Book of Botanics
by Sheesh, Orchan Alchemist of Morcraven Marsh
Note: All information with a (*) denotes real information about real plants. Any information that does not contain a (*) is fantasy based.
As any good alchemist knows, one must know what one harvests so all the parts of the herb can be utilized. Certain herbs may look like others without the proper training. So, I am writing this journal of my adventures to teach others the knowledge I have aquired. "No sense in re-inventing the wheel", my grandfather always said. And he was right.
Found: woodland and grassland habitats
Notes: Asiatic Lilies are usually erect leafy stemmed herbs. The majority of species form naked or tunic-less scaly underground bulbs from which they overwinter. Lilium bulbs are starchy and edible as root vegetables, although bulbs of some species may be very bitter. They are eaten especially in the summer, for their ability to reduce internal heat. They may be reconstituted and stir-fried, grated and used to thicken soup, or processed to extract starch. Their texture and taste draw comparison with the potato, although the individual bulb scales are much smaller. Although they are believed to be safe for humans to eat, there are reports of nephrotoxicosis (kidney failure) in cats which have eaten them.
Found: open, conifer woods; sandy or rocky balds and old fields.
Notes: Lowbush Blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium) is a member of the heath family, Ericaceae. It is a low, straggling shrub, usually 6 in. to 2 ft. tall and wide. Multiple stems; twiggy branches. Glossy foliage turns from red-green in spring to dark blue-green in summer to maroon-purple in fall. Small, white, pink-tinged, bell-shaped flowers are followed by edible blue fruit. The berries are relished by wildlife and man alike.
Found: open areas, borders of deserts
Notes: Blue Lupine (Lupinus perennis) is a member of the bean family. It was named Lupinus as Lupin is the name for wolf. It was an old belief that this plant destroyed the soul of all living nearby, while the plant thrived. When flowering, blue lupine can get 3 feet tall.
Found: dry sandy areas with lack of continual water, deserts.
Notes: A cactus is a type of succulent plant belonging to the dicotyledonous flowering plant family, Cactaceae. Like other succulents, cacti are well-adapted to life with little precipitation. The leaves have evolved into spines, which in addition to allowing less water to evaporate than regular leaves, defend the cactus against water-seeking animals. Photosynthesis is carried out by enlarged stems, which also store water. Unlike many other succulents, the stem is the only part of a true cactus where this takes place. Cacti come in a wide range of shapes and sizes. Some grow to great size. Some cacti produce beautiful flowers, which like spines and branches arise from areoles. Many cactus species are night-blooming, as they are pollinated by nocturnal insects or small animals, principally moths and bats.
Found: along coastal areas under pines and mixed hardwood trees, preferring cooler climates.
Notes: White chanterelles (Cantharellus silverwishii) are mushrooms white in appearance and are located in areas where many other mushrooms find it too cold to grow. These mushrooms have high magical properties utilizing massive healing abilities. They are said to have been touched by the gods, and if you have ever used one, you would not doubt that one bit. These mushrooms are also one of the best edible mushrooms, both meaty and flavorful.
Found: any area other than deserts
Notes: Chrysanthemum (Anacyclus pyrethrum) is a member of the Aster (daisy) family. The pellitory root is widely used because of its pungent efficacy in relieving toothache and in promoting a free flow of saliva. The British Pharmacopoeia directs that it be used as a masticatory, and in the form of lozenges for its reflex action on the salivary glands in dryness of the mouth and throat. The tincture made from the dried root may be applied to relieve the aching of a decayed tooth, applied on cotton wool, or rubbed on the gums, and for this purpose may with advantage be mixed with camphorated chloroform. It forms an addition to many dentifrices. Chrysanthemum folliage emits a fragrance that repels mosquitos.
Found: full sun near sandy and dry or humid areas
Notes: Cotton is a soft fiber that grows around the seeds of the Cotton plant (Gossypium spp.), the fibre is most often spun into thread and used to make a soft, breathable textile. Cotton is a valuable crop because only about 10% of the raw weight is lost in processing. Once traces of wax, protein, etc. are removed, the remainder is a natural polymer of pure cellulose. This cellulose is arranged in a way that gives cotton unique properties of strength, durability, and absorbency. Each fibre is made up of twenty to thirty layers of cellulose coiled in a neat series of natural springs. When the cotton boll (seed case) is opened the fibres dry into flat, twisted, ribbon-like shapes and become kinked together and interlocked. This interlocked form is ideal for spinning into a fine yarn.
Found: low-elevation forests, clearings, plains, scrub, plateaus.
Notes: Red Currant (Ribes cereum) is a member of the currant family, Grossulariaceae. It is a bushy, weak-stemmed shrub with small red fruit. Red currants make an excellent jelly and is full of vitamin C.
Found: civilized areas and open fields
Notes: Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is a member of the Aster family. It is often found in lawns, fields, and waste places. Flowering stalks are hollow, with a milky sap. Flowers are bright yellow. Fresh root tea is traditionally used for liver, gallbladder, kidney, and bladder ailments. Also used as a tonic for a weak or impared digestion. Dried root is used as a coffee substitute. All parts of the plant have been used as food. The leaves and flowers are rich in vitamin A and vitamin C.
Found: Open sunny locations in well drained soil.
Notes: Daffodils (Narcissus pseudo-narcissus L.) are a member of the Amaryllidaceae family. The bulbs of the Daffodil, as well as every other part of the plant are powerfully emetic, and the flowers are considered slightly poisonous, and have been known to have produced dangerous effects upon children who have swallowed portions of them. The influence of Daffodil on the nervous system has led to giving its flowers and its bulb for hysterical affections and even epilepsy, with benefit. A decoction of the dried flowers acts as an emetic, and has been considered useful for relieving the congestive bronchial catarrh of children, and also useful for epidemic dysentery
Found: various places, both in nature and in civilization.
Notes: Fruit are the reproductive part of the plant. Not all fruit are edible, but the ones with flesh that is sweet usually is safe to eat. Another name for fruit is mast. There is soft mast that is like an apple, pear, or even clusters of grapes. Soft mast is contained in a sweet flesh that is attractive to animals and thus when eaten, improves the chances of regeneration of the plant. Hard mast is without the sweet capsule. Examples include acorns, walnuts, hickory nuts, etc, Most fruit are high in vitamins and fibre necessary for our survival.
Found: shaded areas, or partially shaded
Notes: Impatiens (Impatiens aurea) have flowers, purple, yellow, pink and white, sometimes a showy scarlet, are spurred and irregular in form and are borne in the leaf axils. The name Impatiens is derived from the fact that the seed-pod, when ripe, discharges the seeds by the elastic separation and uncoiling of the valves. The herbs have an acrid, burning taste and act strongly as emetics, cathartics and diuretics, but are considered dangerous, their use having been termed 'wholly questionable. The chemical constituents are not known, though the leaves apparently contain tannin, which causes them to be employed as an outward application for piles, proving an excellent remedy, the freshly gathered plants being boiled in lard and an ointment made of them. The fresh juice of the herb appears to relieve cutaneous irritation of various kinds, especially that due to Rhus poisoning. A yellow dye has been made from the flowers.
Found: disturbed areas like houses, paths, near sunlight
Notes: Henbane (Hyoscyamus niger) is a member of the Nightshade family, Solanaceae and is a rough-looking, malodorous, poisonous, invasive Eurasian weed with pale yellow flowers growing from bases of hairy leaves. All parts of the plant are poisonous. Henbane has caused poisoning in poultry, cattle, pigs, and humans, including those who have swallowed the seeds or consumed the flowers for medicinal or hallucinogenic effects. Even when dried the foliage can poison livestock. This garden escapee has naturalized widely and is considered a noxious or invasive weed throughout the West. It has a long history as a medicinal plant, and was probably brought to the New World for medicinal purposes. It is dangerously toxic, however, and not recommended for ingestion of any sort.
Found: hills and mountains
Notes: Lilacs (Syringa vulgaris) are Found in mountainous terrain. A shrub or small tree up to 20 feet in height producing a crowd of erect stems, occasionally a trunk over 2 feet in girth, clothed with spirally arranged flakes of bark. Lilacs may be used as a substitute for aloes and in the treatment of malaria.
Found: invasive plant, open sunny areas or paths, near houses
Notes:aka Common Wormwood (Artemisia vulgaris) is a member of the Aster family. It is a weedy, invasive plant with deeply divided, aromatic leaves that are densely silvery downy beneath. Leaves are green above simple to variously dissected; strongly resembling foliage of hardy chrysanthemums. Height: 2-4' (60-120 cm). Naturalized from Europe, this plant is difficult to eradicate; it grows from stout, horizontal rhizomes that must be pulled or dug out if the plant is to be eliminated. It is considered an invasive plant pest in many areas, especially in the East.
Found: intolerant to shade, found in any open area, including deserts.
Notes: Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) is a member of the Figwort family (Scrophulariaceae). Often looking like fuzzy cabbage in the first year, it produces a large spike florescense that can grow to 8 feet high. Tradtionally the leaves or flowers are used in a tea or smoked to relieve bronchitis and cold ailments.
Found: disturbed habitats, often near civilization and sidewalks/paths.
Notes: Black Nightshade (Solanum nigrum) is an annual plant that rarely grows more than a foot or so in height and is much branched, generally making a bushy-looking mass. This species has the reputation of being very poisonous, a fact, however, disputed by recent inquiries. The berries are injurious to children, but are often eaten by adults with impunity, especially when quite ripe, as the poisonous principle is chiefly associated with all green parts. It has been found useful in cutaneous disorders, but its action is variable, and it is considered a somewhat dangerous remedy except in very small doses. The bruised fresh leaves, used externally, are said to ease pain and abate inflammation.
Found: in caverns and cold forests.
Notes: Ogre Toes (Xylaria mortosum) are a pale blue mushroom that when first emerging from the soil appear to resemble severed toes of ogres. The root fibers of this mushroom are red and stringy--thus further making the likeness of a orge's severed digits. Ogre Toes are known to remove poison from wounds inflicted by skunks, snakes, and bees. However, consuming of these mushrooms in raw form is deadly.
Found: forests, near civilization
Poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans or Rhus toxicodendron), in the family Anacardiaceae, is a woody vine that is well-known for its ability to produce urushiol, a skin irritant which for most people will cause an agonizing, itching rash. It can grow as a shrub up to about 1.2 m (4 ft) tall, as a groundcover 10-25 cm (4-10 in) high, or as a climbing vine on any and every support. Older vines on substantial supports send out lateral branches that may at first be mistaken for tree limbs. Beware of dead poison ivy: it still has plenty of urushiol, and will give the same effect.
Found: open areas, near houses in light, near cooler climate
Notes: Poppies (Papaver somniferum) is an erect, herbaceous annual, varying much in the colourof its flowers, as well as in the shape of the fruit and colour of the seeds. All parts of the plant, but particularly the walls of the capsules, or seed-vessels, contain a system of laticiferous vessels, filled with a white latex. The flowers vary in colour from pure white to reddish purple. In the wild plant, they are pale lilac with a purple spot at the base of each petal. Opium is one of the most valuable of drugs, Morphine and Codeine, the two principal alkaloids, being largely used in medicine. It is unexcelled as a hypnotic and sedative, and is frequently administered to relieve pain and calm excitement. For its astringent properties, it is employed in diarrhoea and dysentery, and on account of its expectorant, diaphoretic, sedative and antispasmodic properties, in certain forms of cough, etc. Small doses of opium and morphine are nerve stimulants. Opium and morphine do not produce in animals the general calmative and hypnotic effects which characterize their use in man, but applied locally, they effectually allay pain and spasm. Opium is not very quickly absorbed.
Found: in cooler, shaded areas where most flora wont grow.
Notes: The Black Rose (Rosa fauxus) has a dark flower on an erect stem that has 50% more thorns than most tea roses. Black roses are associated with death and are used in black magic.
Found: sunny to partially shaded areas
Notes: Red Rose (Rosa gallica) is a member of the Rosacea family. They are long stemmed tea roses, that have thorns on the stems that tend to be curved unlike some of the other roses in the same family. When employed for the preparation of the drug, only flower-buds just about to open are collected, no fully-expanded flowers. They must only be gathered in dry weather and no petals of any roses that have suffered from effects of damp weather must be taken. Though formerly employed for their mild astringency and tonic value, they are to-day used almost solely to impart their pleasant odour to pharmaceutical preparations. Red roses symbolize love, respect, courage, passion, and unconscious beauty.
Found: sunny to partially shaded areas
Notes: Yellow Rose (Rosa eglanteria) is also a member of the Rosacea family. They are a tea-rose as well but have straight thorns on their stems. Yellow roses symbolize joy, gladness, and friendship and are used for perfumes and healing others.
Found: dry climates, trees near beaches or deserts
Notes: aka Goat's rue and Devil's Shoestrings (Tephrosia virginiana) is a member of the pea family, Fabaceae. Rue has bicolored, pea-like flowers, with pink wings and a yellow standard, crowded into clusters atop a hairy stem. A distinctively silvery plant, Goat's Rue has long stringy roots, to which the common name Devil's Shoestrings refers. It was at one time fed to goats to increase their milk production, but since it contains rotenone (now used as an insecticide and fish poison), this practice has been discontinued. Native Americans the roots in a tea to make children's muscles strong, cold tea was used for male potency, and to treat turbuculosis, coughs, and bladder infections. Leaves were put into shoes to treat rheumatism. Experimentally, this herb has shown anti-cancer and cancer-causing potential.
Found: in areas near civilization
Notes: Snapdragons (Antirrhinum magus) are closely allied to the Toadflaxes. The botanical name, Antirrhinum, refers to the snout-like form of the flower. The plant has bitter and stimulant properties, and the leaves of this and several allied species have been employed on the continent in cataplasms to tumours and ulcers. It was valued in olden times like the Toadflax as a preservative against witchcraft.
Found: cold climates, any area near rocks
Notes: Blue starflower (Borago officinalis), is an annual herb grows to a height of 60-100 cm, and has bristly-hair all over the stems and leaves; the leaves are alternate, simple, and 5-15 cm long. The flowers are small, blue in colour with five narrow, triangular-pointed petals. It produces plenty of seeds and thus continues to grow and spread from where it is first sown or planted. The leaves have been found to contain small amounts of the liver-toxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids. They taste like fresh cucumber and are used in salads and soups. The flower, which contains the non-toxic pyrrolizidine alkaloid thesinine, has a sweet honey-like taste and is often used to decorate desserts and dishes. If frozen into ice-cubes, the flowers become exotic drink coolers. The oil that is extracted from the seeds is a good source of gamma-linolenic acid.
Found: in full sun
Notes: Sunflower (Helianthus annuus). The genus Helianthus, to which the Sunflower belongs, contains about fifty species. The Sunflower is valuable from an economic, as well as from an ornamental point of view. Every part of the plant may be utilized for some economic purpose. The leaves form a cattle-food and the stems contain a fibre which may be used successfully in making paper. The seed is rich in oil, which is said to approach more nearly to olive oil than any other vegetable oil known and to be largely used as a substitute. The flowers contain a yellow dye. The oil pressed from the seeds is of a citron yellow colour and a sweet taste and is considered equal to olive oil or almond oil for table use.
Found: near wetlands, streams, ponds.
Notes: Swamp Candles (Lysimachia terrestris) is a member of the primrose family, Primulaceae. They have erect stems with opposite leaves and racemes of star-like, yellow flowers with 2 red spots at the base of each petal, the height: 8-36" (20-90 cm). The root tuber is starchy and resembles a potato when cooked in salt water. Swamp candles have many additive agents that preserve other items for a longer shelf-life.
Found: in full sun
Notes: Tiger Lily (Lilium tigrinum) prefer full sun. Propagation is done via bulbils. A tincture is made from the fresh plant and has proved of great value in uterine-neuralgia, congestion and irritation, also in the nausea and vomiting of pregnancy. It relieves the bearing down pain accompanying uterine prolapse.
Found: in meadows and shaded areas with mositure.
Notes: Red toadstools (Amanita fantasium) have more magical properties of any of the mushrooms in existance today. Although, some consider these mushrooms poisonous, actual fact is that if prepared correctly no alkaloid properties will exist. However, if one is not experienced in the use of such mushroom, all sorts of problems can exist for both the alchemist/potioner or the one using the final product. Therefore, it is important one does not pick or use this mushroom until the proper experience is obtained.
Found: sunlight to partial shade. Can tolerate cold climates
Notes: Tulips are in the lily family, Liliaceae. They are bulbous plants, with large, showy flowers with six petals. There are around 100 species, Tulips cannot be grown in the open in tropical climates, as they require a cold winter season to grow successfully. Manipulation of the tulip's growing temperature can, however, allow growers to "force" tulips to flower earlier than they normally would.
Found: wet meadows and moist, open woods at mid- to high elevations.
Notes: Valerian (Valeriana sitchensis) is a member of the Valerianaceae family. A conspicuous, stately perennial with a 2-3 ft. stalk bearing opposite leaves with coarsely toothed leaflets, and a rounded clusters of small, tubular, aromatic flowers. The flowers are generally white but may have a pinkish tinge. Stamens protrude conspicuously. Used for tranquilizers and sleep aids, this plant can also battle fatigue and depression.
Notes: Vegetables are any edible part of a plant that does not include the reproductive part of the plant (seed). Vegetables contain a high level of vitamins and minerals that are necessary for our survival.
Found: disturbed habitats, roadsides, fencerows, fields, pastures, waste places.
Notes: Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) is also known as Absinthium, belonging to the Absinthe family. It is a low-growing silvery shrub that is considered a noxious weed in some areas. Height: 18-48" (45-120 cm). Leaves: 2-4" (5-10 cm) long; finely divided into small segments; lower leaves longer-stalked than upper; grayish; finely hairy. Although it has been used for medicinal purposes, this plant is habit-forming and contains neurotoxic agents that can cause brain damage if taken over a long period.
Found: old fields and roadsides
Notes: Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is a member of the Aster family, Asteraceae. Its characteristics are flat-topped clusters of small, whitish flowers grow at the top of a gray-green, leafy, usually hair, stem. Flower heads are about 1/4" (6 mm) across, composed of 4-6 ray flowers surrounding tiny central disk flowers. The leaves are 6" (15 cm) long, very finely dissected, gray-green, fern-like, aromatic; lanceolate in outline, stalkless with the basal leaves longer. Yarrow was formerly used for medicinal purposes: to break a fever by increasing perspiration, to treat hemorrhaging and as a poultice for rashes. </text>
Book of Botanics
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