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:


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?

Weed 1)

Common Names: Couch Grass, twitch.                                                           Botanical Name: Elymus repens                                                                           

Family: Poaceae (Grass Family)                                                                           Distribution: Native to most of EuropeAsia, the Arctic biome, and northwest Africa. Introduced to other, northern climates.                   

Description: herbaceous perennial, rhizomatous grass in all soil types and open habitats.

Uses: important food grass for grazing mammals and caterpillars. Seeds are eaten by grassland birds, particularly buntings and finches. For erosion control, as an incense as well as a medicinal herb.

Weed 2)

Herb bennett is pretty close up…

Common Names: Herb bennet, wood avens.                                               Botanical Name: Geum urbanum

Family: Rosaceae (Rose Family)                                                                            Distribution: Native to Europe and the Middle East. Introduced in North America.      

Description: herbaceous perennial, in fertile soil and shady places such as wood edges and hedgerows.                                                                                 

Uses: Flowers are scented and pollinated by bees. The roots contain the compound eugenol which is also present in cloves and are used as a spice in soups and flavouring ale. Modern herbalists use it to treat diarrhoeaheart diseasehalitosis and mouth ulcers, and to prevent colic.

Weed 3)

The Stinging nettle, good for us and many other creatures!

Common Names: Common nettle, stinging nettle.                                        Botanical Name: Urtica dioica                                                                            

Family: Urticaceae (Nettle Family)                                                          

Distribution: Native to Europe, much of temperate Asia and western North Africa. Now found worldwide, including New Zealand and North America.

Description: herbaceous perennial with widely spreading rhizomes in fertile soils, in meadows n as understory plant in wetter environments.                  

Uses: the larval food plant for several species of butterflies. For traditional medicine, food, soup, tea, beer, as alternative textile fibre and dye producing yellow from the roots, or yellowish green from the leaves. Makes an excellent compost or liquid fertilizer!

Weed 4)

Common Names: Rosebay willowherb, fireweed.                                       Botanical Name: Chamaenerion angustifolium                                              Family: Onagraceae (Willowherb Family)                                                       Distribution: It is native throughout the temperate Northern Hemisphere, including large parts of the boreal forests.                                               

Description: Pioneer, herbaceous perennial with extensive spreading roots, pioneer species in open & disturbed soils.                                                             

Uses: The flowers are visited by a wide variety of insects, a food plant for larvae as well as for people, medicinal and ornamental, especially the white flowering form.

Weed 5)

Rhizomes and newly emerging shoots in spring of the Hedge bindweed.

Common Names: Hedge bindweed, granny-pop-out-of-bed.                   Botanical Name: Calystegia sepium                                                                 

Family: Convolvulaceae (Bindweed Family)                                                        Distribution: sub cosmopolitan distribution throughout the temperate Northern and Southern hemispheres.                                                          

Description:  herbaceous climber, with extensive rhizomes. It thrives in fertile, damp soils, borders, roadsides and open woods.                                              

Uses: Pollen for insects. Medicinal: The root is believed to increase the flow of bile. The bindweed stalks, young shoots and root are edible cooked, green parts steamed or boiled, roots boiled.

Weed 6)

From Wikipedia Illustration of Ground elder by Otto Wilhelm Thomé (1888)

Common Names: Ground elder, herb gerard.                                               

Botanical Name: Aegopodium podagria                                                        

Family: Apiaceae (Umbel Family)                                                            

Distribution: Native to Eurasia, introduced into most of the world and into Great Britain by the Romans.                                                                        Description: herbaceous perennial, rhizomatous in most fertile, damp soil habitats, also in shade.           

Uses: Food plant by the larvae of some species of Lepidoptera, historic food plant as spinach and medicinal.

Weed 7)

Japanese knotweed courtesy by W. Carter (own work), Wikipedia

Common Names: Japanese knotweed                                                                          Botanical Name: Reynoutria japonica                                                                         

Family: Polygonaceae (Knotweed and Buckwheat Family)                   Distribution: Native to East Asia in Japan, China and Korea. In North America and Europe, introduced and established in many habitats & countries.

Description: herbaceous perennial, with extensive rhizome system. All disturbed soils.                                                                                                             

Uses: important source of nectar for honeybees, young stems are edible as a spring vegetable, in traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine, Ground-feeding songbirds also eat the seeds.

Weed 8)

Common Names: Hairy bittercress                                                                    Botanical Name: Cardamine hirsuta                                                                           

Family: Brassicaceae (Cabbage or Crucifer Family)                                     Distribution: Native to Eurasia and introduced in many countries across the world.

Description: Annual or biennial herb in damp, recently disturbed soil, open ground, turf and waste places.                                                                                          

Uses: The tiny flowers are attractive to a few early butterflies. It is edible, slightly peppery and can be added to salad.

Weed 9)

Common Names: Bracken                                                                                    Botanical Name: Pteridium aquilinum                                                                     

Family: Dennstaedtiaceae (Fern Family)                                              Distribution: temperate and subtropical regions in both hemispheres. Now world wide spread.                                                                                                      

Description: herbaceous perennial, rhizomatous fern in open woodland and sandy pastures as well as disturbed habitats.                                                      

Uses: Bracken is a widely eaten vegetable in Korea, Japan and parts of China. In organic farming; as animal bedding, high nitrogen + potassium fertiliser; weed control; mulch; insect repellent; anti-fungal agent; bio fuel.

Weed 10)

Green alkanet with its vivid blue flowers

Common Names: Green alkanet, evergreen bugloss                                  Botanical Name: Pentaglottis sempervirens                                                                Family: Boraginaceae (Borage Family)                                                                   Distribution: native to Western Europe, introduced in Great Britain.

Description: herbaceous perennial with thick taproot in damp hedgerows, road verges and gardens.                                                                                                   

Uses: Food plant for bees, edible flowers like use of Borage flowers, leaves in Agro forestry systems (nutrient accumulators) for mulch & soil improver.

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