Useful Plants

In addition to food and medicine, wild plants have a hundred and one other uses. Here are three examples.

Dyer’s Greenweed

Dyer's Greenweed (Genistia tinctoria)

Dyer’s Greenweed (Genistia tinctoria)

This is one of the high-quality dye plants, although the name is a little misleading because the dye it produces is yellow, not green.  It was traditionally combined with woad, which produces a blue dye, to create the green colour that explains its name.




Fragrant Bedstraw

Fragrant Bedstraw (Gallium triflorum)

Fragrant Bedstraw (Gallium triflorum)

This plant has been used as a flavouring for food, but as the name suggests, it was traditionally used to stuff mattresses. When fresh it has no noticeable odour.  The vanilla-scented coumarin is only produced when the plant is dried.



Horse Chestnut

Horse Chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum)

Horse Chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum)

A very familiar non-native tree, evidence of this one’s historical usage has made its way into the name of the whole family of plants to which it belongs – Sapindaceae.  “Sapo” is latin for “soap”.  Both the leaves and the nuts (conkers) can be used for this purpose.

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