Sanguinaria canadensis L. (Sanguinarius)

Sanguinaria canadensis L. () is a low perennial with mostly white flowers and thick rhizomes containing an acrid red-orange juice from whence the plant was named (sanguinarius, bleeding). This monotypic genus is a member of the Papaver-aceae family, known to contain a diversity of isoquinoline alkaloids, including the protoberberine and benzophenanthridine alkaloids which are found in many species of this family (). The synonymous Latin binomials for Sanguinaria canadensis are claimed to be Chelidonium maximum canadense, Sanguinaria acaulis, and Sanguinaria vernalis. Moreover, a number of vernacular names of Sanguinaria canadensis have been used, some examples include: bloodroot, Indian paint, red root, snakebite, and sweet slumber. Sanguinaria canadensis is distributed across Canada east to Nova Scotia, south from New England to Florida, west to Texas and north to Manitoba (). Historically speaking, the red-orange juice obtained from the roots and stem of the plant was used by native American Indians as a dye for clothing, baskets, and skin. Medicinal uses of this plant by native American Indians included a tea derived from roots which was used as a treatment for rheumatism, asthma, bronchitis, and as an emetic Read more […]

Callitris spp. (Cypress Pine)

Distribution and Morphology The name Callitris is derived from the Greek word kallistos, and means most beautiful (). It was first named by Ventenat in 1808 (), and is a relatively small genus that belongs to the division of Gymnospermae, order Coniferales, family Cupressaceae (). Appreciable nomenclature complexities occur and therefore the reports on the number of Callitris species varies. In the Index Kewensis the names of 39 species are listed (Hooker and Jackson 1895). Although present in North Africa with two species, Callitris quadrivalvis and Callitris articulata (), most species are found in Australia, New Caledonia, Tasmania, and New Zealand (). Callitris, vernacularly named cypress pine, is found in all states of Australia and covers approximately 4300000 ha of forest (). The most common and most important species is C. columellaris, also known as the white cypress pine (). Therefore, the greater part of the literature on Callitris deals with this species. Confusingly enough, previously used names for C. columellaris are: C. glauca, C. intratropica, C. arenosa and C. hugelii (). In addition, recently another new name, C. glaucophylla, has been introduced for this species by Thompson and Johnson (), while Read more […]

Perilla and the Treatment of Allergy

Perilla (Perilla frutescens Britt.), a traditional Chinese herb, has recently received special attention because of its beneficial effects in the treatment of some kinds of allergic reactions without the side effects associated with some other used antiallergy medicines. In this chapter, the authors present a review of the problem of allergy and the current favorable evidence for the use of Perilla products towards its resolution. The Allergy Problem Allergy is an abnormal immune reaction of the body to allergens such as pollen, dust, certain foods, drugs, animal fur, animal pets, animal excretions, feathers, microorganisms, cosmetics, textiles, dyes, smoke, chemical pollutants and insect stings. Certain conditions such as cold, heat, or light may also cause allergic symptoms in some susceptible people. Some allergens are just specific to some individuals but not to others. Allergens may act via inhalation, ingestion, injection or by contact with the skin. The resulting allergy may cause the victim to have a medical problem such as hay fever (allergicrhinitis), or atopic dermatitis (eczema), or allergic asthma, with symptoms ranging from sneezing, rhinorrhea, nasal itch, obstruction to nasal air-flow, loss of sense Read more […]

Solanum dulcamara L. (Bittersweet)

Biology and Distribution Solanum dulcamara L. (=Dulcamara flexuosa Moench) (), known as dogwood or bittersweet (Solanaceae), is a clambering or prostrate, perennial shrub which may grow to a height of 2 m (Hegi 1927). Its stem is angular and woody with the exception of the herbaceous top and ranges in diameter between 0.25 and 2 cm, rarely up to 5-6 cm. The leaves are alternate, long-stalked, sparsely pubescent on both sides, and quite variable in shape. The oval- to egg-shaped leaf blade is pointed at the tip. Its base, however, may also be cordate, arrow-shaped, or may consist of one or two lobes. Different leaf forms may be found on the same plant. The flowers emerge axillary in panicle-like loose clusters. The calyx bears five narrow teeth; the five joint petals are bright purple and their tips are somewhat reflexed when fully expanded. The five stamens have yellow anthers which form a conspicuous column. The fruit is a round- to egg-shaped berry, green when young and becoming bright red when mature. In Europe, the flowering season is May to September. It is distributed throughout Europe and is also a native to North Africa, West Asia, India, the USSR, China, and Japan. It is not clear whether its occurrence in Read more […]

Ptelea trifoliata (Quinine Tree, Hop Tree)

Ptelea trifoliata L. (Rutaceae) is a bush of North American origin that has been cultivated in Europe since the eighteenth century. Pharmacological properties (particularly bacteriocidal and cytotoxic activities) are due to the presence of coumarins and quinoline alkaloids. Botany and Distribution Ptelea trifoliata’s common names include: quinine tree, potato chip tree, and hop tree (the latter being the most widely used today); in Spanish, Cola de Zorillo; in French Ptelea a 3 feuilles, trefle de Virginie, Orme de Samarie – this last name was first used in France around 1800 and is still widely used (). Ptelea trifoliata L., described by Linnaeus in 1753, is extremely variable in its morphology and chemical composition. This explains the description of numerous varieties which have often been raised to the rank of species. The most recent revision of the genus Ptelea is by Bailey () who recognizes only three species: Ptelea trifoliata L., Ptelea crenulata Greene, and Ptelea aptera Parry, although he subdivides P. trifoliata into five subspecies and ten varieties. The Ptelea species are deciduous bushes, 3-4 m tall, with trifoliate aromatic leaves (). A large number of detailed descriptions exist (). There have Read more […]

Genipa americana L. (Marmalade Box)

Distribution and Importance of the Plant Rubiaceous plants of the genus Genipa grow throughout tropical America, and Genipa americana L. (synonym G. caruto H.B. & K.) (Fig. 1 A) is native to the wet or moist areas of Cuba, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and from Guadeloupe of Trinidad; also from southern Mexico to Panama, and from Colombia and Venezuela to Peru, Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Argentina. The fruit (), which is edible and popular as a source for beverages, has many colloquial names: marmalade box in the former British West Indies, genipa, jagua or caruto in Puerto Rico and several other Spanish-speaking countries; genipapo, jenipapo or jenipa in parts of Columbia and Brazil; chipara, chibara or guanapay among Colombian Indians; carucarutoto, caruto rebalsero, or guaricha in Venezuela, tapoeripa in Surinam, lana in Guyana; bi, bicito or totumillo in Bolivia; huitoc, vito, vitu or palo Colorado in Peru; maluco in Mexico; crayo, irayol de montana, guaitil or tapaculo in Costa Rica; irayol, tambor or tine-duentes in El Salvador; and guayatil Colorado or jagua blanca in Panama (). This tree is strictly tropical and grows well in a humid atmosphere and deep loamy soil. The erect trunk of Read more […]

Elettaria cardamomum Maton (Cardamom)

Cardamom is a polymorphic species of the monotypic genus Elettaria. True cardamom or lesser cardamom is a monocot belonging to the family Zingiberaceae under the natural order Scitaminae. The varietal status of true cardamom has been designated as Elettaria cardamomum var. cardamomum (syn. var. minor Watt; var. minuscula Burkhill, Purseglove 1975). The seeds, contained in the dried fruits (capsules) and possessing a characteristic pleasant aroma, are the cardamom of commerce. Rosengarter () ranked cardamom as the third costliest spice in the world. In India it is the second most important spice next to black pepper (). The plant is a tall perennial shrub (), the aerial part of which consists of 10-20 erect, leafy shoots (pseudo-stem), 2-5.5 m tall and made of leaf sheaths. The shoots and the panicle emerge from a horizontal subterranean woody rhizome. Each panicle bears numerous small, white or pale-green flowers characterized by a conspicuous labellum with violet streaks radiating from the center. The flowers are hermaphrodites. The ripe fruit () is an ovoid trilocular capsule containing 15-20 aromatic seeds. Cardamom cultivation is mainly concentrated in the southern states of India, i.e., Kerala, Karnataka, Read more […]

Syringa vulgaris L. (Common Lilac)

Syringa vulgaris L., or common lilac is a horticulturally important member of the Oleaceae, a family in which other economically significant genera (Olea, Fraxinus, Jasminum, Forsythia) also occur. Thirty species of Syringa are found distributed across the temperate and south temperate zones of Europe and Asia, while the common lilac has been introduced even more widely as an ornamental. A woody shrub (or small tree) in habit, lilac is typical of the Oleaceae in having opposite leaves, a calyx of four fused sepals and a corolla of four united petals. The highly scented flowers occur in thyrses, each branch bearing a terminal flower. The high demand for common lilac and lilac hybrids in the woody ornamental trade has led to several studies of in vitro propagation of this and related species. New shoot formation could be induced from explants of actively growing shoot tips on MS medium supplemented with 0.1 mg/1 6-benzylaminopurine (BA) and 0.1-0.5 mg/1 indoleacetic acid. These were multiplied on MS medium containing high (7.5 mg/1) levels of BA and low (0.1 mg/1) levels of auxin (NAA). Low cytokinin levels led to callus formation, from which regeneration has yet to be reported in lilac. Successful in vitro multiplication Read more […]

Symphytum officinale (Comfrey)

Symphytum officinale L. and Symphytum asperum L. (Boraginaceae) are allopatric taxa, which are able to intercross and to form interspecific hybrids with different chromosome numbers. The species differ not only in a number of morphological characters but also ecologically, Symphytum asperum being a species of higher elevations (upper montane zone), Symphytum officinale of lowland and the lower montane zone. Symphytum asperum is a Caucasian species, which has the sporophytic chromosome number 2n = 32. It was introduced from the Caucasus into Europe as a fodder plant. Symphytum officinale is variable, containing cytotypes with 2n = 24, 48, 56, 40, and occurs throughout Europe. The most common chromosome number of Symphytum officinale is 2n = 48. Scattered diploid populations of 2n = 24 occur in Western, Central, and Eastern Europe; they are white-flowered throughout. The tetraploids are white- or purple-flowered in western Europe and purple in eastern Europe. Populations in which purple- and white-flowered individuals occur intermingled are very common in western Europe. In eastern Europe, mixed populations are very rare and consist of white-flowered diploid plants with purple-flowered tetraploid plants. The cytotype Read more […]

The Medicinal Uses of Thyme

The uses of thyme, Thymus vulgaris and other Thymus species are well known, and extensive parts of the world get benefit from this plant group in medicinal and non-medicinal respects. Following the development of the medicinal uses of thyme we can see that thyme has changed from a traditional herb to a serious drug in rational phytotherapy. This is due to many pharmacological in vitro experiments carried out during the last decades, and even a few clinical tests. The studies have revealed well defined pharmacological activities of both, the essential oils and the plant extracts, the antibacterial and spasmolytical properties being the most important ones. The use of thyme in modern phytotherapy is based on this knowledge, whereas the traditional use of thyme describes only empirical results and often debatable observations. Therefore it seems necessary to present here the data available on the pharmacodynamics of thyme and thyme preparations in order to substantiate the use of thyme in modern medicine. The non-medicinal use of thyme is no less important, because thyme (mainly Thymus vulgaris) is used in the food and aroma industries. It serves as a preservative for foods and is a culinary ingredient widely used as Read more […]