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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Asteraceae part 2 and the usefulness to us!

The post on Asteraceae of 8th June this year went through the entire classification and might have been a little tedious for you?

However, I do hope you find it fascinating like myself how classification does make sense, especially in large families such as the Composites. It neatly groups similar looking plants together and when these plants ‘look similar’ they most likely also have the same properties and uses. This week we come to the part important for us as people. Of course weeds or native plants as I like to call them, are ALWAYS useful in any habitat situation, soil and indeed for other living creatures apart from ourselves.

When we pull out the dandelion or ragwort we are taking away a valuable food source for multiples of creatures. Is it really worth that?

In the following few blogs about this family I once again will copy a lot of interesting information from‘The Medicinal Flora of Britain and Northwestern Europe’ by J. Barker. It is just too good for information not to note down. Please get a copy for yourself as you won’t regret it! As Medicine is a science like Botany or Horticulture it also has a lot of specialist scientific wording which is difficult to understand, even for myself! I will therefore include many links for the Actions and Uses of the plants mentioned this time for you to research this further. Many interesting facts of these plants can also be found following the links within the plant names.

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Bagnall’s Herbarium at Birmingham Botanical Collections

An example of Herbarium book with Japanese plants, Siebold collection Leiden, 1825
By P. F. Siebold – Sieboldcollectie Naturalis, Public Domain and thanks to Wikipedia

Hello dear Readers!

The Tuesdays of last few month I’ve been busy with research in Birmingham’s Museum Warehouses. I’ve been looking at the vast amount of dried specimen plants of one of the 6 or so Herbariums they have stored in there.

Why I wanted to research Bagnall’s Herbarium in particular was because of the many local native plants he collected as well as the many plants from Sutton Park. This is a national important nature reserve and SSSI. More about this later!

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Wonderful Weeds Weekly about: Weeds and Lawns

I found the information below interesting as many of my customers find weeds in their lawn unbearable.

They like a weed and moss-free, stripy cut lawn.

But to create this is a very high input and costly affair as it will need lots of maintenance with feed + weed-killers and watering in dry years!

Is this all worth it?

Maybe there is a market for a stripy astro turf!

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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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LOVE YOUR WEEDS!

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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Common Ragwort or Jacobaea vulgaris

The Common Ragwort is easily recognisable as a tall yellow daisy!

In my previous post all about the classification of the Asteraceae I mentioned Ragwort which was genus 74 (Senecio) with 21 species but has now been split of spp 1-5 into the genus Jacobaea.

The family is highly evolved to many insects and supports a rich ecosystem. I found out for example that the Ragwort supports a huge amount of biodiversity!

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Asteraceae part 1

Yarrow and Ragwort are 2 different members of the large ‘Aster’ family – All images are with thanks from Matt Summers

Today and in several future blogs I will be talking about members of the Asteraceae. This was called the Compositae for a very long time, which I think is a lot more descriptive about this largest dicotyledon family on Earth!

There is a lot to say about this family as you can imagine!

Continue reading “Asteraceae part 1”

Cleavers, Sticky Willie or Goosegrass and some more of the Rubiaceae

Close up showing the hooked hairs along the stem and leaves which it uses to attach itself.
All pictures by Matt Summers

This week all about this fascinating plant known as Cleavers, Goosegrass or even; Sticky Willie! It can be annoying in gardens but there is one very good use I saw in a ‘permacultural run garden’ which used the plants rather as a disguise for the maturing fruits on Gooseberry, as well as other soft-fruit bushes.  Once the fruits were ripe and ready to pick the entire clinging plant would be ‘peeled’ back and most of the fruit  picked. Any leftovers were for the birds! Much friendlier than netting I thought and it is something I would like to experiment with this year!

This plant is in the Rubiaceae family which is number 104 in Stace. The Rubiaceae is a very large, mainly tropical family and is mostly woody in that climate, whilst in this part of the world they are mainly annual to perennial herbs.

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