Saturday, 30 January 2016

Useful plants in The Forest Recreation Park

Back in 2013, NSB took part in a fascinating walk around the Forest Rec. Lead by artist Rebecca Beinart (see also here) the walk pointed out what kinds of useful plants were growing in the park.

[Note : NSB is not a herbalist. I repeat, NSB is not a herbalist - so please do use the information in this post to go and pick your own herbs. Instead, use it as a starting point and do your own research to ensure you do not pick the wrong plant by (your or my) mistake.]

Rebecca's art installation at the event, with lots of items made from herbs etc


Rebecca inspecting the seed head of the Ribwort Plantain


A rather handsome Ribwort Plantain


More info on the Ribwort Plantain here. The related (and very common) Broadleaf Plantain is also well known as a medicinal herb and was called the "Whitemans foot" in North America for reasons explained here.

Mallow

The whole of the Malva can be used in various ways (see here). Worth mentioning that the above example is not a particularly handsome one). Further info here.

Sorrel

Even BFTF knows that Sorrel can be used in cooking. Info here.

Yarrow

Yarrow is a herb known for its ability to stauch bloodflow from wounds, hence its other name of "Carpenters Weed", although that is not perhaps an entirely positive testimonial for the skills of old woodworkers. Info here.

Stickyweed

Kids like it for its stickiness to clothing. Adults like it for its culinary and medicinal properties. Info here.

Additional Links
Wild Notttingham

Image Sources
All BFTF's own

Winter Tree Walk in Colwick Park

Went to a "Winter Tree Walk" at Colwick Park recently and learnt a lot about the many different trees we have in our parklands !

The event was organised by Sustrans and the walk was led by volunteer Tim who, after spending a week at his day job, was being kind enough to give up some of his leisure time to encourage a love and understanding of the trees on our doorstep.

Tim was VERY knowledgeable, and this post covers only a tiny fraction of the information he passed on. In particular, the post doesn't mention any of the details that Tim gave about how one can identify a tree by the type and location of the buds on its branches.

 An Ash tree

"Ash Keys" still hanging from last year

Aspen Tree

Hopelessly bad picture of a Beech Tree, with green algae/lichen masking
the natural light grey colour of the bark 

Cherry Trees, with their characteristic  horizontal banding.

Cherry trees often grow from a parent tree by "suckering" whereby new shoots grow from points in the root system.

A tangly knot of Elder

Elder has bark that is very "cork-like", sometimes giving the impression that the tree is dead when it isn't. Also twigs have a pithy centre that disappears to leave small branches hollow.

Elders are colonising plants. For example, the area in the image above was bare sheep grazing ground in the 1950s, so Elders have been one of the first trees to colonise it after the sheep left.

A Field Maple

Here you can see Tim talking about the Field Maple in the background. To answer the questions that you, dear reader, no doubt have : Yes, that is a very nice bobble hat and No, I don't know where you can get one like it.

Hazel

The straight branches characteristic of the Hazel tree mean that is has often been used for coppicing to produce wood for hurdles etc.

Holly leaves near the ground are spiky.

Tim pointed out that whilst Holly leaves near the ground are spiky, those higher up a holly tree are much more oval shaped, possibly because, at that height, they do not need to deter animals such as deer from eating them...

All I know about this tree is that its name ends in "beam".

A Lime Tree, often seen in parks

Lime trees are one of BFTF's most favourite trees. Often seen lining paths in parks and stately homes, they remind BFTF of the big-shouldered Warner Bros cartoon character called Gossamer.

A youngish Oak Tree

BFTF is used to identifying oak trees in the summer by their leaves, so has never paid much attention to their bark! So would not in a million years have guessed that the tree above was an oak tree.

Rowan the Tree, as opposed to Rowan the Atkinson
Sycamore Trees

The bark on these Sycamore trees was VERY similar to that of Beech trees, making identification a bit tricky for the novice!

Jelly Ear Fungus

Whilst the group was moving from tree to tree, NSB spotted these interesting fungi. Another member of the group explained to NSB that these were "Jelly Ear" fungi. They are apparently edible if cooked properly.

Silver Birch

Sweet Chestnut

This Sweet Chestnut tree is just starting to show the deeply ribbed bark structure that can be seen spiralling around the trunks of mature trees.

Tim also provided a lot of background information about the natural history of the UK. In particular, he explained that the UK has fewer species of tree than mainland Europe because the only opportunity for the UK to be recolonised with plants was the relatively brief period of time between the end of the last iceage and the formation of the English channel that cut the UK off from further tree recolonisation.

One tiny last note, Tim brought along some notes for the people attending the walk. NSB was impressed that the notes had been printed on the back of an obsolete planning report, thus reducing the need for fresh trees to be felled to provide paper!

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Wildlife in the Garden
The Birdies and Peanuts Experiment
Useful plants in the Forest Rec

Image Sources
All images NSBs own