Iberis amara, bitter candytuft,
Iberis amara is also known as bitter candytuft and belongs to the family of the Brassicaceae. The name already gives a hint that Iberis amara is native to Spain, the former Iberia. The trivial name candytuft has nothing to do with sweets. Candy comes from Candia the former name of Iraklion on Crete where the plant also occurs. The bitter candytuft is an annual, herbaceous plant that gets 40 cm high. The shoot is slightly pubescent. The leaves are longish and edgeless. The leaves are dentate with the dents being also edgeless. The flowers are white with yellow stamens in the middle, they look like small bows. Sometimes the flowers are even slightly red. The flowers of Iberis amara are clustered in umbels and are blooming from May to August.
Iberis amara is used since 80 a. d. in homeopathy to treat gastrointestinal problems. The bitter candytuff contains glucosinolates, flavonols and curcurbitacines that are anticonvulsive and anti-inflammatory. Especially the curcurbitacines are responsible for the bitter taste of the bitter candytuff. The different chemical compounds are able to relax the muscles of the gastrointestinal tract or they innervate the muscles. Being able to relax and innervate is a special property of that plant compounds. The fruit is a small pod that bears the seeds that have a high concentration of curcurbitacine. They are used in homeopathy against cardiac insufficiency Iberis amara prefers nutrient poor and calcerous soils.
The seeds can be sown directly outside in spring from May on, after the last frosts have passed. In the house Iberia amara can be grown as well. At a temperature of only 18 °C the first seedlings emerge after just 2 to 3 weeks. One has to attend that the seeds of the bitter candytuft need light to germinate. Therefore they should be only pressed slightly into the substrate.
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