Thursday, 5 August 2010

Carr

The word Carr probably comes from an old Norse word meaning 'underbrush' and has been used in it's English form as meaning a wet woodland, for centuries. The local nature reserve in these parts, called Pewit Carr, certainly lives up to that definition. The area is packed with typical, wetland trees and flowers including Willows, Alders, Ash and Hazel. I mentioned in yesterday's blog entry, the old railway lines, bridges and general residue from the area's industrial and mining past. Well, today we re-traced our steps and had a more leisurely stroll around the area. The footpaths follow the old tracks of the railway lines and you can even see the remains of some of these rails, still sticking out of the undergrowth in some places. Here, the path of the old mineral railway is clearly visible as it runs around the back of houses in West Hallam and the playing fields.
among the flowers to be found along the footpaths around here, is a useful little plant called Yarrow (Achillea millefolium).
The name 'millefolium' means 'thousand leaves' and refers to the much-divided leaves which give the plant the look of having 'thousands' of little leaves.
The flowers are held in dense clusters, called corymbs, atop the stems. The flowers can indicate the nature of the soil on which the plant is growing, for instance, if the flowers are all white (as in this case), then the soil it is growing in is almost certainly calcium rich and therefore alkaline. If the flowers are in part (or wholly) pinkish in colour, then the soil must be acidic.
The plant has been used in medicine for many centuries and has a number of uses. These include use as a diaphoretic (to make the patient sweat), antipyretic (reduces fever), diuretic, urinary antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, digestive stimulant and menstrual stimulant, to name but a few!
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