Members of Asteraceae and their uses

Bellis perennis or our common Daisy is most welcomein any lawn!
Bellis perennis or our common Daisy is most welcome in any lawn!

In my last blog I introduced you to mainly the medicinal uses of the Asteraceae or the Daisy family.

Today I will list some of this fast and successful family in our temperate climate.

As I’ve already included pictures in the general blog on Asteraceae back in the summer I will only include links on both of the plant names so you will be able to read more about each plant on other useful websites.

I will also colour code the blocks on the colour of the flower. Hope you will find that useful as well as pretty!

Most of the below information is again from the Medicinal Flora by Julian Barker.

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The Wonderful Weed Weekly Blog

To talk kindly about the weeds in my weekly blog, we first need to identify those weeds of which many people despise…!

I found the RHS website very useful please see here as well as how to tackle them.

I don’t really want to repeat what this brilliant website says, as my weekly blog wants to highlight the positive things about those weeds which are also just being themselves; one of the many native plants of these Isles. They grow in soil and habitat that they naturally like to grow in and often we are actually helping them greatly by providing a pleasant environment to thrive even more!

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In the last blog I explained some scientific terms which you will find in my blogs. This time I explain a little more why I want to start a blog all about Ethnobotany and our native plants..

The more I work with all kinds of plants, in my daily life and work, the more I appreciate them, and this even includes ‘WEEDS’, or our native plants as I prefer to call them; or even wild flowers as many are pretty as well as useful…. Or ‘PRETTY USEFUL’!!

Crambe maritima or Sea kale looking stunning in its native habitat!

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Chapter 1: Some difficult terms explained in the world of Botany and Ethnobotany.

As I wrote in a recent blog, I would like to re edit most of the last year’s blogs as we now have the Gutenberg editing and this makes the blogs more beautiful and pleasant to read!

As in any science there are some difficult words and terms used of which I would like to explain some this week. If not explained you will often find a link on the ‘difficult’ word which will guide you to an explanatory page.

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Heemtuin in Nieuwkoop, the Netherlands


Entrance to the Heemtuin in Nieuwkoop with some typical Dutch bicycles parked up!

I have been visiting this lovely concept garden, or park, in the Netherlands whilst here on a family visit. As I’ve already written in my Ethhnoblog Introduction of April, 18th this year about what I believe is a typical Dutch type of garden.

Apparently there are about 130 of these gardens in the Netherlands and 7 in Belgium; some are listed on the Dutch Webpage here

I will translate some of the information below as the translation is not accurate, but rather about Wildlife Gardens.

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The Salicaceae or Willow family

Pollarded willows in a very Dutch landscape!

The Willow family (number 62 in Stace)  has two of our main tree genera, namely the Poplar and the Willow. Although the flowers (as always in traditional classification) determine the ultimate genus and whether it is a Willow or Poplar, most of us can easily tell the difference from the leaves. All the Poplars have a triangular outline and a long leaf stem (petiole) whilst most of the Willows have long, narrow leaves.

When there are no leaves in winter the tree could be identified by the winter buds, where Willows just have one outer scale and the Poplar has several. However as there is much to say about the Willow, I will leave the Poplar for another blog in the future.

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Easy guide to foraging plants and their uses by Mike Poulton

Goosegrass or Cleavers in flower. Too coarse to eat at this stage. With many of the edible leaves: eat in the seedling or younger emerging stage!

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

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The Common Elder

General description:

The Elder is a member of the Caprifoliaceae or the Honeysuckle family (number 131 in Stace) and has 7 genera which are all woody shrubs, small trees or climbers.

Sambucus nigra can be a large, deciduous Shrub growing rapidly to 6 m (19ft) by 6 m (19ft) and often even taller in a sheltered or shady position. It can be grown anywhere but will flower and fruit best in sun; in shade, flowering will be limited. Naturally it spreads rapidly and in awkward places when the juicy fruits are eaten by birds.

The common Elder is an attractive shrub in all seasons for the wildlife garden and in farm hedges. The inflorescence is a broad, flat umbel-like corymb up to 25 cms. (10”) across. The creamy, white flowers, usually from June onwards, are sweetly fragrant, hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and followed by round to ovoid, purplish black, fruit after pollination by flies.

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