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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Common Chickweed, Winter weed or Chickenwort!

The flower close up as you don’t normally see it! Picture by Matt Summers.

Chickweed or Stellaria media is one of the weeds mentioned on the RHS site. It is a member of the Caryophyllaceae or Pink/Campion Family which is number 88 in Stace. The chickweed is middle-sized (‘media’) between its smaller and larger brethren. Its tiny flowers are star-like (‘Stella’).

I will be using a different flora than the usual Stace for this and the following blog on  members of this family, which is ‘The Wild Flower Key’ by F. Rose.  You’ll find a link later in the text.

The keys in this book are more straightforward to me. The key to the main Campion family (Caryophyllaceae) is  subdivided in 6 more keys. First, all the Pinks or Dianthus species. Then all the Campions and Catchflies (or Silene and Lychnis in their scientific name). Next the Chickweeds and Stitchworts (Stellaria spp.), which we will talk about soon. Then the Mouse-Ears (or Cerastium), the Sandworts (Arenaria & Minuartia) and finally the Pearlworts or Sagina species. Sagina procumbens is an interesting native species with a nice storey behind it.

Don’t you just love all these common names?

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