Thursday, January 31, 2013


Thursday, May 31, 2012


This interesting plant mainly grows in Greece and Turkey in wild. It is also called Christmas rose. It contains Glucosides (Hellebroside and Hellebrine ) and Saponines (Helleborine) . These substances give smiler actions like the glucosides of Digitalis Purpurea . Plant has medical value in cardiology . It is used as heart stimulant . However HELLEBORUS NIGER IS VERY TOXİC . IT IS ADVISED NOT TO BE USED UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES.

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ARBUTUS UNEDO / strawberry tree

Strawberry Tree........very attractive evergreen of Mediterranean region. However , picture above is taken on Blacksea coast of Istanbul close to Boshphorus enterence. After an exteremely dry summer conditions of Istanbul in 2007 , fruit production of strawberry tree was remarkably high compare to other years .
Plant has interesting features ;
-very tolerant to industrial pollution....
-fruits of current year and the flowers of next year fruits can be seen at the same time on the tree in November and December
-it is drought tolerant....can be planted in places where water is short . Strawberry tree is withstood temperatures down to -16 without injury . It also salt tolerant ....amazing...
-fruit is very tasty especially this year in Blacksea region contrary to lot of report say fruit is
tasteless . Some
reports say fruit contain about 20 % sugars and it seems that sugar percentage is highly correlated with high summer temperatures.
Latin name Unedo refers ' I eat one only ' ..curious because I eat always more than one because it has the delicacy of tropical fruit with pleasant flavour .
The bark of the strawberry tree has been used in tanning leather .
In Portugal fruits are fermented to make strong wine known as Medronho.
In history has been suggested that fruit is an antidote for the plague. It also suggested that if eaten in quantity it is said to be narcotic. Personally havent noticed this effect but ıt could be curious to investigation...
A little history....BC 168 Lucretius stated that ' girls could be bought with Arbutus berries so Venus join the bodies of lover in the wood; a girl share the a man's appetite , or succumbed to his insistance or took a bribe : acorns , Arbutus berries .
Strong antibiotic because all parts contains ethyl gallate which is effective against Mycobacterium bacteria.
Also noted that active in kidney disorders/

BAHAMA LYSILOMA (a Bahamian in Istanbul)

I welcome this tropical and sub tropical plant to Istanbul . Grown in a pot at 7th floor . It is a fun plant to grow. First year didnt bloom I pruned then in second year it bloomed and produced pod.
Seems to be very demanding for water so I irrigate and it responded well to persistent irrigation.
Yet literature says it is highly resistant to drought. So next year I will treat it with minumum water. I keep observing this tropical plant in Istanbul.
Additional information is also curious.. Wood has rich in Mahogany color and fairly heavy hard and durable . Its wood calls Sabicu wood which valued in shipbuilding !!

Another note...salt resistant...


Again I have difficulties for exact identification of this particular variety . Found coastal area of Blacksea around Istanbul and planted in pot in my terrace . My guess is Crocus Albiflorus (Spring Crocus) . White midrib is very indicative characteristic of it.. İnfact the one I am demonstrating here has a faint white midrib .There is also Autumn Crocus (Crocus Nudiflorus)leaves appear in spring and die before flowers appear in October.More than 40 different crocuses species can be found in Turkey . İt is a very popular plant and its Turkish name (Cigdem) is given to girls very often..Seed propagation is a tedious process. They can be collected before the capsule splits and immediately sow in cold frames .They stay there two years before planting out. So it needs lots of patient. That reminds me Digitalis and its tiny seeds. That also requires two long year to bloom..But I can tell.. it worths to see Digitalis blooming. In Turkey corms of certain varieties can be added to dishes. According to Dr. Turhan Baytop , corms of Crocus Cancellatus ,C. Chrysanthus , C. Kotschyanus are edible . Latter one is specifically used for rice dish (crocus rice) .

Some villages of Safranbolu grow Crocus Sativum for Saffron . Production is very limitted for local use. It was also mentioned in Old Testament , name of Crocus can be seen some of Homer's writing too..So its use extended into old history of Asia Minor.Plinus , Dioskurides , Serapion , Ibn Sına , Paracelsus and Lonicerus used crocus for various health disorders.. So it is a very famous plant..And it is on my terrace... how nice ...Because of its popularity its flowers were very expensive and people who fake this plant with smiliar ones punished by death penalty by Nurnberg Courts.And final note order to distinguish Jewish people from christian in old Europe Jews used to wear Saffron Yellow hats.World changed a lot isnt it?Comments are welcome .
Pictures are taken by Cemil Yavuz Oncelay . if you use them please give this page as referance.Excellent account of Crocus species can be review in following address


This beautiful plant blooms end of May .Its flower is bright yellow and bundle of stamens .It is very easy to recognize and identify this particular species. In The Royal horticulture Society's Encyclopedia, anther (tip of the stamen) of Hypericum Calycinum is red . Dr. Turhan Baytop'sA Dictionary of Vernacular Names of Wild Plants of Turkey , anthers are yellow as in the picture given here. A bit confusing .. I must note it here that variety Hypericum Cerastioides' anters also yellow . More careful identication is needed at this point. Comments are welcomed .Another confusing point is dwarf varieties like full sun Hypericum Calycinum thrive in partial or deep shade. The one I am presenting here is a drawf one. So name stays a bit controversial .From Bulgarian border to Province Kastamonu seem to be its natural habitat. Locally Kantaron oil extracted from it. It is useful for wound healing.This particular plant was introduced in England at the end of 17 th century. Samples then were collected from Belgrade forest 20 km from Istanbul .So I wait eagerly to see it is blooming on my terrace every year..I enjoy this beauty...

Picture taken by C Y Oncelay


Digitalis purpurea is one of my favorite plant . From seed to flower needs 2 years and in that respect needs a lot of patience and well caring especially the first year . It occupıes pots for two years and for a terrace garden this is difficult to handle . Yet it is absolutely marvelous plant when blooms and certainly it worths to wait 2 long years .It blooms in early summer and on stem bloom moves upward . Blooming season can extend up to one month .Beside being very beautiful it is an important medical plant and very well know. One may find many reading about it..So I dont write medical use of in detail . It is used in modern medicine to increase force of contraction in congestive heart failures. Elevates blood pressure in weak heart . It is lethally toxic therefore must be used under the doctors survaillance.
First-year rosette type of digitalis leaf can be mistaken with the leaves of Comfrey with fatal results. So special attention must given to this plant. Literature notes that therapeutic dose of Digitalisis dangerously close to lethal dose..So this ıs the plant I like most despite all
Pictures taken by C Y Oncelay if use it please give this page as referance

VIOLA RIVINIANA (Common Dog Violet)
As I mentioned in previous article , my terrace garden has a collection of 200 plants . Mostly from the Marmara region. Some I brought from southern part of Turkey and very few from inland .So I observe all of them carefully , their growing habits and their biological clock .One of the very first plant flowers in spring is a Viola Riviniana (Common Dog Violet) . Its flower is a true marvel , heavily veined lowest petal surrounded by bearded petals. Zoom in and enjoy the details. I enjoyed this first spring flower on my terrace and literature says it is also edible except yellow species which may cause mild cathartic.How you use it in your kitchen...Experienced horticulturists and gourme lovers say that it can be add to salad or cooked green . As soup thickener , wow nice way to express . From dried leave tea can be made . In France flower parts can be added into candies. And it is good to know that it is rich in vitamin A and C .Viola Odorata is close relative of Riviniana . Parts of the Odorata can be used as mild laxative , gargle for sore throats , blood purifier ,for asthma and skin eruption such as eczema.In China variety Viola Yedoens prescribed as anti inflammation , and for certain tumorsSo I welcome this useful beautiful and delicate plant in every spring.

Another purple flower which bloom at the same time with Viola is Iris Ruthenica .
there is no note in literature about its edible characteristic. And no Doctor advise this plant for any purpose..Yet it is beautiful ornamental plant. I found this particular plant at Yedigoller National Park 40 km from Bolu of Turkey. Now I maintain it in pot at my terrace. İt is an exciting plant for me to

watch during spring time .
Pictures are taken by Cemil Yavuz Oncelay . Please give this page as referance if you use these pictures .


I transplanted Scilla Bithynica bulbs into pots 7 years ago and since then every year exactly the same time it has bloomed as a pleasant surprise and it gave me the same pleasure each time with it beautiful deep blue small flowers . One of the earliest bulb to flower in late
March except Galanthus . But they are in the same pot so I enjoy both of them at the same time . When Scillia blooms there are still some Galanthus . Next year I will record exact blooming time of these flowers and I share the information here . The place I dug the bulbs is Blacksea coastal forest area . It likes the places where water table is high . Yet it naturalises extermely well .
S. Bithynica has 3-5 flaccid , linear basal leaves of 18-20cm , which distinguish it from Scilla Bifolia which has 2 semi-erect broadly linear basal leaves .

Both widely spread in Blacksea coastal area under forest .
Most Scilla species are poisonous . But toxic constituent of Scilla Bithynica is not known however it can be assumed that it is the same constituent of poisonous Scilla Maritima . Medical use of it recorded rarely . Some report indicates that it produces a temporary increase of vital activity in the organism beside tending the increase the secretion and discharge of urine.
So it is active diuretic , its action reported very prompt because it stimulates the heart ,improves the circulation and strenghens the pulse .

As I stated before I am a plant scientist not herbalist . Before any use of it in any form consulting an expert herbalist can be very wise.

Pictures by C . Y. Oncelay ..please give this page as a referance if you use the pictures


Mentha Longifolia is one of the permanent plant of my terrace . With its silvery frosted green leaves gives the velvet feelıng when touched .It grows under any plant and very decoratively cover the pots . Leaves are narrow but when young more oblong . Identification of the mints can be quite difficult simply because they are very variable and easily hybridized . In literature Longifolia smell noted as unpleasant or at least some people say so . However the one , I have , has very soft spicy smell of mint compare to regular mint which smells sharply . Therefore identification needs special attention. As I observe on my terrace flowers attract more bees and insect that other plants. There is always a very high traffic on this particular plant.
Some varieties like Mentha longifolia subsp capensis with its strong smell can be used as mosquito repellent if it is rubbed onto the body.
legend and history of the mint
in Greece , Asia Minor and middleeast in general is also fun to read . History goes back as early as Minoens 2600 - 1150 BC . This important civilization of island of Crete had a great tradition of kitchen and herbal cooking , after the greek ended minoen and inherited their values they carried on this great culture of cooking . Most probably other nations of the region like Hitite , Lydian , Phrygians, Karian , Lykians and Ionians also use this particular plant in their cooking. Tradition has been carried on and plant is as popular as before maybe even more in the region today.
Mentha name comes from ' Minthe ' a charming nymph in classic Greek mythology who was much adored by Pluto , so the legend goes this angered Pluto's wife Prosperina , that she took her revenge by metamorphosing minthes into the humble mint plant we now know as Mentha .

Fresh or dry leaves make excellent tea , flavor jellies , souces dressing and drinks..Maybe most widely used plant ever in kitchen.
It also used medically in various way . One can find great reading about it on web.

Even though I don't have European Pennyroyal (Mentha Pulegium) on my terrace I would like to give short notes about it. First of all American pennyroyal classified as ( Hedeoma Pulegium ) . So distinction must be made if studied or write something about them.
Ants don't like pennyroyal . If planted around large ant population areas colonies change their location immediately .

Accordingly oil extracts from Pennyroyal strong insect repellent. Dog collar when soaked in an infusion of Pennyroyal can be very effective as flea repellent.

Caution......The essential oil taken internally could be fatal . Volatile oil of Mentha Pulegium is approx. 85 % ketone , pulegone..And this compound described as toxic compound.
It cause abortion in women . Taking the oil internally to terminate an unwanted pregnancy is extremely dangerous and many case reported that resulted in death..So use of it needs assistance and utmost care in details. Take a look at the picture of Pennyroyal so no confusion can take place in future.
Pictures taken by Cemil Yavuz Oncelay if you use any of them please give this page as a reference.

STELLARİA HOLOSTEA (greater stitchwort)

Greater Stitchwort.... Remind me needlepoint lace of a beautiful bride ..Delicate and innocent and purity in its bright white. Long time ago I brought it from the forest of Blacksea coastal area . It was only a stem and planted in my terrace pots. It has been the most rewarding transplanting ever. Now every spring I enjoy this natural needlepoint and it gives me great joy. They look beautiful in all pots but one in particular impresses me more than other..I have a marvelous Wisteria Sinensis at south side of my terrace and under it covered by Stitchwort and run down from the pot. These two bloom almost same time joyful purple up and pure white down . It is a showcase itself.
On my terrace Stitchwort start to bloom in late March and continue in late May. Leaves are suprisingly hard despite the fact that plant overall look fragile and weak and almost rootless. Notice the leaves narrow and tapering from the base. Stems are brittle yet has power for multiplication , spread on the ground very fast. My pots' soil is calcareous so I suppose stitchwort enjoy this condition. Examine the stamen and style ..Very delicately designed. This is my impression of this plant..
read some others expressions..
Almost everybody says that it is a ancient herbal use alleviating a 'stitch' in the side.
You know what the folk name of Stitchwort.. ' Dead Man's Bones ' . Why so gloomy ? Because the stem fracture easily , like old bones . My goodness what an imagination.. Once upon a time dump areas had to be filled with corpses . And Stitchworts are next to them . This Civilization has come a long way . Have we arrived a desired level ?.......Hell no still killing and killing with more destructive weapons . Now no bones left the compare . Is that the reason I describe Stitchwort as above..Well good for me .That still makes me smile.
In fact its scientific name Stellaria Holostea coming from Greek words ' holos ' all and ' osteon ' , bone .
Now I stop here and make a further comment ; Greek loves drama but they never name a beautiful flower as ' Dead Man's Bone ' . By the way with this occasion I like to thank Greeks for their contributions to humanity.

Okey now further pessimism about Stitchwort..According to Geoffrey Grigson
Stitchwort was a plant belonging to devil , pixies and added children feared picking the flowers , if they did the adder (?) would bite them , or they would be piskey-led ( bewilder , wandering lost ) . Picking the flowers could also provoke thunder and lightning .
it is also suggested that this is the church's effort against pagan beliefs. Plant become holy in these strange world of contrast.
Medical use of it? yes certain extend varieties close to it such as chickweed ( Stellaria Media ) can be used for certain skin disorders . However its medical use seems to be limited.
Edible ? yes Chickweed's tender leaves and stems can be added to salad .

Pictures were taken by Cemil Yavuz Oncelay . If you use any of them please give this page as a reference .


Dayflower is a very proliferous plant. Almost all the pots of my terrace have it.
it grows under any plant . Once enter the soil there is no way to get rid of it..It keeps coming years and years . It is like a pest , persistent and stubborn , but I like it a lot and keep it in certain pots . Bright blue simple flower stay on the plant only one day. Kids laugh at it because flower looks like Mickey is plant to have it around. Always healthy and susceptible to no pest .That amazes me.

A bright blue dye can be obtained from blue petals. They contain pigment of Comelinine and Flavocommeline .

It has three petals lower one is white and smaller that blue ones . So I suppose that one has no pigment . How two petals have and third one doesn't , is very curious .

Its scientific name was given by a Dutch Horticulturist means that ancient Greek or in China or in India and Arab world of medicine had not known .!! I highly doubt about it . I am sure it had been known under different name .

It is edible....Leaves , flowers and young shoots can be eaten raw or cooked . I give you a quick and simple receipt..Boil it with salt and serve with white souce or butter . A sweet taste with a mucilaginous effect .
Can it be used medically ? answer is yes..
The leaves are depurative , diuretic and febrifuge . Used as a throat gargle to relieve sore throat and tonsilitis . A decoction of the dried plant is used to treat bleeding , diarrhea fever etc. And extract of the plant shows antibacterial activity .
So a quick literature search indicates all .
Someone also noted that dayflower is also suppose to increase sexual potency in old age . That makes me smile.. Now I look at the plant a bit different . I can make this short information about Commuline very famous if I give the title of ' Increase Sexual Potency by Wild Plant' .. But I will not.. Who knows maybe this insignificant plant can be remembered with this funny comments.

Final note...I am a plant scientist but not all the information here concerning ediblity and medical values have to be double checked with professional

Additional Pictures... observe the seed just developing.. It is unusual to see two flower like this on the same branch at least on my terrace..