Humble Garden

ReSkilling for future food independence

Archive for the ‘botany’ Category

Growing Hope

Posted by Nika On November - 18 - 2012

I am brainstorming on how to put together what we have done on our homestead, here on this site and elsewhere into a project that others can become invested in to facilitate a move to the next phase of food production here – a permaculture aquaponics greenhouse.

Stay tuned for more information as the project proceeds.


Oak Leaf Disease

Posted by Nika On August - 29 - 2011

Can you ID what this is? mostly impacting our oaks (severely) – adjacent non-oak trees much less affected.

I have many theories but none of the oak diseases fit well into our symptoms.

Here are some more photos.

Know and even eat your weeds!

Posted by Nika On June - 24 - 2010

I am still trying to identify the weeds that inhabit and terrorize my landscape. Their fecundity is a sight to be seen and I definitely respect it I just wish I could get tomatoes to do the same thing!

Today I am going to show some of my main weeds and identify where I am able.

PennycressThlaspi arvense


Thlaspi arvense (common name Field Penny-cress) is a foetid Eurasian plant having round flat pods; naturalized throughout North America. It is also related to the Lepidium species in the cabbage family.

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Brassicales
Family: Brassicaceae
Genus: Thlaspi
Species: T. arvense

Edible uses:
Edible Parts: Leaves; Seed.

Edible Uses: Condiment.

Young leaves – raw or cooked. They should always be harvested before the plant comes into flower or they will be very bitter. Even the young leaves have a somewhat bitter flavour and aroma, and are not to everyone’s taste. They can be added in small quantities to salads and other foods. They can also be cooked in soups or used as a potherb, they taste somewhat like mustard but with a hint of onion. For a leaf, it is very rich in protein. The seed is ground into a powder and used as a mustard substitute. The seed can be sprouted and added to salads.

Medicinal uses:

Antibacterial; Antidote; Antiinflammatory; Antirheumatic; Blood tonic; Diaphoretic; Diuretic; Expectorant; Febrifuge; Hepatic; Ophthalmic; Tonic.

Antirheumatic, diuretic. The seed is a tonic. Both the seed and the young shoots are said to be good for the eyes. The seeds are used in Tibetan medicine and are considered to have an acrid taste and a cooling potency. They are anti-inflammatory and febrifuge, being used in the treatment of pus in the lungs, renal inflammation, appendicitis, seminal and vaginal discharges. The entire plant is antidote, anti-inflammatory, blood tonic, depurative, diaphoretic, expectorant, febrifuge and hepatic. It is used in the treatment of carbuncles, acute appendicitis, intestinal abscess, post-partum pain, dysmenorrhoea and endometriosis. Use with caution since large doses can cause a decrease in white blood cells, nausea and dizziness. The plant has a broad antibacterial activity, effective against the growth of Staphylococci and streptococci.

PlantainPlantago major

to be ID'd ground cover (plantains?)

Plantago major is a species of Plantago, family Plantaginaceae. The plant is native to most of Europe and northern and central Asia. It is widely naturalised elsewhere in the world, where it is a common weed. The standard native English name is Greater Plantain, though it is also called Common Plantain in some areas where it is introduced, particularly North America. Another one of its common names was “Soldier’s Herb” for its use on the battlefield as a field dressing.

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Plantaginaceae
Genus: Plantago
Species: P. major


Edible Uses:

Edible Parts: Leaves; Root; Seed.

Edible Uses: Tea.

Young leaves – raw or cooked. They are rather bitter and tedious to prepare because the fibrous strands need to be removed before use. It is best not to use the leaf-stalk since this is even more fibrous than the leaf. Many people blanch the leaves in boiling water before using them in salads in order to make them more tender. A Chinese form has more palatable leaves – it contains about 2.7% protein, 0.4% fat, 2.2% ash. Seed – raw or cooked. Very tedious to harvest. The seed can be ground into a meal and mixed with flour. It is very rich in vitamin B1. The whole seeds can be boiled and used like sago. The dried leaves make an acceptable tea. Root. No further details.

Medicinal Uses:

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Antidote; Astringent; Demulcent; Deobstruent; Depurative; Diuretic; Expectorant; Haemostatic; Laxative; Ophthalmic; Poultice; Refrigerant; Vermifuge.

Common plantain is a safe and effective treatment for bleeding, it quickly staunches blood flow and encourages the repair of damaged tissue. The leaves are astringent, demulcent, deobstruent, depurative, diuretic, expectorant, haemostatic and refrigerant. Internally, they are used in the treatment of a wide range of complaints including diarrhoea, gastritis, peptic ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, haemorrhage, haemorrhoids, cystitis, bronchitis, catarrh, sinusitis, asthma and hay fever. They are used externally in treating skin inflammations, malignant ulcers, cuts, stings etc. The heated leaves are used as a wet dressing for wounds, swellings etc. The root is a remedy for the bite of rattlesnakes, it is used in equal portions with Marrubium vulgare. The seeds are used in the treatment of parasitic worms. Plantain seeds contain up to 30% mucilage which swells up in the gut, acting as a bulk laxative and soothing irritated membranes. Sometimes the seed husks are used without the seeds. A distilled water made from the plant makes an excellent eye lotion.

LambsquartersChenopodium album

Humble Garden: weeds

Chenopodium album is a fast-growing weedy annual plant in the genus Chenopodium that is extensively cultivated and consumed in Northern India as a food crop (referred to as बथुआ; i.e. “Bathua” or “Bathuwa” in Hindi). In Britain, where the plant is considered a weed, its standard name is Fat-hen, though this is used for other plants also; the unambiguous name is White Goosefoot, and it is also known as lamb’s quarters, nickel greens, pigweed or dungweed, or more ambiguously as just goosefoot.

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Amaranthaceae
Genus: Chenopodium
Species: C. album

Edible Uses:

Edible Parts: Flowers; Leaves; Seed.

Leaves – raw or cooked. A very acceptable spinach substitute, the taste is a little bland but this can be improved by adding a few stronger-flavoured leaves. One report says that, when eaten with beans, the leaves will act as a carminative to prevent wind and bloating. The leaves are best not eaten raw, see the notes above on toxicity. The leaves are generally very nutritious but very large quantities can disturb the nervous system and cause gastric pain. The leaves contain about 3.9% protein, 0.76% fat, 8.93% carbohydrate, 3% ash. A zero moisture basis analysis is also available. Edible seed – dried and ground into a meal and eaten raw or baked into a bread. The seed can also be sprouted and added to salads. The seed is very fiddly to harvest and use due to its small size. Although it is rather small, we have found the seed very easy to harvest and simple enough to utilize. The seed should be soaked in water overnight and thoroughly rinsed before being used in order to remove any saponins. The seed contains about 49% carbohydrate, 16% protein, 7% ash, 5.88% ash. Young inflorescences – cooked. A tasty broccoli substitute.

[WARNING: The leaves and seeds of all members of this genus are more or less edible. However, many of the species in this genus contain saponins, though usually in quantities too small to do any harm. Although toxic, saponins are poorly absorbed by the body and most pass straight through without any problem. They are also broken down to a large extent in the cooking process. Saponins are found in many foods, such as some beans. Saponins are much more toxic to some creatures, such as fish, and hunting tribes have traditionally put large quantities of them in streams, lakes etc in order to stupefy or kill the fish. The plants also contain some oxalic acid, which in large quantities can lock up some of the nutrients in the food, but these plants are very nutritious vegetables in reasonable quantities. Cooking the plant will reduce its content of oxalic acid. People with a tendency to rheumatism, arthritis, gout, kidney stones or hyperacidity should take especial caution if including this plant in their diet since it can aggravate their condition. There is also a report that very large quantities of the leaves have caused photosensitivity in some people. Only the raw leaves can cause problems, and then only if large quantities are consumed. A further report says that if the plant is grown in soils that contain too much nitrates then the plant can concentrate these substances in the leaves. Nitrates have been shown to cause many health problems including stomach cancers and blue-baby syndrome. In nitrogen-rich soils, the plants can also concentrate hydrogen cyanide. In small quantities, hydrogen cyanide has been shown to stimulate respiration and improve digestion, it is also claimed to be of benefit in the treatment of cancer. In excess, however, it can cause respiratory failure and even death.]

Medicinal Uses:

Anthelmintic; Antiphlogistic; Antirheumatic; Contraceptive; Laxative; Odontalgic.

Fat hen is not employed in herbal medicine, though it does have some gentle medicinal properties and is a very nutritious and healthy addition to the diet. The leaves are anthelmintic, antiphlogistic, antirheumatic, mildly laxative, odontalgic. An infusion is taken in the treatment of rheumatism. The leaves are applied as a wash or poultice to bug bites, sunstroke, rheumatic joints and swollen feet, whilst a decoction is used for carious teeth. The seeds are chewed in the treatment of urinary problems and are considered useful for relieving the discharge of semen through the urine. The juice of the stems is applied to freckles and sunburn. The juice of the root is used in the treatment of bloody dysentery. Food that comprises 25.5% of the powdered herb may suppress the oestrus cycle.

Lady’s ThumbPersicaria maculosa

Humble Garden: weeds

The Redshank (Persicaria maculosa, formerly Polygonum persicaria) is a perennial plant from the Knotweed family Polygonaceae. It is also called Persicaria, Redleg, Lady’s-thumb, Spotted Ladysthumb, and Adam’s Plaster in Newfoundland. Native to Europe, it is an invasive species in the Great Lakes region where it was first spotted in 1843.

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Polygonaceae
Genus: Persicaria
Species: P. maculosa

Edible Uses:
Edible Parts: Leaves; Seed.

Leaves and young shoots – raw or cooked. They contain about 1.9% fat, 5.4% pectin, 3.2% sugars, 27.6% cellulose, 1% tannin. Seed – raw or cooked. It is rather small and fiddly to utilize.

[WARNING: Although no specific mention has been made for this species, there have been reports that some members of this genus can cause photosensitivity in susceptible people. Many species also contain oxalic acid (the distinctive lemony flavour of sorrel) – whilst not toxic this substance can bind up other minerals making them unavailable to the body and leading to mineral deficiency. Having said that, a number of common foods such as sorrel and rhubarb contain oxalic acid and the leaves of most members of this genus are nutritious and beneficial to eat in moderate quantities. Cooking the leaves will reduce their content of oxalic acid. People with a tendency to rheumatism, arthritis, gout, kidney stones or hyperacidity should take especial caution if including this plant in their diet since it can aggravate their condition.]

Medicinal Uses:

Astringent; Diuretic; Lithontripic; Poultice; Rubefacient; Vermifuge.

The leaves are astringent, diuretic, rubefacient and vermifuge. An infusion has been used as a treatment for gravel and stomach pains. A decoction of the plant, mixed with flour, has been used as a poultice to help relieve pain. A decoction of the plant has been used as a foot and leg soak in the treatment of rheumatism. The crushed leaves have been rubbed on poison ivy rash.

Smartweed, pinkweedPolygonum pensylvanicum

Humble Garden: weeds

Polygonum pensylvanicum is a species of flowering plant in the buckwheat family, Polygonaceae, that is native to eastern North America. Common names include Pinkweed, Pink Knotweed, Smartweed, and Pennsylvania Smartweed.

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Polygonaceae
Genus: Polygonum
Species: P. pensylvanicum

I did not find an edible use for this plant

Medicinal Uses:

An infusion of the plant tops has been used in the treatment of epilepsy. An infusion of the leaves has been used to treat haemorrhages of blood from the mouth and to aid postpartum healing. The leaves have been used as a wipe on the anus in treating bloody piles.

I used the following resources for helping me identify these plants!

Rutgers: New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station Weed Gallery

University of Minnesota Extension Weed ID site

Illinois Council on Food and Agricultural Research Weed ID site

I can not rave enough about the information you can find on all manner of plants at: Plants For A Future

They describe their site as follows:

Plants For A Future is a resource centre for rare and unusual plants, particularly those which have edible, medicinal or other uses. We practise vegan-organic permaculture with emphasis on creating an ecologically sustainable environment based largely on perennial plants.

Elderberry Elixir and Swine Flu

Posted by Nika On October - 12 - 2009

Influenza subtype A - for blog



(Please refer to this newer post for an update on our personal views on vaccination. We still very much advocate elderberry elixir, just not as the single means of fighting an increasingly virulent H1N1 pandemic)

Early on in the pandemic, a bit less recently, I immersed myself in flublogia. These are long standing flu communities, lots of intellectual capital out there.. people I really admire and who really know what is up with the pandemic (doctors, nurses, epidemiologists, scientists in the field and those not in it – like me, am not a viral biologist).

To cut to the chase – neither I nor my kids will be taking the H1N1 vaccine. Why? Beyond the usual concerns that arise from the fact that this vaccine has been extremely fast tracked, under emergency actions, the vaccine to be deployed just about anywhere in the the world was generated from sequence from the earliest identified infections.

This means that the epitopes generated (the proteins that were produced from these early genetic sequences and then used to create a vaccine) may possibly be sufficiently different from those that H1N1 now carries, having passed through so many people, so as to render the vaccine of little use.

Also, poorly reported on in the press (as usual), is the problem of the spread of two genetic changes of note: tamiflu resistance and also a change that allows the virus to be more virulent in colder temperatures (this impacts the where and how the virus replicates in our lungs – shallow or deep).

These sorts of things makes a mom mostly want to hide her kids away but its hard, we do not homeschool all our three kids, just one.

I have stocked up on all sorts of meds, herbal teas for fevers and vitamin C boosting, rehydration powders and liquids, etc. I have laid in stocks of N95 masks and gloves.

I am ready to take on the swine flu but I would rather we never get it. I actually suspect that we did get it this past March (sick for a month, all of us) but if we did, it likely would not confer any meaningful immunity to a second wave or third wave virus that would have evolved sufficiently to bypass our nascent immunological defenses against this disease.

With all this in mind, my ears perked when I heard about a traditional medicinal that was shown in scientific studies to have activity against H1N1 – Elderberry, also known as Sambucus.

The wiki says:

In a placebo-controlled, double-blind study, elderberry was shown to be effective for treating Influenza B. [1] People using the elderberry extract recovered much faster than those only on a placebo. This is partially due to the fact that Elderberry inhibits neuraminidase, the enzyme used by the virus to spread infection to host cells.

A small study published in 2004 showed that 93% of flu patients given extract were completely symptom-free within two days; those taking a placebo recovered in about six days. This current study shows that, indeed, it works for type A flu, reports lead researcher Erling Thom, with the University of Oslo in Norway.[2]

Thom’s findings were presented at the 15th Annual Conference on Antiviral Research.

The study involved 60 patients who had been suffering with flu symptoms for 48 hours or less; 90% were infected with the A strain of the virus, 10% were infected with type B. Half the group took 15 milliliters of extract and the other group took a placebo four times a day for five days.

Patients in the extract group had “pronounced improvements” in flu symptoms after three days: nearly 90% of patients had complete cure within two to three days. Also, the extract group had no drowsiness, the downside of many flu treatments. The placebo group didn’t recover until at least day six; they also took more painkillers and nasal sprays.

It’s likely that antioxidants called flavonoids—which are contained in the extract—stimulate the immune system, writes Thom. Also, other compounds in elderberry, called anthocyanins, have an anti-inflammatory effect; this could explain the effect on aches, pains, and fever.

Elderberry extract could be an “efficient and safe treatment” for flu symptoms in otherwise healthy people and for those with compromised immune systems, such as the elderly, Thom adds.

Russell Greenfield, MD, a leading practitioner of integrative medicine and medical director of Carolinas Integrative Health, advocates treating flu with black elderberry, he says in a news release. “It can be given to children and adults, and with no known side effects or negative interactions,” he says.

“But don’t expect grandma’s elderberry jam” to ease flu symptoms like body aches, cough, and fever, he warns. “Extract is the only black elderberry preparation shown effective in clinical studies.”
1) ^ Zakay-Rones, Zichria; Noemi Varsano, Moshe Zlotnik, Orly Manor, Liora Regev, Miriam Schlesinger, Madeleine Mumcuoglu (1995). “Inhibition of Several Strains of Influenza Virus in Vitro and Reduction of Symptoms by an Elderberry Extract (Sambucus nigra L.) during an Outbreak of Influenza B Panama” (PDF). J Altern Complement Med 1 (4): 361-9. PMID 9395631. Retrieved September 8, 2009.
2) Z Zakay-Rones, E Thom, T Wollan and J Wadstein. “Randomized Study of the Efficacy and Safety of Oral Elderberry Extract in the Treatment of Influenza A and B Virus Infections”, Journal of International Medical Research (pdf)

More recently the following study came out, specific to pandemic H1N1:

Roschek B Jr, Fink RC, McMichael MD, Li D, Alberte RS., Elderberry flavonoids bind to and prevent H1N1 infection in vitro., Phytochemistry. 2009 Jul;70(10):1255-61. Epub 2009 Aug 12. PMID 19682714

A ionization technique in mass spectrometry called Direct Analysis in Real Time Mass Spectrometry (DART TOF-MS) coupled with a Direct Binding Assay was used to identify and characterize anti-viral components of an elderberry fruit (Sambucus nigra L.) extract without either derivatization or separation by standard chromatographic techniques. The elderberry extract inhibited Human Influenza A (H1N1) infection in vitro with an IC(50) value of 252+/-34 microg/mL. The Direct Binding Assay established that flavonoids from the elderberry extract bind to H1N1 virions and, when bound, block the ability of the viruses to infect host cells. Two compounds were identified, 5,7,3′,4′-tetra-O-methylquercetin (1) and 5,7-dihydroxy-4-oxo-2-(3,4,5-trihydroxyphenyl)chroman-3-yl-3,4,5-trihydroxycyclohexanecarboxylate (2), as H1N1-bound chemical species. Compound 1 and dihydromyricetin (3), the corresponding 3-hydroxyflavonone of 2, were synthesized and shown to inhibit H1N1 infection in vitro by binding to H1N1 virions, blocking host cell entry and/or recognition. Compound 1 gave an IC(50) of 0.13 microg/mL (0.36 microM) for H1N1 infection inhibition, while dihydromyricetin (3) achieved an IC(50) of 2.8 microg/mL (8.7 microM). The H1N1 inhibition activities of the elderberry flavonoids compare favorably to the known anti-influenza activities of Oseltamivir (Tamiflu; 0.32 microM) and Amantadine (27 microM).

Thus, I have been meaning to make some sort of elderberry syrup for my family but wasnt sure where to start.

Then, I stopped by a recently opened herbal medicine center and found that they not only had two different elderberry syrups on hand, they also had a recipe and the ingredients to make it at home! I asked them for the latter and brought home all sorts of goodies!

Elderberry Elixir

Elderberry Elixir


  • 7 cups spring water
  • 1 cups dried elderberries
  • 4 medium tongues of dried astragulus
  • 6 pieces of Fo Ti (Ho Shu Wa)
  • 1 ounce dried rose hips
  • 1/4 ounce dried nettles
  • 2 cups honey


Bring water to boil in enamel or stainless steel pot. Add elderberries, astragulus, fo ti, and rose hips, stir, cover and simmer on lowest setting for 35 minutes. Add nettles, stir, simmer for 5- 7 minutes. Take off heat and crush elderberries as much as possible. Strain through cheese cloth several times and, while still hot, add 2 cups honey. Mix until in solution. Store in the refrigerator.

Adults: 2 teaspoons/day all winter
Children: 1 teaspoon/day all winter

If you are actively sick take as follows:
Adults: 2 teaspoons 4 times a day
Children: 1 teaspoon 4 times a day

Elderberry Elixir: ingredients

On the plate above, from top left clockwise: dried nettles (green), dried rose hips (red), astragulus (bark tongues), and dried elderberries (dark purple).

Sorry, in the shot above I left out the Fo Ti, seen below.

Elderberry Elixir: Fo Ti (ho shu wa)

Elderberry Elixir: ingredients

How they came home.

Elderberry Elixir

It doesnt taste too bad, the 3 yo loves it!

As per request, I have added the contact information for the herbal apothecary where I sourced these ingredients (and recipe!)

Alternatives For Health

381 Sturbridge Road
Brimfield, MA 01010
(413) 245-6111

A healthy ecosystem in an unappealing wrapper

Posted by Nika On August - 16 - 2007

In one of my many-a-day strolls through the garden, I was looking at one of the tomato patches, lamenting the loss of most of the leaves on my calabash tomato to some sort of wilt (I hesitate to says its one thing, I am guessing various things are going on here) and I found, hanging from a tomato branch, this caterpillar beset by eggs and what looked like flying ants.

My first reaction was revulsion (OK, that remains my reaction) but I left it there because:

  1. I could not help myself with wanting to take a shot,
  2. I knew that someone over at the flickr group “ID Please” would be able to help me identify these two creatures (flies and [[caterpillar]]) and
  3. I had a sneaking suspicion that something so revolting must be good some how (just like when I see an antique .. if I find it hideous it is bound to be expensive and in demand … like a reversed fashion compass of sorts)

My friends Mean and Pinchy and aw c’mon at flickr helped my identify this as a [[tomato]] hornworm (Five-Spotted Hawkmoth – Manduca quinquemaculata) being consumed by braconid [[wasp]]s, a VERY good thing. Once these wasps hatch they can go on and [[parasitize]] more hornworms.

From the wiki entry on braconids, relating to their parasitism:

“Most braconids are primary parasitoids (both external and internal) on other insects, especially upon the larval stages of Coleoptera, Diptera, and Lepidoptera, but also some hemimetabolous insects like aphids, Heteroptera or Embiidina. Most species kill their hosts, though some cause the hosts to become sterile and less active. In the case of endoparasitoids, species often display elaborate physiological adaptations to enhance larval survival within host, for example the co-option of [[endosymbiotic]] viruses for compromising host immune defenses. These polydnaviruses are often used by the wasps instead of a venom cocktail. These viruses suppress the immune system and allow the [[parasitoid]] to grow inside the host undetected. The exact function and evolutionary history of these viruses are unknown. It is a little surprising to consider that sequences of polydnavirus genes show the possibility that venom-like proteins are expressed inside the host caterpillar. It appears that through evolutionary history the wasps have so highly modified these viruses that they appear unlike any other known viruses today. Because of this highly modified system of host [[immunosuppression]] it is not surprising that there is a high level of parasitoid-host specificity. It is this specificity that makes Braconids a very powerful and important biological control agent.

Parasitism on adult insects (particularly on Hemiptera and Coleoptera) is also observed. Members of two subfamilies (Mesostoinae and Doryctinae) are known to form galls on plants.”

So these hymenoptera order members are in good in my book. I will just have to look the other way cause they make me nauseous!

Here are a couple shots of a couple of my tomato plants are seem to have a wilt. This first one is a calabash tomato plant with MANY fruits.

The fruits look fine and so many and so heavy that they need to be braced or the branch gets very stressed (see photo)

This is a different tomato (small salad tomatoes)

This also has abundant numbers of small cherry like tomatoes.

I took some new shots of the whole garden today and it seems to become this sort of embarrassing overgrowing crazy green entity! Makes one think of a green version of tribbles.

If you have any ideas of how best to minimize this wilt business next year, I would love to hear it. I plan on planting each tomato far from it’s neighbors and give them abundant space.

I am also definitely going to plant [[tomatillo]]s again (and more, disbursed everywhere) because they bring in the bees like crazy, very good for [[pollination]].

Whats in a leaf?

Posted by Nika On June - 21 - 2007

Radish leaf.

To a plant, water management is personal, very personal.

Capturing and managing the use or loss of water is not an idle activity, its not passive. For the plant it is hardwired. Just as we have arteries and veins to conduct blood, our little ocean, throughout our bodies, so too does the plant have tubing to route water across it’s body plan.

Corn sprout.

Plant physiology is fascinating and I may explore it’s complexities further later but today I am going to tell you one simple thing – those water routes in the plant are composed of Xylem cells. You may have heard of phloem cells, they make the tubing that routes the food or carbohydrate laden water.


This is a triptych of stained xylem cells from a ficus plant. (Photos of vessels at (Ficus sp). taken at sept 2002 in university of Sidi Bel Abbes/Algeria. Shoots are treated in HCl (15N,40mn) solution,then stained with Toluidine-Bleu (5%). All photos have been taken under the Carl Zeiss microscope, by Youssef Bouterfes for the Wikipedia Project. This is a creative commons photo from the Wikipedia.)

Collard greens.

As in my pictures, you may see leaves that have these ordered arrays of water droplets. Some of these may be the result of water collection as mediated by the architecture of the leaf or may be the release of water from a water-logged plant through hydathodes (a process called guttation).

“At night, transpiration usually does not occur because most plants have their stomata closed. When there is a high soil moisture level, water will enter plant roots, because the water potential of the roots is lower than in the soil solution. The water will accumulate in the plant creating a slight root pressure. The root pressure forces some water to exude through special leaf tip or edge structures, hydathodes, forming drops. Root pressure provides the impetus for this flow, rather than transpirational pull.

Guttation fluid may contain a variety of organic compounds, mainly sugars, and mineral nutrients, and potassium.[1] On drying, a white crust remains on the leaf surface.” Source


I borrowed this micrograph, showing a hythode, from the UW-Madison BotWeb

image clearinghouse. There is so much there to see and learn about!

Hydathodes, often found at the end of vascular bundles, are other derivatives of stomatal complexes. Their guard cells cannot be closed, unlike those in normal stomatal complexes. Water secretion by the hydathodes is called guttation; salts, sugars, and organic compounds dissolved in the guttation water crystalize on evaporation, forming a white powdery substance.” Source

Droplets on collard sprouts.

Take some time one sunny morning, after a stretch of wet days, and go into your garden and see these drops for yourself!

Carrot tops.

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About Me

We are a family of 5, including Nika, Ed, Q (14), KD (7), and Baby Oh (4). We garden 1024 square feet of raised beds plus assorted permacultural plantings. We also have 13 LaMancha dairy goats, 40 chickens, and one guard llama.



    CS-TSH / Airbus A321-253NX / Azores Airlines “Magical” / LEBL1M7A1724-CR3_DxO_DeepPRIME.jpgFront Grille for Smart ForFour 454Untitled Flickr photo