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.
“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
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.
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 factonly has Fritillaria meleagris and 3 native species which are all in the genus Gagea.
The more I work with all kinds of plants, in my daily life and work, the more I appreciate them, and this even includes ‘WEEDS’, or our native plants as I prefer to call them; or even wild flowers as many are pretty as well as useful…. Or ‘PRETTY USEFUL’!!
There is so much information concerning the comfrey which is also, like the plants in the blog of last week, in the Boraginaceae Family. This week therefore, my post will concern itself purely with comfrey.
Pictures by Matt Summers, Mike Poulton and contributors from Wikipedia Commons.