Index of Native Plant Families

Below a table of all the Native Plant Families I hope to write about in the coming future and links on all those families already covered. This will also be displayed on one of my pages, as it gets easily lost in between my posts!

The reasons for doing my blog is also best explained in this earlier post:

My dream for an Ethnobotanical Garden.

as well as my introduction post about ‘weeds’.

Here is my page that goes through the classification of all the Vascular plants based on Clive Stace’s New Flora of the British Isles 3rd Edition. I am still in the process of updating it to the latest 4th Edition.

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The Brassica family and their useful plants; Part 2

In this post some more useful members of the Brassica or Crucifer family. It covers most of the yellow flowered ones!

Wild Cabbage at Old Harry Rocks, Dorset
Wild Cabbage growing near Old Harry Rocks in Dorset! (by Matt Summers)

Family 87: the Brassica, Crucifer or Cabbage Family, scientifically known as the Brassicaceae, has approx 52 genera according to Stace! Not all are strictly native but it is an important family for our well known vegetables such as all types of cabbages, radishes, and root vegetables such as Swedes and Turnips!

Part 1 can be found through this link!

These are the plants I covered earlier:

I use colour coding for easy reading! Blue background is general information about the plant from Online Atlas. Green is about all the uses except for medicinal uses or if there is a warning in which case I use a pink background. This time most pictures are from Wikipedia and illustrations by Köhler–s Medizinal-Pflanzen , Johann Georg Sturm (Painter: Jacob Sturm) – Figures from Deutschlands Flora in Abbildungen at http://www.biolib.de, Public Domain and others as added in links.

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Ferns and all their uses Part 2

in Part 2 we continue with the:

TRUE’ or LEPTOSPORANGIATE FERNS

Several types of ferns on a shady bank in summer
Several types of ‘True’ ferns on a shady bank in summer!

This has 16 families described in Stace, and on the next page, we continue with family 10 to the last family 21, which all grow in the British Isles in various habitats.

I use colour coding for easy reading! Blue background is general interesting info (although I hope you find it all interesting!!). Green is about all the uses except for medicinal uses or if there is a warning in which case I use a pink background. Pictures by Matt Summers unless stated.

See for Part 1 here:

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Ferns and all their Uses Part 1

This is part 1 of all those ferns and fern- allies growing on the British Isles as well as many other countries in the temperate or even tropical world!

The fiddleheads of our Royal Fern are very ornamental and can be eaten as food!

Ferns flourished before all the flowering plants came on earth and still thrive in many niche areas all over the world.

It is a large and divers group and a short account of their classification follows on the next page. For each group there may be one or two important species which have some story to tell or ethnobotanical use!

Below is a lovely short poem about the Ferns, written for the former students of and by Ian Trueman, Emeritus Professor in Plant Ecology, University of Wolverhampton many years ago.

Ferns

When the green weeds rose from the sea

We, the great-leaved plants, were the last to raise our heads.

But we soon became perfect in the horsetail forests,

When the coal was being made in sun and steam.

And there, quiet under the bristle-leaved trees

We became perfect, as you see us now.

And quiet, and secret, and everlasting

We still unfold our ancient dance

Under the proud stems of our seed-borne sons.

Links are provided from various websites for you to look into each group or plant a bit further. Such as the Online Atlas of the British and Irish Flora, where you can find out exactly where it grows in the B.I. This time I used copies of prints of ‘The Ferns of Great Britain and Ireland’ as well as pictures sourced through Wikipedia Common. Medicinal uses from ‘The Medicinal Flora of Britain and Northwestern Europe’ by Julian Barker. But please note this is an educational blog only and going out harvesting rare plants is not advisable for use as medicine and should be left to a qualified herbalist!

You can also listen to this radio play by Brett Westwood called Natural Histories: Ferns: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000b80h

I use colour coding for easy reading! Blue background is general interesting info (although I hope you find it all interesting!!). Green is about all the uses except for medicinal uses or if there is a warning in which case I use a pink background. Pictures by Matt Summers unless stated.

Continue reading “Ferns and all their Uses Part 1”

Holly and its uses

As we are nearing the Christmas season, the Holly becomes more prominent.

Holly berries abundant (Picture by Stephan Hense in Wikipedia)

Somehow I am noticing their dark, glossy green appearance more when the other trees have lost their autumnal leaves.

Its scientific name is Ilex aquifolium and it is the only native species of the genus and Family Aquifoliaceae on the British Isles.

It is special as it is one of very few native evergreen trees.

The ‘other’ holly you may come across is the hybrid Ilex × altaclerensis, which was developed at Highclere Castle in Hampshire, England, in 1835.

This is a cross between  I. aquifolium and the tender species I. perado. It, and especially the ornamental cultivars of this garden species may occasionally escape by seed into nature but certainly not as common as our native Holly.

Holly is dioecious, meaning that there are separate male and female plants.

A flowering Holly (probably male)

Read more about this interesting evergreen native and all its uses on the next page.

I use colour coding for easy reading! Blue background is general interesting info (although I hope you find it all interesting!!). Green is about all the uses except for medicinal uses or if there is a warning in which case I use a pink background. Pictures by Mike Poulton unless stated.

Most information provided with thanks from Wikipedia and other websites.

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Gardening with native plants!

A mixture of flowering grasses + native flowers will look attractive and is good for wildlife. (by M. Poulton)
  • Dare we include native plants, or weeds in our gardens and ornamental borders?
  • How can we safe time and money?
  • Native plants can be pretty and are certainly good for attracting wildlife.
  • They can live beside our more ornamental and cultivated plants: they don’t necessarily interfere or harm each other as many gardeners seem to think!

This is a start of a series of posts for busy people and for people who would like to create a more exciting, fun and nature friendly garden.

Gardening with our native plants is certainly that!

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The Rush Family and their uses

In my previous post I’ve written all about the useful Sedge family or Cyperaceae. This is a much shorter post about the closely related Rush Family or the Juncaceae.

Juncus effusus or Common Rush as seen in Sutton Park (by Mike Poulton)

In particular the genus Juncus looks very similar to Scirpus and other bulrushes in the Sedge family.

Well; ‘all the proof is in the flower’ of course but you have to look close-up in order to see that as from a distance they will look similar!

Two beautiful illustrated websites are by Lizzie Harper and also see Wayne’s Word about Flower Terminology. A good flora is always helpful of course and you can find a recommended book list and links in my previous post on Cyperaceae. A website I often use, if you are regularly following my blog, is the Leicestershire and Rutland based Naturespot. This is a most useful, descriptive and active site showing many good photographs!

This family only has 2 genera: Juncus or Rushes and Luzula or Wood-rushes.

As I did in previous post I will just list the most common species in the B.I. on the next page. This can be found through the distribution maps in the back of Collins pocket guide in Grasses, Sedges, Rushes & Ferns of Britain and Northern Europe .

These maps are a useful feature as most plants used by us in one form or the other would be the common species anyway!

Rare species are not going to be used as food, medicine or building materials. Although saying this: they would have probably been collected and used as an ornamental plant by the Victorians, who loved unusual varieties such as can be found in the ferns for example.

But in the present day collecting of wild plants is a taboo! And of course which were common wild flowers then could now be very rare!

I will also be using my own Flora of Birmingham and the Black Country from now on for all my future posts as this is my local or area and why didn’t I think of this before?

I use colour coding for easy reading! Blue background is general interesting info (although I hope you find it all interesting!!). Green is about all the uses except for medicinal uses or if there is a warning in which case I use a pink background. Pictures with gratitude by Mike Poulton unless stated.

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The Common Club-rush in the Sedge family and all their uses!

The Common Club-rush where we harvested a few days before!

Today I am inspired to write about the members of the large Sedge and Rush family or Cyperaceae. I recently helped my friend Sally harvesting many stems of the Common Club-rush or Schoenoplectus lacustris in order for her to make many beautiful items after they have dried in about 6 weeks time!

This is an important native plant which can be used to weave mats, baskets or any other implements as you can find out more on the next page and it even got edible and medicinal uses!

It is one of those plants which could feature in a real Ethnobotanical Garden instead of this virtual one to demonstrate all its uses it had in the past but could certainly be again in the future! Below some of the pictures taken by my friend on our recent adventure harvesting the Common Club-rush.

Most information is from specialist websites for which I provide the links for you to find more information and pictures of the plants. I use colour coding for easy reading! Blue background is general interesting info (although I hope you find it all interesting!!). Green is about all the uses except for medicinal uses or if there is a warning in which case I use a pink background. Pictures by Matt Summers or Mike Poulton unless stated.

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Papaveraceae and the other genera besides Poppy (Papaver)

Pseudofumaria lutea or Yellow Corydalis grown inside a wall (Picture by Mike Poulton)

The post in November 2018 explained all about the uses and stories behind the genus Papaver which includes the Common Poppy, Welsh Poppy and Opium Poppy.

To remind ourselves:

The Poppy family or Papaveraceae has 12 genera and is split into 2 Sub-families;

  • the Papaveroideae with 7 genera which includes Papaver.
  • and the Fumarioideae with 5 genera.

The Papaveroideae has 2 sepals, 4(-6) showy petals, and white or yellow latex.

The distinctive flowers of subfamily Fumarioideae are unique, but the two subfamilies are linked by intermediates (Stace).

Colour coding for easy reading is blue for general interest. Green for various uses of the plant and pink background for medicinal use or toxic warning!

This is just an educational blog on Ethnobotanical uses of plants and we can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects! Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

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Dandelion; a useful weed!

Today, a plant who most of us know very well:

A Bumblebee feeding happily on a dandelion!

The Dandelion

Most of us love and/or hate the dandelion. Their en mass-flowering period is relatively short although it will carry on sending new flowers throughout the year. This post was my first plant about a member of the Asteraceae family back in July 2018!

It is probably the most useful native member so this is why it needs an entire post!

The following posts are all about the Asteraceae or Compositae as they used to be called:

  1. Asteraceae (part 1)
  2. About the Common Ragwort or Jacobaea vulgaris
  3. More science behind the Asteraceae! (part 2)
  4. the more common Asteraceae and their uses (part 3)
  5. the less common members (part 4)
Continue reading “Dandelion; a useful weed!”