) is another Mediterranean species, which is an annual, 10-30 cm high with rose-coloured leaves. Malva ambigua Guss (M. sylvestris var. ambigua) Read more [...]

Artemisia vulgaris L.

Artemisia vulgaris L., most commonly known as Mugwort, is a species of wide distribution throughout Europe, Asia and north America. Several other common names are listed by Grieve () and Bisset () including Felon Herb, Wild Wormwood and St. John’s Plant, noting that the latter name should not be confused with St. John’s Wort, Hypericum perforatum. The historical derivation of these names is suggested by Grieve (), the herb having been used over many centuries. Most likely, the name “Mugwort” is linked with the plant’s use for flavouring beer prior to the modern use of hops (Humulus lupulus). Alternatively, Mugwort, may not relate to either drinking mugs or wort, but from “moughthe”, a moth or maggot since the plant has been thought to be useful in repelling moths. In the United Kingdom Artemisia vulgaris has received many local names. Grigson () lists 24 names including Apple-Pie and Mugweed in Cheshire, Green Ginger and Smotherwood in Lincolnshire, Mugwood in Shropshire and Mugger in Scotland. Botany Habitat Mugwort is a hardy perennial common throughout temperate regions of the northern hemisphere. It grows readily in hedgerows, roadsides, river banks and waste places such as rubbish tips. Clapham et al. () Read more [...]

Healing Powers of Aloes

Aloe is a medicinal plant that has maintained its popularity over the course of time. Three distinct preparations of aloe plants are mostly used in a medicinal capacity: aloe latex (=aloe); aloe gel (=aloe vera); and, aloe whole leaf (=aloe extract). Aloe latex is used for its laxative effect; aloe gel is used topically for skin ailments, such as wound healing, psoriasis, genital herpes and internally by oral administration in diabetic and hyperlipidaemic patients and to heal gastric ulcers; and, aloe extract is potentially useful for cancer and AIDS. The use of honey may make the aloe extract therapy palatable and more efficient. Aloe preparations, especially aloe gel, have been reported to be chemically unstable and may deteriorate over a short time period. In addition, hot water extracts may not contain adequate concentrations of active ingredients and purified fractions may be required in animal studies and clinical trials. Therefore it should be kept in mind that, in some cases, the accuracy of the listed actions may be uncertain and should be verified by further studies. There are at least 600 known species of Aloe (Family Liliaceae) (), many of which have been used as botanical medicines in many countries Read more [...]

Bioactivity of Basil

Traditional Medicine Basil has traditionally been used for head colds and as a cure for warts and worms, as an appetite stimulant, carminative, and diuretic. In addition, it has been used as a mouth wash and adstringent to cure inflammations in the mouth and throat. Alcoholic extracts of basil have been used in creams to treat slowly healing wounds (). Basil is more widely used as a medicinal herb in the Far East, especially in China and India. It was first described in a major Chinese herbal around A.D. 1060 and has since been used in China for spasms of the stomach and kidney ailments, among others. It is especially recommended for use before and after parturition to promote blood circulation. The whole herb is also used to treat snakebite and insect bites (). In Nigeria, a decoction of the leaves of Ocimum gratissimum is used in the treatment of fever, as a diaphoretic and also as a stomachic and laxative. In Franchophone West Africa, the plant is used in treating coughs and fevers and as an anthelmintic. In areas around Ibadan (Western State of Nigeria), Ocimum gratissimum is most often taken as a decoction of the whole herb (Agbo) and is particularly used in treating diarrhoea (). It is known to the Yorubas Read more [...]

Pimpinella anisum L. (Anise)

Distribution and Importance Anise originated in the eastern Mediterranean region and is native to Asia Minor, Greece and Egypt. Principal anise-growing regions are Spain, the Soviet Union, France and North Africa as well as some parts of Germany (). Moreover, anise is commercially cultivated in Chile, China and the USA (). The plant belongs to the Umbelliferae family, has a distinct spicy-aromatic (anise-like) smell, and an aromatic-sweetish taste, with greyish-green upside-down pear-shaped, and about 2-mm-long schizocarps of the 1-year-old herb-like plant which may grow up to 50 cm (). The plant has fine fusiform roots, the ribbed stem is branched and has pubiscent leaves. The lower vegetative leaves are roundish-reniform, whereas the upper vegetative leaves consist of narrow-leaved pinnas. The blossom is an umbel with filamentous involucral bracts and white and short petals (). As a medicinal herb and aromatic plant, anise is one of the oldest cultigens. Hippocrates used anise for the treatment of jaundice and, in the Middle Ages, it was taken as a medicine for cough and cancer, as well as for cases of snake and scorpion bites, mental diseases and epilepsy; it was even used as a diuretic. The first legal certification Read more [...]

Heimia salicifolia

Description, Distribution, and Uses of Heimia salicifolia Heimia salicifolia, a small shrub of the Lythraceae is the source of biphenylquinolizidine lactones and related alkaloids (). Heimia is distributed throughout the tropical and subtropical climates of the American Continent and has been described as reaching 0.5-3 m in height (). It has sessile, linear lanceolate leaves that are generally opposite. The yellow flowers are solitary and axillary. The fruit is a capsule filled with small (ca. 0.5 mm diameter) ovoid seeds. H. salicifolia has received several common names. In Mexico it is mostly known as sinicuiche and less frequently as sinicuilche, sinicuil, huachinol, anchinol and xonecuili (). In Brazil it is locally known as abre-o-sol, herva da vida and quebra arado () and in Argentina as quiebra arado (). The Mexican name sinicuiche () is of most common use. H. salicifolia has been used as a folk remedy especially in Mexico (). It has been employed as a diuretic, laxative, antisyphilitic, emetic, vulnerary, digestive and to treat cases of dysentery, inflammation of the uterus, bronchitis, and other chest ailments (). In addition, inhibition of a beverage produced from the fermented plant is said to cause Read more [...]

Gardenia jasminoides Ellis

Gardenia jasminoides Ellis (= G. grandiflora Lour.), a native of China and Indochina, is an ornamental and medicinal woody plant. This plant, belonging to the Rubiaceae, is an evergreen small shrub with white, solitary and fragrant flowers. The double-flowered form is usually used for ornamental purposes, while the single-flowered form is used as a medicinal plant, since the former does not bear fruits, a medicinally used organ. G. jasminoides, as well as its variety, G. jasminoides var. ovalifolia Nakai, is called gardenia and used as a garden tree in Europe and North America, and also as a pot plant in Greece. This plant was once called Cape jasmine in North America because of its fragrant flowers, which were popular for cutting (). In China it is called Zhi-zi, and the dried fruits have been medicinally used for curing various inflammatory diseases including hepatitis and cystitis (). The dried fruits of G. jasminoides and of its form, G. jasminoides f. grandiflora Makino, are called San-shi-shi in Japan and have been used as a dyestuff and an antiphlogistic, diuretic and haemostatic drug in Chinese traditional medicine (). A demand for the fruits as food colouring has been rapidly increasing and currently more Read more [...]

Foeniculum vulgare Miller

Fennel as a Crop Plant Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare Miller) belongs to the Umbelliferae family and was originally found around the Mediterranean Basin. It has long been cultivated and introduced into many regions outside of that zone and has become naturalized in some of them. Although it can bear widely different climates and be cultivated in cold climates as well as in tropical regions, it develops best in temperate climates. In the Mediterranean climate, wild fennel often grows densely, with a potentiality of invading crops. In some areas where it has become naturalized, as in California for example, it has spread so much that in some cases it has become a weed (). As in most Umbelliferae, the plant has secretory canals in all the organs () and produces an essential oil rich in aromatic components. The chief constituent of the essence is anethole, which gives the plant its anise fragrance, but it also contains, in variable quantities, other elements, such as fenchone, estragole, anisaldehyde and terpenes (d-pinene, α-d-phellandrene, camphene) (). The genus Foeniculum is monospecific, and is represented only by the vulgare species. The latter, however, has been split into two subspecies: ssp. piperitum (Ucria) Coutinho Read more [...]


Dioscorea belongs to the monocotyledons, family Dioscoreaceae, subfamily Dioscoreoideae. It comprises ca. 600 species and is divisible into numerous sections according to stem twining, leaf morphology, inflorescences, seed wings, bulbil formation, tuber morphology and chemical content (). Bulbils occur in the leaf axis of numerous species of Dioscorea and contribute greatly to vegetative propagation. Flowers are dioecious and seeds often winged. The plants are usually climbers, with tubers or rhizomes at the base. Underground tubers, vary in shape and are rich in starch. They also contain the poisonous alkaloid dioscorine, and therefore may be eaten only when boiled or roasted. The tubers are given the name yams. The term, however, should not be confused with the sweet potato, Ipomoea batatas (Convolvulaceae), which is also known as yam in the USA. Food tuber yams include D. alata, D. bulbifera, D. rotundata, D. cayenensis, D. esculenta and D. trifida. The plants are propagated vegetatively from tubers. Many species have a low rate of flowering and fruit setting and poor seed germination. Many species of Dioscorea are native to the Old World tropics and warm-temperature regions, some to tropical America. In Europe Read more [...]

Coix lacryma-jobi L. (Jobstears)

Geographic Distribution and Importance Jobstears (Coix lacryma-jobi) belongs to the Gramineae and is a diploid species (2n = 20). It is widely distributed in the temperate zones in the world, especially in humid areas of low latitude. In China, it is mainly distributed in the south provinces and there are wild and cultivated types of jobstears (). Jobstears is a perennial root species and has strong root system with thick fibrous roots (3 mm in diameter). The stem is straight, 1 -1.5 m high and has ten nodes and some branches. The leaf is conifer-shaped and 30 cm in length and 1.5-3 cm in width, midrib thick and prominent. Unisexual flower, monoexism and axillary or top-growing raceme. Female spikelets are at the base of inflorescence and male spikelets at the top of the inflorescence. The blooming period is July-September and in September-October the grains ripen. The fruit of jobstears is oval with a hard outer shell. The endosperm and embryo of the fruit is called “Job’s tears” and are utilized for both food and medicine. The nutritive value of Jobstears is primarily as a cereal crop and the kernel is reputed to be “the king of cereals”. Jobstears is also a highly waterlogging-, drought- and salt-tolerant and Read more [...]