Witch-hazels or witch hazels are a genus of flowering plants in the family Hamamelidaceae, with four species in North America, one each in Japan and China. The North American species are called winterbloom; the witch-hazels are deciduous shrubs or small trees growing to 10–25 feet tall to 40 feet tall. The leaves are alternately arranged, oval, 2–6 inches long and 1–4 inches broad, with a smooth or wavy margin; the genus name, means "together with fruit", referring to the simultaneous occurrence of flowers with the maturing fruit from the previous year. H. virginiana blooms in September–November while the other species bloom from January–March. Each flower has four slender strap-shaped petals 3⁄8–3⁄4 inch long, pale to dark yellow, orange, or red; the fruit is a two-part capsule 3⁄8 inch long, containing a single 1⁄4 inch glossy black seed in each of the two parts. The name witch in witch-hazel has its origins in Middle English wiche, from the Old English wice, meaning "pliant" or "bendable", is not related to the word witch meaning a practitioner of magic.
Jacob George Strutt's 1822 book, Sylva Britannica attests that "Wych Hazel" was used in England as a synonym for wych elm, Ulmus glabra. The Persian ironwood, a related tree treated as Hamamelis persica, is now given a genus of its own, as Parrotia persica, as it differs in the flowers not having petals. Other allied genera are Parrotiopsis and Sycopsis. Witch-hazels are not related to the true Corylus hazels, though they have a few superficially similar characteristics which may cause one to believe that they are, they are popular ornamental plants, grown for their clusters of rich yellow to orange-red flowers which begin to expand in the autumn as or before the leaves fall, continue throughout the winter. Hamamelis virginiana was introduced into English gardens by Peter Collinson, who maintained correspondence with plant hunters in the American colonies. Nowadays, it is seen in the nursery trade except for woodland/wildlife restoration projects and native plant enthusiasts. Much more common is H. mollis, which has bright yellow flowers that bloom in late winter instead of the yellow blossoms of H. virginiana which tend to be lost among the plant's fall foliage.
The plant-hunter Charles Maries collected for Veitch Nurseries in the Chinese district of Jiujiang in 1879. It languished in nursery rows for years until it was noticed and put on the market in 1902. Numerous cultivars have been selected for use as garden shrubs, many of them derived from the hybrid H. × intermedia Rehder. Jelena and Robert de Belder of Arboretum Kalmthout, selecting for red cultivars, found three: the first, with bronze flowers, was named'Jelena', it may be used as a supposed remedy for psoriasis and eczema. Clinical studies supporting its effectiveness for these skin conditions are absent. Despite this lack of evidence, it is used in folk medicine to "ease discomfort" involving vaginal soreness and hemorrhoids while they heal after childbirth. There is no good clinical evidence for its other purported traditional uses, including gastrointestinal illnesses, common colds and inflammation. Distilled witch-hazel water does not contain the tannic acid found in Hamamelis bark, does not have the therapeutic attributes claimed for it.
The leaves and bark of the North American witch-hazel, Hamamelis virginiana, may be used to produce an astringent decoction as a cooling agent for various uses in traditional medicine and skincare products. This decoction was used for medicinal purposes by Native Americans and is sold in modern pharmacies as witch-hazel water and as semisolid ointments, creams and salves, it is used to treat diaper rash in infants. Witch-hazel water can be produced by distillation; as an ingredient and as topical agent, witch hazel water is regulated in the United States as an over-the-counter drug for external use only to soothe minor skin irritations. The main constituents of witch-hazel extract include calcium oxalate, gallotannins and chemicals found in the essential oil. Witch hazel is used externally on hemorrhoids, minor bleeding, skin irritation. Native Americans used extract of witch-hazel extensively for medicinal purposes. Many people produced witch hazel extract by boiling the stems of the shrub and producing a decoction, used to treat swellings and tumors.
Early Puritan settlers in New England adopted this remedy from the natives, its use became established in the United States. A missionary, Dr. Charles Hawes, learned of the preparation's therapeutic properties, determined through extensive study that the product of distillation of the plant's twigs was more efficacious. "Hawes Extract" was first produced and sold in Essex
Tea is an aromatic beverage prepared by pouring hot or boiling water over cured leaves of the Camellia sinensis, an evergreen shrub native to East Asia. After water, it is the most consumed drink in the world. There are many different types of tea. Tea originated in Southwest China during the Shang dynasty. An early credible record of tea drinking dates to the 3rd century AD, in a medical text written by Hua Tuo, it was popularized as a recreational drink during the Chinese Tang dynasty, tea drinking spread to other East Asian countries. Portuguese priests and merchants introduced it to Europe during the 16th century. During the 17th century, drinking tea became fashionable among Britons, who started large-scale production and commercialization of the plant in India. Combined and India supplied 62% of the world's tea in 2016; the term herbal tea refers to drinks not made from Camellia sinensis: infusions of fruit, leaves, or other parts of the plant, such as steeps of rosehip, chamomile, or rooibos.
These are sometimes called tisanes or herbal infusions to prevent confusion with tea made from the tea plant. The Chinese character for tea is 茶 written with an extra stroke as 荼, acquired its current form during the Tang Dynasty; the word is pronounced differently in the different varieties of Chinese, such as chá in Mandarin, zo and dzo in Wu Chinese, ta and te in Min Chinese. One suggestion is that the different pronunciations may have arisen from the different words for tea in ancient China, for example tú may have given rise to tê. There were other ancient words for tea, it has been proposed that the Chinese words for tea, tu, cha and ming, may have been borrowed from the Austro-Asiatic languages of people who inhabited southwest China. Most Chinese languages, such as Mandarin and Cantonese, pronounce it along the lines of cha, but Hokkien and Teochew Chinese varieties along the Southern coast of China pronounce it like teh; these two pronunciations have made their separate ways into other languages around the world.
Starting in the early 17th century, the Dutch played a dominant role in the early European tea trade via the Dutch East India Company. The Dutch borrowed the word for "tea" from Min Chinese, either through trade directly from Hokkien speakers in Formosa where they had established a port, or from Malay traders in Bantam, Java; the Dutch introduced to other European languages this Min pronunciation for tea, including English tea, French thé, Spanish té, German Tee. This pronunciation is the most common form worldwide; the Cha pronunciation came from the Cantonese chàh of Guangzhou and the ports of Hong Kong and Macau, which were major points of contact with the Portuguese traders who settled Macau in the 16th century. The Portuguese adopted the Cantonese pronunciation "chá", spread it to India. However, the Korean and Japanese pronunciations of cha were not from Cantonese, but were borrowed into Korean and Japanese during earlier periods of Chinese history. A third form, the widespread chai, came from Persian چای chay.
Both the châ and chây forms are found in Persian dictionaries. They are derived from the Northern Chinese pronunciation of chá, which passed overland to Central Asia and Persia, where it picked up the Persian grammatical suffix -yi before passing on to Russian as чай, Arabic as شاي, Urdu as چائے chay, Hindi as चाय chāy, Turkish as çay, etc; the few exceptions of words for tea that do not fall into the three broad groups of te, cha and chai are from the minor languages from the botanical homeland of the tea plant from which the Chinese words for tea might have been borrowed originally. English has all three forms: char, attested from the 16th century. However, the form chai refers to a black tea mixed with sugar or honey and milk in contemporary English. Tea plants are native to East Asia, originated in the borderlands of north Burma and southwestern China. Chinese tea Chinese Western Yunnan Assam tea Indian Assam tea Chinese Southern Yunnan Assam teaChinese type tea may have originated in southern China with hybridization of unknown wild tea relatives.
However, since there are no known wild populations of this tea, the precise location of its origin is speculative. Given their genetic differences forming distinct clades, Chinese Assam type tea may have two different parentages – one being found in southern Yunnan and the other in western Yunnan. Many types of Southern Yunnan assam tea have been hybridized with the related species Camellia taliensis. Unlike Southern Yunnan Assam tea, Western Yunnan Assam tea shares many genetic similarities with Indian Assam type tea. Thus, Western Yunnan Assam tea and Indian Assam tea both may have originated from the same parent plant in the area where southwestern China, Indo-Burma
Salvia officinalis is a perennial, evergreen subshrub, with woody stems, grayish leaves, blue to purplish flowers. It is a member of the mint family Lamiaceae and native to the Mediterranean region, though it has naturalized in many places throughout the world, it has a long history of medicinal and culinary use, in modern times as an ornamental garden plant. The common name "sage" is used for a number of related and unrelated species. Salvia officinalis has numerous common names; some of the best-known are sage, common sage, garden sage, golden sage, kitchen sage, true sage, culinary sage, Dalmatian sage, broadleaf sage. Cultivated forms include red sage; the specific epithet officinalis refers to plants with a well-established medicinal or culinary value. Salvia officinalis was described by Carl Linnaeus in 1753, it has been grown for centuries in the Old World for its food and healing properties, was described in old herbals for the many miraculous properties attributed to it. The specific epithet, refers to the plant's medicinal use—the officina was the traditional storeroom of a monastery where herbs and medicines were stored.
S. officinalis has been classified under many other scientific names over the years, including six different names since 1940 alone. It is the type species for the genus Salvia; the second most used species of sage is Salvia lavandulaefolia, which shares a similar composition with Salvia officinalis, with the exception that lavandulaefolia contains little of the toxic GABAA receptor-antagonizing monoterpenoid thujone. Cultivars are quite variable in size and flower color, foliage pattern, with many variegated leaf types; the Old World type grows to 2 ft tall and wide, with lavender flowers most common, though they can be white, pink, or purple. The plant flowers in late spring or summer; the leaves are ranging in size up to 2.5 in long by 1 in wide. Leaves are grey-green, rugose on the upper side, nearly white underneath due to the many short soft hairs. Modern cultivars include leaves with purple, rose and yellow in many variegated combinations. Salvia officinalis has been used since ancient times for warding off evil, increasing women's fertility, more.
Theophrastus wrote about two different sages, a wild undershrub he called sphakos, a similar cultivated plant he called elelisphakos. Pliny the Elder said the latter plant was called salvia by the Romans, used as a diuretic, a local anesthetic for the skin, a styptic, for other uses. Charlemagne recommended the plant for cultivation in the early Middle Ages, during the Carolingian Empire, it was cultivated in monastery gardens. Walafrid Strabo described it in his poem Hortulus as having a sweet scent and being useful for many human ailments—he went back to the Greek root for the name and called it lelifagus; the plant had a high reputation throughout the Middle Ages, with many sayings referring to its healing properties and value. It was sometimes called S. salvatrix. Dioscorides and Galen all recommended sage as a diuretic, hemostatic and tonic. Le Menagier de Paris, in addition to recommending cold sage soup and sage sauce for poultry, recommends infusion of sage for washing hands at table.
John Gerard's Herball states that sage "is singularly good for the head and brain, it quickeneth the senses and memory, strengtheneth the sinews, restoreth health to those that have the palsy, taketh away shakey trembling of the members." Gervase Markham's The English Huswife gives a recipe for a tooth-powder of salt. It appears in recipes for Four Thieves Vinegar, a blend of herbs, supposed to ward off the plague. In past centuries, it was used for hair care, insect bites and wasp stings, nervous conditions, mental conditions, oral preparations for inflammation of the mouth and throat, to reduce fevers. In Britain, sage has for generations been listed as one of the essential herbs, along with parsley and thyme, it has a savory peppery flavor. Sage appears in the 14th and 15th centuries in a "Cold Sage Sauce", known in French and Lombard cookery traceable to its appearance in Le Viandier de Taillevent, it appears in many European cuisines, notably Italian and Middle Eastern cookery. In Italian cuisine, it is an essential condiment for saltimbocca and other dishes, favored with fish.
In British and American cooking, it is traditionally served as sage and onion stuffing, an accompaniment to roast turkey or chicken at Christmas or Thanksgiving Day. Other dishes include Sage Derby cheese and Lincolnshire sausages. Despite the common use of traditional and available herbs in French cuisine, sage never found favor there. In the Levant and Egypt it is used as a flavor for hot black tea, or boiled and served as an herbal drink in its own right. Common sage is grown in parts of Europe for distillation of an essential oil, although other species such as Salvia fruticosa may be harvested and distilled with it; the essential oil contains cineole and thujone. Sage leaf contains tannic acid, oleic acid, ursonic acid, ursolic acid, carnosic acid, fumaric acid, chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, nicotinamide, flavonoid glycosides, estrogenic substances; some research has suggested certain extracts of salvia officinalis may have positive effects on human brain function, but due to significant methodological problems, no firm conclusions can be drawn.
The thujone present in Salvia extracts may be neurotoxic. In favorable conditions in
A flower, sometimes known as a bloom or blossom, is the reproductive structure found in flowering plants. The biological function of a flower is to effect reproduction by providing a mechanism for the union of sperm with eggs. Flowers may allow selfing; some flowers produce diaspores without fertilization. Flowers are the site where gametophytes develop. Many flowers have evolved to be attractive to animals, so as to cause them to be vectors for the transfer of pollen. After fertilization, the ovary of the flower develops into fruit containing seeds. In addition to facilitating the reproduction of flowering plants, flowers have long been admired and used by humans to bring beauty to their environment, as objects of romance, religion, medicine and as a source of food; the essential parts of a flower can be considered in two parts: the vegetative part, consisting of petals and associated structures in the perianth, the reproductive or sexual parts. A stereotypical flower consists of four kinds of structures attached to the tip of a short stalk.
Each of these kinds of parts is arranged in a whorl on the receptacle. The four main whorls are as follows: Collectively the calyx and corolla form the perianth. Calyx: the outermost whorl consisting of units called sepals. Corolla: the next whorl toward the apex, composed of units called petals, which are thin and colored to attract animals that help the process of pollination. Androecium: the next whorl, consisting of units called stamens. Stamens consist of two parts: a stalk called a filament, topped by an anther where pollen is produced by meiosis and dispersed. Gynoecium: the innermost whorl of a flower, consisting of one or more units called carpels; the carpel or multiple fused carpels form a hollow structure called an ovary, which produces ovules internally. Ovules are megasporangia and they in turn produce megaspores by meiosis which develop into female gametophytes; these give rise to egg cells. The gynoecium of a flower is described using an alternative terminology wherein the structure one sees in the innermost whorl is called a pistil.
A pistil may consist of a number of carpels fused together. The sticky tip of the pistil, the stigma, is the receptor of pollen; the supportive stalk, the style, becomes the pathway for pollen tubes to grow from pollen grains adhering to the stigma. The relationship to the gynoecium on the receptacle is described as hypogynous, perigynous, or epigynous. Although the arrangement described above is considered "typical", plant species show a wide variation in floral structure; these modifications have significance in the evolution of flowering plants and are used extensively by botanists to establish relationships among plant species. The four main parts of a flower are defined by their positions on the receptacle and not by their function. Many flowers lack some parts or parts may be modified into other functions and/or look like what is another part. In some families, like Ranunculaceae, the petals are reduced and in many species the sepals are colorful and petal-like. Other flowers have modified stamens.
Flowers show great variation and plant scientists describe this variation in a systematic way to identify and distinguish species. Specific terminology is used to describe their parts. Many flower parts are fused together; when petals are fused into a tube or ring that falls away as a single unit, they are sympetalous. Connate petals may have distinctive regions: the cylindrical base is the tube, the expanding region is the throat and the flaring outer region is the limb. A sympetalous flower, with bilateral symmetry with an upper and lower lip, is bilabiate. Flowers with connate petals or sepals may have various shaped corolla or calyx, including campanulate, tubular, salverform or rotate. Referring to "fusion," as it is done, appears questionable because at least some of the processes involved may be non-fusion processes. For example, the addition of intercalary growth at or below the base of the primordia of floral appendages such as sepals, petals and carpels may lead to a common base, not the result of fusion.
Many flowers have a symmetry. When the perianth is bisected through the central axis from any point and symmetrical halves are produced, the flower is said to be actinomorphic or regular, e.g. rose or trillium. This is an example of radial symmetry; when flowers are bisected and produce only one line that produces symmetrical halves, the flower is said to be irregular or zygomorphic, e.g. snapdragon or most orchids. Flowers may be directly attached to the plant at their base; the stem or stalk subtending a flower is called a peduncle. If a peduncle supports more than o
Prunus spinosa, called blackthorn or sloe, is a species of flowering plant in the rose family Rosaceae. It is native to Europe, western Asia, locally in northwest Africa, it is locally naturalised in New Zealand and eastern North America. Prunus spinosa is a large deciduous shrub or small tree growing to 5 metres tall, with blackish bark and dense, spiny branches; the leaves are oval, with a serrated margin. The flowers are about 1.5 centimetres with five creamy-white petals. The fruit, called a "sloe", is a drupe 10–12 millimetres in diameter, black with a purple-blue waxy bloom, ripening in autumn and harvested – traditionally, at least in the UK – in October or November after the first frosts. Sloes are thin-fleshed, with a strongly astringent flavour when fresh. Blackthorn grows as a bush but can grow to become a tree to a height of 6 m, its branches grow forming a tangle. Prunus spinosa is confused with the related P. cerasifera in early spring when the latter starts flowering somewhat earlier than P. spinosa.
They can be distinguished by flower creamy white in P. spinosa, pure white in P. cerasifera. They can be distinguished in winter by the more shrubby habit with stiffer, wider-angled branches of P. spinosa. Prunus spinosa has a tetraploid set of chromosomes; the specific name spinosa is a Latin term indicating the pointed and thornlike spur shoots characteristic of this species. The common name "blackthorn" is due to the thorny nature of the shrub, its dark bark; the word used for the fruit, "sloe", comes from Old English slāh. The same word is noted in Middle Low German spoken in Lower Saxony, Middle Dutch sleeuwe or, contracted form, slē, from which come Modern Low German words: slē, slī, Modern Dutch slee, Old High German slēha, slēwa, from which come Modern German Schlehe and Danish slå; the names related to'sloe' come from the common Germanic root slaihwō. Confer West Slavic / Polish śliwa; the expression "sloe-eyed" for a person with dark eyes comes from the fruit, is first attested in A. J. Wilson's 1867 novel Vashti.
The foliage is sometimes eaten by the larvae of Lepidoptera, including the small eggar moth, emperor moth, willow beauty, white-pinion spotted, common emerald, November moth, pale November moth, mottled pug, green pug, brimstone moth, feathered thorn, brown-tail, yellow-tail, short-cloaked moth, lesser yellow underwing, lesser broad-bordered yellow underwing, double square-spot and brown hairstreaks, hawthorn moth and the case-bearer moth Coleophora anatipennella. Dead blackthorn wood provides food for the caterpillars of the concealer moth Esperia oliviella; the pocket plum gall of the fruit caused by the fungus Taphrina pruni produces an elongated and flattened gall, devoid of a stone. The shrub, with its savage thorns, is traditionally used in Britain and other parts of northern Europe to make a cattle-proof hedge; the fruit is similar to a small damson or plum, suitable for preserves, but rather tart and astringent for eating, unless it is picked after the first few days of autumn frost.
This effect can be reproduced by freezing harvested sloes. The juice is used in the manufacture of fake port wine, used as an adulterant to impart roughness to genuine port. In rural Britain a liqueur, sloe gin, is made by infusing gin with sloes and sugar. Vodka can be infused with sloes. In Navarre, Spain, a popular liqueur called. In France a similar liqueur called épine or épinette or troussepinette is made from the young shoots in spring. In Italy, the infusion of spirit with the fruits and sugar produces a liqueur called bargnolino —as well as in France where it is called prunelle or veine d'épine noire. Wine made from fermented sloes is made in Britain, in Germany and other central European countries. Sloes can be made into jam and used in fruit pies. Sloes preserved in vinegar are similar in taste to Japanese umeboshi; the juice of the fruits dyes linen a reddish colour. Blackthorn makes an excellent fire wood that burns with a good heat and little smoke; the wood is used for tool handles and canes.
Straight blackthorn stems have traditionally been made into walking clubs. In the British Army, blackthorn sticks are carried by commissioned officers of the Royal Irish Regiment; the leaves resemble tea leaves, were used as an adulterant of tea. Shlomo Yitzhaki, a Talmudist and Tanakh commentator of the High Middle Ages, writes that the sap of P. spinosa was used as an ingredient in the making of some inks used for manuscripts. The fruit stones have been found in Swiss lake dwellings. Evidence of the early use of sloes by man is found in the famous case of a 5,300-year-old human mummy discovered in 1991 in the Ötztal Alps along the Austrian-Italian border: among the stomach contents were sloes. A "sloe-thorn worm" used as fishing bait is mentioned in the 1
The monotypic genus Anemopsis has only one species, Anemopsis californica, with the common names yerba mansa or lizard tail. It is a perennial herb in the lizard tail family and prefers wet soil or shallow water, it is native to southwestern North America in northwest Mexico and the Southwestern United States from California to Oklahoma and Texas to Kansas to Oregon. As it matures, the visible part of the plant develops red stains turning bright red in the fall. Yerba mansa is showy in spring when in bloom; the iconic white "flowers" are borne in early spring, are surrounded by 4–9 large white bracts. Similar to the sunflower family, what appears to be a single bloom is in reality a dense cluster of individually small flowers borne in an inflorescence. In this species the inflorescence is conical and has five to ten large white bracts beneath it, so that along with the tiny white florets, the whole structure is quite striking when it blooms in spring; the conical structure develops into a single, tough fruit that can be carried downstream to spread the tiny, pepper-like seeds.
In her book on herbs of the southwestern USA, Dr. Soule discusses the common name. "Yerba mansa is one of those names. Yerba is Spanish for herb, thus one would think that mansa is from Spanish as well, but all indications point to the fact that it is not. Mansa means tame, calm in Spanish, the plant has no sedative effect, nor did local people use it as a calming agent, its primary use is as an antimicrobial and antifungal. The most explanation is that mansa is a Spanish alteration of the original native word for the plant, now lost in the depths of time." Hartweg, who collected it at León, Guanajuato in 1837, recorded the local name as yerba del manso. It is known as yerba del manso in northern Baja California; the word "manso" could be short for "remanso" which would agree with the areas where the plant thrives. Yerba mansa is used as an antimicrobial, an antibacterial, to treat vaginal candidiasis. Yerba mansa is used to treat inflammation of swollen gums and sore throat. An infusion of roots can be taken as a diuretic to treat rheumatic diseases like gout by ridding the body of excess uric acid, which causes painful inflammation of the joints.
Yerba mansa prevents the buildup of uric acid crystals in the kidneys which could cause kidney stones if left untreated. A powder of dried root can be sprinkled on infected areas to alleviate athlete's foot or diaper rash. Yerba mansa is versatile, it can be taken orally as a tea, infusion or dried in capsule form, it can be used externally for soaking infected areas. It can be ground and used as a dusting powder; some people in Las Cruces, New Mexico use the leaves to make a poultice to relieve muscle swelling and inflammation. Dried floral structures are used in dried arrangements. Dried plant parts are used in potpourri. In the deserts of California, yerba mansa is being used as turf in public parks and ground cover in gardens. Plants For A Future database Medicinal plants Jepson Manual Treatment USDA Plants Profile Medicinal Uses and Harvesting
Merlot is a dark blue-colored wine grape variety, used as both a blending grape and for varietal wines. The name Merlot is thought to be a diminutive of merle, the French name for the blackbird a reference to the color of the grape, its softness and "fleshiness", combined with its earlier ripening, makes Merlot a popular grape for blending with the sterner, later-ripening Cabernet Sauvignon, which tends to be higher in tannin. Along with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, Merlot is one of the primary grapes used in Bordeaux wine, it is the most planted grape in the Bordeaux wine regions. Merlot is one of the most popular red wine varietals in many markets; this flexibility has helped to make it one of the world's most planted grape varieties. As of 2004, Merlot was estimated to be the third most grown variety at 260,000 hectares globally; the area planted to Merlot has continued to increase, with 266,000 hectares in 2015. While Merlot is made across the globe, there tend to be two main styles.
The "International style" favored by many New World wine regions tends to emphasize late harvesting to gain physiological ripeness and produce inky, purple colored wines that are full in body with high alcohol and lush, velvety tannins with intense and blackberry fruit. While this international style is practiced by many Bordeaux wine producers, the traditional "Bordeaux style" of Merlot involves harvesting Merlot earlier to maintain acidity and producing more medium-bodied wines with moderate alcohol levels that have fresh, red fruit flavors and leafy, vegetal notes; the earliest recorded mention of Merlot was in the notes of a local Bordeaux official who in 1784 labeled wine made from the grape in the Libournais region as one of the area's best. In 1824, the word Merlot itself appeared in an article on Médoc wine where it was described that the grape was named after the local black bird who liked eating the ripe grapes on the vine. Other descriptions of the grape from the 19th century called the variety lou seme doù flube with the grape thought to have originated on one of the islands found along the Garonne river.
By the 19th century it was being planted in the Médoc on the "Left Bank" of the Gironde. After a series of setbacks that includes a severe frost in 1956 and several vintages in the 1960s lost to rot, French authorities in Bordeaux banned new plantings of Merlot vines between 1970 and 1975, it was first recorded in Italy around Venice under the synonym Bordò in 1855. The grape was introduced to the Swiss, from Bordeaux, sometime in the 19th century and was recorded in the Swiss canton of Ticino between 1905 and 1910. In the 1990s, Merlot saw an upswing of popularity in the United States. Red wine consumption, in general, increased in the US following the airing of the 60 Minutes report on the French Paradox and the potential health benefits of wine and the chemical resveratrol; the popularity of Merlot stemmed in part from the relative ease in pronouncing the name of the wine as well as its softer, fruity profile that made it more approachable to some wine drinkers. In the late 1990s, researchers at University of California, Davis showed that Merlot is an offspring of Cabernet Franc and is a half-sibling of Carménère, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon.
The identity of the second parent of Merlot wouldn't be discovered till the late 2000s when an obscure and unnamed variety, first sampled in 1996 from vines growing in an abandoned vineyard in Saint-Suliac in Brittany, was shown by DNA analysis to be the mother of Merlot. This grape discovered in front of houses as a decorative vine in the villages of Figers, Saint-Savinien and Tanzac in the Poitou-Charentes was colloquially known as Madeleina or Raisin de La Madeleine due to its propensity to be ripe and ready for harvest around the July 22nd feast day of Mary Magdalene; as the connection to Merlot became known, the grape was formally registered under the name Magdeleine Noire des Charentes. Through its relationship with Magdeleine Noire des Charentes Merlot is related to the Southwest France wine grape Abouriou, though the exact nature of that relationship is not yet known. Grape breeders have used Merlot crossed with other grapes to create several new varieties including Carmine, Evmolpia, Mamaia, Nigra and Rebo.
Over the years, Merlot has spawned a color mutation, used commercially, a pink-skinned variety known as Merlot gris. However, unlike the relationship between Grenache noir and Grenache blanc or Pinot noir and Pinot blanc, the variety known as Merlot blanc is not a color mutation but rather an offspring variety of Merlot crossing with Folle blanche. Merlot grapes are identified by their loose bunches of large berries; the color has less of a blue/black hue than Cabernet Sauvignon grapes and with a thinner skin and fewer tannins per unit volume. It ripens up to two weeks earlier than Cabernet Sauvignon. Compared to Cabernet, Merlot grapes tend to have a higher sugar content and lower malic acid. Ampelographer J. M. Boursiquot has noted that Merlot has seemed to inherit some of the best characteristics from its parent varieties—its fertility and easy ripening ability from Magdeleine Noire des Charentes and its color, t