Thursday, February 24, 2011

Drymaria cordata

Another interesting weed/herb is :

binomial name : Drymaria cordata
common name :  Tropical  chickweed

It is a spreading annual herb - it is around at present whereas normal chickweed is barely evident. It looks just like Stellaria media (chickweed) but has almost round opposite leaves  and much longer flower stalks:

The internet is fairly sparse on details of this weed - lots of suggestions of traditional herbal use  and use as a potherb but no real substantial reports
that I could locate.

Pubmed had only a few entries :

One indicated a useful anti-cough effect of an extract of the plant.  Codiene linctus is about the only really effective cough suppressant medically available but about 10-15% of patients are unable to tolerate codiene (it gives them stomach pains and nausea/vomiting). If that is the case it would be a useful addition to what is currently available. Pity there seems to be no clinical trials on it.
Another abstract indicated an anxiety  reducing effect and a further one indicated it had an anti-cancer effect.

Odds on this plant has lots of anti-oxidants  such as beta-carotene
but actual nutritional analysis was not evident. Also odds on it
would have the usual herb benefits of lowering blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and possibly anti-inflammatory effects as well. However this is speculation on my part as I was unable to locate any good scientific studies.

 Here's a photo of a Meadow Argus (Junonia villida) butterfly from our recent Stanthorpe trip. These have been around our yard also at times.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Garden - general

We are starting to pick feijoas again - good crop this year although the 2 trees have developed a lean after all the wet weather.

Collected this produce yesterday morning:

 The feijoas even though they are green are still ripe to eat -  when ripe they fall off the tree.  This variety of  Tamarillo don't seem to develop a deep red colour when ripe but they are still nice eating.  We are still picking cherry gauvas although they are nearly finished. The Babaco fruit fell off after a storm the other night - probably won't ripen enough to eat. Also 1 duck egg and 1  chook egg from the 2 new chickens -  quite small so far as they have only just started laying.

Weeds being eaten regularly at present as potherbs : Purslane , Sowthistle, Cobbler's pegs,  Amaranth, Galinsoga , Warrigal greens.  Usually  I go around and  pick a bit of this and that and then it is boiled for a short period.

Here's a nice photo of some Eastern Grey Kangaroos that were feeding
outside the  B&B we stayed in at Stanthorpe recently

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Amaranthus viridus

Another edible weed that is common on our property  in the summer months:

binomial name:  Amaranthus  viridus
common name :  Green Amaranth

The give away is the distinctive seed spikes holding a multitude of seeds
ready to be dispersed.  The leaves are a dull green on top and a bit paler
underneath -about  7cm x 9cm in size .  The plant grows to about 1m high here.

The leaves and young stems can be used as a potherb in place of silverbeet
or spinach - indeed it was considered superior to spinach in early colonial days.  The seeds are also edible when ripe with a nutty taste.

 It is used as a vegetable (potherb) in India, Africa and Greece : in a study of  Greek migrants  in Melbourne in 2002 it was one of the weeds (along with dandelion, purslane and sowthistle) being added by them to their salads on a regular basis. This group of migrants exhibit less cancer and heart disease than those eating a traditional Australian diet.

Other nutritional content :  betacarotene,  some minerals such as
Ca, P04, Mg and Mn  but it was difficult to get actual figures.

Traditionally in  Indian/Nepalese cultures it has been used in relieving the pain of childbirth. A Pubmed search however did not find any supporting scientific studies confirming this. However it really would be of no  surprise
as so many of these weed species seem to have such effect.

 Here's also an Aeosops fable mentioning Amaranth:

AN AMARANTH planted in a garden near a Rose Tree, thus addressed it: "What a lovely flower is the Rose, a favorite alike with Gods and with men. I envy you your beauty and your perfume." The Rose replied, "I indeed, dear Amaranth, flourish but for a brief season! If no cruel hand pluck me from my stem, yet I must perish by an early doom. But thou art immortal and dost never fade, but bloomest for ever in renewed youth."

Monday, February 21, 2011

Sacromento burr

posted for id by BCC  weeds office:

Yellow weed

Academic work has been a priority the past month -  2 literature reviews for
publishing and a study protocol completed - thus I have not been doing much else.  Also I'm booked to do 2 garden club "edible weeds" talks and another on "The Paleolithic diet" next month so that has needed some revision as well. Anyway - enough excuses.

binomial name :   Galinsoga parviflora
common name : yellow weed,  potato weed,   or gallant soldier

This weed occurs at the foot of some aquaponic grow beds, in the orchard and also in a vegetable garden.  There are small yellow daisy like flowers and soft leaves about 4-6cm long. It is quite prolific and we have largely ignored it until recently when we have started to harvest it and use it as a potherb.
Taste wise it is bland and seems to lack any bitterness.

Pubmed search was really interesting:           (search term : Galinsoga)

abstract 5 :  2 compounds described - one with  antioxidant activity  and the second had inhibition of alpha reductase .  This enzyme converts complex carbohydrates to simple ones for absorption from the gut. This means galinsoga would be useful in diabetes in reducing blood sugar after a meal. A similar drug already used like this is Acarbose that works the same way by blocking this enzyme pathway.

abstract 6: this is a bit hard to assess as the detail is not really given but reading between the lines it seems as if Galinsoga as used traditionally is useful as a healing agent for wounds. One would need the complete journal article to confirm this though.

abstract 7: another really interesting report that an extract of Galinsoga blocks ACE ( angiotensin converting enzyme). Thus this is another blood pressure reducing weed. 

Nutritional content: 41kcal/100gm   4gm protein   small amounts  Ca, P04, Na, Mn and modest Mg( 681)  It also has modest anti-oxidant activity .
It certainly is not as good for us as Purslane or Sowthistle but is nonetheless another useful edible weed.

(ref : Journal of Food Composition and Analysis Volume 20, Issue 5, August 2007, Pages 430-435)

This is actually quite a good article to purchase as it details the nutritional content of quite a few of the weeds
I did not find any warnings on this plant in my searches regarding oxalic acid
levels or other adverse chemicals present.