Natures Treasures Blog
Love the little pollen cones on this magnificent western red Cedar or Thuja plicata, Thujas are also called arborvitae, which means tree of life in Latin 🌲
These evergreen trees belong to the family of cedars. They are most common to western North America.
Their hight ranges between 60-70 meters and their stem can have a diameter of 3-4 meters.
They can reach ages over 1000 years.
Isn’t it red tinted bark just beautiful!
The First Nation living in the area now known as Oregon were very connected to this tree, they used the bark, roots and branches for making tools, rods, totem poles, canoes, clothing, ropes, instruments, boxes, ceremonial objects, masks and for cooking fish over an open fire, due to its pineapple like scent. Woodworking tools were found, dating back to 8000 years ago.
A legend amongst the Coast Salish peoples describes the origins of the western redcedar. In this legend, there was a generous man who gave the people whatever they needed. When the Great Spirit saw this, he declared that when the generous man died, a great redcedar tree will grow where he is buried, and that the cedar will be useful to all the people, providing its roots for baskets, bark for clothing, and wood for shelter.
I’m astonished about its medicinal properties!
An infusion of the leaves has been used in the treatment of stomach pains and diarrhoea. A decoction of the leaves has been used in the treatment of colds; externally to treat various internal pains, including rheumatism.
The leaf buds have been chewed in the treatment of toothaches and sore lungs. A decoction of the buds has been used as a gargle.
A decoction of the small branches has been used in the treatment of coughs, colds and tuberculosis. A weak infusion has been drunk in the treatment of painful joints caused by rheumatism or arthritis.
A poultice of the crushed bough tips and oil has been applied to the back and chest in the treatment of bronchitis, rheumatism, stomach pains and swollen neck. An infusion of the twigs has been used as a wash in the treatment of venereal disease sores. A decoction of the boughs has been used as an antidandruff shampoo.
A decoction of the stem tips and the roots has been used in the treatment of colds.
An infusion of the bark and twigs has been used in the treatment of kidney complaints.
An infusion of the seeds and twigs has been used in the treatment of fevers.
The chewed bark, or a decoction of the bark, has been drunk to induce menstruation. A moxa of the inner bark has been used as a counter-irritant for the skin.
A poultice of the inner bark has been applied to carbuncles.
The bark has been pounded until it is as soft as cotton and then used to rub the face.
The very soft bark has been used to bind wounds and cover dressings.
The shredded bark has been used to cauterize sores and swellings.
Info taken from:
I started cutting these impressive creatures yesterday and felt so bad for it...in winter they are like dead spiders with their rotting leaves and then rise out of them like a Phoenix 🔥the roots are really alive you see so many insects living in them!
Gunnera manicata or elephant ears are native to Brazil and are about 150 million years old. Their leaves can grow up to 3m!
Gunnera is the only genus of angiosperms known to host the cyanobacteria Nostoc and the only group of land plants that hosts cyanobacteria intracellularly. Nostoc are nitrogen fixing, which Gunnera is using for its growth (Chiu et al., 2005). So even if the soil has low amounts of nitrogen-fixing bacteria, Gunnera is able to thrive.
They were introduced to Europe a few hundred years ago as gardening plant, close to ponds etc.
There are now regarded as invasive species...
I did some research about Gunnera. There are 63 species mostly in the Southern Hemisphere.
Gunnera Perpensa (last picture) which is native to Africa, is the most studied plant, due to its medicinal properties!
This plant is actually endangered in Africa now, because the leaves, stems and roots have been used for centuries to treat various conditions including; inducing or augmenting labour, as postnatal medication, treating parasitic diseases, urinary complaints, kidney problems, general body pains, sexually transmitted infections, and many more.
Scientific studies on G. perpensa indicate that it has a wide range of pharmacological activities including acetylcholinesterase, anthelmintic, antibacterial, antifungal, antinociceptive, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antitumour, lactogenic, and uterotonic. (A. Maroyi, 2016)
Then I found only two papers from Mariotti et al. (From 2011 and 2014)studying the Chemical constituents and pharmacological profile of Gunnera manicata L. extracts.
They found that G. manicata antioxidant activity results were similar to those obtained with G. Perpensa. Moreover, antimicrobial activity in an agar diffusion assay was effective against Staphylococcus aureus and Candida albicans, both very common bacteria in humans, which can become harmful.
Their conclusion was, that G. Manicata has great potential to be used in drug production!
With changing climate, we should probably start to change our perspective and attitude towards invasive species. Gunnera have flowers and pollen, insects and birds can feed on, their body seems like a full ecosystem in itself.
We need to study their symbiosis with the existing ecosystem more.
I will definitely keep an eye on them throughout the year and keep you posted about their own development and the impact on the surrounding ecosystem.
It would be fantastic if institutes and the Pharma industry could fund this kind of research trying to make use of plants that are outcompeting native species by including them in our medicine. Instead of trying to kill them by using harmful and destructive methods such as pesticides and fire, which seems to be an endless fight anyways...
Chiu et al. http://www.plantphysiol.org/content/139/1/224.short
Mariotti et al. http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1984-82502014000100015
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