Concept

Petal

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  • Lathyrus vernus (L.)Bernh. Papilionaceae previously Orobus vernus L. (Linnaeus, 1753) Spring vetchling. Distribution: Europe to Siberia. The seeds of several Lathyrus species are toxic, and when eaten cause a condition called lathyrism. The chemical diaminoproprionic acid in the seeds causes paralysis, spinal cord damage, aortic aneurysm, due to poisoning of mitochondria causing cell death. Occurs where food crops are contaminated by Lathyrus plants or where it is eaten as a 'famine food' when no other food is available. It is the Orobus sylvaticus purpureus vernus of Bauhin (1671) and Orobus sylvaticus angustifolius of Parkinson (1640) - who records that country folk had no uses for it. Photographed in the Medicinal Garden of the Royal College of Physicians, London.
  • Cucurbita maxima 'Golden Hubbard'
  • Tellima grandiflora (Pursh)Lindl. Saxifragaceae Distribution: Western North America from Alaska to California. The Native American Skagit tribe from Washington State, used it to improve appetite. The Nitinaht used it to stop having dreams of sexual intercourse with the dead (Moerman, 1998), Photographed in the Medicinal Garden of the Royal College of Physicians, London.
  • Geum rivale 'Leonard's Variety'
  • Viburnum japonicum Spreng. Caprifoliaceae Distribution: Evergreen Shrub. Distribution: Japan and Taiwan. No medicinal uses. The fruit is a 'famine food' eaten when all else fails. As other seeds/fruits of Viburnum species are listed as poisonous, and none are listed as 'edible', one can assume that the seeds/fruits of V. japonicum are also toxic. It does not appear vulnerable to pests or molluscs which may be due to irioid glycosides that are present in this genus produced as a defence against herbivores, fungi and bacteria. They have a bitter taste. Photographed in the Medicinal Garden of the Royal College of Physicians, London.
  • Valeriana pyrenaica L. Valerianaceae Distribution: Pyrenees. It has no medical use. Photographed in the Medicinal Garden of the Royal College of Physicians, London.
  • Magnolia stellata (Siebold & Zuch.) Maxim. Magnoliaceae. Star magnolia. Small flowering tree. Distribution: Japan. Named for the French botanist and physician, Pierre Magnol (1638-1715), Professor of Botany and Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Montpelier. Charles Plumier (1646-1704) named a tree on Martinique after him (Magnolia) and the name was continued by Linnaeus (1753). No medicinal use. This is a very ancient genus of flowering plants. Photographed in the Medicinal Garden of the Royal College of Physicians, London.
  • Sanguisorba officinalis 'Tanna'
  • Asarum caudatum Lindl. Aristolochiaceae. British Columbia wild ginger. Asarum is the Latin name for wild ginger
  • Lobelia cardinalis L Campanulaceae Cardinal lobelia Distribution: Americas, Colombia to south-eastern Canada. The genus was named after Matthias de L’Obel or Lobel, (1538–1616), Flemish botanist and physician to James I of England, author of the great herbal Plantarum seu Stirpium Historia (1576). Lobeline, a chemical from the plant has nicotine like actions and for a while lobeline was used to help people withdraw from smoking, but was found to be ineffective. It was introduced from Virginia to John Parkinson in England by John Newton (1580-1647) a surgeon of Colyton (aka Colliton), Devon, who travelled to Virginia. Photographed in the Medicinal Garden of the Royal College of Physicians, London.

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