Ground Elder

Ground-elder is mentioned by the RHS as a menace in the garden and therefore a good reason for me to do this blog!





Beautiful detailed Botanical drawing of Ground-elder by Walter Müller (1888), courtesy of Wikipedia

Ground-elder or Aegopodium podagraria  is in the Apiaceae or Carrot family, which is number 138 in Stace.

The Apiaceae is another large and frequent occurring family in the temperate world and it has many useful varieties with the occasional weedy one!

This post was done end of January 2019, before the Gutenberg editing so decided to redo this as I’ve done the other many members of this family a while ago.

Stace has to say the following in the introduction of this family:

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The Plantain family

This week a relative small family in our regions; the Plantaginaceae or the Plantains.

Greater Plantain or Plantago major is probably our best known species in this family

The Plantaginaceae is now in the 121st family in the latest 4th edition of Stace, behind the colourful Veronicaceae (Speedwell family) and before the obscure Hippuridaceae (Mare’s-tail family). It consist of just two genera, Plantago with 7 species and Littorella just one species.

Each species is a much more humble plant, not really shouting out for attention as some of our plant families covered in earlier blogs.

In my eyes it is an attractive genus with boldness in its various leaf outlines and interesting flower spikes.

Find out about all their uses to us people and our wildlife.

The herbaceous members of the Rose Family

In my last post we covered all the more woody plants of this large family, which are most important to us for mainly their fruits. This week I like to talk about their much smaller members, which also have an important part to play for especially our wildlife but also surprisingly in our medical history or present day use.

There are again several genera represented in the British Isles of the smaller, herbaceous and occasionally sub-shrubs of this Rose family.

The woody Rosaceae and their uses

Part 1; the woody plants in the rose family

The blossom of our Hawthorn is a beautiful site and an important member of the Rose family.

The Rosaceae or Rose family is a large and important family containing trees, shrubs, sub-shrubs and herbs. Although occurring worldwide, the greatest numbers of species are being found in the North Temperate region.

In Stace it is family 44 so relative early in the evolution of the Flowering plants. It has 36 genera but several genera + species are introduced garden plants and of course are easily spread by the seeds in mostly their fruits which are attractive as a food for birds in particular, spreading the plants far and wide into natural areas.

As this blog is not about ornamental plants but is about our useful ‘weeds’ I will use the order of genera mentioned in ‘The Wild Flower Key. This has less of those ornamental genera and species. It has also lumped all the trees and shrubs together followed by the herbs.

This week we’ll start with all the native trees and shrubs in the Rose family.

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Foraging plants and their uses; an easy guide by Mike Poulton

Nettle tops can be used as long as they look like this!

Foraging has been done for centuries but is hopefully getting a bit of a revival, people like to have a connection with nature again, especially with their daily exercise in lockdown situation and what a better way to do this then to go out there and forage!

So today I would like to introduce you to a document received from fellow botanist Mike Poulton, who used to do training sessions on foraging for wild plants.  It was published before in my blog in 2018 but now with the aid of Gutenberg editing it can be made even more attractive.

The edible parts of the native plants are listed with their common names and categorized in 5 sections: leaves and shoots (1), herbs (2), edible flowers (3), fruits and seeds (4) and roots (5).

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My dream for an Ethnobotanical Garden!

This is an earlier blog which became lost somehow so will reinstall it using the neat Gotenberg editing of WordPress.

The whole idea of starting an Ethnobotanical garden came about after volunteering for 2 months at ‘Jardin Etnobotanico de Oaxaca’ in 2008!

So what is an Ethnobotanical garden? Hope to explain all about this and why I feel it is important to have one in this day and age of global warming and pandemics!

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The Fabaceae or Pea family

The Common Gorse or Ulex europaeus is a familiar plant in the Legume family! (All pictures unless mentioned otherwise are by Matt Summers)

What is now called The Fabaceae, was long known as Leguminosae and commonly these are known as the legume, pea, or bean family.

This is a large and economically important family in the world. It includes trees, shrubs, and perennial or annual herbaceous plants, which are easily recognized by their fruit (legume) and/or their compound, stipulate leaves.

It is not as big in Britain but an interesting and useful family all the same! Credits are due once again to Stace‘s Flora, J. Barker’s Medicinal Flora, Plantlife and Wikipedia for most information.

In case there are any medical uses stated with the plants mentioned below, please take sensible advise from a qualified herbalist.

If you would like to learn a bit more about the classification of this large family I can recommend Britannica.com webpage

The background colour of the text indicate green for positive news and pink for negative news… In bold for quick reading and any other colour then green and pink used is to make it more pretty! Links are provided on medical or other difficult words.

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Useful Betulaceae part 2

In my last blog the main genus in the Betulaceae or Betula was listed with all the known uses of its 3 species in the British Isles. Today I like to cover the other 3 genera which all only have one native species each.

The 3 genera + species are:

  • Alnus glutinosa or Alder
  • Carpinus betulus or Hornbeam
  • Corylus avellana or Hazel
A stand of Alder along the brook at Cannock Chase

Information for this blog is again from various websites, for more information follow the links on the plant names!

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The Useful Betulaceae!

Showing the very recognizable stems of our native Silver Birch.
The very recognizable stems of the Silver Birch at Cannock Chase

After all the short flowering plants, this time a blog on the tall woody trees called Betulaceae, which includes the main genus, Betula or Birch but also our native Alder, Hornbeam and Hazel belong in this family.

The Betulaceae or Birch Family is number 55 in Stace and has 3 straight native species of Birch as well as several hybrids, subspecies and introduced, ornamental varieties.

The birch is a typical pioneer, which means it can colonize new land very rapidly in the right conditions and can therefore be seen as a weed by some who wouldn’t like them to do this!

But most of us can agree that the Birch tree is very beautiful and hoping for you to learn in the following text that it is also a very useful tree as are its cousins, Alder, Hornbeam and Hazel about which I will tell you more in the second part!

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More members of Asteraceae

Close up from our Common Knapweed or Centaurea nigra. The main heading of my wonderful weed blog is of Greater Knapweed or Centaurea scabiosa! See further in today’s block to learn about all this genus virtues.

Today I will write about some more members of our native Asteraceae or composites and daisy family in common terms. All known medicinal uses and other uses are mentioned.

In the last post I covered the what we see as the common daisies: yellow centred disk flowered with a ray of white florets as well as a few other composites or Asteraceae.

This time we start with plants we don’t immediately associate with the composites, but closely observed we find always the common combination of many disc florets, surrounded or not with ray florets.

Then finishing off with the other typical group of the Asteraceae which are the various ‘dandelion like’ flower members!

Most information again from the Medicinal Flora by J. Barker. The links to the scientific and common name provide also with good, general information about the plants!

To make the post more colourful I have given the plant a background of the flower colour!

First of all then the Artemisias or Wormwoods:

The Artemisias:  There are less than a dozen native artemisias  on the British Isles and it should be noted that they are CUMULATIVELY TOXIC AND IN OVERDOSE MAY CAUSE IRREPERABLE DAMAGE TO THE BODY!

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