Maple (Acer)

This week we are focusing on the genus of trees collectively known as Acers (Maples). We have a number of different maples on the Greenway from the common ‘Sycamore’ ‘Field ‘and ‘Norway’ Maples along the riversides and parks to the more decorative Red and Paperbark Maples in C.S. Lewis Square.

Most species are deciduous, and leaves typically have 5 pointed lobes. Almost all are renowned for their spectacular autumn leaf colour.

Photo Credit: Karen Oliver 


London Plane (Platanus x hispanica)

Although it is the most common tree in London, it is considered that London Plane is not native to England. This hybrid is acknowledged as a natural result of two trees being planted close to each other in Spain hence its name x hispanica. The scientific name Platanus derives from the Greek word ‘plays’ which means broad. Plane trees not only have extremely large, domed crowns but also have very large broad leaves.

Common Knapweed (Centaurea nigra)

Common knapweed is one of the most familiar floral sights in the UK. With its habit and similar pink / purple crow its very close in appearance to a thistle and as such often mistaken for it. However it can be easily distinguished by its absence of spines and prickles.

Red Clover (Trifolium pratense)

Trifolium pratense, commonly known as Red Clover is a familiar grassland perennial, common throughout the UK and Ireland. The stalkless flowering head is a cluster of 27 to 30 stemless tube-shaped magenta flowers that open outward in all directions. Its stature, dependant on the suitability of its environment can be as little as 20cm but can grow up to 80cm. The flowers are dark pink with a paler base and with so many on the Greenway, you can understand why red clover is a regular haunt for bees and butterflies.

Wild Carrot (Daucus carota)

We all recognise the bright orange carrots in our local shop but did you know that these were developed in the 17th Century and their distant relatives are growing wild on the Greenway? Wild Carrot is a dainty, frothy wildflower that has been much forgotten about since its tasty cousins arrived on the scene. Until 17th century, the only edible types of carrots had black, white, red and purple colours.

Mountain Ash (Sorbus aucuparia)

Sorbus aucuparia is a tree with many names including Mountain Ash and Rowan. The binomial name Sorbus aucuparia is composed of the Latin words sorbus for ‘service tree’ and aucuparia, which derives from the words avis for "bird" and capere for "catching" and describes the popularity of the trees fruit to birds.

Mountain ash thrives across the northern hemisphere between Iceland to China and as the name suggests is happy at high altitudes. They are not related at all to ash trees and most likely received that common name due to their similar leaves.

Nettle (Urtica dioica)

If there is a plant that needs little by way of an introduction it's definitely the nettle. Nettles are akin to the ‘shark’ of the plant world and get a notorious bad press for arguably good reason. It is suggested that the term 'nettle' is derived from the Old English for needle – a reference to the stinging leaves. It seems as soon as we are able to walk and understand danger, we learn to identify and to be cautious of stingy nettles.

Tufted Vetch (Vicia cracca)

Vicia cracca -  commonly known as Tufted Vetch may also be referred to as Cow Vetch or Bird Vetch, possibly because the seeds are used as a highly nutritious bird feed and also because it is grown by farmers as a feed for grazing cattle. Tufted vetch is a member of the pea family and although we wouldn’t recommend eating it, parts of the plant are edible.

Ivy (Hedera helix)

Ivy is a familiar plant to many of us but as one of the UK’s few native evergreens it is one that we should possibly pay a little more attention to next time we see it. It often climbs our mature trees or trails along the ground sometimes forming a dense carpet of dark green vegetation. There are many varieties but common Ivy Hedera helix has deep green leaves with creamy or pale green veins and up to five points on each. They are quite leathery, shiny, and paler coloured on the underside.

Blue Cedar (Cedrus atlantica glauca)

The Blue Cedar is a striking evergreen conifer native to the Atlas mountains in Morocco. English botanist P.B. Web discovered the tree in 1827 on a visit to Tangier. By the 1840's, they were being grown in the UK and were later introduced successfully to the United States also.