SANICLE SEEDS (Sanicula europaea) PERENNIAL ORGANIC HERB

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The whole herb, collected in June and dried. Gather the herb only on a fine day, in the morning, when the sun has dried off the dew.

Sanicula europaea is a perennial plant of the family Apiaceae. It has traditionally been a favoured ingredient of many herbal remedies, and of it was said "he who has sanicle and self-heal needs neither physician nor surgeon

The root-stock (the short underground stem from which each year's new stalks grow upward) is shortly creeping and fibrous, with a few thick, brownish scales at the top, the remains of decayed leafstalks. The stem, erect, 8 inches to 2 feet high, is simple, often leafless or with a single leaf. The radical leaves are on stalks 2 to 8 inches long, the leaves themselves palmately three to five partite and divided nearly to the base of the leaf, the lobes, or divisions, often three-cleft again. The leaves are heartshaped at the base near the stalk and toothed like a saw.

The flowers are in umbels. Each little group, or umbellule, forms a hemispherical head. The little stalks, each bearing a head of flowers, join together at one spot again to form what is termed a compound or general umbel, as in most plants of this order. In the case of the Sanicle, the umbel is said to be irregular, as the converging stalks forming these rays are often divided into two or three prongs. The flowers are pinkish-white, 1/16 inch across, the outer flowers of the umbellules being without stamens; the inner, without pistils. They blossom in May and June and are succeeded in August by roundish seeds, which are covered with prickles, causing them to adhere to everything they touch.

The plant is glabrous and bright green, the leaves paler beneath and the stems often reddish.

Cold-germinators are still referred to as frost-germinators, although this isn’t quite correct. The sowing must be kept warm (about +18 to +22°C) [about 64 to 72°F] and moist for the first 2–4 weeks. After this period the sowing must be kept at a cold temperature (between –4 and +4°C) [between 25 and 39°F] for another 4–6 weeks. Colder temperatures of –5°C [23°F] are only advantageous for most species of the Ranunculus family. It is not so important if the temperature is higher or lower during the cooling period, but the cooling period has to be prolonged because the synthesis of the germination inducer, hormon-like acid, slows down or comes to a standstill.
It is beneficial to cover the sowing with snow during the cooling-period. The temperature below it usually keeps in the optimum range of –4 to 0°C [25 to 32°F]. The sowing is kept moist, and the melting snow helps to destroy the shell, which is advantageous for the germinating seedling. After this cooling-period the sowing may not be immediately exposed to high temperatures. The most effective temperatures are between +5 to +12°C [41 to 54°F], even if germination has started. The best location for this sowing, even in March, April and May, is the open field, the cold frame or a cold greenhouse.

For best results, sow immediately onto a good soil-based compost. Cover the seeds with fine grit or compost to approximately their own depth. They can be sown at any time, and germination can sometimes be quicker if kept at 15 to 20 degrees C. We sow most seeds in an unheated greenhouse and wait for natural germination, as many seeds have built-in dormancy mechanisms, often waiting for natural spring germination, hence giving them a full season of growth.

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