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. Added with several of Mike’s plants are separate links to my blog posts where you can find more info also on that plant as well as its related brother and sister species!

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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Ten ‘Popular’ weeds


Japanese Knotweed and Bindweed making a happy display on my allotment every summer!

We made a new video showing ten more common weeds, which after this post hopefully will also be more popular! Unfortunately the embedding did not work this time so please click on the link below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=777Or-msBFo

A brief description of the weeds with pictures by my partner Matt Summers, unless stated differently, follow below this introduction. Most weeds have been covered in a more detailed post in earlier posts and then mostly about their whole family for which there is a link on the start of each plant description.

Weeds are not all bad; they are just inconvenient for us human beings.

Maybe we were just going to plant another more attractive plant in that place or maybe we desperately needed that exact spot for making a new drive for all our vehicles we need to park in front of our house? Or another more common reason is to just remove it as it looks aesthetically not pleasing to our tidy eyes!

Don’t worry I can just be as bad sometimes and not have a really proper reason for removing a weed…

But this is the exact reason why I write about them and try to make us see all their known good uses they got. All their bad reasons for existence are mentioned already on many websites and this is hopefully not why you came to my site in the first place?

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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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Weeds encountered in Tropical countries

This is a one off blog about some weeds encountered in tropical countries. Most of those are exotics from tropical climates although you will be surprised that their are also temperate plants to be seen!

My blog now got a big brother in the form of a short video each week about ten popular, or not so popular weeds! Watch the video below.

The videos are created by my friend:

BrownPolar For PlantCentre ‘good is green’™

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Polygonaceae; Knotgrasses and Knotweeds: Part two!

Last week we talked about the more prominent genera and species of the Polygonaceae, this week about the other group, which has one famous non native weed: the Japanese knotweed. As we have all heard about this infamous one I would like to explore a little bit about its positive site, if there is any, and if there is anything we can do about its spread.

Japanese knotweed and native bindweed looking beautiful and innocent near my allotment boundary!
Japanese knotweed and native bindweed looking beautiful and innocent near my allotment boundary!

Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica) is a fast-growing and strong clump-forming perennial, with tall, dense annual stems. Stem growth is renewed each year from the stout, deeply-penetrating rhizomes (creeping underground stems). It is a very costly affair to have it removed see more here:

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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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