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 is 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. This post will tell more about the uses of our native members of the Rosaceae.

In Stace it is family 48, 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 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 as mentioned in Stace. 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 is a good, quick reference to the more useful wild plants for food!

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 at 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!

Ethnobotanical Gardens what are they?

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 on the next page and why I feel it is important to have one in this day and age of global warming and pandemics!

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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

  • Alnus glutinosa or Alder
  • Carpinus betulus or Hornbeam
  • Corylus avellana or Hazel

These are the 3 other genera all with only one species native on the British Isles, which are also in the Betulaceae or Betula family, like the Birch which I covered in an earlier blog-post!

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. Green background signifies all sorts of uses, blue background for wildlife and ecological uses and pink background is for medicinal use. Pictures by Matt Summers, otherwise stated.

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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 native, short, flowering plants, this time a blog on the native, 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 59 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!

A green background of the text is for all uses and pink is for medicinal uses. Blue background for ecological interest. Pictures by Matt Summers unless stated

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More unusual members of Asteraceae (part 4)

Close up from our Common Knapweed or Centaurea nigra.
The main heading of my wonderful weed blog is of Greater Knapweed or Centaurea scabiosa! See further in today’s block to learn about all the virtues of this genus.

Today I will write the last part on our native Asteraceae or ‘composites’ and daisy family in common terms. All known medicinal uses and other uses are mentioned.

On the end of this post all the links to the posts I’ve done so far about this large family!

In the last post I covered with what we see as the common daisies: yellow centred disk flowered with a ray of white florets as well as a few other composites or Asteraceae.

This time we start with plants we don’t immediately associate with the composites, but closely observed we find always the common combination of many disc florets, surrounded or not with ray florets.

Then finishing off with the other typical group of the Asteraceae which are the various ‘dandelion like’ flower members!

Most information again from the Medicinal Flora by J. Barker. The links to the scientific and common name provide also with good, general information about the plants!

There is a green background for the text if the plant is edible, ornamental or otherwise useful for wildlife, etc. Pink background is either as a warning or medicinal use. Blue background for interesting facts! To make the post more colourful I have given the plant a background of the flower colour!

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The more common natives of the Daisy family and their medicinal and other uses! (part 3)

The humble daisy! (Picture by AnRo0002 – Own work; Wikipedia)

In my last blog I introduced you to the Asteraceae or the Daisy family. The first post was all about the classification of this large family.

Today I will list some of the commonly known ones 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 uses are medicinal. Plants used as an ornamental or other uses are backed by a green colour!

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

Continue reading “The more common natives of the Daisy family and their medicinal and other uses! (part 3)”