Monday, 25 April 2016

A-Z Challenge 2016 - Wildflowers - 'U'

My theme this year is wild flowers. Most of us will be aware of the flowers that grow in our gardens but what surprises me is how few of the wild flowers that I know.

I pass them every day but rarely look at them. Well this year will be different - even if many of them may fall under the letter 'X' for unknown.

'U' - Urtica, Uticularia

As you will see I have had to resort to Latin names again and 'urtica' for the second time in A-Z Challenges.

However for urtica dioica the emphasis this time is on how useful this plant/flower has been. I know it as the common - 


Covered with stinging hairs this perennial has tough yellow roots and often forms large patches. Its flowers are small and hang down in loose spikes. Male and female flowers are on different plants.

It has been a source of  food, medicine and dyes since the Bronze Age. It contains iron, calcium, potassium and other trace elements, vitamins A and C and histamine. Its uses have been for treating internal and external bleeding and skin complaints such as eczema. It can lower blood sugar and is used for treating rheumatism.

Nettle leaves can be dried and used to make tea. Nettle beer can be made from the young tops; it may also be boiled and eaten as a vegetable which tastes like spinach - it's richer in iron and vitamins than spinach.

The mature plant once provided fibres to be spun into cloth for sheets and tablecloths.

Cattle are immune to the stinging hairs. Cut and dried nettle is fed to poultry, goats and cattle. Caterpillars of many butterflies (comma, small tortoiseshell, red admiral, peacock and painted lady) feed on nettle leaves

Uticularia vulgaris is an insect eating water plant which nourishes itself through its leaves. It's a plant I've never seen. its yellow flowers rise above the surface of lakes and ponds.

Bladderwort (uticularia vulgaris)
Air filled bladders grow on its finely divided, straggly leaves, The bladders catch small aquatic animals and digest the decomposed remains. The plant spreads by detached pieces of the submerged floating away and sinking to the bottom.

  • Nettle (uticaria dioica) - 7 July 2005, ex, by Mike Pennington, CC BY-SA 2.0 generic
  • Bladderwort (uticularia vulgaris), Wells Gray Provincial Park, BC - 14 June 2009, by Jason Holliger - CC BY-SA 2.0 generic


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Bob - two great U words today ... lots about the nettles and Bladderwort - is a good find too ... I wrote about Bladderwort at Filsham Reed beds when I heard about the plant from a talk given by the Sussex Wildlife Trust warden ... fascinating talk ... but I love these two subjects ... cheers Hilary

Bish Denham said...

It's interesting that even though it stings, the nettle has a lot of uses! I'm familiar with bladderwort...

Wendy said...

Bladderwort - what a miserable name for a rather pretty bloom.

Jo said...

Knew some of the information about the nettle, but not all of it by any means. I don't think I have ever seen the Bladderwort either.

Robin McCormack said...

Oh well done. Just the sight of it makes me want to sneeze. hee hee!

Liz A. said...

I suspect this is where the Latin terms come in. For the end of the alphabet.

Liz A. from Laws of Gravity