Out For a Stroll

I went out for a stroll this morning.  You know, it was a beautiful day and the Hound of Satan looked to be in need of a walk.  There are only so many neighbours to attack in this world and so many pet Corgis a satanic dog can kill.

As it was such nice weather, I brought the camera and just happened to take random snaps of little things along the way — the sort of stuff I usually blunder past without noticing, and it occurred to me how little I know about our environment.

Here are a few things I took pictures of.  If you know the names of them, I’d be very grateful indeed to learn from you.

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53 replies on “Out For a Stroll”

Very nice pictures Bock. The first two are Taraxacum officinale and/or Taraxacum erythrospermum or Dandelions, a flower and parachute ball, it’s a common weed and completely edible. The fourth is a Larix decidua or European Larch, I could tell if I could see the leaves. The fifth, I think is Prunus spinosa or Blackthorn but it’s a guess. The eight picture is Ranunculus repens or Buttercup, it can be poisonous to certain animals and is an opportunistic grower, like a weed. The Fungus is Laetiporus sulphureus or Sulphur Polypore I think, don’t think its poisonous but check that out. It could also be Turkey tall or Beefsteak.

Thanks. I suppose I should have said that I knew the first two were dandelions. I don’t think the eighth is a buttercup. It’s a lot bigger and the leaves are different. The 7th is wild garlic, which I’ll have a bit of next time, and the 9th, I’m told, is Lords and Ladies, which is very poisonous.

My try:
3 is a stonefly, 5 is ivy (too early for berries on blackthorn), 7 is wild garlic (great for pesto: wild garlic, parmesan, pinenuts, oliveoil and salt), 8 is marsh marigold (poisonous), 9 is barnstable (?), 13 is barnstable, too (?)and 14 is tongue fern.

I live in the country and walk every day (dog demands). Sometimes I take for longer walks “Collins Complete irish Wildlife” with me. Highly recommended!
I’m not too fond of creepy crawlies, though. And apart from chanterelles (edible and delicious: wash, dry and fry shortly in butter with small bacon pieces and parsley) I’m not good in identifying fungi.

Lovely pictures by the way! You walked along some water or wetland, I guess.

Yeah that’s right, it’s also known as a Cuckcoo-pint I think. The whole plant is poisonous but the berries are particularly nasty-they contain saponins, biologically active chemicals that amount to the plant equivalent of chemical warfare. Eight also looks like Cucumis melo or a Galia melon vine but I doubt very much that it is growing in the wild here.

wild garlic plays hell on my histamine levels. brought the kids out for a walk in Rossmore Park last year (Monaghan), and one area we walked through was so thick with the things that you could almost literally taste the garlic on the air. very heavy.

I spent the next few days trying to breath.

I sometimes see that fungus growing on tree stumps. /massive/ massive fungus.

I was out walking in Doneraile national park and had to walk through an acre or so of wild garlic, its as invasive as mint and not as nice smelling. Nice to eat though.
Collins bird guide is handy to have on a walk, the variety of species that we get in Ireland is amazing. Were those photos taken with the G9 or G11?

It’s a great time for nature appreciation, even common wildflowers and weeds have their place in the Divine Plan of the Universe. (Consider the lilies of the field; neither do they sow nor do they reap… as the good book says). One thing occurs to me however: Did you touch or pluck that wild dandelion? If the dog did I hope he did a wee wee on your shoe.

…and you did a wee wee? Drinking a lot of dandelion wine will have a similar effect, and you might sing when nature presses.

gabby~ i am curious now: what happens when you touch or pluck a wild dandelion in ireland? also, are there wild dandelions and tame dandelions there? in u.s., (i think) all dandelions are wild, but are used alot in homemade wine. also, leaves of the plant are used sometimes as lettuce in salads. i used the flower head from dandelions once for dying thin cotton~sort of an ochre colored result. do you think there’s a different species of dandelion in ireland, than in the u.s.? also, i’ve always wondered this: what qualifies a plant to be known as a weed? is it a weed because it’s native to the area? or invasive? or wasn’t hybred?
what a great discussion on wild stuff! pictures aren’t bad either, bock!

Jane, the two species I mentioned above are native to North America and Eurasia as weeds. A weed is a plant that reproduces and grows aggressively, native or not and is generally seen as a nuisance as it is not wanted. The term can be subjective. There is said to be ~235 microspecies of dandelion but don’t know how much truth there is in that. There are a few other flowers that look like Dandelion, like a catsear. The Dandelion has a hairless, hollow stem.

thank you irate chemist! reason i asked what “qualifies” a weed is this: once i let a bit of property by a lake “go back to wild” for around 10 years. what grew in abundance was what the neighbors said were “weeds” but they looked to me like very exotic wild flowers. there were orchid looking weeds and lily weeds and tiny strawberry weeds~ columbine was one i recognized, ferns, something that looked alot like a calla lily~dandelions, purple violet weeds, probably at least 20 different kinds of weeds, which must have been dormant seeds for a long time. tall prarie grass was interspersed with the weeds, and quite a few pinecones sprouted too. i like it best now, as weeds~ though i had to thin out some of the skinny pine trees so the weeds could get more light. this piece of land had been mowed for probably 50 years or more, and new species of weeds keep arriving each year.

A weed is a plant that is growing where it’s not wanted.

Nice post and discussion. Eric Dempsey’s book on Irish birds is the one I like, but there are lots of nice ones availabe, David cabot has a good one too. Gordon D’Arcy’s small one is great.


Nuts I hear Cannabis is a weed.. so I wouldn’t say all weeds are unwanted at all.. :) Watched an interesting documentary on it recently.. it’s grown in mass by tricking the female version into reproducing by putting none of the male version in proximity to it.. or something like that.. I’d look it up but keep getting.. Not allowed – DRUGS.. DRUGS.. NOT ALLOWED. tis just a weed though..

I aways thought cannabis was an annual herb. The US Dept. of Agriculture in fact describe it as a herb and a noxious weed in the same breath. Subjective?

Subjective? I’d say so I.C.. only noxious if used correctly I think. :) I don’t really know why it’s called grass, weed or pot.. and is hash the muck the weed is grown in or something.. :) No idea.
Had a bad experience with it once though.. won’t be doing it anytime soon again.

Don’t know, I’ll take a stab and say its because grass and weeds are herbaceous, like cannabis? Hash is the resin glands from the plant where the concentration of the active ingredient is higher than other parts. Not surprised you had a bad experience, most fillers people add in include motor oil (used!), glue, shoe polish, ketamine, aspirin, instant coffee, soil and the most common-plastic.

God be with the old days when we still had our traditional values. My grandparents often told me of things they called Paki Black and Leb Red and Moroccan Gold, but I never knew what they were talking about.

It seems Ireland has lost its traditional values and settled for inferiority in all things.

You couldn’t be going around sayin Paki Black these days now Bock could you.. it’s not very PC at all.
After a certain age people smoking the funny stuff just look like hippies I think .. in saying that I heard two 50+ somethings on the phone recently laughin at their little in- joke/code words to say a friend has some.. hippies i tell ya!! :)
I think the reason I had a bad experience was because it was potent pure stuff I.C.

Thousands would envy you FME. Was it a hybrid species, bred for massive amounts of cannabinols? It reminds me of those poor battery chickens, bred for maximum breast size, the type that would leave your average FHM reader drooling. Gluttons.
What ever happened to quality rather than quantity, you’re right Bock, we have lost our traditional values.

Jane: I’ve heard of young dandelion leaves serving as an adequate substitute for lettuce, though I never tried it myself. During my childhood we often fed dandelion leaves to the pet rabbit. He did more than wee wees on our back lawn and we didn’t replace him when he escaped into the deep hedges around, to take his chances with marauding cats.

The Bolted Nut definition of a weed as something growing where it’s not wanted is pretty good. Weeds are unplanned plants that compete for soil space and nutrients with your sown plants. I hope that doesn’t make an ‘accidental’ fifth baby in a happy family household a weed!

As for cannabis: a friend who did volunteer teaching in Africa many years ago told me that once during the dry season the overgrown wild grass at the rear of his house in the bush was set on fire by village children. My friend soon smelled a deep, pungent bitter sweet aroma of – cannabis which had, unknown to him since he wasn’t a botanist, been growing freely among the grass. Shouldn’t volunteer sending agencies put illustrated paragraphs on how to recognize this weed into their field manuals?

I don’t think anyone would envy my experience Irate.. :) but I’m reassured it was me that was to blame, not the pot, by the yank hippie who gave it to me. :) Probably right there.
Big breasted birds.. just not right is it, not how nature intended it at all. :)

Bloody yank. Go home yank, tis my field.

I’m surprised that you didn’t throw a smiley winking face into the mix. What was the bad experience, if you don’t mind me asking? Did you get sick, or feel like you were the subject of that Edvard Munch painting, the scream?

haha Mr chemist.. the bloody yank was hoping I’d go home after what I put him through.. was in the US.. tried to jump into a passing cop car soon after trying it, nearly got myself shot.. ratted on my friend.. could have got him arrested.. the cops were cool though, they were just laughin at me and alls well that ends well.. kind of.. :) Definitely more like the scream painting.. :) Don’t know if it’s common to have a bad experience with it, but won’t be chancing it again.

my own bad experience with cannabis was once, after smoking it with a pipe, I had this weirdly horrifying feeling that I was watching myself from about 2 feet behind my head. Every move I made was detached somehow.

barely made it out the back before puking. never touched the stuff again.

I’ve no bother with people using it – I just can’t use it myself.

give me a pint any day.

If I gave you a pint any day, would you use that discarded cannabis pipe as a sort of straw to suck up the beer with? After you’ve thoroughly washed out every residue of the weed ash from the pipe of course?

lol! no problem. and if it was a frothy beer, I might try blowing bubbles through the pipe as well ;-) :-) :-D (damnit no more smileys!)

FME Never mess with someone who has a gun. Are you sure it was cannabis he slipped you, sounds more like crack. I suppose each individual has their own reaction to it, within a certain range, like all drugs. It may very well have been something as simple as high cannabinoid content. We all have cannabinoid receptors in our brain and they are not used to such stimulation.

Kae I have no problem with someone having a smoke either, just as I have no problem with someone having a coffee or a pint. Each to their own and all that. Cannabis is prescribed to ease nausea in patients undergoing chemotherapy, it’s an effective antiemetic. Big pharma market one of the main active ingredients in cannabis as Marinol for such treatments.

No don’t think it was crack I.C. Similar experience to Kae’s really.
“Never mess with someone who has a gun.” Sound advice there.. I will remember that! :)
Yes, THC receptors I think.. the receptor being there as similar chemicals to cannabinoids are produced naturally in the brain.. That’s what I gathered from a recent docu I watched anyways.

I know, was keeping that nugget close to my chest for ages.
No, not THC receptors exclusively. THC is but one of a range of cannabinoids found in cannabis. We have general cannabinoid receptors because we synthesise actual cannabinoids in our bodies. They act as signalling molecules I think. I don’t know where they are made, I doubt it’s the brain as they are present in the cell wall of all our cells. They can’t be stored and are said to be synthesised on demand so it would make sense if they were made locally.

THC is more than likely produced by plants as a natural sunscreen, to protect against UV rays.

Thanks for the info I.C.
Fascinating what’s going on in our bodies that is only recently being found out.

This article explains most clearly what I watched recently..

‘Scientists began to look for receptor sites to explain the action of other drugs and toxins in a similar way. In 1988, specific receptors were discovered for THC (tetrahydrocannibol, the active ingredient in marijuana).
THC isn’t found naturally in the body. The existence of a specific ‘bliss receptor’ for THC implied that it was actually just a forgery of a hitherto unknown natural molecular key. The key was isolated by Israeli scientist Raphael Mechoulam in 1992: arachidonyl ethanolamide, later called ‘anandamide’: ‘

‘Anandamide’s long hydrocarbon tail makes it fat-soluble and allows it to easily slip across the hydrocarbon-rich curtain that isolates the brain from the bloodstream.’..
Fat soluble meaning they can be stored in the body right? Water-soluble can’t, I think. So I think it is in fact stored.

Actually interestingly enough I remember a discussion with you and Scotlyn I think it was, and talk of a “bacteria gene” in humans allowing for implantation of the embryo.. according to that article : Anandamide plays a big part in allowing for implantation. Nothing to do with a bacteria gene it doesn’t seem.

This one is good too but a bit out of my league..

Just had a gander at those sites. Antoine Frostburg opens with a the well known story of opiate receptors and morphine leading to the discovery of enkephalins (greek for “inside the head” if I remember correctly). He says that morphine does not occur naturally inside the body and that it must be a “forgery” ( this term is nonsense) of some naturally occuring human chemical, that acts as a key (similar in shape to enkephalins) to the opiate receptors locks in our brain. The receptors accept a specific shape of molecule; morphine, heroin and enkephalins being of similar shape.
What seems illogical is that he then states, as you have quoted, that we have a specific receptor for THC, then he says that we don’t produce it. It’s not THC specific. It’s similar to the opiate/enkephalin case. It’s a general cannabinoid receptor. If it was a specific THC receptor it would not accept our natural cannabinoids, which is nonsensical.

I don’t think it is stored. Fat soluble means that it is fat soluble (although I can recognise your possible train of thought-fat soluble vitamins V water soluble vitamins)! The problem, I think, is its lipid structure. As it’s hydrophobic it is not stored in cellular vesticles, where normal cellular products are stored. Its also deccomposed by enzymes relatively quickly, Antoine basically says it is fragile in your second link.
In fact in your third link, third paragraph, the authors say that it is made on demand in the cell membranes.

Like much of value to us, Our vanishing hedgerow food is now reatively unknown and undervalued.
It used to be very common, especially in rural areas to partake of these delights offered up to those who sought them and totally free, For example, nettle soup, drunk in early may was thought to ward off all kinds of menacing bacteria, pick the tops only and boil with a little salt and garlic, eat as greens or add bulk with veg for soup, nettles contain formic acid, histamine, acetycholine and serotonin, only in may though.
Cowslip tea is said to induce restful sleep, it does.
Elderflowers, dipped in light tempura batter, fried for about 20 seconds, madly delicious.
Coltsfoot, chickweed, sorrel, ribworth, penneworth, as salad leaves.
marigold,borage nasturtium, red clover, flower only also delicious in salad.
wild strawberries, wild parsnip, burdock root……………all but gone in our hedgerows.

I see your point I.C.. It doesn’t seem logical calling the receptors that were identified as being linked with THC, actually THC receptors. What would that mean then, that we were created/evolved with a receptor specifically designed for the use of cannabis? :) Isn’t God great.. :)

I think they meant they identified the specific receptors that THC locked into, that it mimics a natural substance in our bodies.
It’s so fascinating how these certain locks and keys work to allow for example the “flooding of chloride ions to flood into the cell. This equalizes charges inside and outside the cell and prevents the cell from firing”.. so you don’t feel pain. Very cool.

That third link is way out of my league.. so enjoy.. :)

No doubt. Nature provides a vast range of complex biologically active molecues. Between 60 and 70% of new small molecule drugs are or were inspired by natural products, products made by living organisms. The percentage increases when looking at therapeutics for specific diseases, around 78% of anticancer drugs come from or were inspired by natural products.

It is projected that by 2015, 20/25% of world plant species will be extinct.
The Terra Nova Rainforest Reserve is the first ethnomedicinal forest reserve designed to ensure protection of these plants.
Such medicinal plants can be integrated into traditional crops and provide incomes on par if not better than bananas, coffee, and cocoa.
Also animals are providing the basis for a variety of drugs, ie Saliva from leeches produces Hirudin, Which can dissolve blood clots in humans.
Vampire bats have a salival substance which can prevent heart attacks.
The blood from the Blue Belly lizard is hoped to provide a cure for Lymes disease.

Irate Chemist. Whereas THC binds to specific receptors in the brain and affects production and release of various neurotransmitters, Is it in isolation a steroid ?

Steroid like synthesis was actually my area of research! No, chemically it cannot be classed as a steroid. Due to its basic skeleton structure THC belongs to a family called aromatic triterpenoids. Steroids belong to a family called tetracyclic triterpenoids. THC has three ring structures, steroids have four. The long side chain that gives it its lipid like properties is also in the wrong place. It nearly looks like an upside down mirror image of an incomplete steroid.

Norma Natural product refers to compounds created by living organisms, whatever they may be. Indeed there is a flurry of activity around marine life, sponges etc. Since more than 70% or so of the sea is unexplored it is a very exciting area. Natural product research fell out of favour with big pharma in the 90’s being replaced with combinatorial chemistry as the primary method for producing new therapeutics (computers looking through libraries of receptors and matching them up to molecules from other libraries, looking for “hits”or compatible locks and keys). This method had failed to produce 1 new drug so it’s not surprising that they are now looking back to nature.

Bock Complementary planting makes sense, I plant marigolds with my tomato plants, aphids hate marigolds for some reason. Rainforest deforestation is a disaster, as well as the needless destruction of our natural habitats here in Ireland. Consumption is completely out of control.

FME I don’t know, i’m an atheist! I would be more inclined to say evolution/nature is great. It doesn’t mean we were destined to get high, just lucky that we do. No, I don’t know. Most of these chemicals produced by plants are secondary metabolites, they are not essential to a plants survival but do have a non-essential function (mostly termed ecological-such as signal molecules or to make the plant taste bitter so that it deters herbivores from taking more than one bite), like THC acting as a sunscreen for the plant. This is function it was “selected” for in a plant. For us THC happens to fit into one of our receptors and has a euphoric effect by stimulating the release of other feel-good chemicals.
Caffeine is a natural pesticide, produced by a plant that paralyses and kills insects feeding on the plant. For us it fits into receptors in our brain, stopping natural molecules we make from fitting into those receptors. In the absence of caffeine how full those receptors are is one of the main ways our brain can measure how “tired” we are and how much we are in need sleep. If caffeine molecules are occupying these receptors then the natural molecules can’t fit in and tell our brain we are a bit more nackered. When caffeine occupies the receptor it acts as a key and fits into the lock but does not turn in the lock. Therefore caffeine does not tell your brain it’s an extra bit tired, it has the effect of telling your brain it should not be tired and hence alert.

Apologies for the relevancy and length of this post Bock.

I like this guy!

@Irate Chemist, that has to be one of the most lucid explanations of caffeine’s effects that I’ve heard!

and yeah, I like the idea of complementary planting. not a big fan of non-edible flowers, though. I’d prefer to find complementary edible plants. I’m a terrible gardener myself – I planted a row of garden peas a month or two ago. I now have one plant growing, and I’m sure it’s because the insects just haven’t noticed it yet! Not that I’m too bothered – gardening is more a fascination with me than a serious endeavour

Hi Irate Chemist.. just kidding with the ‘isn’t God great’ comment. I meant it in regards to the receptors THC fit into, not actually being specifically just “THC receptors” (you rightly pointing out this to be illogical) .. as if (I don’t be thinking so) we somehow have a receptor specific for the function of working with THC, the active ingredient in cannabis. Not sure if it has anything to do with God so much as our own curiosity for finding things to get us high. :)

He also gave us alcohol receptors, and tobacco receptors. And he gave women the special gift of chocolate receptors.

Thanks Kae, I love the simplicity of such explanations, I may have left some info out and hope it wasn’t too roundabout. I’m a huge coffee addict and always wondered why I got pounding headaches when I missed a cup (or two) before midday. I always knew it was an addiction/withdrawal symptom but the mechanisms at play were really elegant.

I’m relatively new to gardening and the idea of being self-sufficient is really motivating and excites me. I’ve loads going by way of lettuces and herbs, potatoes and mushrooms, tomatoes and broad beans. I have a seed nursery up and running and made the mistake of planting way too much. I didn’t think every seed would germinate and have wound up with 20 tomato plants. All of the same variety.

I was watering the beans yesterday and noticed that the soil was being aerated at the base of the stem. I had a closer look and it appears there is a colony of ants after setting up camp. Bastards. I resisted buying antiant powder.

“He also gave us alcohol receptors, and tobacco receptors. And he gave women the special gift of chocolate receptors.” This might be true Bock, I hear chocolate isn’t good for dogs.. : ) God only knows why. Seems we are all just a bunch of chemical reactions, producing thoughts to think about these chemical reactions.. etc etc.. bla bla

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