1. Q: I would like to know about catnip. Some years it seems to replant itself by self-seeding, other years it does not. Is catnip a prennienal? Does it play itself out after several years? Does it reseed itself, or come back up through mew shoots?
A: Catnip, also known as catnep and catmint, is the common name for Nepeta cataria, a hardy perennial herb of the Mint Family, with pungent fragrance which is highly attractive and exciting to cats. It can be planted from seed.
2. Q: I have a clump of Liorope growing on my patio. My cat loves to eat this stuff and I have a hard time keeping him away from it. Is this grass poisonous to animals? Should I dig it up?
A: Animals, unlike people, seldom eat anything which is poisonous to them. I imagine your cat is merely wanting a bit of salad with its dry or canned main course. Some people say cats and animals, even though mainly meat eaters, do need the nutrients provided in vegetation periodically. So don't worry! Another possibility is the cat is getting a catnip effect from the liriope plant. That FEELS SO GOOD!! All types of cats --mountain lions, lynx, tigers and lions --react to catnip in a similar way. They roll over, rub their face, extend their claws and twist their bodies when they semell its pungent ordor. The scent probably excites cats because it contains a chemical called trans-neptalactone, which causes the same reaction in cats as a sexual stimulus. You were getting ready to deprive your cat!!
3. Q: I want to harvest my coriander and dill seeds when they are "ripe" but I am not exactly sure when that is.
A: Most seed pods turn from green to yellow then brown when dry. Sometimes if you wait until they are brown the pods may shatter and seed will be lost. To prevent this wait until the majority of the seed pods are yellow then cut the plant or stems and invert them in a paper grocery bag to dry. Then the seeds will "ripen" and shed in the bag and can be easily collected. Good luck with your seed harvest.
4. Q: I am trying to find out what "dorema ammoniacum" or ammonia gum is used for. I know that it comes from Iran and Afghanistan and is harvested by local people.
A: Dorema ammoniacum, a Persian plant, used in medicine as a cement.
Dorema (dorema, a gift, an allusion to the gift of gum ammoniac). Umbelliferae. About 4 odd large perennial herbs of S.W. Asia, yielding gum-resins, likely to be met with in collections of economic plants. Usually glaucous, with pinnately decompound leaves and small white or yellow flowers in close wolly umbels; calyx-teeth wanting or nearly so; petals ovate; fruit ovate, plano-compressed. D. aAammoniacum, D. Don, an erect fleshy-stemmed herb to 7 feet with a few leaves near the base and bracts above, yields gum-ammoniac, a medicinal product. This resin exudes on the sting of insects, occurring in yellowish brown �tears� or drops; it has a balsamic odor and bitter unpleasant taste. The plant is native in Persia and Aaffghanistan. Other species yield similar exudation.
5. Q: What can you tell me about a plant or flower called lavender or lavendura?
A: Lavender is the common name for a genus (Lavandula) of fragrant herbs or shrubs of which a Mediterranean subshrub species (L. spica, formerly officinalis or vera) is grown for ornament in the garden and for its sweet scent when dried. The dried flowers are used to fill sachets and to perfume clothing or linens. Commerically they, and the green parts, are used for making "oil of spike," aromatic vinegar and lavender water. The name is also erroneously applied to Chrysanthemum balsamita, the "mint-geranium" or costmary. Sea-lavender or sea-pink is Limonium.
True lavender, not being fully hardy, is little grown in northern gardens, where it must be protected over winter by mulching with straw. It is more popular, therefore, in the milder Pacific Coast and in the South. As seed produces variable plants, propagation is commonly by cuttings of selected plants. Plants need to be located in dry, light, limy, friable soil and full sunlight. In such a location they thrive best, develop the maximum fragrance and are least likely to be injured in winter. In wet soils they grow but poorly; in rich ones, they become lush and sappy, and in both types they lack fragrance and easily succumb to frost.
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