Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Mosquito Repellent Trees Flowering Gum Tree: Eucalyptus ficifolia.

 By Liliana Usvat

Red-Flowering Gum Tree: Eucalyptus ficifolia. 

Type: Tree. Height: 25-30 feet. 

Spacing: 20-25 feet apart. 

Light Requirements: Full sun. 

Bloomtime: Year-round 

Additional Uses: After establishment in the landscape the tree is 
  • very drought tolerant, 
  • the leaves are fragrant, 
  • attracts wildlife to the garden
  • very showy red flowers in spring and summer.

Cultivation and uses In nature Corymbia ficifolia prefers infertile, sandy soils but it is readily adaptable to most temperate locations, provided it is not exposed to severe frost or sustained tropical damp. It is an ideal street tree as it is hardy, moderately fast growing, and rarely grows large enough to require pruning. 

The largest known single-stemmed tree in the world (216.5 cm diameter) is located on Princes Street in Hamilton, New Zealand. Because of its big and lovely colourful flowers, genetic improvement for cold resistance in Dublin area in Ireland is being carrying out by collecting seeds from Western and Southern Australia in the coldest parts of Australia where it grows. 

In Ireland most of the plants were killed by severe frosts but the surviving shoots have been kept by tissue culture.

It is difficult to graft but grows well from seed, typically taking about 7 years before it flowers for the first time and 15–20 years to reach something approaching its full size of anything between 2–8 m. 

For the home gardener, buying a "red flowering gum" from a nursery is something of an adventure: it may or may not be a ficifolia, and the flower colour does not breed true - there is no way to find out what colour the flowers will be short of planting a seedling and waiting for it to reach maturity.

Medicinal Uses

  • A tea of two or three leaves of Eucalyptus is a drink for stress, 
  • for restoring your body, and 
  • purifying your blood.  
  • it is used to make a tea to treat colds,
  •  flu, and 
  • stomach ailments.
  • To clear blocked nasal passages, inhale the steam of boiling leaves.  

Eucalyptus can cause allergic reactions in some people.

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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Liliana Usvat: Mosquito Repellent Trees Clove Tree: Syzygium aromaticum Medicinal Uses

Liliana Usvat: Mosquito Repellent Trees Clove Tree: Syzygium aromaticum Medicinal Uses

Mosquito Repellent Tree Silver Dollar Tree: Eucalyptus cinerea

By Liliana Usvat

Silver Dollar Tree: Eucalyptus cinerea. 
Type: Tree. Height: To 20 feet. 
Spacing: 25 feet apart. Light Requirements: Full sun. 
Additional Uses: Attracts wildlife to the garden, the foliage is used in fresh cut flower arrangements as greens, and dried floral arrangements.

Eucalyptus trees are native to Australia, but they are also found in the western United States, especially in Arizona, California, and Nevada. They can be planted anywhere where there is a hot, dry climate.

Native to Australia, argyle apple or silver dollar tree is a broadleaf evergreen tree that will grow as a single trunk tree to 25-60’ tall in its native habitat. 

Bark is reddish-brown, peeling on smaller stems. If grown as an annual shrub from seed in the St. Louis area, it typically grows rapidly to 6-8’ tall by mid-summer. 

Juvenile foliage consists of opposite rounded silvery bluish-green leaves (to 2” long) resembling large coins, hence the common name of silver dollar tree. Foliage is aromatic. Small white flowers rarely appear on juvenile trees or container plants. Foliage stems are frequently used by florists in fresh flower arrangements.

About 150 species have been grown in areas of California and Arizona that have climates similar to the plants’ native Australian habitats; many more have been grown as solitary representatives in arboretums. Eucalypts are the most widely planted non-native trees in these two Western states—for several hundred miles in parts of California.

Propagation Methods:
From softwood cuttings
From semi-hardwood cuttings
From seed; sow indoors before last frost

The Eucalyptus tree serves as primary food to the koala bear. Bees are attracted to the flowers of theEucalyptus, and the honey from these bees is highly prized in Australia. Because of its aromatic and long lasting quality, the young leaves are a "best seller" in flower stores. 

Medicinal Uses
Doctors and herbalists around the world use Eucalyptus in medicines to treat many sicknesses such as: 
  • infections, 
  • colds, 
  • flu, 
  • sore throats, 
  • bronchitis,
  •  pneumonia, 
  • aching, 
  • stiffness, 
  • neuralgia and even
  •  some skin infections.

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Mosquito Repellent Trees Clove Tree: Syzygium aromaticum Medicinal Uses

By Liliana Usvat

Clove Tree: Syzygium aromaticum. Type: Tree. Height: 20-30 feet. Spacing: 25 feet apart. Light Requirements: Full sun to partial shade. Additional Uses: The flower buds are the spice of commerce, and attracts wildlife to the garden.

The clove tree is an evergreen growing to 8–12 m tall, having large leaves and sanguine flowers grouped in terminal clusters. The flower buds are begin a pale hue before gradually become green, then transitioning to a bright red and are ready for collection. Cloves are harvested when 1.5–2 cm long, and consist of a long calyx, terminating in four spreading sepals, and four unopened petals forming a small central ball.

Cloves are used in the cuisine of Asian, African, and the Near and Middle East, lending flavour to meats, curries, and marinades, as well as compliment to fruit such as apples, pears, or rhubarb.

Traditional medicinal uses

Cloves are used in Indian Ayurvedic medicine, Chinese medicine, and western herbalism and dentistry where the essential oil is used as an anodyne (painkiller) for dental emergencies.

Cloves are used as a carminative, to increase hydrochloric acid in the stomach and to improve peristalsis. Cloves are also said to be a natural anthelmintic. The essential oil is used in aromatherapy when stimulation and warming are needed, especially for digestive problems. Topical application over the stomach or abdomen are said to warm the digestive tract. Applied to a cavity in a decayed tooth, it also relieves toothache
In Chinese medicine cloves or ding xiang are considered acrid, warm and aromatic, entering the kidney, spleen and stomach meridians, and are notable in their ability to warm the middle, direct stomach qi downward, to treat hiccough and to fortify the kidney yang.

Because the herb is so warming it is contraindicated in any persons with fire symptoms and according to classical sources should not be used for anything except cold from yang deficiency.

 As such it is used in formulas for impotence or clear vaginal discharge from yang deficiency, for morning sickness together with ginseng and patchouli, or for vomiting and diarrhea due to spleen and stomach coldness.

Cloves may be used internally as a tea and topically as an oil for hypotonic muscles, including for multiple sclerosis.

This is also found in Tibetan medicine. Some recommend avoiding more than occasional use of cloves internally in the presence of pitta inflammation such as is found in acute flares of autoimmune diseases.

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Mosquito Repellent Trees Cadaga Tree Eucalyptus torelliana.

By Liliana Usvat

Cadaga Tree: Eucalyptus torelliana. Type: Tree. Height: To 80 feet. Spacing: 20-30 feet apart. Light Requirements: Full sun. Additional Uses: Attracts wildlife to the garden.

History of cultivation
Eastern Queensland, Australia. Planted in Papua New Guinea, Peninsular Malaysia, tropical Africa and India.


Natural Habitat
E. torelliana grows in and around tropical rain forest on slopes of coastal areas.
Eastern Queensland, Australia. Planted in Papua New Guinea, Peninsular Malaysia, tropical Africa and India.

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Monday, January 20, 2014

Cheese Tree - Fire Resistent Plant and Medicinal Uses

By Liliana Usvat

    (cheese tree fruit)

Contrary to popular belief, cheeses actually grow on trees, and do not come from the milk of cows.

Scientific Name: Glochidion ferdinandi
The latin name for these little trees, "Darium chassius" simply means "Dairy cheese"

Glochidion ferdinandi, an evergreen commonly known as the cheese tree, is a species of small to medium–sized trees, constituting part of the plant family Phyllanthaceae.

They grow naturally across eastern Australia, from south–eastern NSW northwards to northern and inland Qld, in rainforests and humid eucalypt forests.

Pigeons, figbirds and parrots consume its fruit.

The tree attracts butterflies and other insects including ladybirds which feed on the aphids it hosts.

  (cheese tree fruit)

Fire Resistant

It can resprout after bush fires, and flowers at any time of year, with the seed pods ripening between November and February.

Plant Usage    
  • Screen, 
  • windbreak, 
  • attractive foliage, 
  • fire retardant
  (cheese tree)


The name Glochidion comes from the Greek glochis meaning protruding point or the barb of an arrow. It got the name Ferdinandi as it was named in honour of Ferdinand Jakob Heinrich von Mueller (1825-96) who was the first government botanist of Victoria.

Distribution and habitat

  (cheese tree fruit)

The trees have specific growing conditions - they will only grow in conditions below -2 degrees Celsius, on open ground with little shade. They blossom once a year

The cheese tree grows in both clay and sandy soils, and is found in rainforest and wetter areas in sclerophyll forest, where it may be associated with such species as Bangalay (Eucalyptus botryoides), Woollybutt (E. longifolia), Forest Red Gum (E. tereticornis) Thin-leaved Stringybark (E. eugenioides) and swamp she-oak (Casuarina glauca).

The hairy cheese tree grows with magenta lilly pilly (Syzygium paniculatum),

    magenta lilly pilly (Syzygium paniculatum)

 broad-leaved paperbark (Melaleuca quinquenervia)

    paperbark (Melaleuca quinquenervia)

, and Rhodomyrtus species

  (Rhodomyrtus Flower)

  (Rhodomyrus Bush)

Species of cheese tree

(cheese tree fruit)

There are around 200 species of Glochidion and these were classed as Euphorbiceae, although they have now been moved to the Phyllanthaceae family, the plants of which typically have seed capsules which explode, ejecting the two flattened seeds in each of the capsules segments.

Horticultural Merit and uses:
Used in revegetation programs as a pioneer planting, useful small tree for gardens with a dense shady canopy or for providing a screen. May sucker if root zone is disturbed. Tolerates a wide range of soils as long as there is adequate moisture for growth. Quite hardy once established.

The Fruit 

(cheese tree fruit)

The fruit can be white, cream pale green, green, and orange to red, roundish, ribbed, resembling miniature Queensland Blue pumpkins (not really resembling cheeses).

Medicinal Uses Cancer

The Cheese Tree had a surprise for scientists though as they found two new xanthones in it and in the outer bark there is a “new” fungal metabolite Trichodermamide C which seems to have cytotoxicity actions on colorectal carcinomas and human lung carcinoma.

The bark is flaky and grey-brown, and the tree is fast-growing, with the cheeses starting off green then turning white-pink, changing to deep red when fully ripe.

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Friday, January 17, 2014

Trees and Fires

By Liliana Usvat

Watching TV we see more often entire forest that burn.

Once a wildfire spreads, it can destroy thousands of acres of forests and woodlands. Rehabilitating the burnt areas is a complex, extended process – even after the trees grow back, it can take many more years for the ecosystem to recuperate and return to its former state.

A young forest is one that has been planted within the last six years and it is the most vulnerable to fires, since a fire will cause it total damage and prevent natural renewal. To prevent fires in a young forest, the area around it must be isolated.

Some trees, particularly evergreen forest trees, regenerate after fires. The Canary Island pine, for example, has the ability to regenerate after forest fires. If the fire was not particularly intense, or if it passed through the forest relatively quickly, a tree that appears burnt may actually still be alive and capable of regeneration.

The most important weapon against forest fires is prevention:

Different trees and shrubs have different levels of flammability and rates of consumption. Planting species that are relatively less flammable, reduces the danger of fires.

Research studies  have examined the temperatures of fire ignition and the rates of fire consumption of standard species of forest trees and shrubs.Recommendations was done for planting trees and shrubs with low flammability rates and slow consumption rates, to reduce the probability of fire ignition and diffusion in places at a high risk for fires, and to plant along determined firebreak lines. 

Athel tamarisk, also known as the saltcedar, is the most suitable tree for preventing fires from spreading. There are also three shrubs with a low flammability rate—caper, mastic and oleander.

and saltcedar trees,

 as well as shrubs with low flammability rates, are used as barriers and fire deterrents in planted forests, in accordance with the geographical region of the location of the forest.

The frequency of planted sapling rows varies in accordance with the surrounding conditions (incline, northern or southern slope, wind regime and so forth). In order to create firebreaks on summits and ridges, trees are planted sparsely with low, spreading shrubs planted among them.

Fire Resistant Plants, which are hard to burn, have the following features:

• High moisture content
• High levels of salt
• Low volatile oil content of leaves.


Lilly Pilly

Native Ginger



Sweet Pittosporum

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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Soil Building and Medicinal Plant - Blue Elderberry

By Liliana Usvat

What are some Soil Building plants?

Blue Elderberry  - (Sambucus caerulea)

Sambucus cerulea, common name blue elderberry or blue elder, is a coarse shrub species of elder in the family Adoxaceae.

Used often in revegetation projects for its wildlife and habitat value, Blue Elderberry is protected in California.

Blue Elderberry tolerates many types of soil conditions and is relatively easy to grow. Plants in full sun produce more flowers and berries than those in shady conditions. It is drought tolerant, but holds its leaves longer and looks better with moderate summer irrigation.  

Wild looking in its natural state, the Blue Elderberry is a fastgrowing, multi-trunked large shrub or small tree that with pruning can be trained into a more garden-appropriate plant.

The white or creamy coloured flowers, occurring May to June, are numerous and form a flat-topped cluster usually about 5–20 cm (2–8 in) wide. They are umbel-shaped, normally with 4 to 5 rays extending from the base. The flowers have a strong, odor. Individual flowers are 4–7 mm wide.

The fruits given are berry-like drupes. They are juicy, round, and approximately 4–6 mm in diameter. They are bluish-black appearing as a pale powdery blue colour. Each fruit contains 3 to 5 small seed-like stones, each enclosing a single seed. 

Habitat preferences

Prefers sunny, forest-edge location and moist soils. Blue elderberry is common along stream banks, river banks, and open places in riparian areas lower than < 3000 m.

Blue elderberry prefers a sunny location along the forest edge. It thrives on moist soils, including those that flood. 

The Mikasukis Indians considered elderberries a scarcity food only.

Young elderberry shoots may be cooked like asparagus and eaten.

Elderberries are nutritious, are packed with antioxidants, and have more Vitamin C than oranges or tomatoes. They also have Vitamin A, calcium, thiamine, niacin, twice the calories of cranberries and three times the protein of blueberries.

Europe Elderberry wood was used for making musical instruments.

Medicinal Uses:
Elderberry has been a folk remedy for centuries in North America, Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa. It was widely employed as a medicinal herb by many native North American tribes who used it to treat a wide range of complaints. It is still commonly used as a domestic remedy.

  •  The bark may be given for epilepsy, 
  • a strong purgative and in large doses has emetic action, 
  • as an early diuretic for renal and heart conditions
  • An emollient ointment from the inner green bark and
  •  a homeopathic tincture made from the fresh inner bark relieves asthma complaints and may assist with croup.
  •  A tea made from the inner bark and root bark is diuretic
  • emetic and 
  • a strong laxative. 
  • A tea made from the root bark is used to promote labor in childbirth and 
  • in treating headaches, 
  • kidney problems and 
  • mucous congestion
  • The inner bark is also applied as a poultice to cuts, sore or swollen limbs etc 
  • in order to relieve pain and swelling.
  • A poultice of the leaves is applied to bruises and to cuts in order to stop bleeding. 
  • An infusion of the leaf buds is strongly purgative
  • Elder flowers are stimulant, diaphoretic and diuretic.
  •  A warm tea of the flowers is stimulant and induces sweating, taken cold it is diuretic
  • It is used in the treatment of fevers and infant colic.
  • An infusion of the leaves and flowers is used as an antiseptic wash for skin problems, wounds etc.
  • Elder flowers and peppermint have been used together to induce sweating of toxins from the body, preventing pneumonia in soldiers on the battlefields. This method is still used today by herbalists, and other combinations include elder and yarrow, or hyssop, or boneset in cases of influensa. 
  • Tea from elder flowers is often taken as a spring medicinal for purification of the blood.
  • Formentations made from the flowers help with pain and inflammation, 
  • as well as headaches from colds
  • Elder flower vinegar is an old remedy for sore throat. 
  • Berries have aperient, diuretic and emetic properties and 
  • the juice of the berries has been used successfully to treat rheumatism and syphilis. 
  • Elderberry wine taken at night will produce perspiration and clear out toxins and will assist in ailments with mucous build-up, like early colds, coughs, and sore throats, as well as asthma
  • The fresh juice of the fruit, evaporated into a syrup, is laxative.
  •  It also makes a good ointment for treating burns when mixed with an oily base
  • The dried fruit can be made into a tea that is useful in the treatment of cholera and diarrhea. 
  • Roots of elderberry may treat lymphatic and kidney ailments.
Other Uses:
  • The elderberry shrub may yield green, violet and black dyes
  • A decoction of the leaves, when watered on plants, repels caterpillars. 
  • The dried flower stems repel insects and rodents. 
  • Bruised leaves yield a juice that drives away flies and aphids.
 Edible Uses
The fruits of blue elderberry are edible raw, cooked or used in preserves. This is the most well-tasting of the North American elders, even though it is full of small seeds. The berries are rather sweet and juicy. They can however cause nausea if eaten raw, but ripe berries are edible when cooked. 

Berries can be used in portlike wine, jams, and pies. They should always be cooked and are used primarily in wines and syrups. The fruit is usually dried before being used. Some caution is advised, see the notes below on toxicity. 

The flowers are edible raw or cooked, and are said to be pleasant and refreshing raw. A pleasant tea can be made from the dried flowers. 


The leaves, green fruits and stems of members of this genus are poisonous. The stems, bark, leaves and roots contain cyanide-producing glycosides, and are therefore poisonous, especially when fresh. The fruit of this species has been known to cause stomach upsets. Any toxin the fruit might contain is considered to be of low toxicity and is destroyed when the fruit is cooked.

Elderberry Jelly

The most common use of elderberries is for jelly-making. Their juice produces a clear, ruby-red jewel-like delicacy with a sparkling flavor to match.
3 pounds elderberries
juice of 1 lemon
1 box fruit pectin
4 1/2 cups sugar

Heat the berries over a low fire until the juice starts to flow and then simmer the fruit for 15 minutes. Strain the liquid through a double layer of cheesecloth (easier if you cook the fruit in the evening and let it drain overnight). Mix the elderberry and lemon juices along with just enough water to make three cups of fluid. Add the pectin, bring the mixture to a boil and stir in the sugar. Bring the jelly to a full boil again for one minute, pour it into sterilized glasses and cover the jars with paraffin.
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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Trees that Heal Saguaro Cactus

By Liliana Usvat

A slow-growing, mighty plant with tremendous stature and authority.  

At approx. 120 years of age, it begins to produce flowers.

The mature plant has a root system capable of holding up to 200 gallons of water – enough to sustain it for an entire year! 

They absorb and store huge amounts of water after the summer rains, which can increase the weight of a large speciment by 750-900kg. The stored water enables the saguaro to flower every year, even if the rainfall has been lower than average. They are pollinated by bats, birds and bees, with the seeds dispersed by birds that eat the juicy, red fruits.

For example, over the span of it's lifetime, 175-200 years, the Saguaro Cactus can produce as many as 40 million seeds - however only a handful will actually live to adulthood.
For example, over the span of it's lifetime, 175-200 years, the Saguaro Cactus can produce as many as 40 million seeds - however only a handful will actually live to adulthood.
For example, over the span of it's lifetime, 175-200 years, the Saguaro Cactus can produce as many as 40 million seeds - however only a handful will actually live to adulthood.
For example, over the span of it's lifetime, 175-200 years, the Saguaro Cactus can produce as many as 40 million seeds - however only a handful will actually live to adulthood.
For example, over the span of it's lifetime, 175-200 years, the Saguaro Cactus can produce as many as 40 million seeds - however only a handful will actually live to adulthood.
For example, over the span of it's lifetime, 175-200 years, the Saguaro Cactus can produce as many as 40 million seeds - however only a handful will actually live to adulthood.

The Saguaro cactus is the largest cactus that grows in the United States.  It grows in tall columns and sprouts arms at 75 years of age.  The plants can grow up to 40 feet tall and 2 feet wide.  The skin of the Saguaro is thick, waxy, light green, and serrated into ridges.

These ridges allow the cactus to expand like an accordion during rainy seasons to hold more water.  Long, pointy spikes run down the ridges.  The cacti has notably shallow roots; there is a main root that reaches up to 2-3 feet deep while the other roots only extend about a foot deep, though they fan out far and wide.

The Saguaro’s bell-shaped flowers are large, white, and fragrant.  They are typically 3 inches wide and bloom during the spring.  The flowers are pollinated by bats, birds, and insects that feed on the nectar.   The fruit of the Saguaro is cylindrical, scaly, and about 2-3 inches long.  The color matures from green to red and splits open during the summer when ripe.  The flesh of the fruit is bright, luscious red and contains many black seeds.


Harming a saguaro in any manner, including cactus plugging, is illegal by state law in Arizona, and when houses or highways are built, special permits must be obtained to move or destroy any saguaro affected. 

Culinary Usage

In June, American Indian tribes traditionally live in “cactus camps” in areas dense in Saguaros to harvest the fruit. 
            As such, the saguaro fruit is important to a number of tribes.  When not eaten fresh, the fruit was often dried and could be baked into cakes.  The pulp was also frequently turned into preserves.  Syrup was also often made of the pulp.

 This syrup or the fruit itself could be fermented to create a wine, which had important ceremonial purposes among several tribes. The fruit and syrup can be added to water to create a refreshing drink.
The seeds were often ground and used as flour, made into cakes, or to create a peanut butter-like paste.

Other Usages

Ribs from the Saguaro cactus had numerous uses: 
  • fencing, 
  • splints for 
  • broken bones, and 
  • mixed with ocotillo, grass, and mud to build houses (Phillips & Comus).  
  • They were also used in games,
  •  for instruments,
  •  animal traps, and to 
  • make arrows.  
  • Perhaps most importantly, they were shaped into tools to pick the Saguaro fruit.
  • The saguaro heals itself from wounds caused things such as woodpecker holes by creating a tissue.  This tissue is used by tribes as a container for water and food.  
  • The saguaro thorns were used for tattooing.  
  • The seeds are sometimes used for chicken feed or pressed for oil. 

 The Tohono O’odham organised their traditional calendar around the saguaro’s annual fruiting cycle and considered the species to be so important that plants were regarded as fellow humans who should not be hurt.

Healing: The Saguaro Cactus is a powerful healing presence. Its stature and dignity symbolize the shift you are undergoing in relation to your own personal power.

The masculine principle within your psyche is rebalancing at this time, and you will find yourself able to receive Grandfathers Wisdom's sacred knowledge, which resides within your heart, just as it lives at the center of this proud, majestic plant.

The folks of Grandfather's garment reach out to protect your Earth Walk; his drum and walking stick are visible to the external world for they are essential gifts he brings to the journey.

Arizona State Flower (USA)

 In 1901 the saguaro’s blossom was adopted as the official territorial flower, and later, in 1931, it was confirmed as the state flower. The saguaro cactus typically blooms in May and June. It is one of the most unique state flowers, and is characterized by having a waxy feel, but fragrant aroma.

There may be hundreds of flowers on a saguaro cactus that bloom just several at a time over a period of more than a month. The saguaro flowers have a short life; they open at night and close permanently during the next day.

Many of the blossoms will become pollinated and, later in the summer, the flowers become red-fleshed fruits that are enjoyed by the local bird population. 

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