Myrica gale or Bog-myrtle and its uses

Myrica gale or the bog-myrtle in early March growing wild at the Dyfi Osprey Project in Wales.

Myrica gale or the Bog-myrtle, Sweet willow, Dutch myrtle, and Sweetgale which are its other common names is a fascinating plant in the Myricaceae family.

This is the only native species of this family, but there occurs one other introduced species in the British Isles:

M. pensylvanica or Bayberry is an introduced species from E.N. America and is also naturalized in a few places in the B.I.

Pictures are by Matt Summers and information + pictures mainly from Wikipedia. The links on the scientific name take you to the Plant Atlas Online 2000. The link on the Common Name is mainly from Wikipedia.

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The Nightshade Family or Solanaceae and its many uses

Attractive hedge plant from the Solanaceae: Lycium barbarum or Duke of Argyll’s Teaplant with young and old flowers (by Matt Summers)

The Solanaceae or Nightshade family is a family with edible as well as poisonous members. It is therefor a fascinating one with 11 genera described in Stace of which many are neophytes.

Neophytes were introduced to these shores after the discovery of the New World in c.1550 on purpose as an ornamental or food plant. But many are also arrived accidently through wool shoddy, and in more recent years with oil-seed, bird-seed and agricultural seed.

Extract from PDF all about Wool Shoddy:

“On enquiry he found that wool waste (“shoddy”) was unloaded at the sidings and delivered to local farmers for use as a manure, and when this was followed up foreign weeds were found to be plentiful in their fields. By 1952 he had found 112 species of wool aliens in Bedfordshire (Dony, 1953) and was in touch with the firms near Bradford that despatched the “shoddy” -in that year he went to Yorkshire and in Bradford, Morley, Heckmondwike and Kirkheaton found over 40 species.”

The Wild Flower Key describes just the 5 best-known species in the Nightshade Family:

  • Lycium barbarum or Duke of Argyll’s Teaplant
  • Datura stramonium or Thorn-apple
  • Hyoscyamus niger or Henbane
  • Solanum dulcamara or Bittersweet
  • Solanum nigrum or Black Nightshade
  • Atropa belladonna or Deadly Nightshade
The 5 best-known Solanacea on Plate 61 from ‘The Concise British Flora in Colour’ by W. Keble-Martin

Pictures with gratitude from Mike Poulton, Matt Summers and Wikipedia Commons. FBBC added behind the common name below in the contents when the plant is described in the Flora of Birmingham and the Black Country.


Please note that this is an educational blog and not a guide for medicinal use. All plants in this family are poisonous!! Many poisonous plants are however also often employed as medicine in a much reduced amount of course.


Lycium barbarum or Duke of Argyll’s Teaplant FBBC

  • L. chinense or Chinese Teaplant FBBC

Atropa belladonna or Deadly Nightshade FBBC

Hyoscyamus niger or Henbane FBBC

Nicandra physalodes or Apple-of-Peru FBBC

Datura stramonium or Thorn-apple FBBC

  • D. ferox or Longspine Thorn-apple FBBC

Salpichroa origanifolia or Cock’s-eggs FBBC

Alkekengi officinarum or Japanese-lantern FBBC

  • P. peruviana or Cape-gooseberry FBBC
  • P. ixocarpa or Tomatillo
  • P. philadelphica or Large-flowered Tomatillo
  • P. pubescens
  • P. angulata

Capsicum annuum or Sweet Pepper

Solanum spp

  • Solanum nigrum or Black Nightshade FBBC and
  • Ssp. nigrum + Ssp. schultesii
  • S. villosum or Red Nightshade
  • S. scabrum or Garden Huckleberry
  • S. chenopodioides or Tall Nightshade

S. nitidibaccatum (syn S. physalifolium) or Green Nightshade FBBC

  • S. sarrachoides or Leafy-fruited Nightshade
  • S. triflorum or Small Nightshade

S. dulcamara or Bittersweet FBBC

  • S. tuberosum or Potato FBBC
  • S. lycopersicum or Tomato FBBC
  • S. laciniatum or Kangaroo-apple
  • S. carolinense or Horse-nettle
  • S. sisymbrifolium or Red Buffulo-bur

S. rostratum or Buffulo-bur FBBC

  • S. chacoense or Chaco Potato and locally known as ‘Jack Hawkes’ Potato FBBC
  • S. nitidibaccatum
  • S. pseudocapsicum

Nicotiana rustica or Wild Tobacco

  • N. sylvestris or Argentine Tobacco FBBC
  • N. tabacum or Tobacco
  • N. alba or Sweet Tobacco
  • N. x sanderea or Garden Tobacco FBBC
  • N. forgetiana or Red Tobacco

Petunia x hybrida or Petunia FBBC

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The ‘Lily families’ and all their uses; Liliaceae, Amaryllidaceae, (Alliaceae) and Colchicaceae!

‘Snowdrops’ and Spring is on its way! These are part of the large Lily-family-see below (by Matt Summers)

This and the next posts are about a number of native families which in the ‘Wild Flower Key’ is lumped together into the one Liliaceae.

But according to Stace this family is split into several families.

This is what he has to say about it:

‘It has long been known that Cronquist‘s very broad Liliaceae should be subdivided, some of the segregate families belonging to different orders. This has now been confirmed by molecular data; the taxa in our flora should be divided into at least the 9 families recognised here.’

The debate of native and non-native and what to include in my blog will be more and more difficult in future as rare endemics will not be known by many and certainly should not be ‘used’ in any way. Common, ornamental plants will be more accessible to all and get established in the wild more and more for everybody to use! They will become in fact our new ‘weeds’!

Click the links for more info and pictures from various websites. Scientific/Latin Name usually has 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 wildlife use.

We start of with the Liliaceae then, which in fact only has Fritillaria meleagris and 3 native species which are all in the genus Gagea.




  • Gagea lutea or Yellow Star-of-Bethlehem
  • Gagea bohemica or Early Yellow Star-of-Bethlehem
  • Gagea serotina (Syn. Lloydia  serotina) or Snowdon Lily


Fritillaria meleagris or Snake’s head Fritillary


Erythronium dens-canis or Dog’s-tooth-violet


  • Tulipa sylvestris or Wild Tulip
  • Tulipa gesneriana or Garden Tulip
  • Tulipa saxatilis or Cretan Tulip

Amaryllidaceae or Daffodil Family

The Allium or Onion Family (Alliaceae): 13 different varieties

  • Allium schoenoprasum or Chives
  • Allium ampeloprasum or Wild Leek or Babington’s Leek
  • Allium carinatum or Keeled Garlic
Allium cepa or Onion
  • Allium oleraceum or Field Garlic
  • Allium vineale or Wild Onion or Crow Garlic
  • Allium paradoxum or Few Flowered Garlic
Allium porrum or Leek
  • Allium roseum or Rosy Garlic
  • Allium sativum or Garlic
  • Allium scorodoprasum or Sand Leek or Rocambole
Allium ursinum or Wild Garlic/ Ramsons
  • Allium triquetrum or Three-cornered Leek


  • Leucojum aestivum or Summer Snowflake
  • Leucojum vernum or Spring Snowflake


  • Galanthus nivalis or Common Snowdrop
  • Galanthus elwesii or Greater Snowdrop
  • Galanthus ikariae or Ikaria Snowdrop
  • Galanthus plicatus and subsp byzantinus + subsp. plicatus or Pleated Snowdrop
  • Galanthus woronowii or Green Snowdrop


  • Narcissus pseudonarcissus or Wild Dafodill

Meadow Saffron

  • Colchicum autumnale or Meadow Saffron and Naked Lady
These ornamental lilies are not a native ! (Picture by Mike Poulton)
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