Alfredia is the harmonious name of the plant, some exotic, mysterious. With him, I had associations with the luxurious palm of the tropical islands. Just exactly like the word "watercolor" for grandfather Shchukar, who unknowingly interpreted it as a "beautiful girl." Despite all my sympathy for my grandfather, Shchukar, I nevertheless decided to supplement my knowledge of this little-known plant. But the more he found out, the more mysteries arose.
Description of Alfredia
Start at least with the name. The correct botanical name is Alfredia drooping (Alfredia cernua) of the aster family. In the place of Shchukar’s grandfather, I would interpret it this way: the family (aster) is a surname, it is worn by many, many plants with similar characters; the genus (Alfredia) is a middle name, plants under its family with narrower related attributes are combined under it; species (drooping) is the name of this plant, which may have brothers and sisters with other names similar to it.
So why Alfredia? In the academic multi-volume work Flora of the USSR, an article on alfredia (Volume XXVIII, p. 39) states that "the genus (Alfredia) is named for a personal name." But whose exactly is not given. Typically, the Latin names of plants are assigned by the scientific community in honor of the famous botanists, natural scientists. And since among those with the name Alfred, in addition to Alfred Rassel Wallace, who simultaneously advanced the theory of species change through natural selection, Darwin does not know others, it can be assumed that Alfredia is named after him.
And why "drooping"? At this word, the imagination draws some kind of stunted booth with drooping leaves. Nothing like this! Drooping Alfredia is a powerful perennial herbaceous plant 2.5-3 meters high, with a sturdy stem at the base up to 5 cm in diameter, with long (up to 70 cm) oblong-ovate leaves and large (across 5 cm) flower baskets.
The thing is in these baskets - they look down, as if bowing their heads. Hence the name - drooping. And it’s good that it’s down (and where else can they look from such a height!), Otherwise we could not have considered all their beauty. And the beauty is in their unusualness: the wrapper of the large head is tiled, multi-rowed, the marginal flowers are yellow-green, and the central ones are very thick and long (up to 2.5 cm), sticking together in one direction, resembling trickles from the shower.
Undoubtedly, it was thanks to the power and exaltation of alfredia over all other herbs that it was popularly called the ataman-grass. The origin of another local name - the brachialis - is now unlikely to be explained. Perhaps it is based on the "oblique shoulder" - the bushes branch strongly in the upper part and the branches (shoulders) extend obliquely. And maybe (I like this version more) originates from "squint with a shoulder". When alfredia came across mowing in forbs, it was possible to mow it with great effort - leaning on the braid with your shoulder. Who knows.
In a word, the plant does not look dull at all, but very cheerfully. However, Alfredia inspires vigor not only with its appearance. Since ancient times in folk medicine, its grass and roots have been widely used in folk medicine as a tonic and painkiller, for nervous diseases, dizziness, and also in collections - for neurasthenia, schizophrenia, epilepsy, enuresis.
Why is such a prominent plant little known? Yes, because its habitat is very small: mountains of Siberia (Altai, Sayan Mountains, Mountain Shoria - in the Kemerovo region, Kuznetsk Alatau, Salair Kryazh - also in the Kemerovo region) and Central Asia. Only there you can meet alfredia in the taiga and subalpine zones, in sparse fir and cedar forests, in tall grass meadows, among bushes.
In all reference books and Internet encyclopedias, in articles devoted to alfredia, they write: "The composition has not been studied." How so? Why is a plant recognized by traditional medicine deprived of the attention of scientists? The answer was found nearby. Tomsk scientists - Shilova Inessa Vladimirovna with colleagues - already in our millennium conducted research on the chemical composition of the aerial parts of alfredia. The content of the following groups of biologically active substances was found: flavonoids (quercetin, kempferol, apigenin, etc.), phenol carboxylic acids (vanillic, coffee, etc.), sterols, polysaccharides, amino acids (valine, lysine, traptophan, etc.), carotenoids, triterpene compounds, tannins, macro- and microelements.
It has been scientifically established that alfredia extracts exhibit antioxidant, nootropic, anxiolytic and diuretic activity. In other words, reduce emotional stress, weaken the feeling of anxiety, fear, anxiety; improve mental activity, stimulate cognitive functions, learning and memory, increase the resistance of the brain to various damaging factors, including to extreme loads. And since it is now known that antioxidants slow down the aging process, undoubtedly, drugs based on alfredia will soon be developed and in this regard, it has a great future.
But gardeners who are interested in rare plants can, without waiting for the appearance of alfredia on the pharmacy shelves, already now grow this wonderful plant in all respects in their areas. Moreover, this representative of the mountain flora adapted well to the conditions of the plain, which was facilitated by the research of botanists, including Valentina Pavlovna Amelchenko, who devoted a quarter of a century to the study of alfredia in the Siberian Botanical Garden of Tomsk State University. Alfredia is successfully grown in many botanical gardens in Russia and abroad (for example, the city of Jena in Germany).
Growing Alfredia is easy enough. It needs only good illumination and sufficient soil moisture, especially in the initial period of growth. You can sow in a box in March-April (seedlings can be planted in June) or in the ground in May. Soak the seeds before sowing for 2-3 hours, because they are large enough and they may not have enough soil moisture to swell. Seeding depth 2 cm.
Shoots appear after 2-3 weeks. The distance between plants should not be less than 50 cm. Some plants will bloom in the second year, the rest for 3-4 years. Flowering occurs in late July - early August, seed ripening - in a month.
Alfredia harvests leaves and flower baskets as a medicinal raw material in the flowering phase. They are dried in the shade, crushed and stored in paper packaging for 2-3 years. In everyday use in the form of tea: 1 teaspoon of herbs in a glass of boiling water.