Tag Archives: weed

Blue Periwinkle

Latin Name: Vinca Major

Image by Karagon

Image by Karagon

Origin: Native of central and southern Europe and northern Africa

Alternative Name(s): Periwinkle, Vinca, Sorcerer’s violet, Big leaf periwinkle, Greater periwinkle, Blue buttons

Family: Apocynaceae.

Known Hazards: Large quantities of the plant are poisonous.

Habitat: Widespread adjacent to urban areas in cooler climates. Grows best in fertile soil and well in shade

Edibility Rating: 0 (1-5)

Medicinal Rating: 3 (1-5)

Physical Characteristics: Flowers: Axillary, solitary. Flowers mostly late winter to summer.It is in leaf all year, in flower from October to December. The flowers are hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees

 

Flower detail by Wikispecies

Flower detail by Wikispecies

Distinguishing features: Distinguished by spreading stems that root at nodes and sometimes at tips; lacking milky latex; leaves opposite, hairless except for short marginal fringe; flowers surrounded at base by calyx 0.9–1.7 cm long with marginal hairs; flowers blue to mauve, 3–6 cm wide, tubular with 5 spreading lobes 1.3–2.5 cm long, stamens attached to inside of tube and within tube, anthers 2-chambered; fruit produced in pairs joined at the base, membranous, cylindrical 3.5–5 cm long, about 0.4 cm wide.
Dispersal: Spreads locally mainly by stems that root at nodes. Seed is apparently rarely produced in Australia. Long distance dispersal occurs via stem fragments and crowns dispersed as garden waste or by water.

Edible Uses

None known

Medicinal Uses

Astringent; Bitter; Detergent; Homeopathy; Hypotensive; Purgative; Sedative; Stomachic; Tonic; Vasodilator.The plant is astringent, bitter, detergent, sedative, stomachic and tonic. It contains the alkaloid ‘vincamine’, which is used by the pharmaceutical industry as a cerebral stimulant and vasodilator. It also contains ‘reserpine’, which reduces high blood pressure. It is used internally in the treatment of excessive menstruation, abnormal uterine bleeding, vaginal discharge and hardening of the arteries. It should not be given to patients with constipation. It is applied externally to vaginal discharge, nosebleed, sore throat and mouth ulcers. The plants are cut when flowering and dried for later use. The fresh flowers are gently purgative, but lose their effect on drying. A homeopathic remedy is made from the fresh leaves. It is used in the treatment of haemorrhages.

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Other Uses

Basketry; Ground cover. The stems are used in basket making. A very good ground cover for covering steep banks and shady places, spreading rapidly once established and forming a dense cover within 2 years. It is less dense on dry or exposed sites. Plants are best spaced about 60cm apart each way.

Notes: Garden escape, widespread adjacent to urban areas in cooler climates. Mats of this species smother other ground vegetation and prevent growth of shrubs and trees. Grows best in fertile soil and well in shade.

Blackberry

Latin Name: Rubus fruticosus species aggregate

blackb9erry1 (1)Family: Rosaceae.

Known Hazards: The plant sports numerous prickles which can harm during the gathering process.

Habitat: A very common and adaptable plant, found in hedgerows, woodland, meadows, waste ground etc.

Edibility Rating: 5 (1-5)

Medicinal Rating: 3 (1-5)

Physical Characteristics: Semi-deciduous scrambler to 2 m high with canes to about 7 m long. There are many taxa (in this case not true species) in the fruticosus aggregate. Stems mostly arching, green, reddish or purple, ribbed, angled or concave, with or without hairs. Prickles straight or curved. Leaves usually comprise 3 or 5 ovate leaflets, are dark green on the upper surface and with many to no hairs underneath. Fruit globe-shaped, 1–3 cm across, initially green ripening through red to black. Seeds pitted, to 3 mm long.
Flowers: To 3 cm wide with 5 white or pink petals. Flowers late spring to summer.The flowers are hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects, Apomictic (reproduce by seeds formed without sexual fusion). The plant is self-fertile.

blackberry3Dispersal: Spread by seed, rooting of cane tips and lateral roots producing suckers. The latter two means of spread result in large clumps over time. Fruit is eaten by birds and mammals (especially foxes) that may transport seeds some distance.

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit. The best forms have delicious fruits and, with a range of types, it is possible to obtain ripe fruits from late July to November. The fruit is also made into syrups, jams and other preserves. Some people find that if they eat the fruit before it is very ripe and quite soft then it can give them stomach upsets. Root – cooked. The root should be neither to young nor too old and requires a lot of boiling. A tea is made from the dried leaves – the young leaves are best. The leaves are often used in herbal tea blends. Young shoots – raw. They are harvested as they emerge through the ground in the spring, peeled and then eaten in salads.

blackberry

Medicinal Uses

Astringent; Depurative; Diuretic; Vulnerary; Tonic. The root-bark and the leaves are strongly astringent, depurative, diuretic, tonic and vulnerary. They make an excellent remedy for dysentery, diarrhoea, haemorrhoids, cystitis etc, the root is the more astringent. Externally, they are used as a gargle to treat sore throats, mouth ulcers and gum inflammations. A decoction of the leaves is useful as a gargle in treating thrush and also makes a good general mouthwash.

Other Uses

Dye; Fibre; Pioneer. A purple to dull blue dye is obtained from the fruit. A fibre is obtained from the stem and used to make twine. Plants are spread by seed deposited in the droppings of birds and mammals. They often spring up in burnt-over, logged or abandoned land and make an excellent pioneer species, creating the right conditions for woodland trees to move in. The trees will often grow in the middle of a clump of blackberries, the prickly stems protecting them from rabbits.
Notes: The most common taxon (formerly Rubus procerus or Rubus discolor) in the Rubus fruticosus species. Blackberry was first introduced to Australia in the early 1800s. It is one of the worst weeds of moist temperate Australia. Plants are not readily eaten by cattle, but goats will graze on them. Shrubs harbour feral animals but help prevent erosion. The rust, Phragmidium violaceum, has been introduced for biological control of various European Rubus taxa.

African Olive

Latin Name: Olea Europaea Subspecies cuspidata

foraging_african_olivesAlternative Name(s): Olea europaea subspecies africanaOlea africanaOlea cuspidata.

Family: Oleaceae.

Known Hazards: None known.

Habitat: Woods and scrub in dry rocky places.

Edibility Rating: 4 (1-5)

Medicinal Rating: 3 (1-5)

Physical Characteristics: Shrub or branched tree to about 12 m high at a slow rate. Leaves oblong to elliptic; upper surface glossy grey-green, margins entire and recurved. It is in leaf all year.
Flowers: Cream to greenish, in clusters at the end of branches. Flowers mostly spring. The flowers are hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and are pollinated by wind. The plant is self-fertile.

Distinguishing features: Distinguished by simple leaves with silver, green or brown scaly undersurface; curved leaf tip; fruit to 1 cm long, purple-black and succulent when ripe.

Dispersal: Spread by bird-dispersed seed. Also vegetatively by cuttings and pieces..

african olive

Edible Parts: Olive fruits are widely used, especially in the Mediterranean, as a relish and flavouring for foods. The fruit is usually pickled or cured with water, brine, oil, salt or lye.  The cured fruits are eaten as a relish or used in bread, soups, salads etc.  The fruit contains 20 – 50µ vitamin D per 100g. The fruit is up to 1cm long. The seed is rich in an edible non-drying oil, this is used in salads and cooking and, because of its distinct flavour, is considered a condiment.
Olive oil is mono-unsaturated and regular consumption is thought to reduce the risk of circulatory diseases. The seed contains albumen, it is the only seed known to do this.  An edible manna is obtained from the tree.

Medicinal Uses

Antipruritic; Antiseptic; Astringent; Bach; Cholagogue; Demulcent; Emollient; Febrifuge; Hypoglycaemic; Laxative; Sedative. The oil from the pericarp is cholagogue, a nourishing demulcent, emollient and laxative. Eating the oil reduces gastric secretions and is therefore of benefit to patients suffering from hyperacidity. The oil is also used internally as a laxative and to treat peptic ulcers. It is used externally to treat pruritis, the effects of stings or burns and as a vehicle for liniments. Used with alcohol it is a good hair tonic and used with oil of rosemary it is a good treatment for dandruff. The oil is also commonly used as a base for liniments and ointments. The leaves are antiseptic, astringent, febrifuge and sedative. A decoction is used in treating obstinate fevers, they also have a tranquillising effect on nervous tension and hypertension. Experimentally, they have been shown to decrease blood sugar levels by 17 – 23%. Externally, they are applied to abrasions. The bark is astringent, bitter and febrifuge. It is said to be a substitute for quinine in the treatment of malaria. In warm countries the bark exudes a gum-like substance that has been used as a vulnerary. The plant is used in Bach flower remedies – the keywords for prescribing it are ‘Complete exhaustion’ and ‘Mental fatigue’.

Other Uses

Dye; Hair; Oil; Soil stabilization; Wood. The non-drying oil obtained from the seed is also used for soap making, lighting and as a lubricant. The oil is a good hair tonic and dandruff treatment. Maroon and purple dyes are obtained from the whole fresh ripe fruits. Blue and black dyes are obtained from the skins of fresh ripe fruits. A yellow/green dye is obtained from the leaves. Plants are used to stabilize dry dusty hillsides. Wood – very hard, heavy, beautifully grained, takes a fine polish and is slightly fragrant. It is used in turnery and cabinet making, being much valued by woodworkers.

Notes: A locally common weed of roadsides, neglected land and stream banks. African Olive produces fruit that are usually smaller and less fleshy than those of plants cultivated for edible olives and olive oil. An olive branch is a traditional symbol of peace.