The Dogwood Family or Cornaceae and their uses!

Attractive combination of stems: Cornus alba in front of Silver Birch in Walsall Arboretum Extension (by M. S.)

After finishing my last post I’ve decided to pick a rather good looking family in the winter time and that is the Dogwood Family or Cornaceae.

It however consists of only one genus and has only two native species, the other three have been introduced .

Several of the species are eye catching with their coloured stems and one Cornus is also flowering at this time of the year! Recently I’ve stayed with my friend near Arezzo, Tuscany, in Italy where many grow in the wild!

Pictures by Matt Summers (M.S.) and various contributers of Wikipedia Commons. FBBC added behind the Common name if the plant occurs in Birmingham and Black Country area.


Cornus sanguinea or Dogwood FBBC and – Ssp. sanguinea – Ssp. australis

C. sericea or Red-Osier Dogwood FBBC

C. alba or White Dogwood FBBC

C. mas or Cornelian Cherry

C. suecica or Dwarf Cornel

Continue reading “The Dogwood Family or Cornaceae and their uses!”

The Broomrape family or Orobanchaceae

Orobanche minor or Common Broomrape, parasitic on White Clover here (picture by M. Poulton)

The Orobanchaceae or Broomrape family, has been seperated from the former Scrophulariaceae as it was:

‘a long-expressed opinion that these semi-parasitic Scrophulariaceae (tribe Pedicularieae) should be placed with the totally parasitic Orobanchaceae, which was confirmed by molecular studies’ (in Stace).

In former posts I’ve covered the Veronicaceae as well as Plantaginaceae which also split from the once much larger Scrophulariaceae family.

These are fascinating plants and in this post I hope to find out about all their uses to men as well as for wildlife and their interacting hosts.

Click links in the contents for more info and pictures from various websites. The scientific name usually has a link from the Online Atlas of the British Isles and Irish Flora. The common name mostly has a UK link or Wikipedia.

Background colours are meant for easier reading. A pink background means a warning (such as poisonous!) or medicinal use, green for edible, ornamental or other uses and blue for habitat where it can be found in B.I. , and just for interesting facts or wildlife use.

If the plants are found in the Flora of Birmingham and the Black Country a FBBC will be added behind the Common name in the contents page below.

Pictures with thanks by Matt Summers (M. S.), Mike Poulton (M. P.) of Ecorecord and Wikipedia Commons.

Their are now 10 genera in the Orobanchaceae or Broomrape family, described in Stace:


Melampyrum spp or Cow-wheat

  • M. cristatum or Crested Cow-wheat
  • M. arvense or Field Cow-wheat
  • M. pratense or Common Cow-wheat with 2 ssp.: – ssp. pratense FBBC and – ssp. commutatum
  • M. sylvaticum or Small Cow-wheat

Euphrasia spp or Eyebrights

This is a complex genus with many species as well as hybrids! Stace divides them in 3 groups to make them easier to identify. Most species listed below have a narrow range where they grow.

Group 1: Subsection Euphrasia

  • E. officinalis sensu lato or Common Eyebright FBBC
  • E. rivularis or Cumbrian Eyebright
  • E. vigursii or Cornish Eyebright

Group 2: Subsection Euphrasia

  • E. arctica or Arctic Eyebright
  • E. tetraquetra or Western Eyebright
  • E. nemerosa or Common Eyebright FBBC
  • E. pseudokerneri or Chalk Eyebright
  • E. confusa or Confused Eyebright
  • E. frigida or Upland Eyebright
  • E. foulaensis or Foula Eyebright
  • E. cambrica or Welsh Eyebright
  • E. ostenfeldii or Ostenfeld’s Eyebright
  • E. marshallii or Marshall’s Eyebright
  • E. rotundifolia or Pugley’s Eyebright
  • E. campbelliae or Campbell’s Eyebright
  • E. micrantha or Slender Eyebright
  • E. scottica or Scottish Eyebright
  • E. heslop-harrisonii or Heslop-Harrison’s Eyebright

Group 3: Subsection Angustifoliae

  • E. salisburgensis or Irish Eyebright
  • E. septentrionalis

Odontitis vernus or Red Bartsia FBBC

  • O. vernus ssp. vernus
  • O. vernus ssp. serotinus
  • O. vernus ssp. litoralis

O. jaubertianus or French Bartsia

Bartsia alpina or Alpine Bartsia

Parentucellia viscosa or Yellow Bartsia FBBC

Rhinanthus minor or Yellow-rattle FBBC

  • R. minor ssp. minor
  • R. minor ssp.stenophyllus
  • R. minor ssp. monticola
  • R. minor ssp. calcareus
  • R. minor ssp. lintonii
  • R. minor ssp. borealis

R. angustifolia or Greater Yellow-rattle

Pedicularis palustris or Marsh Lousewort FBBC

P. sylvatica or Lousewort FBBC

  • P. sylvatica ssp. sylvatica
  • P. sylvatica ssp. hibernica

Lathraea squamaria or Toothwort FBBC

L. clandestina or Purple Toothwort

Orobanche sps. or Broomrapes

  • O. rapum-genistae or Greater Broomrape
  • O. caryophyllaceae or Bedstraw Broomrape
  • O. elatior or Knapweed Broomrape
  • O. alba or Thyme Broomrape
  • O. reticulata ssp. pallidiflora
  • O. crenata or Bean Broomrape
  • O. hederae or Ivy Broomrape
  • O. picridis or Oxtongue Broomrape
  • O. minor or Common Broomrape with 2 ssp: FBBC
  • O. minor ssp. minor and
  • O. minor ssp. maritima

Phelipanche ramosa (syn. Orobanche ramosa)

P. purpurea or Yarrow Broomrape

Continue reading “The Broomrape family or Orobanchaceae”

The Veronicaceae or Speedwell family

Veronica persica or Common Field-speedwell (picture by Matt Summers)

The Veronicaceae or Speedwell family used to be part of the Scrophulariaceae as you can find out in the last post.

In Stace we can find that the Veronicaceae is now a family with 11 genera of which 4 genera are individually very distinctive.

Some authorities, however, including R.B.G. Kew, the R.H.S., Wikipedia, etc have most of these genera in the Plantaginaceae.

The Plantaginaceae is a much shorter family in Stace, which you can read about in an earlier post.

I am using various good websites for you to find out more on each individual plant. The links on the scientific mames are usually from the Online Atlas of the British and Irish Flora, the links on the common names are from Wikipedia or preferably a U.K. website.

Pictures, with gratitude are again by Mike Poulton (M.P.), Rudi Pilsel (R.P.), Matt Summers (M.S.) and Wikipedia Commons.

FBBC is added behind the plant names in the contents below, when the plants occur in the Flora of Birmingham and the Black Country.

Comparing some of the members in the Veronicaceae as seen in the Concise British Flora in Colour by W. Keble Martin:

Plate 63 ( part 1 Veronicaceae) in The Concise British Flora in Colour by W.Keble Martin & below
Plate 64 ( part 2 Veronicaceae) in The Concise British Flora in Colour by W.Keble Martin


Digitalis purpurea or Foxglove FBBC

D. lutea or Straw Foxglove (Neophyte)

Erinus alpinus or Fairy Foxglove (Neophyte) FBBC

Veronica ssp or Speedwells

This large genus with 33 species described in Stace is divided in ten subgenera:

Subgenus 1: Veronica

  • V. officinalis or Heath Speedwell FBBC
  • V. alpina or Alpine Speedwell
  • V. montana or Wood Speedwell FBBC
  • V. scutellata or Marsh Speedwell FBBC

Subgenus 2: Beccabunga

  • V. beccabunga or Brooklime FBBC
  • V. anagallis-aquatica or Blue Water-speedwell FBBC?
  • V. x lackschewitzii or Hybrid Water-speedwell
  • V. catenata or Pink Water-speedwell FBBC
  • V. acinifolia or French Speedwell (Neophyte)
  • V. peregrina or American Speedwell (Neophyte)
  • V. serpyllifolia or Thyme-leaved Speedwell + 3 subspecies FBBC (subsp. serpyllifolia)
  • V. repens or Corsican Speedwell (Neophyte)

Subgenus 3: Pseudolysimachium

  • V. longifolia or Garden Speedwell (Neophyte) FBBC
  • V. spicata or Spiked Speedwell FBBC

Subgenus 4: Cochlidiosperma

  • V. hederifolia or Ivy-leaved Speedwell + 2 subspecies FBBC
  • V. crista-gallii or Crested Field-speedwell (Neophyte) FBBC

Subgenus 5: Pellidosperma

  • V. praecox or Breckland Speedwell (Neophyte)
  • V. triphyllos or Fingered Speedwell (Archaeophyte)

Subgenus 6: Stenocarpon

  • V. fruticans or Rock Speedwell

Subgenus 7: Pocilla

  • V. filiformis or Slender Speedwell (Neophyte) FBBC
  • V. agrestis or Green Field-speedwell (Archaeophte) FBBC
  • V. polita or Grey Field-speedwell FBBC
  • V. persica or Common Field-speedwell (Neophyte) FBBC

Subgenus 8: Pentasepalae

  • V. teucrium or Large Speedwell (Neophyte)

Subgenus 9: Chamaedrys

  • V. chamaedrys or Germander Speedwell FBBC
  • V. arvensis or Wall Speedwell FBBC
  • V. verna or Spring Speedwell

Subgenus 10: Pseudoveronica formerly known as Hebe (Neophytes)

  • V. salicifolia or Koromiko FBBC
  • V. x lewisii or Lewis’s Hebe
  • V. x franciscana or Hedge Veronica
  • V. brachysiphon or Hooker’s Hebe FBBC
  • V. dieffenbachii or Dieffenbach’s Hebe FBBC
  • V. barkeri or Barker’s Hebe

Sibthorpia europaea or Cornish Moneywort

Antirrhinum majus or Snapdragon (Neophyte) FBBC

Chaenorhinum origanifolium or Malling Toadflax (Neophyte)

  • C. minus or Small Toadflax (Archaeophyte) FBBC

Misopates orontium or Weasel’s-snout (Archaeophyte) FBBC

  • M. calycinum or Pale Weasel’s-snout (Neophyte)

Asarina procumbens or Trailing Snapdragon (Neophyte)

Cymbalaria muralis or Ivy-leaved Toadflax + 2 subspecies (Neophyte) FBBC

  • C. pallida or Italian Toadflax (Neophyte) FBBC
  • C. herpaticifolia or Corsican Toadflax (Neophyte)

Kickxia elatina or Sharp-leaved Fluellen (Archaeophyte)

  • K. spuria or Round-leaved Fluellen (Archaeophyte)

Linaria spp or Toadflaxes

  • Linaria vulgaris or Common Toadflax FBBC
  • L. x sepium (L. vulgaris x L. repens) FBBC
  • L. dalmatica or Balkan Toadflax (Neophyte)
  • L. purpurea or Purple Toadflax (Neophyte) FBBC
  • L. x dominii (L. purpurea x L. repens) FBBC
  • L. repens or Pale Toadflax (Archaeophyte) FBBC
  • L. supina or Prostrate Toadflax
  • L. arenaria or Sand Toadflax (Neophyte)
  • L. pelisseriana or Jersey Toadflax
  • L. maroccana or Annual Toadflax (Neophyte) FBBC
Continue reading “The Veronicaceae or Speedwell family”

The Figwort Family or Scrophulariaceae and their Uses.

The Figworts or Scrophulariacea is a family wich has many introduced ornamental plants, through planting in the garden. It used to be much larger but has been split since the new molecular system of classification (APG III) came into place.

Water Figwort or Scrophularia auriculata (by M.S.)

The name Figwort is only just represented by the genus Scrophularia in the B.I..

The individual genera of Scrophulariaceae are all unique in their general appearance. The uses are mainly for wildlife and garden plants, but the Figworts and Mulleins also have medicinal uses which you can read up about on the next page.

It has been split into four additional families:

  • Paulowniaceae,
  • Phyrtmaceae,
  • Calceolariaceae and last
  • Veronicaceae.

Other changes are:

  • The semi-parasitic Pedicularieae has been moved to the Orobanchaceae family.
  • The Buddlejaceae are now amalgamated with the Scrophulariaceae.

Hopefully more about those families in future blogs.

More info and pictures can be found through the links provided. The pictures used in this post are by Mike Poulton (M.P.) of Ecorecord and Rudi Pilsel (R.P.), Derrick Forster, Matt Summers (M.S.) as well as from Wikipedia Common.

If the plants are found in the Flora of Birmingham and the Black Country a FBBC will be added behind the Common name in the contents page below.


Verbascum or Mulleins

  • V. blattaria or Moth Mullein FBBC

V. virgatum or Twiggy Mullein FBBC

  • V. phoeniceum or Purple Mullein (Introduced & Naturalized)
  • V. pyramidatum or Caucasian Mullein
  • V. bombyciferum or Broussa Mullein FBBC
  • V. phlomoides or Orange Mullein FBBC
  • V. densiflorum or Dense-flowered Mullein FBBC

V. thapsus or Great Mullein FBBC

  • V. chaixii or Nettle-leaved Mullein

V. nigrum or Dark Mullein FBBC

  • V. speciosum or Hungarian Mullein (probably the finest species according to Stace)) FBBC

V. pulverulentum or Hoary Mullein FBBC

V. lychnitis or White Mullein FBBC

Scrophularia or Figworts

4 native and 3 Introduced & Naturalized species

S. nodosa or Common Figwort FBBC

S. auriculata or Water Figwort FBBC

S. umbrosa or Green Figwort

S. scorodonia or Balm-leaved Figwort

  • S. scopolii or Italian Figwort
  • S. vernalis or Yellow Figwort FBBC
  • S. peregrina or Mediterranean Figwort

Phygelius capensis or Cape Figwort FBBC

Chaenostoma cordatum (syn. Sutera cordata) or Bacopa FBBC

Nemesia strumosa or Cape Jewels FBBC

Limosella aquatica or Mudwort FBBC

L. australis or Welsh Mudwort

Buddleja or Butterfly-bushes

  • B. davidii or Butterfly-bush FBBC
  • B. alternifolia or Alternate-leaved Butterfly-bush FBBC
  • B. x weyerana or Weyer’s Butterfly-bush FBBC
  • B. globosa or Orange-ball-tree FBBC

Diascia barbarae or Twinspur FBBC

Continue reading “The Figwort Family or Scrophulariaceae and their Uses.”

The Valerian Family and its uses in the B. I.

The Valerian Family is again a small plant family in the B.I. and I choose to do this as it comes before the family of last week which was the Teasel Family.

The best known is probably the Common Valerian although perhaps the Red Valerian is now a lot more common, especially here in the Midlands!

Centranthus ruber or Red Valerian on pavement along A458 Halesowen Rd (by M.P.)

More info can be found through the links provided from online websites and the pictures are by Mike Poulton (M.P.) and Ian Trueman (I.C.T.) of Ecorecord and Wikipedia Common.

If the plants are in the Flora of Birmingham and the Black Country a FBBC will be added behind the Common name of the plant in the main contents.

Plate 43 of Valereniaceae and Dipsacaceae families from
The Concise British Flora in Colour by W. Keble Martin

Above also the other half a page of Plate 43 in the Concise British Flora in Colour, showing mainly some members of the Valerian family. In the last post the Teasel family half was shown. The Common Teasel is also mixed in the picture above. This book was aquired by myself for the Kew Diploma Course in 1986 as one of the reference books to get! Still a beautifully illustrated book with 1486 species illustrated in 100 plates of all the flowering plant families of the B. I. The work was completed by W. Keble Martin in 60 years and first published in 1965.


The Valerian family only has 3 genera:


Plants of the World Online accepts over 420 species and hybrids. In the B.I. 4 species can be found but 2 are true natives.


There are about twelve species in the genus but we know only C. ruber, which in non native.

and Valerianella

73 species are listed in Wikipedia but in the B.I. we know of 5 species; 2 native and 3 are Archaeophyte. Ripe fruits are essential for determination of the correct species.(Stace)

Continue reading “The Valerian Family and its uses in the B. I.”

The Teasel family and their Uses in the B.I.

The best know Teasel is Wild Teasel or Dipsacus fullonum (by Matt Summers)
Most of the other native members of the Dipsacaceae or Teasel Family (From The Concise British Flora in Colour, Plate 43, by W. Keble Martin, 4th Edition 1978, designed and produced by George Rainbird Ltd.)

The Teasel family or Dipsacaceae came to my attention again now we are nearing Christmas time and I am hunting around for attractive seedheads to utilize in the yearly Christmas wreaths we are making.

There are many proud stems left in our Bee Garden at my allotment but I had to remove several which were dropping accross the pathways, which won’t go to waste!

I learned from Stace that this family has now moved to be family 140, situated in between the Valerianaceae before and the Griseliniaceae & Pittosporaceae after. These last two are both non-native families, originating from New Zealand. The next family is the Araliaceae or Ivy family, which is very familiar and a post about ivy and its uses can be found here.

More info can be found through links provided from online websites and pictures are by partner Matt Summers (M.S.), Mike Poulton of Ecorecord (M.P.) as well as from Wikipedia Common.

Above also this time half a page of Plate 43 in the Concise British Flora in Colour. This book was aquired by myself for the Kew Diploma Course in 1986 as one of the reference books to get. Still a beautifully illustrated book with 1486 species illustrated in 100 plates of all the flowering plant families of the B. I. The work was completed by W. Keble Martin in 60 years and first published in 1965.

The Teasel family only has 5 genera with few species on the B.I.. Most of the plants below are also found in the Birmingham and Black Country:


Dipsacus spp. or Teasels

Cephalaria gigantia or Giant Scabious

Knautia arvensis or Field Scabious

Succisa pratensis or Devil’s-bit Scabious

Scabiosa spp. or Scabiouses

Continue reading “The Teasel family and their Uses in the B.I.”

The Heather Family or Ericaceae

Calluna vulgaris or Common Heather/Ling in Sutton Park (Picture by M. P.)

This time of the year, late summer or early autumn, the Heather family or Ericaceae, come to their own!

Many heathlands and mountain sides are painted purple with Calluna vulgaris or Common Heather or Ling as it is also known by.

Vaccinium myrtillus or Bilberry (by Hajotthu in Wikipedia)

The Vaccinium myrtillus or Bilberry put on their orange and red coats. Not many people know that this family is also very ornamental in Autumn!

According to The Wild Flower Key they are “shrubs (and rarely trees) with simple , usually narrow leathery, mostly evergreen leaves without stipules. Petals are joined into a tube and the fruit is a berry or capsule.

Attractive , distinctive family, mainly low shrubs of acid soils.”

In Stace it is family number 108 and is placed in between two exotic families: the insectiverous Sarraceniaceae or Pitcherplant family and the Garryaceae or Spotted-laurel family.

Stace describes 17 different genera, 5 of which are non-native and introduced as ornamental in the Victorian era or later. All will be listed below in the contents and more fully described on the next page with their known ethnobotanical or wildlife uses.

  • A link on the Scientific Name is usually information of the Online Atlas of the British and Irish Flora and the information of ecology of that plant in the B.I. also comes from that website. The link on the Common Name is often from Wikipedia or another good website in the U.K.
  • When described in the Flora of Birmingham & Black Country FBBC is added next to the plant in the contents below.
  • Most of the ethnobotanical uses are of Wikipedia or PFAFwith links provided.
  • Picture credits by Mike Poulton (M.P.), Matt Summers (M.S.) or from Wikipedia Commons.


Arbutus unedo or Strawberry-tree

Arctostaphylos or Bearberries

Empetrum nigrum or Crowberry FBBC

Rhododendron or Rhododendrons

R. ponticum and R. luteum or Yellow Azalea FBBC

Phyllodoce or Blue Heath

Kalmia or Sheep-laurels

Daboecia cantabrica or St Dabeoc’s Heath

Calluna vulgaris or Heather FBBC

Erica spp. or Heaths FBBC

Andromeda polifolia of Bog-rosemary

Leucothoe fontanesiana or Dog-hubble

Gaultheria spp or Shallons

Vaccinium spp. or Bilberries, Blueberries, Cowberry, etc. FBBC

Pyrola spp. or Wintergreens

Orthilia secunda or Serrated Wintergreen

Moneses uniflora or One-flowered Wintergreen

Monotropa hypopitys or Hypopitys monotropa or Yellow Bird’s-nest FBBC

Continue reading “The Heather Family or Ericaceae”

Orchids in the British Isles

Orchis purpurea or Lady Orchid growing at Southerscales Nature Reserve, Ingleborough (by Mike Poulton)

This is a very posh family which we will explore in this post!

As far as I know it has little ethnobotanical uses but we all admire the members of this huge worldwide family!

In Wikipedia I found that:

“Along with the Asteraceae, they are one of the two largest families of flowering plants. The Orchidaceae have about 28,000 currently accepted species, distributed in about 763 genera worldwide.”

Stace mentions 22 straight genera growing in the British Isles. There are also many intergeneric crosses, which makes the classification a lot more complicated. Some genera only have a limited number of species, whilst Dactylorhiza (Marsh orchid), Epipactis (Helleborine) and Orchis (Orchids) have many species.

There are 15 entries in our Flora of Birmingham and the Black Country although some are old records and have not been seen in recent years. These entries will be indicated by FBBC after the name in the contents page.

If you are interested in native orchids you can also have a look at the website of The Hardy Orchid society, who share an interest in the wild, native orchids of Britain and the rest of Europe, as well as those from similar temperate climates throughout the world.

The Scientific name in the post will have a link of the ‘Online Atlas of the British and Irish Flora’ from which I copy the Ecology/habitat in the B.I. You will be able to find out the frequency it occurs on the British Isles with the map.

The common name usually has a link of Wikipedia or another link of a U.K. site. I’ve used the excellent website First Nature on several occasions. This also has a useful Wild Orchids of Britain and Ireland Gallery.

The info about wildlife associated is mainly from Wikipedia.

Most orchids require a mycorrhizal symbiosis to germinate successfully and remains partially dependent upon the fungus in order to access soil nutrients. This information can also be found in the Wikipedia link and I will omit this in order to keep the information concise.

Pictures are mainly thanks to Mike Poulton (M.P.), Andrew Bennett (A.B.), Matt Summers (M.S) and from various people on Wikipedia.


In Stace it is family 164 after the Liliaceae and before the Iridaceae. The family is split into 7 tribes which you can find in the contents below and please use the jump link to find more info on the next page!


Cyprepedium calceolus or Lady’s-slipper


  • Cephalanthera damasonianum or White Helleborine
  • C. longifolia or Narrow-leaved Helleborine
  • C. rubra or Red Helleborine
Epipactis spp or Helleborines (8 species and several hybrids in Stace):
  • Epipactis helleborine or Broad-leaved Helleborine (FBBC)
  • E. atrorubens or Dark-red Helleborine
  • E. purpurata or Violet Helleborine (FBBC)
  • E. muelleri var muelleri or Narrow-lipped Helleborine
  • E. phyllanthes or Green-flowered Helleborine (FBBC)
  • E. palustris or Marsh Helleborine
Neottia spp or Twayblades (3 species in Stace)
  • N. ovata or Common Twayblade (FBBC)
  • N. cordata or Lesser Twayblade
  • N. nidus-avis or Bird’s-nest Orchid


Epipogium aphyllum or Ghost Orchid


Liparis loeseli or Fen Orchid

Hammarbya paludosa or Bog Orchid


Corallorhiza trifida or Coralroot Orchid


Spiranthes spp. (3 spp in Stace)

Spiranthes spiralis or Autumn Lady’s-tresses

S. romanzoffiana or Irish Lady’s-tresses

Goodyera repens or Creeping Lady’s-tresses


This is the most common tribe in the BI with 11 genera mentioned in Stace. It is also complex with many intergeneric crosses.

Hermenium monorchis or Musk Orchid
Plathanthera spp or Butterfly-Orchids
  • P. chlorantha or Greater Butterfly-orchid
  • P. bifolia or Lesser Butterfly-orchid
Pseudoorchis albida or Small-white orchid
Gymnadenia spp or Fragrant orchids
  • G. conopsea or Fragrant Orchid (FBBC)
  • G. densiflora or March Fragrant Orchid
Coeloglossum viride or Frog Orchid
Dactylorhiza or Marsh-orchids(Stace mentions 8 spp as well as many ssp & hybrids!)
  • D. fuchsii or Common Spotted-orchid (FBBC)
  • D. x grandis (D. fuchsii x D. praetermissa) (FBBC)
  • D. maculata or Heath Spotted-orchid (FBBC)
  • D. praetermissa or Southern Marsh-orchid (FBBC)
  • D. incarnata or Early Marsh-orchid (FBBC)
  • D. purpurella or Northern Marsh-orchid (FBBC)
  • D. traunsteinerii or Narrow-leaved Marsh-orchid
  • D. majalis or Western (Broad-leaved) Marsh-orchid
Orchis spp or orchids
  • O. mascula or Early-purple Orchid (FBBC)
  • O. purpurea or Lady Orchid
  • O. simia or Monkey Orchid
  • O. militaris or Military Orchid
  • O. ustulata or Burnt Orchid
  • O. anthropophora (Syn. Aceras anthropophorum) or Man Orchid
Neotinea maculata or dense-flowered orchids
Anacamptis pyramidalis or Pyramidal orchid (FBBC)

Anacamptis moria (syn. O. moria) or Green-winged Orchid (FBBC)

himantoglossum hircinum or lizard orchid
Serapias parviflora or Lesser tongue-orchid
Ophrys spp or bee orchids
  • O. apifera or Bee Orchid (FBBC)
  • O. fuciflora or Late Spider-orchid
  • O. insectifera or Fly Orchid (FBBC)
  • O. speghodes or EarlySpider-orchid
  • O. tenthredinifera or Sawfly-orchid

  • O. insectifera x O. apifera = O. x nietzsche.

Continue reading “Orchids in the British Isles”

The Crassulaceae or Stonecrop family and its uses

A carpet of the alien New Zealand Pigmyweed or Crassula helmsii, which is swamping out everything at Clayhanger near Walsall. (Picture by Mike Poulton)

The Crassulaceae or Stonecrop family looks ornamental most of the year because of its rounded, succulent and evergreen foliage. However, the flowers give it an extra attraction!

I always associated this family with drought loving plants but I learned it has several moisture loving members too!

The flowers are providing food as well as shelter for many types of insects.

Several of the genera and species mentioned in Stace are in fact ornamental garden plants and have ‘escaped’ into the wild as often happens! At least one species of Crassula is now a serious weed, originally introduced as an aquatic ornamental for ponds.

Thanks for pictures donated by Mike Poulton of Ecorecord as well as from Wikipedia Commons. If there is no picture, you will see what it looks like by pressing the link below the (common) Name. Also pictures in the Gallery of the Plant Atlas Online, which you can find pressing the link on the Scientific Name.

Any Crassulaceaes found in the Flora of Birmingham & Black Country will have FBBC next to the plant in the contents below.

A blue background tells you about the habitat where it can be found in B.I. as well as for interesting facts or wildlife use! A pink background means a warning (such as poisonous!) or medicinal use, green for edible, ornamental or other uses.


Crassula or Pigmyweeds:
C. tillaea or Mossy Stonecrop
C. aquatica or Pigmyweed
C. helmsii or New Zealand Pigmyweed FBBC
C. decumbens or Scilly Pigmyweed
C. pubescens or Jersey Pigmyweed
Umbilicus rupestris or Navelwort
Sempervivum spp or House-leeks
Sempervivum tectorum or House-leek FBBC
S. arachnoideum or Cobweb House-leek
Aeonium cuneatum or Aeonium
Aeonium arboreum ‘Atropurpureum’ or Dark Purple Houseleek Tree
Rhodiola, Hylotelephium, Sedum spp., Petrosedum, more Sedum spp. and Phedimus or Stonecrops:
Rhodiola rosea ( syn. Sedum rosea) or Roseroot FBBC
Hylotelephium spectabile or Butterfly Stonecrop FBBC
Hylotelephium telephium or Orpine FBBC
Sedum acre or Biting Stonecrop FBBC
S. album or White Stonecrop FBBC
S. anglicum or English Stonecrop
S. villosum or Hairy Stonecrop
S. praealtum or Greater Mexican-stonecrop FBBC
Petrosedum forsterianum or Rock Stonecrop FBBC
P. rupestre or Reflexed Stonecrop FBBC
P. sediforme or Pale Stonecrop
Sedum dasyphyllum or Thick-leaved Stonecrop
  • S. anacampseros or Love-restoring Stonecrop
  • S. hispanicum or Spanish Stonecrop
  • S. kimnachii or Lesser Mexican-stonecrop
  • S. lydium or Least Stonecrop
  • S. spathulifolium or Colorado Stonecrop FBBC
  • S. sexangulare or Tasteless Stonecrop FBBC
Phedimus stellatus or Starry Stonecrop
P. kamtschaticum or Kamchatka Stonecrop FBBC
P. spurius or Caucasian-stonecrop FBBC
P. stoloniferus or Lesser Caucasian Stonecrop
Continue reading “The Crassulaceae or Stonecrop family and its uses”

Uses of the Amaranthaceae or Goosefoot family

Amaranthaceae is a family of flowering plants commonly known as the amaranth family, in reference to its type genus Amaranthus. It now includes the former goosefoot family Chenopodiaceae and contains about 165 genera and 2,040 species in the world!

‘Good-King Henry’ or Chenopodium bonus-henricus growing at Portway Hill. This is an old perennial crop and can be grown as an alternative to spinach. (picture by Mike Poulton)

It is not an obviously attractive family but as always when you delve further in all those families there are some fascinating members!

In Stace, 12 genera are described of which many are introduced by accident through wool, soya bean waste, as birdseed and other sources.

The less common, introduced genera + species will briefly be mentioned on the next page as well as our more common, native species.

Click links of the plants in the contents below for more info and pictures from various websites. Scientific/Latin Name usually has a link from the Online Atlas of the British Isles and Irish Flora. Pink background means a warning (such as poisonous!) or medicinal use, green for edible, ornamental or other uses and blue for habitat where it can be found in B.I. , for interesting facts or for wildlife use. Pictures from Wikipedia or Mike Poulton and edited information mainly from PFAF and Wikipedia.


Dysphania spp or Goosefoots

Dysphania botrys or Jerusalem oak goosefoot
D. ambrosioides or Jesuit’s tea

Chenopodium‘ spp. or Goosefoots

Chenopodium album agg. or Fat Hen
Chenopodium ficifolium or Fig-leaved goosefoot
Chenopodium vulvaria or Stinking Goosefoot
Chenopodium bonus-henricus or Good King Henry
Oxybasis glauca or Oak-leaved Goosefoot
Oxybasis rubra or Red Goosefoot
Oxybasis chenopodioides or Saltmarsh Goosefoot
Chenopodiastrum murale or Nettle-leaved Goosefoot
Chenopodiastrum hybridum or Maple-leaved Goosefoot
Lipandra polysperma or Many-seeded Goosefoot

Salicornia and Sarcocornia or the Glassworts

Salicornia ramosissima or Purple Glasswort
Salicornia procumbens agg or Yellow Glasswort
Salicornia europaea or Common Glasswort
Salicornia pusilla or One-flowered Glasswort
Sarcocornia perennis or Perennial Glasswort
Suaeda maritima or Annual Sea-blite
Suaeda vera or Shrubby Sea-blite
Salsola kali or Prickly Saltwort
Salsola tragus or Prickly Russian thistle

Atriplex spp. or Oraches

Atriplex prostrata or Spear-leaved Orache
A. praecox or Early Orache
A. patula or Common Orache
A. littoralis or Grass-leaved Orache
A. glabriuscula or Babington’s Orache
A. longipes or Long-stalked Orache
A. laciniata or Frosted Orache
A. portulacoides or Sea-purslane
A. pedunculata or Pedunculate Sea-purslane

Beta vulgaris or Sea Beet

and subsp. maritima: subsp. cicla; subsp. vulgaris

Amaranthus spp. or Pigweeds

Amaranthus retroflexus or Common Amaranth/Callaloo
A. hybridus or Green Amaranth, Callaloo
A. ozanonii (A. retraflexus x A. hybridus)
A. caudatus or Love-lies-bleeding
A. albus or White Pigweed

Continue reading “Uses of the Amaranthaceae or Goosefoot family”