116. Agropyron repens – Quackgrass (Couch grass). It is a perennial plant with an underground horizontal stolon that can grow several meters long. (Its stolon is flexible, while that of the very similar Bermuda grass is thick and stiff and cracks when bent). The stem (culm) is medium-tall (30-100 cm). Leaves are linear, relatively narrow (≤ 5 mm), scabrous. The sheath is pilose when young, later glabrous, smooth, the blade is bluish-green. The leaf auricle is thin and undulate. The spike is long, spikelets are borne one by one on the protruding teeth of the axis, sideways to the axis. The glume is 3-7-veined, apiculate, the palea has no awn or just a short one. When ripe, spikes may fall apart. See Picture 116.
Drug: the thin rhizome (Graminis rhizoma).
It is a weed that is very difficult to control in fields and arable lands. The underground rhizomes are made into a decoction. Stolons are thin and flexible and do not contain any starch. Its active ingredients are triticin, inosite, amygdalin and a vanillin glycoside. It also contains silica acid.
- Its tea is one of the oldest diuretic and alterative medicines.
- Due to its diuretic effects, it is blended to tea mixtures for skin diseases.
- As a diaphoretic, it is helpful in treating chroniccatarrhs, too much rheum and chest pain.
- It can be a food for diabetics since it is a sugar substitute.
117. Zea mays – Maize (Sweet corn). It is a vigorous, tall (1-3 m), annual cultivated plant. Its leaves are linear lanceolate, large, 4-15 cm wide. It is a monoecious plant. Its male flowers are borne at the end of the main stem in a panicle, this is the so-called tassel, while female flowers are borne in axils of middle leaves in spadices. Characteristic features are the silks at the end of the ears, which are elongated styles or rather stigmas of the female flower. It flowers in July-August. Corns are arranged in rows on the ear, their colour, shape, size is a species characteristic. See Picture 117.
Drug: the styles and the stigmas (Maydis stigma), the starch (Amylum maydis), and the germ oil (Oleum maydis embryonis). Its active ingredients are flavonoids, tannins, essential oil, fatty acid, silicon dioxide, vitamins K and E and sitosterol.
The silks, i.e. the stigmas are to be collected; 10 g silks have to be soaked in 100 g water.
- It is helpful in kidney, bladder complaints and cystic spasms, it is a diuretic and anti-stone.
- The phosphoric salts contained in it are helpful in vertebral pain.
- A decoction of the silks and seeds is an excellent remedy of coughs and mucous conditions.
Araceae – The arum family. Acorus: P 3+3 A 3+3 G (). The rhizome is usually tuberous. The spadix is enclosed by a spathe and it is usually organized with female flowers towards the bottom and male flowers towards the top. The fruit is a berry. Leaves are wide and cordate, with a saggitate base.
118. Acorus calamus – Sweet flag (Calamus). It is a medicinal plant native to East-India which was brought to Europe in the 16th century and later it escaped. It is a perennial plant, typical of marshes and moist soils. Its jointed, fleshy rhizome (20-50 cm) runs horizontally; its inner structure is spongeous. The 30-70 cm long, linear, sword-shaped leaves stem from the back of the rhizome, as well as the dense spadices, which are 8-12 cm long and consist of many tiny flowers. The fruit is a reddish berry but it is fertile in Hungary. See Picture 118.
Drug: the rhizome (Calami rhizoma), which has a pleasant aroma and a spicy taste when dried. Essential oil is also extracted from it (Aetheroleum calami). Its active ingredients are essential oils (cis-isoasarone, isoeugenol), mucilage, tannins and the bitter material acarone.
- It is stomachic, appetitive and carminative; blended to tonic herbal mixtures. It is alterative.
- It has sedative (cardiac) and antispasmodic effects.
- It regulates gastric acid production, enhances circulation; as a bath it is a neurotonic.
- Its tea is used in liver and spleen complaints and abdominal pains.
- It is used to make analgesic and muscle creams and foot bath; it alleviates spasms and fatigue.