Polish: Plants used to give a shine to metals, wood

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Re: Polish: Plants used to give a shine to metals, wood

Post by wannabemountainman on Mon 13 Jul 2009, 11:08




Rumex acetosa -
L.


Sorrel















AuthorL.Botanical references17, 200
FamilyPolygonaceaeGenusRumex
Synonyms
Known Hazardswarning signPlants
can contain quite high levels of oxalic acid, which is what gives the
leaves of many members of this genus an acid-lemon flavour. Perfectly
alright in small quantities, the leaves should not be eaten in large
amounts since the oxalic acid can lock-up other nutrients in the food,
especially calcium, thus causing mineral deficiencies. The oxalic acid
content will be reduced if the plant is cooked. People with a tendency
to rheumatism, arthritis, gout, kidney stones or hyperacidity should
take especial caution if including this plant in their diet since it
can aggravate their condition[238].
RangeMost of Europe, including Britain, temperate Asia, N. America, Greenland.
HabitatMeadows, by streams and in open places in woodland[7, 17]. Often found as a weed of acid soils[1].
Edibility Ratingapple iconapple iconapple iconapple iconapple icon 5 (1-5)Medicinal Ratingapple iconapple iconapple icon 3 (1-5)

Physical Characteristics



icon of man
icon of perennial/biennial/annual
Perennial growing to 0.6m by 0.3m.
It is hardy to zone 3 and is not frost tender. It is in leaf all year,
in flower from May to June, and the seeds ripen from June to August.
The flowers are dioecious (individual flowers are either male or
female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male
and female plants must be grown if seed is required) and are pollinated
by Wind.
The plant is not self-fertile.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils.
The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid soil.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade.
It requires moist soil.


Habitats



Woodland Garden; Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Meadow; Cultivated Beds;
Cultivars: (as above except)
'Blonde de Lyon' not Cultivated Beds;
'Low Oxalic Acid' not Cultivated Beds;
'Polish variety' not Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses


Edible Parts: Flowers; Leaves; Root; Seed.


Edible Uses: Curdling agent.

Leaves - raw or cooked[2, 4, 5, 7, 13, 27]. They make a
thirst-quenching on their own, or can be added to salads, used as a
potherb or pureed and used in soups[183]. A delicious lemon-like
flavour, liked by most people who try them, they can be rather
overpowering in quantity and are more generally used as a flavouring in
mixed salads[K]. The leaves can also be dried for later use[12]. The
leaves can be available all through the winter, especially in mild
weather or if a little protection is given to the plants[K]. The leaves
should be used sparingly in the diet[9, 21], see the notes on toxicity
above.
Flowers - cooked as a vegetable or used as a garnish[183].
Root - cooked. It is dried, ground into a powder and made into
noodles[105].
Seed - raw or cooked[172]. Ground into a powder and mixed with other
flours to make bread[183]. The seed is easy to harvest, but is rather
small and fiddly to use[K].
The juice of the leaves can be used as a curdling agent for milks[4,
183].

Medicinal Uses


Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants.
Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Anthelmintic; Antiscorbutic; Astringent; Depurative; Diuretic; Febrifuge; Homeopathy; Laxative; Refrigerant; Stomachic.


The fresh or dried leaves are astringent, diuretic, laxative and
refrigerant[4, 7, 14, 21, 238]. They are used to make a cooling drink
in the treatment of fevers and are especially useful in the treatment
of scurvy[4]. The leaf juice, mixed with fumitory, has been used as a
cure for itchy skin and ringworm[4].
An infusion of the root is astringent, diuretic and haemostatic[4, 7,
14, 21, 218]. It has been used in the treatment of jaundice, gravel and
kidney stones[4]. Both the roots and the seeds have been used to stem
haemorrhages[4]. A paste of the root is applied to set dislocated
bones[272].
The plant is depurative and stomachic[7, 14, 21, 218].
A homeopathic remedy is made from the plant[9]. It is used in the
treatment of spasms and skin ailments[9].

Other Uses


Cleanser; Dye; Polish.


Dark green to brown and dark grey dyes can be obtained from the roots,
they do not need a mordant[168].
A grey-blue dye is obtained from the leaves and stems[106].
An infusion of the stems is used as a polish for bamboo and wicker
furniture and also for silver[53, 238].
The juice of the plant removes stains from linen[14] and also ink
stains (but not ball-point ink) from white material[53, 238]. It is
sometimes sold as 'essential salt of lemon'[4].

Cultivation details



A very easily grown and tolerant plant, it succeeds in most soils[37],
preferring a moist moderately fertile well-drained soil in a sunny
position[200]. Shade tolerant[12]. Established plants are tolerant of
considerable neglect, surviving even in dense weed growth[K].
Sorrel has been used since ancient times as a food and medicinal
plant[244]. It is still occasionally cultivated for its edible leaves,
there are some named varieties[183]. The plant stops producing leaves
when it flowers in the summer, regrowing after the seed has set. Plants
also usually die down in the winter. Cutting down the flowering stem
will encourage the growth of fresh young leaves[4]. 'Blonde de Lyon'
has large, only slightly acid leaves and is much less likely to flower
than the type[200]. This means that the leaves of this cultivar are
often available all through the summer and are often also produced
throughout the winter, especially if the winter is mild[200, K].
A food plant for the caterpillars of many species of butterfly, it is a
good plant to grow in the spring meadow[24].
Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.

Propagation



Seed - sow spring in situ. Leaves can be harvested within 8 weeks from
sowing.
Division in spring. Division is very simple at almost any time of the
year, though the plants establish more rapidly in the spring. Use a
sharp spade or knife to divide the rootstock, ensuring that there is at
least one growth bud on each section of root. Larger divisions can be
planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found it
best to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in a lightly
shaded position in a cold frame, planting them out once they are well
established in the summer


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Re: Polish: Plants used to give a shine to metals, wood

Post by wannabemountainman on Mon 13 Jul 2009, 11:06




Rubia tinctorum -
L.


Madder















AuthorL.Botanical references200
FamilyRubiaceaeGenusRubia
Synonyms
Known HazardsNone known
RangeEurope - Mediterranean. Naturalized in Britain[17].
HabitatNeglected ground, hedgerows and among rubble[7].
Edibility Rating 0 (1-5)Medicinal Ratingapple iconapple icon 2 (1-5)

Physical Characteristics



icon of man
icon of perennial/biennial/annual
An evergreen Perennial growing to 1m by 1m at a medium rate.
It is hardy to zone 6. It is in leaf all year, in flower in June, and
the seeds ripen in September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both
male and female organs)
The plant prefers light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and requires well-drained soil.
The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade.
It requires dry or moist soil.
The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.


Habitats



Hedgerow; Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses



None known

Medicinal Uses


Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants.
Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Aperient; Astringent; Cholagogue; Diuretic; Emmenagogue.


The root is aperient, astringent, cholagogue, diuretic and
emmenagogue[4, 7, 21]. It is taken internally in the treatment of
kidney and bladder stones[238]. The root is seldom used in herbal
medicine but is said to be effective in the treatment of amenorrhoea,
dropsy and jaundice[4]. The roots are harvested in the autumn from
plants that are at least 3 years old. They are peeled and then
dried[238].
When taken internally the root imparts a red colour to the milk, urine
and bones, especially the bones of young animals, and it is used in
osteopathic investigations[4, 200].

Other Uses


Dye; Polish.


A very good quality red dye is obtained from the roots. Some reports
say that 2 year old roots are used in the spring and autumn[61, 200,
238] whilst others say that 3 year old roots are used[169, 171]. The
roots can be dried for later use[169]. The dye can also be extracted
from the leaves[169]. This dye is also used medicinally[200].
The leaves and stem are prickly, the whorls of leaves having spines
along the midrib on the underside[4]. This feature enables them to be
used for polishing metalwork[4, 148].

Cultivation details



Prefers a light sandy soil in full sun[14]. Plants grown in fertile
well-limed soils produce more pigment in the root[169]. This plant was
at one time widely cultivated for the red dye obtained from its roots,
this dye is now manufactured chemically[200]. However, it is still
cultivated in Europe as a medicinal dye plant.
The plant produces many side roots that can travel just under the
surface of the soil for some distance before sending up new shoots[4].
This species is closely related to R. peregrina[4].


Propagation



Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. Stored seed can
be very slow to germinate[200]. Prick out the seedlings when they are
large enough to handle and grow them on in light shade in the
greenhouse for the first year. Plant them out into their permanent
positions in early summer.
Division in spring or at any time in the growing season if the
divisions are kept well watered until established[200]. Larger
divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We
have found it best to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in
a lightly shaded position in a cold frame, planting them out once they
are well established in the summer.



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Re: Polish: Plants used to give a shine to metals, wood

Post by wannabemountainman on Mon 13 Jul 2009, 11:05




Philadelphus coronarius -
L.


Mock Orange















AuthorL.Botanical references11, 50, 200
FamilyHydrangeaceaeGenusPhiladelphus
SynonymsPhiladelphus pallidus - Hayek. ex Schneid.

Known HazardsNone known
RangeEurope - S. Austria, Italy. Possibly occasionally naturalized in Britain[17].
HabitatScrub and woodland on warm rocky hills and screes[50].
Edibility Rating 0 (1-5)Medicinal Rating 0 (1-5)

Physical Characteristics



icon of man
icon of shrub
A decidious Shrub growing to 4m by 4m at a fast rate.

It is hardy to zone 5. It is in flower in June. The flowers are
hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by
Bees.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay and nutritionally poor soils.
The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline soil.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade.
It requires moist soil.


Habitats


Woodland Garden; Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Hedge;

Edible Uses



None known

Medicinal Uses


Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants.
Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.


None known

Other Uses



Hedge; Polish; Soap.

The leaves are rich in saponins[169], when crushed and mixed with
water they produce a lather that is an effective cleaner, used on the
body, clothes etc. You can wash your hands by merely picking a couple
of leaves or a bunch of blossom, wetting your hands and then rubbing
the plant material vigorously as if it was a bar of soap[K]. This soap
is a very gentle cleaner that does not remove the body's natural oils,
but does remove dirt. It is not very effective against oil[K].
The leaves can also be used as a duster and a wood polish[6].
Plants can be grown as a hedge[29].

Scented Plants


Flowers: Fresh
The flowers are very aromatic with a powerful orange scent[245].

Cultivation details



A very easily grown plant, succeeding in any moderately fertile soil,
and also in thin soils over chalk[200]. Grows well in heavy clay soils.
Tolerates poor soils[200]. Succeeds in semi-shade but prefers a
position in full sun where it will flower more freely[182, 200].
Plants are hardy to about -25°c[184].
The flowers are very aromatic[182] with a strong orange aroma[245].
Plants are very tolerant of pruning, one third of the stems can be cut
down to the ground each year in order to promote fresh growth and
heavier flowering[202].
Fast growing[202]. Plants are inclined to send up suckers and can form
thickets[182].
Some named forms have been developed for their ornamental value[182].
Plants can harbour blackfly[202].


Propagation



Seed - best if given 1 months cold stratification[113]. Sow February in
a light position in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle,
prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the
greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent
positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected
frosts.
Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 7 - 10cm long side-shoots, July/August in a
shaded frame. Plant out in spring. High percentage[78].
Cuttings of mature wood of the current year's growth, 15 - 25cm with a
heel, December in a sheltered bed outdoors. Fair to good
percentage[78].
Layering in summer. Very easy.

Cultivars


There are some named forms for this species, but these have
been developed for their ornamental value and not for their other uses.
Unless you particularly require the special characteristics of any of
these cultivars, we would generally recommend that you grow the natural
species for its useful properties. We have, therefore, not listed the
cultivars in this database


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Re: Polish: Plants used to give a shine to metals, wood

Post by wannabemountainman on Mon 13 Jul 2009, 11:03




Myrrhis odorata -
(L.)Scop.


Sweet Cicely















Author(L.)Scop.Botanical references17, 200
FamilyUmbelliferaeGenusMyrrhis
Synonyms
Known HazardsNone known
RangeMountainous regions of Europe, including Britain.
HabitatGrassy places, hedges and woods in hilly regions, often near human habitations[4, 9, 17].
Edibility Ratingapple iconapple iconapple iconapple icon 4 (1-5)Medicinal Ratingapple iconapple iconapple icon 3 (1-5)

Physical Characteristics



icon of man
icon of perennial/biennial/annual
Perennial growing to 1m by 1m.
It is hardy to zone 5 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from May
to June, and the seeds ripen from July to August. The flowers are
hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by
Bees, flies, beetles.
The plant is self-fertile.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils.
The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade.
It requires moist soil.


Habitats



Woodland Garden; Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Hedgerow;

Edible Uses


Edible Parts: Leaves; Root; Seed.

Edible Uses: Tea.

Leaves - raw or cooked[2, 5, 37, 52]. Excellent raw, the leaves have
a delicious sweet aniseed flavour[9] and are liked by the majority of
people who try them[K]. They are also used as a flavouring for
vegetables[183], and are an important ingredient of the herb mix
'bouquet garni'[244]. They can be cooked with tart fruits in order to
reduce their acidity[14. 183]. The plant produces fresh leaves from
late winter to early the following winter[200]. The leaves can also be
dried for later use[21]. It is best to prevent the plant from flowering
if the leaves are required for culinary use, because they lose their
flavour when the plant is in flower[244].
Root - raw or cooked[1, 2, 5, 14, 37]. A similar flavour to the
leaves[K]. So long as it is not too old, the root can be boiled and
mixed with other vegetables or added to salads[9].
Seed - raw or cooked[1, 2, 183]. An aniseed flavour, it is usually used
as a flavouring[14, 115] but can also be eaten raw whilst it is still
green and before the fibrous coat has formed[1, 9]. It makes an
excellent mouth freshener[K].
A tea is made from the leaves[183].


Medicinal Uses


Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants.
Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Antiseptic; Aromatic; Carminative; Expectorant; Stomachic.


The whole plant, including the seed, is aromatic, carminative,
expectorant and stomachic[4]. It is useful in the treatment of coughs
and flatulence, and also as a gentle stimulant for the stomach[4, 238].
The root is antiseptic and a decoction has been used to treat snake and
dog bites[4, 244]. An ointment made from the roots has been used to
ease gout and soothe wounds[244].


Other Uses


Polish.


The leaves and the seed make good polishes for wood[4, 6, 115]. You
just rub them over the wood and then rub the wood with a clean cloth to
remove any greenness. It is particularly good on oak panels[5], giving
a lovely glossy finish and an aromatic smell[244].

Cultivation details



Prefers a moist rich soil in a shady position[14, 52, 200]. Thrives in
all soils[1] in sun or shade[111, 200].
This species is hardy to about -15°c according to one report[200]
whilst another says that it is hardy to at least -20°c[187].
Plants often self-sow freely[200].
Sweet cicely used to be quite widely cultivated as a food plant but is
now only occasionally grown in the herb garden. This is a shame since
it is an extremely useful and tasty plant to grow and can provide food
all year round[K].
A good bee plant[4].

Propagation



Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe since stored seed is difficult
to germinate[1]. The seed can be sown in an outdoor seedbed or, if
supplies are limited, it can be sown in pots in a cold frame. Thin the
seedlings in the outdoor bed as necessary (eat the thinnings) and
transplant the young plants into their final positions in the following
spring. Prick out the pot-grown seedlings into individual pots when
they are large enough to handle and plant them out in spring.
Division in spring or autumn. Remove the tapering tap root and cut the
remaining root into sections with at least one eye per section and
replant in their permanent position.



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Re: Polish: Plants used to give a shine to metals, wood

Post by wannabemountainman on Mon 13 Jul 2009, 11:01




Equisetum telmateia -
Ehrh.


Giant Horsetail















AuthorEhrh.Botanical references17, 200
FamilyEquisetaceaeGenusEquisetum
SynonymsEquisetum maximum - auct.

Known Hazardswarning signLarge
quantities of the plant can be toxic. This is because it contains the
enzyme thiaminase[172], a substance that can rob the body of the
vitamin B complex[65]. In small quantities this enzyme will do no harm
to people eating an adequate diet that is rich in vitamin B, though
large quantities can cause severe health problems. The enzyme is
destroyed by heat or thorough drying, so cooking the plant will remove
the thiaminase[172].
The plant also contains equisetic acid - see the notes on medicinal
uses for more information[213].
RangeEurope, including Britain, from Sweden south and east to N. Africa and W. Asia, N.W. N. America.
HabitatDamp shady banks etc, to 350 metres[17].
Edibility Ratingapple icon 1 (1-5)Medicinal Ratingapple icon 1 (1-5)

Physical Characteristics



icon of man
icon of perennial/biennial/annual
Perennial growing to 2m.

It is hardy to zone 6. It is in flower in March, and the seeds ripen in April.
The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils.
The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade.
It requires moist soil.


Habitats


Woodland Garden; Dappled Shade; Shady Edge; Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses


Edible Parts: Stem.


Strobil (the fertile shoots in spring) - raw or cooked[256]. The tough
outer fibres are peeled off, or can be chewed and then discarded[256].
The vegetative shoots, produced from late spring onwards, were
occasionally cleaned of their leaves, sheathing and branches and then
eaten by native North American Indians, but only when very young and
tightly compacted[256].
Root - cooked[257].

Medicinal Uses


Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants.
Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.


Astringent; Diuretic; Poultice.


The plant is astringent and diuretic[257]. A decoction has been used to
treat 'stoppage of urine'[257]. A poultice of the rough leaves and
stems is applied to cuts and sores[257].

Other Uses


Basketry; Fungicide; Hair; Liquid feed; Polish; Sandpaper.


The stems are very rich in silica[4]. They are used for scouring and
polishing metal[1, 4, 46, 61, 99, 257] and as a fine sandpaper[54, 99,
257]. The stems are first bleached by repeated wetting and drying in
the sun[74]. They can also be used as a polish for wooden floors and
furniture[46, 178].
The infused stem is an effective fungicide against mildew, mint rust
and blackspot on roses[14]. It also makes a good liquid feed[54]. Used
as a hair rinse it can eliminate fleas, lice and mites[213].
The black roots have been used for imbrication on coiled baskets[257].

Cultivation details



Prefers a moist soil with a pH between 6.5 and 7.5[200].
Plants are hardy to about -30°c[200].
Plants have a deep and penetrating root system and can be invasive. If
grown in the garden they are best kept in bounds by planting them in a
large container which can be sunk into the ground[200].

Propagation



Spores - best collected as soon as they are ripe in the spring and
surface-sown immediately on a sterile compost. Keep moist and pot up as
soon as the plants are large enough to handle. Very difficult[200].
Division. The plants usually spread very freely when well sited and
should not really need any assistance.



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Re: Polish: Plants used to give a shine to metals, wood

Post by wannabemountainman on Mon 13 Jul 2009, 11:00




Equisetum hyemale -
L.


Dutch Rush















AuthorL.Botanical references1, 17
FamilyEquisetaceaeGenusEquisetum
Synonyms
Known Hazardswarning signLarge
quantities of the plant can be toxic. This is because it contains the
enzyme thiaminase[172], a substance that can rob the body of the
vitamin B complex[65]. In small quantities this enzyme will do no harm
to people eating an adequate diet that is rich in vitamin B, though
large quantities can cause severe health problems. The enzyme is
destroyed by heat or thorough drying, so cooking the plant will remove
the thiaminase[172].
The plant also contains equisetic acid - see the notes on medicinal
uses for more information[213].
RangeTemperate regions of Europe, including Britain, N. America and Asia.
HabitatShady streambanks etc, to 500 metres[17].
Edibility Ratingapple iconapple icon 2 (1-5)Medicinal Ratingapple iconapple icon 2 (1-5)

Physical Characteristics



icon of man
icon of perennial/biennial/annual
Perennial growing to 1m.
It is hardy to zone 5. The seeds ripen from July to August.
The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils.
The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade.
It requires moist soil.


Habitats



Bog Garden; Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses


Edible Parts: Root; Stem.


Strobil (the fertile shoots in spring) - cooked[177]. An asparagus
substitute. Caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity.
Roots - dried and then cooked[257]. A source of starch[177]. Caution is
advised, see the notes above on toxicity.
A further report says that the peeled stems, base of the plant, root
and tubers were eaten raw by the N. American Indians, the report went
on to say that this may be inadvisable[85].

Medicinal Uses


Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants.
Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Antibacterial; Antiinflammatory; Antispasmodic; Appetizer; Cancer; Diaphoretic; Diuretic; Expectorant; Febrifuge; Hypotensive; Styptic.


Horsetails have an unusual chemistry compared to most other
plants[238]. They are rich in silica, contain several alkaloids
(including nicotine) and various minerals[238, 279].
The plant is anticancer, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, diaphoretic,
diuretic, expectorant, febrifuge, haemostatic, hypotensive and
styptic[147, 176. 218, 279]. It also has an appetite-stimulating
effect[279]]. The barren stems are used, they are most active when
fresh but can also be dried and sometimes the ashes of the pant are
used[4]. The plant is a useful diuretic when taken internally and is
used in the treatment of kidney and bladder problems[4]. A decoction
applied externally will stop the bleeding of wounds and promote
healing[4].
The plant contains polyphenolic flavonoids with bactericidal
activity[218].

Other Uses


Dye; Fungicide; Liquid feed; Musical; Paper; Parasiticide; Polish; Sandpaper; Scourer.


The stems are very rich in silica[4]. They are used for scouring and
polishing metal[1, 4, 46, 61, 99] and as a fine sandpaper[54, 99]. The
stems are first bleached by repeated wetting and drying in the sun[74].
They can also be used as a polish for wooden floors and furniture[46,
178].
The infused stem is an effective fungicide against mildew, mint rust
and blackspot on roses[14]. It also makes a good liquid feed[54]. Used
as a hair rinse it can eliminate fleas, lice and mites[213, 257].
A light pink dye is obtained from the stem[99].
The hollow stems have been used as whistles[257]. Another report says
that the stem joints are pulled apart and used by children to produce a
whistling sound[257].

Cultivation details



Prefers a moist soil with a pH between 6.5 and 7.5[200].
Plants are hardy to about -30°c[200].
The stems of this species were once exported to Britain in quantity
from Holland so that they could be used as an abrasive for cleaning
pots and pans[238].
Plants have a deep and penetrating root system and can be invasive. If
grown in the garden they are best kept in bounds by planting them in a
large container which can be sunk into the ground[200].

Propagation



Spores - best collected as soon as they are ripe in the spring and
surface-sown immediately on a sterile compost. Keep moist and pot up as
soon as the plants are large enough to handle. Very difficult[200].
Division. The plants usually spread very freely when well sited and
should not really need any assistance


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Re: Polish: Plants used to give a shine to metals, wood

Post by wannabemountainman on Mon 13 Jul 2009, 10:58




Equisetum arvense -
L.


Field Horsetail















AuthorL.Botanical references17
FamilyEquisetaceaeGenusEquisetum
Synonyms
Known Hazardswarning signLarge
quantities of the plant can be toxic. This is because it contains the
enzyme thiaminase[172], a substance that can rob the body of the
vitamin B complex[65]. In small quantities this enzyme will do no harm
to people eating an adequate diet that is rich in vitamin B, though
large quantities can cause severe health problems. The enzyme is
destroyed by heat or thorough drying, so cooking the plant will remove
the thiaminase[172].
The plant also contains equisetic acid - see the notes on medicinal
uses for more information[213].
RangeArctic and temperate regions of Europe, including Britain, N. America and Asia.
HabitatOpen fields, arable land, waste places, hedgerows and roadsides[9], usually on moist soils[4].
Edibility Ratingapple iconapple icon 2 (1-5)Medicinal Ratingapple iconapple iconapple icon 3 (1-5)

Physical Characteristics



icon of man
icon of perennial/biennial/annual
Perennial growing to 0.6m.
It is hardy to zone 2. The seeds ripen in April.
The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in nutritionally poor soil.
The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade.
It requires dry or moist soil.


Habitats



Meadow; Hedgerow;

Edible Uses


Edible Parts: Root; Stem.


Strobil (the fertile shoots in spring) - cooked and used as an
asparagus substitute[7, 46, 61, 94]. They should be used when
young[116] but even so it is probably best to change the water, perhaps
3 - 4 times[85, 102]. One report says that they can be eaten raw[172],
they are peeled and the shoot tip is discarded[213]. It is said to be a
very tedious operation and they should not be eaten raw in any
quantity, see the notes above on toxicity[K].
Some native tribes liked to eat the young vegetative shoots, picked
before they had branched out, and would often collect them in great
quantity then hold a feast to eat them[257]. The leaf sheaths were
peeled off and the stems eaten raw - they were said to be 'nothing but
juice'[257].
Roots - raw[61]. The tuberous growths on the rhizomes are used in the
spring[172]. The black nodules attached to the roots are edible[257].
It takes considerable effort to collect these nodules so it is normally
only done in times of desperation. However, native peoples would
sometimes raid the underground caches of roots collected by lemmings
and other rodents in order to obtain these nodules[257].
A further report says that the peeled stems, base of the plant, root
and tubers were eaten raw by the N. American Indians, the report went
on to say that this may be inadvisable[85].

Medicinal Uses


Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants.
Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Anodyne; Antiseptic; Astringent; Cardiac; Carminative; Diaphoretic; Diuretic; Galactogogue; Haemostatic; Homeopathy; Nervine; Vulnerary.


Horsetails have an unusual chemistry compared to most other
plants[238]. They are rich in silica, contain several alkaloids
(including nicotine) and various minerals[238]. Horsetail is very
astringent and makes an excellent clotting agent, staunching wounds,
stopping nosebleeds and reducing the coughing up of blood[254]. It
helps speed the repair of damaged connective tissue, improving its
strength and elasticity[254].
The plant is anodyne, antihaemorrhagic, antiseptic, astringent,
carminative, diaphoretic, diuretic, galactogogue, haemostatic and
vulnerary[4, 7, 9, 20, 21, 46, 61, 165, 172, 218, 240]. The green
infertile stems are used, they are most active when fresh but can also
be harvested in late summer and dried for later use[4, 9]. Sometimes
the ashes of the plant are used[4]. The plant is a useful diuretic when
taken internally and is used in the treatment of kidney and bladder
problems, cystitis, urethritis, prostate disease and internal bleeding,
proving especially useful when there is bleeding in the urinary
tract[4, 238, 254]. A decoction applied externally will stop the
bleeding of wounds and promote healing[4]. It is especially effective
on nose bleeds[7]. A decoction of the herb added to a bath benefits
slow-healing sprains and fractures, as well as certain irritable skin
conditions such as eczema[254].
The plant contains equisetic acid, which is thought to be identical to
aconitic acid. This substance is a potent heart and nerve sedative that
is a dangerous poison when taken in high doses[213].
This plant contains irritant substances and should only be used for
short periods of time[238]. It is also best only used under the
supervision of a qualified practitioner.
A homeopathic remedy is made from the fresh plant[7]. It is used in the
treatment of cystitis and other complaints of the urinary system[7].

Other Uses


Dye; Fungicide; Liquid feed; Musical; Paper; Polish; Sandpaper; Scourer.


The stems contain 10% silica and are used for scouring metal[4, 7, 20,
94, 102] and as a fine sandpaper[7, 54, 99, 257]. They can also be used
as a polish for brass, hardwood etc[94].
The infused stem is an effective fungicide against mildew, mint rust
and blackspot on roses[14, 18, 20, 54]. It also makes a good liquid
feed[54].
A light pink dye is obtained from the stem[99, 257]. It is yellow-gray
according to another report[102].
The plant has been used for making whistles[257].

Cultivation details



Prefers poor dusty ground[53, 54]. This rather contradicts another
report which says that the presence of this plant indicates underground
water[4]. Prefers a moist but well-drained fertile soil with a pH
between 6.5 and 7.5[200, 238].
A very cold-hardy species tolerating temperatures down to about
-30°c[200].
Plants have a deep and penetrating root system and can be invasive. If
grown in the garden they are best kept in bounds by planting them in a
large container which can be sunk into the ground[200].

Propagation



Spores - best collected as soon as they are ripe in the spring and
surface-sown immediately on a sterile compost. Keep moist and pot up as
soon as the plants are large enough to handle. Very difficult[200].
Division. The plants usually spread very freely when well sited and
should not really need any assistance


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Re: Polish: Plants used to give a shine to metals, wood

Post by wannabemountainman on Mon 13 Jul 2009, 10:54




Corylus avellana -
L.


Hazel















AuthorL.Botanical references11, 17, 200
FamilyBetulaceaeGenusCorylus
Synonyms
Known HazardsNone known
RangeEurope, including Britain, from Norway to Spain and east to W. Asia.
HabitatWoods and hedgerows, especially on the slopes of hills, often on calcareous soils[7, 17].
Edibility Ratingapple iconapple iconapple iconapple iconapple icon 5 (1-5)Medicinal Ratingapple iconapple icon 2 (1-5)

Physical Characteristics



icon of man
icon of evergreen tree
A decidious Tree growing to 6m by 3m at a medium rate.
It is hardy to zone 4 and is frost tender. It is in flower from January
to April, and the seeds ripen from September to October. The flowers
are monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both
sexes can be found on the same plant) and are pollinated by Wind.
The plant is self-fertile.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils.
The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid and very alkaline soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade.
It requires moist soil.
The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.


Habitats



Woodland Garden; Secondary; Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Hedge;
Cultivars: (as above except)
'Cosford Cob'
'Duke of York'
'Heterophylla'
'Nottingham Cob'
'Waterloo'

Edible Uses


Edible Parts: Seed.

Edible Uses: Milk; Oil.


Seed - raw or roasted and used in breads, cakes, biscuits, sweets
etc[2, 5, 9, 12, 13, 34, 183]. An excellent nut for raw eating[K]. They
can also be liquidized and used as a plant milk[183]. Rich in oil. The
seed ripens in mid to late autumn and will probably need to be
protected from squirrels[K]. When kept in a cool place, and not
shelled, the seed should store for at least 12 months[K].
A clear yellow edible oil is obtained from the seed[7, 9, 183]. It is
used in salad dressings, baking etc.

Composition


Figures in grams (g) or miligrams (mg) per 100g of food.

Seed (Dry weight)
  • 650 Calories per 100g
  • Water: 0%
  • Protein: 16g; Fat: 60g; Carbohydrate: 20g; Fibre: 4g; Ash: 2.8g;
  • Minerals - Calcium: 250mg; Phosphorus: 400mg; Iron: 4mg; Magnesium: 0mg; Sodium: 2.1mg; Potassium: 900mg; Zinc: 0mg;
  • Vitamins - A: 0mg; Thiamine (B1): 0.3mg; Riboflavin (B2): 0.5mg; Niacin: 5.3mg; B6: 0mg; C: 6mg;
  • Reference: []
  • Notes: 

Medicinal Uses


Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants.
Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Anthelmintic; Astringent; Diaphoretic; Febrifuge; Nutritive; Stomachic; Tonic.


The bark, leaves, catkins and fruits are sometimes used medicinally[7].
They are astringent, diaphoretic, febrifuge, nutritive and
odontalgic[7].
The seed is stomachic and tonic[240].
The oil has a very gentle but constant and effective action in cases of
infection with threadworm or pinworm in babies and young children[7].

Other Uses


Basketry; Charcoal; Cosmetic; Hedge; Miscellany; Oil; Plant support; Polish; Tannin; Wood.


The seed contains up to 65% of a non-drying oil, used in paints,
cosmetics etc[13, 46, 57, 132]. The whole seed can be used to polish
and oil wood[6]. It is very easy to apply and produces a nice
finish[K].
The finely ground seeds are used as an ingredient of face masks in
cosmetics[7].
Plants can be grown as a tall hedge[29]. They need to be left untrimmed
or only lightly trimmed if seed is required[29].
The bark and leaves are a source of tannin[7].
Wood - soft, easy to split, not very durable, beautifully veined. Used
for inlay work, small items of furniture, hurdles, wattles, basketry,
pea sticks etc[7, 13, 23, 46, 61, 63, 66, 125]. The twigs are used as
dowsing rods by water diviners[11]. The wood also yields a good quality
charcoal, used by artists[63, 101].

Cultivation details



An easily grown plant, it succeeds in most soils, but is in general
more productive of seeds when grown on soils of moderate fertility[11,
200]. It does less well in rich heavy soils or poor ones[11, 63]. Does
well in a loamy soil[11]. Very suitable for an alkaline soil[11], but
it dislikes very acid soils[17]. Succeeds in a pH range 4.5 to 8.5, but
prefers a range of 5 to 7[200]. Plants are fairly wind tolerant[1, 11].
A very hardy plant, succeeding in all areas of Britain[200]. The
flowers, however, are produced in late winter and early spring and can
be damaged by heavy frosts at this time[200].
A parent, together with C. maxima, of many cultivated forms of filberts
and cob nuts. There are many named varieties[11]. Plants are
self-fertile but a more certain crop is obtained if more than one
cultivar is grown[200].
The main difference between cob nuts and filberts is that the husk of a
filbert is longer than the seed and often completely encloses it,
whilst the husk on a cob nut is shorter than the seed[200].
Squirrels are a major pest of this plant, often decimating the crop of
nuts[200].
Often grown as a coppiced shrub in woodlands, the stems have a variety
of uses[23, 67, 186]. Members of this genus bear transplanting well and
can be easily moved even when relatively large[11].
A food plant for the caterpillars of many lepidoptera species[30].

Propagation



Seed - best sown as soon as it is harvested in autumn in a cold
frame[164]. Germinates in late winter or spring. Stored seed should be
pre-soaked in warm water for 48 hours and then given 2 weeks warm
followed by 3 - 4 months cold stratification[164]. Germinates in 1 - 6
months at 20°c[164]. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings
out into individual pots and grow them on in a cold frame or sheltered
place outdoors for their first winter. Plant them out into their
permanent positions in late spring or early summer[K].
Layering in autumn. Easy, it takes about 6 months[78, 200].
Division of suckers in early spring. Very easy, they can be planted out
straight into their permanent positions.

Cultivars


'Cosford Cob'
A medium-size thin-shelled nut with a sweet flavour[183].
An upright fairly vigorous hardy tree, it bears reliably and produces
abundant pollen which makes it a good pollinator for other
cultivars[183].
'Duke of York'

'Heterophylla'
This cultivar has attractive cut leaves. It has not been bred for
its seeds but these are borne prolifically in a Gloucestershire
garden[K].
'Nottingham Cob'
A medium-size nut with a sweet well-flavoured kernel[183]. It ripens early[183].
A small tree, it crops very well and is useful as a pollinator[183].
'Waterloo'
A small nut with an excellent flavour[



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Re: Polish: Plants used to give a shine to metals, wood

Post by wannabemountainman on Mon 13 Jul 2009, 10:53




Betula pubescens -
Ehrh.


White Birch















AuthorEhrh.Botanical references11, 17, 200
FamilyBetulaceaeGenusBetula
SynonymsBetula alba - L. pro parte

Known HazardsNone known
RangeMost of Europe, including Britain, east to W. Siberia and central Asia.
HabitatOpen woodland and heaths, usually on acid soils, from sea level to 830 metres[1, 17, 100].
Edibility Ratingapple iconapple iconapple icon 3 (1-5)Medicinal Ratingapple iconapple iconapple icon 3 (1-5)

Physical Characteristics



icon of man
icon of evergreen tree
A decidious Tree growing to 20m by 10m at a fast rate.

It is hardy to zone 1. It is in flower in April, and the seeds ripen
from August to September. The flowers are monoecious (individual
flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the
same plant) and are pollinated by Wind.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay and nutritionally poor soils.
The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid soil.
It cannot grow in the shade.
It requires dry moist or wet soil.
The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.


Habitats


Woodland Garden; Canopy; Secondary; Sunny Edge; Bog Garden;

Edible Uses


Edible Parts: Flowers; Inner bark; Leaves; Sap.


Edible Uses: Tea.

Inner bark - cooked or dried, ground into a powder then used with
cereals for making bread etc[2, 15, 46]. Inner bark is generally only
seen as a famine food, used when other forms of starch are not
available or are in short supply[177, K].
Sap - raw or cooked. A sweet flavour[2, 15, 177]. Harvested in early
spring, before the leaves unfurl, by tapping the trunk. The flow is
best on sunny days following a heavy frost. The sap is often
concentrated into a sugar by boiling off the water. Between 4 and 7
litres can be drawn off a mature tree in a day and this will not kill
the tree so long as the tap hole is filled up afterwards[115]. However,
prolonged or heavy tapping will kill the tree. A beer can be fermented
from the sap. An old English recipe for the beer is as follows:-
"To every Gallon of Birch-water put a quart of Honey, well stirr'd
together; then boil it almost an hour with a few Cloves, and a little
Limon-peel, keeping it well scumm'd. When it is sufficiently boil'd,
and become cold, add to it three or four Spoonfuls of good Ale to make
it work...and when the Test begins to settle, bottle it up . . . it is
gentle, and very harmless in operation within the body, and exceedingly
sharpens the Appetite, being drunk ante pastum."[269].
Young leaves - raw or cooked[15, 177].
Young catkins[15]. No more details are given.
A tea is made from the leaves[15] and another tea is made from the
essential oil in the inner bark[21].

Medicinal Uses


Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants.
Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Antirheumatic; Astringent; Bitter; Diaphoretic; Diuretic; Lithontripic; Miscellany; Skin.


Anti-inflammatory, cholagogue, diaphoretic[21, 165, 201].
The bark is diuretic and laxative[7].
The inner bark is bitter and astringent, it is used in treating
intermittent fevers[4].
An oil obtained from the inner bark is astringent and is used in the
treatment of various skin afflictions, especially eczema and
psoriasis[4, 238]. The bark is usually obtained from trees that have
been felled for timber and can be distilled at any time of the
year[238].
The buds are balsamic[7]. The young shoots and leaves secrete a
resinous substance which has acid properties, when combined with
alkalis it is a tonic laxative[4].
The leaves are anticholesterolemic and diuretic[7]. They also contain
phytosides, which are effective germicides[7]. An infusion of the
leaves is used in the treatment of gout, dropsy and rheumatism, and is
recommended as a reliable solvent of kidney stones[4]. The young leaves
and leaf buds are harvested in the spring and dried for later use[238].
A decoction of the leaves and bark is used for bathing skin
eruptions[4].
The vernal sap is diuretic[4].
The boiled and powdered wood has been applied to chafed skin[257].
Moxa is made from the yellow fungous excrescences of the wood, which
sometimes swell out of the fissures[4].

Other Uses


Adhesive; Besom; Charcoal; Compost; Dye; Essential; Fibre; Fungicide; Paper; Pioneer; Polish; Repellent; Tannin; Thatching; Waterproofing; Wood.


The bark is used to make drinking vessels, canoe skins, roofing tiles
etc. It is waterproof, durable, tough and resinous[11, 61]. Only the
outer bark is removed, this does not kill the tree. It is most easily
removed in late spring to early summer. The bark was pressed flat and
stored until the following spring. When required for making canoes it
would be heated over a fire to make it pliable for shaping to the canoe
frame[257].
A pioneer species, it readily invades old fields, cleared or burnt-over
land and creates conditions suitable for other woodland trees to become
established. Since it is relatively short-lived and intolerant of
shade, it is eventually out-competed by these trees[11, 186].
A tar-oil is obtained from the white bark in spring. It has fungicidal
properties and is also used as an insect repellent[4, 14, 61, 100]. It
makes a good shoe polish[61]. Another report says that an essential oil
is obtained from the bark and this, called 'Russian Leather' has been
used as a perfume[245].
A glue is made from the sap.
Cordage can be made from the fibres of the inner bark. This inner bark
can also be separated into thin layers and used as a substitute for
oiled paper[4].
A decoction of the inner bark is used to preserve cordage, it is rich
in tannin. The bark contains up to 16% tannin[223].
A brown dye is obtained from the inner bark.
An oil similar to Wintergreen oil (obtained from Gaultheria procumbens)
is obtained from the inner bark[21, 61]. It is used medicinally and
also makes a refreshing tea[21].
The young branches are very flexible and are used to make whisks,
besoms etc[6]. They are also used in thatching and to make wattles[4].
The leaves are a good addition to the compost heap, improving
fermentation[20].
A black paint is obtained from the soot of the plant[61].
A high quality charcoal is obtained from the bark. It is used by
artists, painters etc.
Wood - soft, light, durable. It is used for a wide range of purposes
including furniture, tool handles, carving, toys etc[100, 238]. It is a
source of charcoal that is used by artists and is also pulped and used
for making paper[238].

Scented Plants


:

Cultivation details



Succeeds in a well-drained light loamy soil in a sunny position[11,
200]. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Tolerates a wet position[11, 24],
succeeding in poorly drained soils[186]. Fairly wind tolerant[200].
Prefers an acid soil.
A very ornamental tree and fast growing, capable of growing 1 metre a
year but it is short-lived[186]. It is one of the first trees to
colonize open land and it creates a suitable environment for other
woodland trees to follow[11]. These trees eventually shade out the
birch trees[186].
Trees take about 15 years from seed to produce their own seed[98].
Although closely related, it does not usually hybridize with B.
pendula[11]. It hybridizes freely with B. pendula according to another
report[186].
A superb tree for encouraging wildlife, it has over 200 associated
insect species[24, 30]. A good plant to grow near the compost heap,
aiding the fermentation process[14, 20]. It is also a good companion
plant, its root activity working to improve the soil[14].
Trees are notably susceptible to honey fungus[200].

Propagation



Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a light position in a cold
frame[78, 80, 113, 134]. Only just cover the seed and place the pot in
a sunny position[78, 80, 134]. Spring sown seed should be surface sown
in a sunny position in a cold frame[113, 134]. If the germination is
poor, raising the temperature by covering the seed with glass can
help[134]. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings
out into individual pots and grow them on in a cold frame for at least
their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in
late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts.
If you have sufficient seed, it can be sown in an outdoor seedbed,
either as soon as it is ripe or in the early spring - do not cover the
spring sown seed. Grow the plants on in the seedbed for 2 years before
planting them out into their permanent positions in the winter[78, 80,
113, 134].



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Polish: Plants used to give a shine to metals, wood

Post by wannabemountainman on Mon 13 Jul 2009, 10:51






Betula pendula -
Roth.


Silver Birch














AuthorRoth.Botanical references11, 17, 200
FamilyBetulaceaeGenusBetula
SynonymsBetula alba - L. pro parte.

Betula alba pendula - Aiton.

Betula verrucosa - Ehrh.


Known HazardsNone known
RangeMost of Europe, including Britain, south and east to Morocco, W. Siberia and central Asia.
HabitatOpen woodland and heaths[17, 100]. Rarely found on chalk[17].
Edibility Ratingapple iconapple iconapple icon 3 (1-5)Medicinal Ratingapple iconapple iconapple icon 3 (1-5)

Physical Characteristics



icon of man
icon of evergreen tree
A decidious Tree growing to 20m by 10m at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone 2. It is in flower in April, and the seeds ripen
from July to August. The flowers are monoecious (individual flowers are
either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant)
and are pollinated by Wind.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay)
soils, requires well-drained soil and can grow in heavy clay and
nutritionally poor soils.
The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow
in very acid soil.
It cannot grow in the shade.
It requires dry or moist soil.
The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.


Habitats


Woodland Garden; Canopy; Secondary; Sunny Edge;

Edible Uses


Edible Parts: Flowers; Inner bark; Leaves; Sap.


Edible Uses: Tea.

Inner bark - cooked or dried and ground into a meal[2, 15, 105]. It
can be added as a thickener to soups etc or can be mixed with flour for
making bread, biscuits etc. Inner bark is generally only seen as a
famine food, used when other forms of starch are not available or are
in short supply[115, 177, K].
Sap - raw or cooked. A sweet flavour. It is harvested in early spring,
before the leaves unfurl, by tapping the trunk. It makes a pleasant
drink[115]. It is often concentrated into a syrup by boiling off the
water[2, 9, 13, 15, 177]. Between 4 and 7 litres can be drawn off a
mature tree in a day and this will not kill the tree so long as the tap
hole is filled up afterwards[115]. However, prolonged or heavy tapping
will kill the tree[115]. The flow is best on sunny days following a
frost. The sap can be fermented into a beer. An old English recipe for
the beer is as follows:-
"To every Gallon of Birch-water put a quart of Honey, well stirr'd
together; then boil it almost an hour with a few Cloves, and a little
Limon-peel, keeping it well scumm'd. When it is sufficiently boil'd,
and become cold, add to it three or four Spoonfuls of good Ale to make
it work...and when the Test begins to settle, bottle it up . . . it is
gentle, and very harmless in operation within the body, and exceedingly
sharpens the Appetite, being drunk ante pastum."[269].
Young leaves - raw or cooked[15].
Young catkins[15]. No more details are given.
A tea is made from the leaves[15, 161] and another tea is made from the
essential oil in the inner bark[21].

Medicinal Uses


Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants.
Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Anticholesterolemic; Antiinflammatory; Antirheumatic; Antiseptic; Astringent; Bitter; Cholagogue; Diaphoretic; Diuretic; Laxative; Lithontripic; Miscellany; Skin.


Anti-inflammatory, cholagogue, diaphoretic[21, 165, 201].
The bark is diuretic and laxative[7].
An oil obtained from the inner bark is astringent and is used in the
treatment of various skin afflictions, especially eczema and
psoriasis[4, 238]. The bark is usually obtained from trees that have
been felled for timber and can be distilled at any time of the
year[238].
The inner bark is bitter and astringent, it is used in treating
intermittent fevers[4].
The vernal sap is diuretic[4].
The buds are balsamic[7]. The young shoots and leaves secrete a
resinous substance which has acid properties, when combined with
alkalis it is a tonic laxative[4].
The leaves are anticholesterolemic and diuretic[7]. They also contain
phytosides, which are effective germicides[7]. An infusion of the
leaves is used in the treatment of gout, dropsy and rheumatism, and is
recommended as a reliable solvent of kidney stones[4]. The young leaves
and leaf buds are harvested in the spring and dried for later use[238].
A decoction of the leaves and bark is used for bathing skin
eruptions[4].
Moxa is made from the yellow fungous excrescences of the wood, which
sometimes swell out of the fissures[4].

Other Uses


Adhesive; Besom; Charcoal; Compost; Dye; Essential; Fibre; Fungicide; Hair; Paper; Pioneer; Polish; Repellent; Tannin; Thatching; Waterproofing; Wood.


The bark is used to make drinking vessels, canoe skins, roofing tiles
etc[115]. It is waterproof, durable, tough and resinous. Only the outer
bark is removed, this does not kill the tree. It is most easily removed
in late spring to early summer.
A pioneer species, it readily invades old fields, cleared or burnt-over
land and creates conditions suitable for other woodland trees to become
established. Since it is relatively short-lived and intolerant of
shade, it is eventually out-competed by these trees[17, 186].
A tar-oil is obtained from the white bark in spring. It has fungicidal
properties and is also used as an insect repellent[4, 13, 100]. It
makes a good shoe polish[61]. Another report says that an essential oil
is obtained from the bark and this, called 'Russian Leather' has been
used as a perfume[245].
A decoction of the inner bark is used to preserve cordage[115], it
contains up to 16% tannin[178, 223]. An oil similar to Wintergreen oil
(obtained from Gaultheria procumbens) is obtained from the inner
bark[21, 61]. It is used medicinally and also makes a refreshing
tea[21].
The resin glands (the report does not say where these glands are found)
are used to make a hair lotion[226].
A brown dye is obtained from the inner bark
A glue is made from the sap[2, 9, 13, 15]. Cordage can be made from the
fibres of the inner bark[115]. This inner bark can also be separated
into thin layers and used as a substitute for oiled paper[4].
The young branches are very flexible and are used to make whisks,
besoms etc[6]. They are also used in thatching[13, 100] and to make
wattles[4].
The leaves are a good addition to the compost heap, improving
fermentation[14].
Wood - soft, light, durable. It is used for a wide range of purposes
including furniture, tool handles, toys and carving[13, 100, 238]. A
high quality charcoal is obtained from the bark. It is used by artists,
painters etc[13]. The wood is also pulped and used for making
paper[238].

Scented Plants


:

Cultivation details



A very easily grown plant, it tolerates most soils including poor
ones[1, 24], sandy soils[188] and heavy clays. It prefers a
well-drained loamy soil in a sunny position[11, 200]. It is
occasionally found on calcareous soils in the wild but it generally
prefers a pH below 6.5, doing well on acid soils[186]. Fairly wind
tolerant[200] though it becomes wind shaped when exposed to strong
winds[K].
The silver birch is a very ornamental tree[1] with many named
varieties[11, 200]. It also has a very wide range of economic uses. It
is a fast growing tree, increasing by up to 1 metre a year, but is
short-lived[17, 200]. It is often one of the first trees to colonize
open land and it creates a suitable environment for other woodland
trees to follow[17]. These trees eventually out-compete and shade out
the birch trees[17, 186]. It makes an excellent nurse tree for seedling
trees, though its fine branches can cause damage to nearby trees when
blown into them by the wind.
Trees take about 15 years from seed to produce their own seed[98].
Although closely related, it does not usually hybridize with B.
pubescens[11]. It often hybridizes with B. pubescens according to
another report[186].
A superb tree for encouraging wildlife, it has 229 associated insect
species[24]. A good plant to grow near the compost heap, aiding the
fermentation process[14, 20]. It is also a good companion plant, its
root action working to improve the soil[14].
Trees are notably susceptible to honey fungus[200].

Propagation



Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a light position in a cold
frame[78, 80, 113, 134]. Only just cover the seed and place the pot in
a sunny position[78, 80, 134]. Spring sown seed should be surface sown
in a sunny position in a cold frame[113, 134]. If the germination is
poor, raising the temperature by covering the seed with glass can
help[134]. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings
out into individual pots and grow them on in a cold frame for at least
their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in
late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts.
If you have sufficient seed, it can be sown in an outdoor seedbed,
either as soon as it is ripe or in the early spring - do not cover the
spring sown seed. Grow the plants on in the seedbed for 2 years before
planting them out into their permanent positions in the winter[78, 80,
113, 134].

Cultivars



There are some named forms for this species, but these have
been developed for their ornamental value and not for their other uses.
Unless you particularly require the special characteristics of any of
these cultivars, we would generally recommend that you grow the natural
species for its useful properties. We have, therefore, not listed the
cultivars in this database[K].



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