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Milberger's Nursery and Landscaping
3920 North Loop 1604 E.
San Antonio, TX 78247

Three exits east of 281, inside of 1604
Next to the Diamond Shamrock station
Please click map for more detailed map and driving directions.

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Questions for the Week

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QUESTION : Where would I search for the chemical or pharmaceutical properties and possible side effects of St. Johnswort (which is presently being marketed as a mild antidepressant). There are European educational institutions that research plant properties, but I have no capability to connect to them on my computer. I have not found a university site in Texas that could supply the answer. Can you guide me?
ANSWER :There's St John's Wort and there's St John's Wort. It, in one species (Hypericum patulum Henryi), is a common landscape plant here in South Texas. However, I do not think that this is the species that is gaining standing for its herbal use.
The species used for treating depression, according to the article found at this web site ( is Hypericum perforatum.
More information on the medicinal uses of St John's Wort can be found at this web site:
There this is found: St. John's Wort Botanical: Hypericum perforatum (LINN.) Family: N.O. Hypericaceae ???Description???A herbaceous perennial growing freely wild to a height of 1 to 3 feet in uncultivated ground, woods, hedges, roadsides, and meadows; short, decumbent, barren shoots and erect stems branching in upper part, glabrous; leaves pale green, sessile, oblong, with pellucid dots or oil glands which may be seen on holding leaf to light. Flowers bright cheery yellow in terminal corymb. Calyx and corolla marked with black dots and lines; sepals and petals five in number; ovary pear?shaped with three long styles. Stamens in three bundles joined by their bases only. Blooms June to August, followed by numerous small round blackish seeds which have a resinous smell and are contained in a three?celled capsule; odor peculiar, terebenthic; taste bitter, astringent and balsamic.
There are many ancient superstitions regarding this herb. Its name Hypericum is derived from the Greek and means 'over an apparition,' a reference to the belief that the herb was so obnoxious to evil spirits that a whiff of it would cause them to fly.
Medicinal Action and Uses - Aromatic, astringent, resolvent, expectorant and nervine. Used in all pulmonary complaints, bladder troubles, in suppression of urine, dysentery, worms, diarrhoea, hysteria and nervous depression, haemoptysis and other hemorrhages and jaundice. For children troubled with incontinence of urine at night an infusion or tea given before retiring will be found effectual; it is also useful in pulmonary consumption, chronic catarrh of the lungs, bowels or urinary passages. Externally for fomentations to dispel hard tumors, caked breasts, ecchymosis, etc.
Preparations and Dosages-1 OZ. of the herb should be infused in a pint of water and 1 to 2 tablespoonsful taken as a dose. Fluid extract, ½ to 1 drachm.
The oil of St. John's Wort is made from the flowers infused in olive oil.
Here is a write-up which is on the InterNet at:
Hypericum is Hypericum perforatum, also known as St. John's wort (St. John the Baptist). It is a short, yellow?flowering, wild?growing plant??healing herb to some; troublesome weed to others. It has a 2,400?year history of safe and effective usage in folk, herbal, and ancient medicine. Hypericum was prescribed as medicine by Hippocrates.
A series of recent double?blind, placebo?controlled studies indicate that a specific extract of Hypericum perforatum was as effective as prescription anti?depressants but had far fewer side effects (thus available without a prescription for the treatment of mild to moderate depression) and cost considerably less??about 25 cents a day.
In Germany, more than fifty percent of depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders are treated with hypericum. Prozac has two percent.
Although many extracts are available containing St. John's wort, only a handful of companies.
For more complete information on hypericum, you can read the complete text of the book Hypericum & Depression.
Hypericum, a Natural in Battling Depression
By M.A.J. McKenna, c. 1997 Cox News Service
More than 12 million people in the United States are believed to have clinical depression-not a mild case of the blues, but a serious chemical imbalance of the brain.
More than 7 million of them take the well?known antidepressant medications Prozac, Paxol, Zoloft and Effexor. Most have great success with those drugs. But a certain percentage pay a price in side effects: insomnia, weight gain, loss of libido.
That suffering is completely unnecessary, say a prominent psychiatrist. An alternative exists that is free of side effects, doesn't require a prescription and, as a bonus, costs just pennies a day.
The catch: The alternative is a plant, Hypericum perforatum, whose common name is St. John's wort. And American medicine, expert at devising top?flight synthetic pharmaceuticals, has never been overly friendly to the botanical sources from which they came.
It is past time, says Dr. Harold Bloomfield, for that to change.
A Yale psychiatrist and author of the 1994 best seller "How to Heal Depression", Bloomfield has co?written a book in praise of the herb. In "Hypericum & Depression" (Prelude Press, $19.95), he explains the abundant European research literature, history and use of the plant, a yellow?flowering ground cover that is common in the Western United States. "I have had wonderful results with it", Bloomfield said. "It is not a panacea. But I would say it is one additional antidepressant??a very novel one, and for many people an excellent one".
His opinion is shared by the authors of the 13 placebo?controlled German studies, involving hundreds of people, that found hypericum lifted mood and improved outlook without causing serious side effects. That was confirmed by a recent article in the British Medical Journal which said the herb's side effects are "rare and mild".
Proponents of botanical medicine argue that herbs make superior treatments because they contain a number of active ingredients. In the case of hypericum, that appears to be true: the plant contains hypericin, an antidepressant compound; flavonoids, which boost the immune system; and chemicals that may reduce inflammation and combat viruses and bacteria. Its main effect seems to be the same as that of Prozac and its cousins; all lengthen the amount of time that the naturally produced chemical serotonin remains active in the brain. Low serotonin levels have been linked to depression, and high ones to tranquility and well?being; drugs that increase the compound's availability are called "serotonin reuptake inhibitors". (It also mimics the action of a second class of drugs called monoamine oxidase inhibitors.
Hypericum is not problem free, and its cheapness and availability shouldn't be considered a license to experiment. Anyone who takes prescription drugs for depression must discuss the herb with their physician first. Stopping antidepressants abruptly can cause serious reactions.
So can combining hypericum with prescription antidepressants; because the herb mimics the action of several types of drugs, beginning an herbal regimen while weaning off synthetics carries the risks of a double dose. Also, high doses of hypericum cause severe sun sensitivity in animals. That could make the herb risky for anyone taking photosensitizing drugs such as tetracycline and chlorpromazine.
Nevertheless, awareness of it is already rising. "It's one of those underground herbs that's emerging into the mainstream", said Rick Kraus, owner of Health Unlimited in Atlanta. "It's not useful for every variety of depression; some conditions do better with other herbs. But for some people, it's a phenomenal anti?
(M.A.J. McKenna writes for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.)
(The Cox web site is at
Antidepressant, Antiseptic, Antiviral, Aromatic, Astringent, Diuretic (weak) & Anti-enuretic, Pectoral, Resolvent, Nervine, Topically also as mild analgesic.
(use topical & systemic) Neuralgia, especially if associated with injury, sciatica, spinal pains or inflammation, ANY injury involving nerve damage, nightmares, depression.
Respiratory/E.N.& T.:
Colds associated with corona viruses (but not rhinovirus, coughs, all lower respiratory disorders including haemoptysis, chronic lung catarrh, T.B., Cytomegalovirus.
Affections of urinary passages (highly esteemed), enuresis (especially child's).
(use topical & systemic) Wounds, especially if septic &/or in areas of nerve concentration as fingers & toes, boils, lymphangitis (typically associated streptococci), cellulitis, ulcers, rashes of nervous origin, hard swellings, ecchymosis(bruises), vesicles of HSV types 1 & 2, H. Varicella (Chickenpox), H. Zoster (Shingles), Poxviruses (Small Pox epithelial lesions, etc.), Rubella virus (German Measles), EBV.
HEPATIC:HBV, BUT not HAV (type "A" Hepatitis)
(topical & systemic) Fibrositis, associated strain or trauma to ligament.
Disorders involving intestinal catarrh, dysentery & diarrhea, hemorrhoids (topical & systemic).
Other enveloped viruses included Orthomyxoviruses (flu types A,B & C), Paramyxovirus (Para?influenza types 1-4 & Mumps), Retroviruses that cause some types of neoplasia & A.I.D.S., Togaviruses; Bunyaviruses, Arenaviruses, & Rhabdovirus (Rabies).
Pharmacy & Posology
Preparation Relative Strength single Dose Weekly Dose
Dried 2.5 -5 g/day 17-35 g
Tincture1: 5 45% alc 2-8 ml tds 40-170 ml
F.E.1:1 45% alc 2-4 ml tds 40-85 ml Also Topical: as oil, ointment or cream
Definitely NOT contraindicated for depression (old editions of BHP are WRONG as they say it is not used during depression). In some individuals prolonged duration of high dose may cause skin photosensitivity.
All pulmonary complaints, bladder trouble, dysentery, diarrhea, depression, jaundice, cancer.
Sources for Hypericum perforatum:
Flowery Branch
P O Box 1330
Flowery Branch, GA 30542

Dabney Herbs
Box 22061
Louisville, KY 40252

Far North Gardens
16785 Harrison
Livonia, MI 48154

Seeds of Change
P O Box 15700
Santa Fe, NM 87506?5700

Wrenwood of Berkley Springs
Rt 4 Box 361
Berkeley Springs, WV 25400

QUESTION : Which species of oak is the best for making barrels ?
ANSWER : The four species listed in Robert Vines' "Trees, shrubs, and woody vines of the southwest" as having barrel and/or cooperage value include:

Pin Oak, Quercus palustris Muenchh.
White Oak, Quercus alba L.
Swamp White Oak, Quercus bicolor Willd.
Swamp Chestnut Oak, Quercus prinus L.

You may also want to check with the following web site which is a large supplier of oak casks.

QUESTION :I've got several persimmon trees (Hachiya and Fuyu) which are producing so much fruit they are pulling the branches down, and in one case, breaking it. Should I be trimming the branches back every winter to try to get more of the growing strength back into the limb? Other ideas?
ANSWER :Some simple pruning to reduce the potential crop load would be a good way to deal with the situation. However, even when this is done, you may still have to physically remove some of the fruit. Thinning is critical in most fruit crops to reduce limb breakage, increase fruit size and most importantly insure crop set the next year.

QUESTION : I bought a pothos plant two months ago and am now having a problem with the tips of the leaves turning black. Please let me know how I can stop this.
ANSWER :Pothos are sturdy indoor plants for areas of moderate to low light, rarely suffering from insect or disease problems. Therefore, the tips of the leaves turning black is probably due to watering or fertilization problems. Let's look at the possibilities. Pothos need to be grown in a well drained soil mix that is allowed to dry to the touch before watering. Blackening of the leaf margins or tips is a very common response to over watering. Determine the frequency of watering by the feel of the soil rather than the day of the week.
Leaf tip or margin discoloration also occurs if a pothos is grown under severe stress of very dry soil with inadequate watering. In either case, the discoloration may be accompanied by leaves becoming yellow.
If the leaf color is good, except for the blackening of the tips, over fertilization may be the cause. As with other foliage plants grown in containers, pothos can benefit from the application of a liquid fertilizer mixed and applied according to package directions during periods of new growth. Do not fertilize during the winter when the pothos is not actively growing. Excess fertilizer could cause leaf tip discoloration due to the buildup of salts, which are fertilizer residues, in the soil.
If you have fertilized more often than necessary, the first thing to do, of course, is to cut back on the frequency or the amount of fertilization. Leach the excess fertilizer out of the soil so that no further damage will be done. To do this, place the plant in the sink or tub and water it until water flows copiously through the holes in the bottom of the pot. Repeat this watering five or six times over the next few hours. This heavy watering should not cause overwatering problems since the soil is then allowed to dry to the touch before the next regular watering.

QUESTION : Someone gave me a poinsettia (sorry bout the spelling) last Christmas and the darn thing is still alive. It stayed red till June or JULY. It fell off the shelf 2 or 3 times and I stuck it back in the pot. Don't think I can kill it... My question is what do I do to get it to turn red for Christmas?
ANSWER :Most of the modern-day (purchased within the past 3 years) poinsettias are plants that do not show a photoperiodic response as did the older varieties which were sold. Using the old varieties of poinsettias, we used to tell folks that these plants demand at least 12 hours of absolute darkness each evening to bloom. This requirement was supplied, starting October 1, by slipping a light-tight box over the plant at 5:00 p.m. and keeping it in place until 8 a.m. This provided a "night" that is 15 hours in length -more than enough to induce flower bud formation. However, it is not necessary to do this any more --- your last year's poinsettia will begin to color in mid- to - late December. Keep the faith!