Feeding : Weeds for feed.

Discussion in 'Health & Wellness' started by [email protected], Aug 1, 2008.

  1. Jo@LaudoDeumFarm

    [email protected] New Member

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    This was originally written with rabbits in mind, I think this information is very usefull for our goats. Thanks to the contributors from homesteadingtoday.com in the rabbit forum.



    Mesquite for Rabbit feed!
    By James Dilley

    We all know that Mesquite makes food from the B B Q taste better, But how about as A high protein Rabbit feed, I have used The Honey mesquite to replace 25% of A rabbits feed ration.There are 3 Species of Mesquite trees/shrubs. There latin name is prosopis pubescens. The tree grows from Old Mexico To cali. All the way to Southwestern Utah! The Mesquite is A Legume, And grows where there is water with in 50' of the surface. They are A Deciduius tree.And in the summer 75% of A coyotes diet is Mesquite. The Native Americans used the beans in making Pinole It grows in Thickets, Up to 5,500 ft above sea level. I found some material on the Mesquite tree At:texas agrilife research and extension at uvalde texas. It was also know as Iron wood. Rabbits love the seed pods and leaves as well as smaller branches. The other types are Screwbean Mesquite and Velvet bean Mesquite. The trees grow up to 20' tall and the Tap root goes down twice that far. The trees grow almost anywhere. And yes they can have Nasty spines. Of course the feeds you feed can vary depending on where you live. Horses and other live stock readily eat the beans & leaves but A horse can Colic from to much. And I would caution any one wanting to feed Mesquite or Any other wild feeds ,PLZ make sure that the leaves ad such are NOT sprayed. as The chemical can kill the Rabbits. I was seeing litter sizes up to 8 Live bunnies per litter 4 times A year. I'll post A few more Plants from the South west as time Allows. Next Watch for South Texas Alfalfa. AKA Cactus!

    Mulberry and Feeding Rabbits

    There are 10 to 15 different species of mulberry. The most common are:
    Morus alba, White Mulberry (originated in east Asia) which was brought to several countries for use as Silkworm food
    Morus rubra, Red Mulberry (originated in North America)
    Morus nigra, Black Mulberry (originated in southwest Asia)

    Mulberries are so widespread and prolific in North America that most people consider them a weed. The seeds are spread by birds, raccoons, foxes, and opposums, or by fruit falling on the ground. Mulberry can form either a small tree or a large bush. The single leaves have serrated (toothed) edges and vary widely in shape. The bark is smooth and has an orangish color.

    Rabbits eat leaves, bark, and tender twigs. Since this is my first season feeding Mulberry I have no information about the storage and use of dried leaves. The twigs and leaves I have used to date were produced in late spring and early summer. The leaves and young twigs were consumed quickly. Bark was eaten off larger branches by some of the rabbits but not all. Even youg babies were fed Mulberry with no problems.

    Berries and young twigs are edible for humans. Stalking the Wild Asparagus by Euell Gibbons has some recipies.

    Can be a valuable supplement for rabbits. A study was done in Nigeria comparing comercially prepared feeds compared to plain mulberry and diets supplemented with mulberry leaves. There was no loss of weight or growth reduction in rabbits with diets of up to 50% mulberry leaves. http://www.pjbs.org/pjnonline/fin312.pdf

    Studies show mulberry leaves can reduce the amount of bad cholesterol and body fat in rabbits and humans http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10993206

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mulberry
    http://www.arnatural.org/forestry/ch...e_mulberry.htm
    http://www.na.fs.fed.us/pubs/silvics...orus/rubra.htm

    ALFALFA, while technically not a weed, does grow like one on our lot! It's also something that almost anyone could plant around the edges of their garden, for instance, in order to have it available for their rabbits.

    Alfalfa, Medicago sativa, is a cool-season, perennial, flowering legume. In the UK it's called lucerne. The plants live from three to twelve years, depending on climate, but are adapted to most of the United States. It has trouble surviving the winters in the colder parts of Alaska, and needs more winter chill than some parts of the deep South get, but otherwise you can probably grow it! It can grow up to three feet high, and has a very deep root system, making it drought resistant, although in my semi-arid climate it does appreciate being watered once in a while. If you are going to plant it, you need to start with an area that hasn't grown alfalfa for several years, because of an issue called 'autotoxicity' -- alfalfa seeds won't grow among alfalfa plants. This is why farmers rotate alfalfa crops with other crops. It is one of the highest-yielding hay crops, with yields (from three cuttings) often in the four-tons per acre range. In some climates, such as parts of California, they can get up to sixteen tons per acre with irrigation! It should be pretty easy to get high yields when growing smaller amounts at one side of your garden!

    Alfalfa has the root nodules common to many legumes, allowing it to fix nitrogen in the soil. This makes it a high-protein feed. It's also high in calcium, making it an excellent feed for nursing moms and growing kits. It can be used as pasture, and I do feed alfalfa fresh to my rabbits, but in fairly small quantities. They are still getting pellets. Too much fresh alfalfa has been known to cause bloat in ruminants, so I've been a little cautious about it with the rabbits. They do get some alfalfa hay, also, and really appreciate it both fresh and as hay. Since the main ingredient in rabbit pellets is usually alfalfa, there shouldn't be any down-side to feeding them alfalfa hay.

    If you want to grow your own alfalfa for hay, it's a good idea to get, and learn to use, a scythe. Scythes really aren't any more difficult, or any slower, to use than a weedeater -- and they are a lot quieter! You do have to keep them very sharp, though.

    Since I'm posting this from work, and have never had much luck posting pictures here anyway, I'm including a link to a Wikipedia article which has a photo: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfalfa

    Kathleen

    Sycamore tree / Platanus occidentalis

    A native of the eastern and central part of the Untied States. It is common in wet soils along streams
    and bottom lands. Some people consider this tree a weed because of it's rapid growth and ability to resprout from the trunk when it is cut. Other problems associated with this tree are the massive leaf cover, drooping branches, and easily shed sheets of bark. These problems are a huge benefit to the people who keep rabbits. Drooping branches place green foliage within easy reach. Sheets of thin (about 1/8th inch thick) bark are easily gathered in early summer. The huge leaves drop slowly in late fall to early winter. All are readily eaten by rabbits.

    I have been feeding sycamore to my rabbits for 11 years. Green leaves are trimmed as the branches droop down into our way and given to the rabbits. Both leaves and green twigs are eaten. Bark is eaten off large mature branches. Green leaves that drop through the late summer and early fall are fed immediately. We gather the large pieces of shed bark for our rabbits. They can be stored in feed sacks for winter use as a hay substitute. A shed full of rabbits crunching on dry bark sounds quite similar to a group of teenagers eating potato chips. The dried autumn leaves are a feed that is a bit more difficult to store. The leaves usually come down with heavy rains and their large size makes them hard to dry. If you can dry the leaves thoroughly they can be stored and fed all winter and into early spring when other green foods become available. Do not store the leaves in plastic bags. Large open bins, paper bags, cloth bags, and unused wire cages are the best storage containers.

    http://forestry.about.com/library/silvics/blsilsyc.htm
    http://www.na.fs.fed.us/pubs/silvics...cidentalis.htm

    These photos are not mine but they are good ones:
    http://dcwi.com/~bmills/trees/Planet...more/index.htm

    Blackberry, and Raspberry, and Bramble!

    Blackberries and raspberries, often termed "brambles", are a diverse group of species and hybrids in the genus Rubus. They are members of the Rosaceae family, closely related to strawberry in the subfamily Rosoideae. Rubus is one of the most diverse genera of flowering plants in the world, consisting of 12 subgenera, some with hundreds of species.

    Description and Identification:

    Both blackberries and raspberries grow on canes. The compound leaves consist of 3 or 5 leaflets. They both have thorns, although there are some thorn free varieties. The flowers resemble small single roses and are white or light pink in color.

    The easiest way to tell raspberries and blackberries apart is by the berries and the canes. The ripe raspberry is a cup that slips from a central knob or core. In the blackberry the core is part of the ripe fruit. The cross-section of a blackberry cane looks angled and grooved (like a starfish or star shape). The raspberry's is circular.

    Benefits to Feeding:

    Both raspberry and blackberry leaves are high in tannins which can relieve acute diarrhea. This makes them an excellent choice for any rabbit new to greens or with digestive upset. I have personally fed blackberry leaves to my 3 week old kits with no ill effects.

    Another benefit to raspberry leaves is they are known for their reproductive benefits. Raspberry leaves are believed to strengthen the uterus and thereby to help ease labor. They also support lactation.

    Raspberry leaves have an extremely high calcium level and a very high Ca:p ratio. Raspberry leaves also contain high levels of vitamins A and C. Most forages contain manganese but raspberry leaves contain more manganese than any other herb at 14.6mg per 100gm dried herb. Manganese deficiency can lead to bone abnormalities and retarded growth because manganese is required for the formation of the mucopolysacchride which forms the organic matrix of bone.

    Sow Thistles and Prickly Lettuce

    Introduction: Last year, when I was giving myself a crash course in safe plants for rabbits, I found myself confusing the various sow thistles and prickly lettuce, a species that shares many details of appearance with the sow thistle family.

    There are at least three sow thistle species that are common over most of North America:

    perennial sow thistle (Sonchus arvensis)
    annual smooth sow thistle (Sonchus oleraceus)
    spiny annual sow thistle (Sonchus asper)

    All are fast growing summer weeds with milky sap and yellow flowers that resemble tiny dandelions and go to seed in much the same manner.

    Prickly lettuce (Lactuca scariola or Lactuca serriola) also shares these characteristics. All four are compositae or composite flowers, members of the huge aster family.
    Let’s talk about prickly lettuce first before we move on to the sow thistles.


    PRICKLY LETTUCE Lactuca scariola

    Other Botanical Name: Lactuca serriola

    Other Common Names: Compass plant

    Photo: http://www.missouriplants.com/Yellow...iola_page.html

    Other Sources:
    http://www.gardenorganic.org.uk/orga...eed.php?id=143

    http://www.oardc.ohio-state.edu/weed...rd.asp?id=1010

    http://www.arthurleej.com/a-pricklylettuce.html

    Description: A winter annual or biennial, prickly lettuce first forms a low-growing rosette of lobed leaves. As it begins to grow upward, the leaves become very flat, edged with spines and develop a line of small spines along the mid-rib of the underside of the leaf. They may or may not be lobed and both forms may appear on the same plant. All parts exude a bitter milky sap when broken.

    Identification Tips: Prickly Lettuce can be easily identified by the line of small prickles all the way up the centre vein on the underside of each leaf. Also watch for this plant’s habit of twisting its leaves to face the sun. This gives rise to its other common name, compass plant.

    Distribution: A European plant that has become naturalized in most areas of North America.

    Uses: A close relative of cultivated lettuce, it can be used as a salad green when young. I tasted it the other day and it has a mild flavour when young and would be fine along with other greens. I would think it would also work in stir-fries or soups.

    Prickly lettuce is also excellent green feed for rabbits, especially in spring and summer. They have no problems coping with the spines, which for the most part are fairly soft, and they seem to find it extremely palatable. Occasionally mine will leave a tough stem, but the leaves are always eaten.

    Cautions: Cattle feeding on lush regrowth in autumn after summer droughts have been known to die with emphysema-like symptoms after eating large quantities of this plant. This apparently only happens to ruminants and only when the young leaves regenerate in response to autumn rains. The mature leaves and the dried leaves are safe.

    Since learning this, I have limited the amounts of regrowth I am feeding to my rabbits. Prickly lettuce is not known to cause problems for horses, only for ruminants, and since rabbits' digestive systems bear many similarities to horses’ it seems unlikely that rabbits will be adversely affected… but I see no reason to take unnecessary risks.

    Summary: A very abundant and useful wild plant. Used judiciously, it adds variety to the diet of forage fed rabbits. Young rabbits seem to thrive on it. Mine have been eating it alongside their mother from the age of two weeks with no visible ill effects.

    ******

    cont'd.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 2, 2013
  2. hsmomof4

    hsmomof4 New Member

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    PERENNIAL SOW THISTLE Sonchus arvensis

    Other Names: Creeping sow thistle, hare’s lettuce

    Photo: http://www.missouriplants.com/Yellow...nsis_page.html
    Other Sources:
    http://www.gardenorganic.org.uk/orga...weed.php?id=12
    http://www.oardc.ohio-state.edu/weed...rd.asp?id=1050

    Description: A prickly perennial plant with glossy leaves and spines. The flowers are yellow, shaped like little dandelions. They bloom from July to frost.

    Identification Tips: Roots are rhizomes that creep under the soil, allowing new plants to spring up while still attached to the parent plant, hence the alternative name, creeping sow thistle.

    Distribution: A European plant that has become naturalized throughout North America

    Nutritional Information: Although perennial sow thistle compares favourably with alfalfa (Medicago sativa) for nutritional value, it is not especially palatable to large grazing animals. Rabbits, however, love it in spite of the spines and it is excellent forage for them, hence another name for it: hare’s lettuce.

    Dry perennial sow thistle is about 10% protein by weight. It has equal or higher in vitro digestible dry matter, micro- and macro-mineral content and crude protein compared to alfalfa

    Uses: Occasionally used as a salad green when young, but the prickles are off-putting and would need removing. The flavour is pleasant, mild with just a hint of bitterness.

    Excellent green feed for rabbits and may be dried for winter use.

    Cautions: None!

    *****

    ANNUAL SMOOTH SOW THISTLE Sonchus oleraceus

    Other Names: Common sow thistle, annual sow thistle

    Photo: http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/...tlef1.htm#fig2

    Other Sources:
    http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/...sowthistle.htm

    http://www.gardenorganic.org.uk/orga...weed.php?id=54

    Description: An annual plant with a taproot. Shares many characteristic of other sow thistles, but is fleshier and lacks spines. Ends of leaves are distinctly triangular in shape. Leaves tend to be less glossy and often have a slightly blue cast.

    Identification Tips: The non-prickly sow thistle!

    Distribution: A European plant that has become naturalized throughout North America

    Nutritional Information: Similar to perennial sow thistle.

    Uses: Should be an excellent salad green and likely good steamed or in stir-fries. Very mild, with just a touch of pleasant bitterness. The texture is pleasing and the leaves and stems are juicier than the other sow thistles.

    Used to reduce high blood pressure.

    Excellent green feed for rabbits, but I might just steal some for myself!

    Cautions: None!

    *****

    SPINY ANNUAL SOW THISTLE Sonchus asper

    Other Names: Prickly sow thistle
    Photo: http://www.missouriplants.com/Yellow...sper_page.html

    Other Sources:
    http://www.gardenorganic.org.uk/orga...weed.php?id=74

    Description: Similar in appearance to perennial sow thistle, but the leaves look and feel more waxy and are a deeper green. Has a taproot rather than a rhizome. The spines are strong enough that it can be slightly uncomfortable to pick, especially when older. The plant is more compact than the other sow thistles.

    Identification Tips: Very spiny.

    Distribution: A European plant that has become naturalized throughout North America

    Nutritional Information: Similar to perennial sow thistle.

    Uses: Not recommended as a salad plant because of the spines, but the flavour is fine.

    Excellent green feed for rabbits. Mine are eager for it and apparently are untroubled by the spines.

    Cautions: None!

    *****

    Summary: All varieties of sow thistle are among the best and safest green feed you can give your rabbits: very nutritious and without the concerns that accompany alfalfa. Prickly lettuce is also an excellent green feed, but caution may be called for when feeding lush, late-season regrowth. All these plant species are abundant throughout most of North America and such valuable invaders could be put to better use than they have been to date.
    Shepherds Purse

    This was more difficult than I thought it would be.. I keep looking for something more.. But maybe,, less is better..
    Shepherd's purse Capsella bursapastoris


    I must confess, I don't know what "purses" shepherd carried or perhaps presently carry, or where these purse carrying shepherds live or lived. However it's a fair guess that these were Mediterranean shepherds, as this plant hails from that region. The "purses" are the little triangular or heart-shaped seed pods that the plant bears.

    Shepherd's purse is yet another European mustard that has become an urban weed in North America. Shepherd's purse sprouts early in the year, and flowers before most other herby plants. It can grow in poor soil, and can even sprout from cracks in the pavement.

    Its uses include edible greens (salad or cooked) of high nutritional value, and edible seeds. The seeds can be eaten raw from the pods or ground into a flour, as apparently some Native Americans did. It seems like gathering shepherd's purse seeds would be fairly labor-intensive, but the plant certainly grows in large enough amounts to make it potentially worth it. Many birds eat the seeds of this weed, and its seeds are sometimes included in birdseed mixes.
    Photos can be found here..
    http://urbpan.livejournal.com/265391.html



    SHEPHERDS PURSE
    Latin Name: Capsella bursa-pastoris
    Family: Crucifereae
    Height: 10-20cm


    An excellent astringent herb which guinea pigs normally ignore unless they have diarrhoea in which case they eat it readilly, seeming to recognise its properties. A safe food for rabbits, guinea pigs and chinchillas. Shepherd's Purse is a useful first aid measure to help prevent excessive post-partum bleeding although if there is any doubt about an animal's condition veterinary help should be sought immediately.

    Shepherds Purse has a good Ca:p ratio.

    Constituents: Tyramine, choline, acetylcholine, tannin, essential oil, resin, saponins, flavanoids, polypeptides, fumaric and bursic acids, glucosinolates, diosmine, potassium.

    Actions: Uterine stimulant, diuretic, astringent.

    Source: http://www.galensgarden.co.uk/herbs/shepherdspurse.php

    http://www.galensgarden.co.uk/herbiv.../diarrhoea.php

    http://islandgems.net/herbalremedies.html
    Need to send and will add more as the day progresses and as time allows..
    G.H.
    Chicory

    Chicory (chichorium intybus) is a perennial herb with blue or lavender flowers. It blooms from May to October. It is common along roadsides and in fields. Chicory is found throughout much of the 48 States.

    It resembles dandelion in appearance except in color, forms a similar rosette of lobed, indented and toothed leaves that taper into lengthy stalks. Chicory grows from a large, deep taproot, erectly and to a height of about 3 feet. It resembles dandelion most when young but always remains bitter and exudes an acrid white juice when broken or cut.

    Chicory contains calcium, phosphorus, iron, sodium, potassium, vitamins A and C, thiamine, riboflavin and niacin. With that long taproot growing down into the subsoil, it probably brings up a lot of other unnamed elements in trace amounts.

    The root of Chicory contains volatile oils which are effective at eliminating internal parasites in all animals. The oils are present in all parts of the plant but the roots have the highest concentration.

    Chicory can also be planted as a forage crop and if managed properly its leafy growth is as nutritious as Alfalfa and is highly palatable to all livestock.

    References and pictures of this plant can be viewed at these links:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicory

    http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/c/chicor61.html

    http://www.aces.edu/dept/forages/forchic.html
    Willow And Poplar

    Report on Willow (Salix spp.) and Poplar (Populus spp.) as livestock fodder.

    There are about 90 species of native North American willow (Salix) plus many more that have become naturalized here and about 35 species of poplar, plus a number of natural hybrids. Poplar is a member of the huge willow family (Silicaceae). Willow bark has been used for millennia for easing pain and aspirin has much the same chemical composition.

    As far as I have been able to determine, all willows and poplars are safe to feed to rabbits; however, specific information relating to feeding willow and poplar to rabbits is hard to find. I feed both of these to my rabbits, willow regularly and poplar occasionally (merely because the poplar trees are further from the rabbitry and house) and have found that the rabbits eat both the bark and leaves eagerly. Willow, in particular, is among their top ten favourite plants.

    Using trees as fodder for livestock is an idea that is gaining ground quickly, particularly in areas of the world where seasonal drought results in unreliable grass and legume supplies during the dry months. Because trees have a much deeper root system, they are better able to provide sustained production in dry conditions. Australia, New Zealand and Bhutan all have well-established usage of willow as feed for cattle and sheep.

    It was a pleasant surprise to me to learn that willow and poplar compare favourably with alfalfa as a source of protein. Crude protein content varies with the seasons, from a low of about 11% to a high of 25%. Crude fibre varies from 12 to 22%. Poplar has similar levels. Willows grown in Canada, for reasons unspecified, generally have only about 16% protein, but that is about the same as many commercial feeds.

    There is a lot of information about feeding willow to cattle and sheep. See the sources at the end of this report for more information. One experiment with cattle found that lactating cows fed entirely on willow maintained their milk supply at a level equal to the period preceding willow feeding – and that milk supply dropped when the willow was discontinued.

    Here, we are fortunate in having a huge weeping willow tree providing shade for our summer rabbitry. Salix babylonica is the preferred species of willow as tree fodder in Bhutan and we make good use of it here as well. From spring until late autumn we feed the leaves and tender branches to our rabbits several times a week. We also dry large quantities for winter use and sometimes feed the bare frozen whips as well. It is easy to harvest for drying and can simply be tied in convenient-sized bundles and hung up on nails on the walls of the winter rabbitry until needed.

    The use of trees and shrubs as a source of feed for livestock is not new. Plato, in his Critias and Timaeus, noted that: “...there were also many other lofty cultivated trees which provided unlimited fodder for beasts.”

    In England and parts of northern Europe, elms were used as a source of fodder until the mid-1800s. They formed an integral part of the farming system (Lamb 1979). The elm's large volume of canopy contains much needed proteins, carbohydrates and minerals sought by livestock. This small digression is simply to point out that other trees besides willow and poplar can be used for animal fodder.

    Some of the species that are used world-wide are:

    Ø Tagasaste: Chamaecytisus proliferus
    Ø Carob: Ceratonia siliqua
    Ø Honey Locust: Gleditsia triacanthos
    Ø Willows: Salix spp, especially the weeping willow, Salix babylonica, and the hybrid Salix matsudana x alba
    Ø Poplars: Populus spp
    Ø Leucaena: Leucaena leucocephala
    Ø Chenopods: particularly Atriplex nummularia.

    Willows are valued for their spring and summer foliage. They are fast growing, long-lived, and easily propagated from cuttings. They yield copious foliage after just two or three years, up to 200 kgs (about 440 pounds) per tree per year. The foliage contains an average 17% protein.

    Willows coppice readily, even when cut right back. Trees are kept low to be grazed directly by cattle or more easily cut for other livestock. Willows are drought tolerant and frost resistant and are ideal for soil stabilisation.

    Poplars (Populus spp) are grown under conditions similar to willows. They are deciduous, providing foliage in spring and summer. Like willow, they are fast growing and tolerate dry periods well. Yields are increased by keeping them well grazed and small. The trees should be well spaced and can be grazed within their first two or three years. Propagation is from cuttings or suckers. Yields of five to seven tonnes dry matter per hectare per year on first cutting; second browsing should double this.

    Willow and poplar have been fed successfully to livestock in many parts of the world for many years. At first, it was
    used during periods of drought for animal maintenance; however, after much studying, hands-on experience, and high level testing, it was determined that these trees, and others, could be fed to livestock on a regular basis.

    Furthermore, it was proven that the (RFV) Relative Feed Value and protein levels equate favourably to those of alfalfa, hay, and other forage. Once planted, the trees offer an available feed source for many years without concern for watering, fertilizing, or crop rotation.

    Depending on your method of planting, this feed source will yield between 100 to 400 tons of (DM) Digestible Material, per acre, per year.

    Summary:

    All this information is useful to livestock farmers, but for the small homestead or backyard rabbitry, what is the bottom line?

    In my opinion, willow and poplar of all types may be fed with confidence to rabbits as a good source of protein and other valuable nutrients.

    In addition to their nutritive qualities, there is considerable evidence that willow acts as a natural wormer and coccidiostat.
    Given the ease of propagation and the ubiquitous nature of these trees, establishment of a stand can only be a good thing for the smallholder and homesteader.

    cont'd
     
    ReadMilkCure likes this.

  3. hsmomof4

    hsmomof4 New Member

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    PHOTOS:

    Click on species name for pictures of various willows.
    http://images.google.ca/imgres?imgur...%3Den%26sa%3DN

    Balsam Poplar
    http://canadianbiodiversity.mcgill.c...es/pop_bal.htm

    Aspen Poplar
    http://ca.geocities.com/nbwilderness/aspen.html

    SOURCES:

    http://www.fao.org/ag/AGP/AGPC/doc/p...ngs/willow.pdf

    http://www.grahamandrews.com/fodder_trees.htm
    Common Plantain aka Plantago major and Blackseed Plantain Plantago rugelii

    Plantain is a perennial that will grow almost anywhere. It's distribution is nearly worldwide. It has large flat leaves which can reach up to 6 inches in
    length. The plant sends up flower stalks with barely noticable flowers which are wind pollinated. The seeds can live for up to 60 years in most soils.

    Despite being a weed that can smother common lawn grasses, plantain is a valuable food and medicine.

    Plantain can be harvested in 2 ways. You can pick single leaves or pull the entire plant. Rabbits will eat plantain fresh and dried. I usually just brush or knock the dirt off the roots when feeding fresh. When drying the dirt should be washed off. Plantain can be harvested from the time it emerges in mid-spring until it goes dormant in late fall. Rabbits will eat the entire plant including roots and flower/seed stalks.

    Plantain has many medicinal uses: respiratory, mucilage, antibacterial, emollient, astringent, stops diarrhea, diuretic, hemostatic, vulnary, and as an eyewash.

    There is a vast amount of information covering plantago major in books and on the internet. Recipies for medicinal use, ways of cooking and harvesting for human consumption, uses for the seeds, etc. I have covered only a tiny bit here.

    http://www.altnature.com/gallery/plantain.htm
    http://www.asimplerway.com/archives/000176.html
    http://www.drugs.com/npp/plantain.html
    http://www.kingdomplantae.net/commonPlantain.php
    http://www.botanical-online.com/medi...ntenangles.htm



    Yarrow
    Latin Name: Achillae millefolium
    Common Names: Nosebleed plant, Milfoil, Soldier's woundwort

    Description:
    Yarrow is a perennial flowering plant in the aster/daisy family with large flat flower clusters that are typically white;at a glance it resembles Queen Anne's Lace. It grows to about 10 to 20 inches in height and blooms from May to August.

    Larger image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Budding_yarrow.jpg

    The foliage is feathery, similar to mustard.

    Larger image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:M...illefolium.jpg

    Yarrow also comes in other colors, primarily pale shades of pink and lilac.

    Cultivation:
    Yarrow is drought tolerant; preferring poorly developed, well drained soil; it can suffer from mildew in wet areas. It is a perennial and reproduces from either seeds or rhizomes. It can be invasive. The seeds require light for germination so should be planted no more than 1/4 inch deep.

    Yarrow can be found growing wild in fields and meadows, and by the roadside. It likes a sunny location.

    Nutritional/Homeopathy:
    Yarrow contains calcium.
    It is an antiseptic, and helps prevent the growth of disease causing microorganisms. In an experiment, a yarrow wash and a plain saline wash were used on rabbit wounds for 21 days. The wounds were washed at the same frequency and time of day. Wounds treated with yarrow extract had more improved healing appearance and rate of contraction than the control wounds.
    Yarrow functions as an astringent both externally and internally; thus, it can assist in treating wounds or diarrhea.
    It has the curious reputation of either stopping a nosebleed or, if you have a migraine, you can put yarrow leaves in your nose to promote a nosebleed (relieving pressure and thus curing the migraine).
    Yarrow is a diruetic, and increases the secretion and elimination of urine. Guinea pigs and dwarf breeds can have problems with urinary tract stones, which, because of their size, can be difficult or impossible to eliminate naturally.
    Yarrow is an emmenagogue, and like shepherds purse and raspberry it can ease the birth process; however, raspberry is preferred as some sources say not to use during pregnancy.
    Yarrow is a good rabbit and cavy food when young and tender.
    Yellow and Pink Yarrow are listed as rabbit resistant plants, good for planting in landscaping or in the garden.
    Dandelion

    The common dandelion (Taraxacum Officianale) is one of several varieties of dandelion, and is the most commonly found throughout the world. Botanists disagree on the actual number of sub-species with opinions varying from 60 to over 200. All share the following characteristics. They are from the genus Taraxacum, family Asteraceae. All are tap-rooted biennial or perennial flowering plants.
    Some variables do exist among sub-species as well as within each. Sharply toothed leaves can be 5-25 cm in length but all form a basal rosette above the central tap-root. Yellow flowers from 2-8 cm across are made up of hundreds of tiny florettes that open during the day on stems filled with a milky latex. Stems do not branch and support one flower head each. Once the flower has matured the seed head arises after about 2 days and holds the familiar puff or 'dandelion wishie' which is also known as the clock.
    Some common names for dandelion around the world make light of its properties. Dent de lion in French, for example, refers to the sharply toothed appearance of the leaves. Others point toward the plants properties as a diuretic, 'liver tonic', and digestive stimulant.
    All parts of the plant are edible for humans and I've found no contraindications for feeding to rabbits and other animals. Young leaves and unopened buds are most palatable for people, but 'coffee' made from tap root has been consumed around the world for centuries. Jelly can be made from open flowers and is quite yummy.... The greens can be eaten both raw and cooked by humans.
    Nutritional value is excellent with leaves and buds containing vitamins A, C, phosphorus,iron and calcium. Some sources say that they contain more iron and calcium than spinach.The plant is high in fiber and can contain several trace minerals given the proper growing conditions. It also contains luteolin which is an antioxidant.
    One caution, there is an acid present (caffeianic <sp?>) that has been shown to be carcinogenic ( in large doses) in lab mice. However,some researchers feel this is due to a bacteria found in the digestive tract of mice rather than the acid itself.
    Yellow and green colors can be obtained using leaves and flowers for dye. The milky latex found in stems and roots is used as a mosquito repellant.
    Overall, dandelion is a nutritional powerhouse, readily attainable and easily identified.
    Sources:
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/dandelion : includes images
    www.thegreenguide.com/doc/96/dandelion

    Edible Wildflowers of North America: