Empetrum, also called shiksha or crowberry, is an evergreen shrub of low stature, belonging to the Verescae family. Such a shrub has leaf plates that look similar to pine needles, the flowers are of no decorative value. In the Northern Hemisphere such plants in natural conditions are widespread, much less common in South America. This shrub is also referred to as the common, berry or black yernik, crowberry, lychee, veris, psychic, psychic berry, syxa, drunkenness, bearberry, bagnovka, black grass and blueberry. In the wild, it prefers to grow in pine forests, sphagnum bogs, tundra, open sands and granite deposits in the mountains of the subalpine and alpine belts.
Features of waterberry
Waterberry is a creeping small shrub that reaches only 20 centimeters in height. The stems can be up to 1 meter long. This plant is similar to the lingonberry in its characteristics. This shrub grows in clusters, and its branches may grow adventitious roots, thanks to which the cluster is constantly growing, with the gradual dying off of the branches in the middle of the bush being observed. Strongly branched shoots are colored dark brown.
The successive leathery leaf laminae are similar in appearance to the needles of spruce, they cover the shoots densely. Each of the leaf laminae does not fall off the shrub for 5 years. The axillary flowers have 3 petals, which can be red, purple or pink. These flowers are not very pretty. In mid-latitudes, the shrub blooms in April or May, but in Siberia it blooms in May or June.
Pollination by such shrubs requires pollinators such as bees, butterflies and flies. Their appearance is similar to that of blueberries. They are juicy, sour-sweet, globular, black fruits up to 5.5 cm in diameter with four pips and a bluish streak on their surface. They begin to ripen in August, but they will not fall off the shrub throughout the winter.
The juice obtained from these fruits has a purple color. Thickets are called crowberry or crowberry bushes.
Also this plant has another characteristic, it grows in symbiosis with a particular fungus. It lives in the shrub's root system and provides it with photosynthetic products.
Planning and care of shrieks
Planning shrieks in the garden
Wild shrieks generally prefer to grow in sunny places and needs an acidic sandy or peaty soil.
You should remember that crowberry reacts extremely negatively to stagnant liquid in the soil. For its planting is not suitable for excessively dense soil. Therefore, if the soil on the site is clay soil, then it is necessary to make sand, peat and sod soil. To do this, you need to remove the top layer of soil to the side and instead pour a layer of sand mixed with crushed stone ten centimeters thick. The removed topsoil should then be mixed with suitable additives and placed in its place.
Shiksha should be planted to a depth of about 0.4 m. If several bushes are planted, a distance of 0.3-0.5 m should be kept between them in the row.
Curtains should be planted so that the root neck was buried by 20 mm. Planted plants need good watering.
How to take care of shiksha
Waterberries should be systematically weeded, but only in the first years of life. Once the shrub grows, it can suppress the growth of weeds. If the surface of the plot is covered with a layer of mulch (peat), which should be 50 mm thick, it will help to significantly reduce the number of watering and weeding.
Watering should not be very frequent, because this plant negatively reacts to stagnant liquid in the soil. As a rule, the shrub is watered only in dry periods.
A shrub throughout the season will require only 1 feeding with Nitroammophoska (50 grams per 1 square meter of plot). In the spring time it needs sanitary pruning, for this purpose it is necessary to cut out all the stems damaged by frost and withered. Pruning such a plant, you should remember that it is a slow-growing, so this procedure should be carried out very carefully.
Covering such a shrub for the winter is not required, because it is sufficiently frost-resistant. It survives the winter months well under snow cover.
Gathering shiksha and storage
The fruits and branches with watermelon foliage have medicinal properties. Harvest the herb during flowering and the fruit as soon as it is ripe. Cut the grass carefully because you must not traumatize the plant's root system.
Spread the grass in a thin layer, choosing a shady place, which should be reliably protected from rain and from direct sunlight. You can also dry the raw material in a dark, well ventilated room. The grass should be turned systematically during drying so that it dries evenly. Once the herb dries, it should be placed in cloth sacks, which are stored in a dark and dry place. These herbs can be kept for up to two years.
Species and varieties of shiksha
This genus has different classifications. Thus some scientists consider the genus to be monotypic with the black chokeberry or black sheep as a single species. Other scientists believe that this genus unites not one but several species: watermelon, black, red, almost holarctic. And The Plant List database contains the following information, that the genus waterberry unites only 3 species and 8 subspecies. But only 1 species is cultivated by gardeners.
Black waterberry (Empetrum nigrum)or blackberry or Siberian rubythroat is a strongly branching shrub that is an evergreen, reaching a height of 0.25-0.5 m. The shape of the crown is cushion-shaped. Under wild conditions, this crop prefers to grow in peat bogs, and they do not need high humidity at all.
The linear leaflets are up to 10 mm long, with their edges curled down. The coloring of the front surface is dark green, while the reverse surface is densely pubescent, represented by a pile of reddish color. The flowers are pink, red or dark red, with only three petals. The globular black fruits have a bluish streak on their surface. They ripen between August and September.
These berries are watery and tasteless. This plant has two varieties: Japanese and Asian. It also has several ornamental varieties:
- Citronella. The bush has glossy, lush foliage of a lemon-yellow color.
The stalking bush has leafy plates colored dark green.
- Bernstein. The coloration of the leaf plates is pale yellow.
- Lucia. The coloration of the foliage is yellow.
- Ireland. Flowing branches covered with dense, glossy leaves of green coloration.
Properties of shiksha: Harms and Benefits
Therapeutic properties of shiksha
Shiksha includes saponins, flavonoids, tannins, alkaloids, fatty and essential oils, resins, coumarins, benzoic and acetic acids, fructose, anthocyanins, carotene, ascorbic acid, andromedotoxin, sugars and trace elements.
In alternative medicine, decoctions and infusions are prepared from such plant, they are used for scurvy, epilepsy, insomnia, schizophrenia, colitis, cramps, difficulty in urination, chronic gastritis, liver and kidney diseases, headaches, hypertension, metabolic disorders, depression, dropsy, diarrhea, paralysis, edema and anthrax. They are also used externally to treat wounds, ulcers, rashes and acne.
Decoction of the leaves is excellent for strengthening the hair.
Waterberry infusion will help those who have watery and dry eyes. For its preparation, you need to combine 1 liter of freshly boiled water and 2 large spoons of grass, you must wait until it is steamed. The cooled infusion must be filtered through gauze rolled up in 3 or 4 layers. The infusion should be put into the eyes every 2-3 h.
With increased nervousness also helps a remedy made from rosehip. In order to prepare it, half a liter of boiling water must be combined with a couple of large spoonfuls of grass. Put the mixture on a low heat for 5-7 minutes. Remove the remedy from the fire, cover it and wait until it cools completely. The strained drink should be drunk 4 or 5 times daily in 3 large spoonfuls.
It is not allowed to eat shiksha fruit as well as to use preparations of this plant if you have individual intolerance and if you are pregnant or lactating.
Green pharmacy show - Shiksha