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Trees and wild plants

Nature is a fundamental part of the resources and attractions of Cuzcurrita de Río Tirón. We want to share it with you on your visit, so that you can get to know and enjoy its diversity. Wherever you walk you will see trees and wild plants, crops in orchards or agricultural plantations of vineyards, cereals, almond, fig and walnut trees, among others.

At a time when climate change is threatening biodiversity and life on the planet, we want you to learn a little more about the nature that sustains us and shelters us. Preserving and caring for it is our obligation. As you can’t love what you don’t know, here is a botanical sample that is part of our trails and our fields.  With everyone’s work for the knowledge and enjoyment of the rest we will be able to learn and respect. We have divided the section into two areas: trees-shrubs and plants. We also show, in some cases, the properties attributed in natural medicine to these plants, although their use and control must always be indicated by a doctor.

Trees

Pinares y carrasca de monte bajo es la mayoría de la vegetación más frondosa en el término de Cuzcurrita pero, además, encontramos otras muchas especies de árboles a lo largo del término y de los senderos que lo recorren. Además de muchos árboles frutales y de cultivo como los olivos, higueras, cerezos,almendros o nogales, se pueden observar los siguientes ejemplares:

White poplar (Populus alba)

It belongs to the Salicaceae family, which is mainly found in temperate regions. It is also known as the white poplar. It is very characteristic for its broad, columnar shape and its leaves, which are dark green on the upper side and white with a dense layer of white hairs on the underside. The bark of the tree is markedly grey and fissured.

Common cypress (Cupressus sempervirens)

Belonging to the Cupressaceae family, this evergreen tree is usually associated with cemeteries because of its symbolism (tree that rises, ascending towards the divine), although it can also be seen isolated on some roads. Some specimens reach up to 50 metres in height and are narrow and columnar in shape. Its leaves are very small, scale-like and very dark green. They are arranged in the form of unequal clusters. Its fruits are oval, round cones, with scales that usually end in a protrusion.

Black poplar (Populus nigra)

It is a deciduous tree that is very common in river valleys. In autumn, its triangular to oval leaves, hairless unlike the white poplar, turn golden. It has a wide, wide-spreading habit. The bark is dark grey-brown, coarsely fissured and often with large protuberances.

Black and Scots pine (Pinus nigra and Pinus sylvestris)

It is one of the most common evergreen trees, belonging to the Pinaceae family. They can reach 25-35 metres in height. There are many species in forests and hills, but they all have a series of common characteristics. Their leaves are needle-like (aciculate) and rigid, they sprout in pairs and are greyish green or bluish green in colour. The bark of the tree is thick, ribbed and crested or scaly.  The flowers are usually yellow or red, in inflorescences. Very characteristic is its fruit: the pine cone, which can take different shapes, depending on the species. However, they are all oval or conical in shape and have woody scales.

Robinia or false acacia (Robinia pseudoacacia)

It is a tree that can reach up to 25 metres in height and belongs to the Leguminosae family. It is a broad, spreading, deciduous tree. Its leaves are elliptic to ovate, ending in a fine point and with some hairiness. The upper side is usually bluish green or intense green and the underside is greyish green.  The flowers are papilioned (the corolla resembles the shape of a butterfly), white or pinkish-white in colour and with a certain perfume. They are found on many paths

Weeping willow (Salix babylonica)

Belonging to the Salicaceae family, it has characteristic deciduous, lanceolate leaves with long, slender, finely toothed tips.  It is a tree that has been cultivated since ancient times. It is easily identifiable by its size and downward hanging branches. It can reach up to 12 metres in height. Its leaves and shoots are usually twisted and its bark is grey-brown and often fissured. It is usually found along riverbanks.

Wild rowan tree (Sorbus aucuparia)

Belonging to the Rosaceae family, it is a tree that can reach a height of 15 metres. It has a broad columnar shape and is deciduous. Its ovate leaves have deep, sharply toothed lobes. The upper side is shiny dark green and the underside is paler. Its white flowers in inflorescences at the end of spring or beginning of summer are characteristic. The rounded berries are red in colour.

Lime tree ( Tilia platyphyllos)

Lime trees, of the Tilia family, are more than 700 species of trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants, included in about 50 genera. They grow in temperate regions of the northern hemisphere. Their leaves are alternate and lobed with a toothed edge. Their flowers, which are very fragrant, are small, yellow in colour and usually have 5 petals. They are accompanied by a bract which is usually up to 10 cm long. They are accompanied by a bract that can be up to 10 cm long. It is said to have calming properties for the nervous and digestive systems.

There is a large broad-leaved lime tree in the grounds of the Castillo de Cuzcurrita winery, next to the town centre. The proportions of the tree are harmonious and its presence in these vineyards has given its name to one of the wines produced in this winery, which is rightly called Tilo.

Thuja occidentalis (Thuja occidentalis)

Belonging to the Cupressaceae, it has, like the cypress, very small, evergreen, scale-like leaves. The upper side is bright yellowish green and the underside is somewhat paler. They are arranged in flat clusters and are aromatic. The bark of the tree is orange-brown and peels off in vertical strips. It can reach a height of 20 metres and has a narrow, conical shape.

Giant sequoia ( Sequoiadendron giganteum)

It is a singular tree located on the river promenade. It belongs to the Taxodiaceae family, which includes the sequoias. In this case the trunk has a red-brown, soft, fibrous and very thick bark. It is large and conical in shape and can reach a height of 80 metres. Its leaves end in a sharp, thorny point and are bluish-green around the bud. Its flowers are yellow at the ends of the shoots. Its fruit also has a rounded conical shape, green in colour, which turns brown when ripe.

Plants

Wallflower (Matthiola incana)

It belongs to the Cruciferae family, is an erect, woody plant with narrow, lanceolate leaves. The leaves are formed in rosettes in the basal part. None of them are toothed and they are greyish-green. Its flowers are pink or white and range in size from 2.5 to 5 cm in diameter, in sparse clusters. It is found near riverbeds.

Poppy (Papaver rhoeas)

This flower belongs to the Papaveraceae family. It is one of the most recognisable plants and flowers because of its characteristic corolla with 4 red, fragile petals and a black spot at the base. It is a plant that can reach up to 60 cm and is usually associated with cereal crops. It can sometimes be a real pest, but it is easy to control. The petals are rich in anthocyanin, a compound used as a colouring material. The seeds of the flower are often used as a condiment, in pastries and bakery products. This species is very close to the opium poppy (Papaver somniferum), although it lacks the morphine contained in the latter. It is also found in fallow land, abandoned fields, disturbed ground and roadsides. It needs a dry, sunny climate.

Aniseed (Pimpinella anisum)

It is an annual plant, which belongs to the Umbelliferae family. It has a fine hairiness and can reach 50 cm in height. The leaves at the base are rounded and toothed and the upper leaves are long stalked and narrow. Its inflorescences in umbels are white in colour and the fruit, oval, is greyish green in colour with a marked aniseed scent. It is harvested during the summer and has various uses in natural medicine, basically as an antispasmodic and for digestive problems, as well as an expectorant. In cooking it is used to make sweets and liqueurs.

Aro (Arum maculatum)

It belongs to the Araceae family. It is a plant that can reach 50 cm in height and grows from a tuber. Its leaves are arrow-shaped to triangular, thin, green and shiny. Its flower has two green to white or yellowish “leaves” that surround, like a cradle, the yellowish flowers, a dome-shaped spathe, somewhat rolled up and pointed at the top, pale yellowish-green. Very characteristic are its fruits, which are reddish-red lower leaves in a very dense spike formation. It occurs in forests or near hedgerows, in damp areas.

Carder's thistle (Dipsacus fullonum)

It belongs to the Dipsacaceae family and is a biennial plant with erect stems that can reach up to 2 metres in height. It is found on roadsides, ditches, irrigation ditches and abandoned fields. The leaves at the base are much larger than the rest and its flowers are pinkish-purple, grouped in a very dense head. It is surrounded by a series of long, narrow, thorny leaves. In past centuries, this plant was cultivated and the flower heads, equipped with these thorns, were used for carding wool.

Reed (Phragmites australis)

Of the Gramineae family, with long stems of up to 4 metres, linear, flat, very pointed leaves and inflorescences in panicles with spikelets with 4 to 7 flowers. It grows in marshes, lagoons and riverbanks, forming very dense clumps around bodies of fresh water. The leaves disappear in autumn, but the stems and the remains of the flowers are retained through the winter. It can become invasive, occupying entire ecosystems. It is, however, a very useful plant for the protection of birdlife, which nests, feeds and protects itself there, among its stems and leaves.

Horsetail (Equisetum arvense)

It belongs to the Equisetaceae family and usually lives in damp places or periodically in puddles, meadows, ditches, riverbanks or ditches. It is a perennial herbaceous plant. In winter its stem is brownish and its stalk ends in a spore-laden spike. It has no flowers as such, because it reproduces by spores. In summer, on the other hand, the stem is green with grooves and circular knots from which fine, jointed twigs grow. They are plants with great medicinal properties: diuretic and remineralising. They are used for rheumatic diseases, tuberculosis, haemorrhages and fluid retention. It is also used for hair, nails and bones, due to its large amount of silica, a mineral associated with the growth process.

Greater bindweed (Calystegia sepium)

It is a perennial plant, belonging to the Convolvulaceae family, hairless and with climbing stems that can reach a height of up to 5 metres. It has a white latex that appears when the stem is broken. They can grow by crawling on the ground or entangling themselves in other plants with which they live. It lives in grasslands on the banks of rivers and streams, crop margins or ditches. It is said to have laxative properties, against fever and to stimulate bile secretion.

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

This plant belongs to the Compositae family. It is a perennial and can reach 40 cm in height. It normally grows in meadows, grasslands and roadsides, making it easily recognisable. It has a strong root from which several strong stems grow, forming a rosette at the base.  The leaves are divided into triangular lobes. When the time comes, the hollow stems emerge from the base, filled with latex, at the end of which appears the yellow flower with narrow petals. It is a plant commonly used in natural medicine for its diuretic, stomachic and tonic properties, especially the roots and leaves. Its fruit has a tuft of white hairs that help in its dispersion, thanks to the wind.  They are known as “grandparents” that children blow on their walks in the countryside.

Scabiosa (Scabiosa columbaria)

It is a plant belonging to the Caprifoliaceae family, which ranges from 15 to 70 cm in height. On its basal rosette, the leaves are oval and toothed. Its 2-3 cm wide flowers have violet-blue corollas. They are commonly found on roadsides, as well as in thickets and stony ground, and in woodland. It can be seen very frequently in spring.  The generic name, which derives from the Latin scabiosus = “rough, mangy”, may refer to the fact that they are supposedly used to cure scabies. According to some authors, the name may only refer to the roughness of the plant, which, in some varieties, is very hairy.

Rose hips (Rosa canina)

From the Rosaceae family, it is a shrub with thorns, deciduous, 1 to 3 metres long. In fact, its scientific name, Rosa canina, refers to its thorns, which are shaped like a dog’s tooth. It is found in woods, hedges, roadsides and meadows. Its leaves are oval and toothed, generally hairless. The 5-petalled flowers are white or pink in colour and its coloured fruit is rounded and elongated at the end. It is also known as rose hip. This wild rose bush has astringent and toning qualities for the skin and contains a large quantity of vitamins. It is also used in the pharmaceutical industry to make eye drops.

Lavender (Lavandula latifolia)

It belongs to the Labiatae family and its bushy form can vary between 30 to 90 cm. It is evergreen. It is evergreen and the stem is quadrangular. It forms characteristic clumps of tall, branch-like stems. Its leaves are opposite, very narrow at the base and wider at the end (spatula-shaped). The flowers are blue-purple in colour, grouped in spikes with long stalks. It lives in meadows, pastures, hills and stony places. It has proven calming and nerve tonic effects. It is an aromatic corrector in many compounds, due to its pleasant fragrance.

Fumitory (Fumaria officinalis)

It is a herbaceous plant of the Papavaraceae family, with erect stems, alternate leaves with linear divisions, light green colour, clusters of tightly packed flowers with 4 petals with pink base and red edge. It grows on cultivated and waste ground and on old walls from early spring to autumn.

Mullein (Verbascum pulverulentum)

This plant belongs to the Scrofulariaceae family and is a biennial plant, between 30 and 200 cm high. Its stems are robust and hairy, with yellowish-green, oval leaves that are somewhat cut off at the edges, with pilosities on both sides. The yellow flowers are arranged in groups, forming clusters. It grows on roadsides, forest edges and clear, fairly sunny and warm sites. It flowers from the beginning of the year until the end of summer and is mainly pollinated by butterflies, hence its intense and striking colour. It has medicinal properties. It is emollient and expectorant for the respiratory tract, and has a certain purifying effect.

Hellebore (Helleborus cyclophyllus and Helleborus foetidus)

It is a herbaceous plant of the Ranunculaceae family. It has a height of between 20 to 60 cm and is a perennial. Its leaves are arranged in the shape of a rosette, are hard and light green in colour. The green flowers are hung in the shape of a bouquet. There is a variety of toxic hellebore that differs because the edge of the corolla of the flower is purple and has a foul smell. It is a highly poisonous plant and avoided by animals. It was formerly used for veterinary medicine and to poison arrowheads. It contains cardiotonic compounds and is therefore cultivated for the pharmacological industry, but is dangerous in unqualified hands.

Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)

Herbaceous plant belonging to the Umbelliferae family. It is perennial, bluish green in colour and can exceed 2 metres in height. It has several leaves at the base forming a rosette. Its erect, striated stems branch out at the top to produce yellow flowers in the form of inflorescences (umbels) composed of numerous rays. The leaves at the top are linear, thread-like, filiform segments. Its fruits are ovoid, very aromatic, bitter tasting and yellowish green in colour. It is found in fallow land, abandoned fields and roadsides. It is a plant widely used in popular medicine, especially recommended for digestive problems, but it also has analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, stimulant, diuretic and expectorant properties.

From a culinary point of view, it is used in confectionery and bakery products. Its branches are also used for seasoning, together with other plants, olives and brines.

Rushes (Scirpoides holoschoenus)

Belonging to the Cyperaceae family, this is a large perennial plant that always grows near watercourses forming “clumps”, which are a group of long, erect, cylindrical stems that grow from the same point, giving rise to dense formations. They therefore live in waterlogged or flooded areas, as well as in the calm waters of rivers, ponds or ditches. In times of famine, the bases of the stems are eaten as they are more tender, although there are species of rushes that are toxic, which is why they were not recommended at the time as they are difficult to identify. These stems, once left to dry, are also used to make handmade basketry products. In ancient Egypt, a nearby plant (cyperus papyrus) was highly valued, as the juice of the reed itself was used as a glue to make papyrus by means of an elaborate process.

Blue flax (linum narbonense)

It belongs to the Linaceae family. It is a small shrub that can reach a height of up to 50 cm. It lives in thickets, dry pastures or near areas where thyme grows. Its plores are pale blue with darker longitudinal stripes.  Its ohas are arranged alternately and are very elongated and thin. It is one of the species of the genus from which flax is obtained. This natural fibre is strong and soft, which is why it is used in the textile industry. Its seed also has laxative properties and molasses oil.

Lesser plantain (Plantago lanceolata)

It is a perennial plant up to 50 cm high. It has a basal rosette with lancelate or linear leaves that taper towards the petiole. The erect flower stalks arise from the axils of the leaves. The flowers are arranged in spherical spikes and bloom from the bottom upwards. The corolla is brownish-white and tube-shaped.  It is commonly found along roadsides and in meadows. It has antitussive properties, against colds, like the greater plantain.

Mallow (Malva neglecta)

It belongs to the mallow family. It is a perennial plant with erect, branched stems from the base that can reach up to 150 cm. It is found on roadsides, abandoned fields or wastelands. Its leaves are rounded with a serrated edge and between 5 and 7 marked lobes. The flowers are bright pink with marked veins and are arranged in fascicles in the axils of the leaves. It has medicinal properties, associated with the treatment of inflammations, stings and skin inflammations in general. It is also a protector of the digestive and respiratory mucous membranes. The raw leaves are sometimes used in soups and the more tender leaves in salads.

Camomile of the fields (Anacyclus clavatus)

It is an annual herb that grows to 10-40 cm, hairy and very similar to the true “chamomile”, although this one has a more robust vine and erect stems, with hardly any branches. They have their characteristic yellow bud and white petals. It is important to recognise the species well so that it can be used in infusions or eye baths. True chamomile (Matricaria Chamomilla) has an intense antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory effect, as well as decongesting the respiratory tract. It is harvested from late winter to early summer. Both species are usually found on wasteland, roadsides or in cereal fields.

Sanjuanera or yellow immortelle (Helichrysum stoechas)

It is a small shrub with light green and greyish foliage that belongs to the Compositae family. Evergreen, it is between 10 and 30 cm high. It forms dense, woody clumps at the base with many erect stems. When the branches break, it gives off a pungent smell reminiscent of curry and liquorice. The yellow flowers appear in compact, branched clusters at the end of the stem. The flower petals are hard and remain dry, so they are used in floristry. It occurs in open, rocky areas and in thickets and requires very sunny areas. In addition, from the point of view of its medicinal properties, it is used as a stomachic, against respiratory allergies, flu or colds. As a topical use, against eczema and skin problems, it is also valued in cosmetic use.

Daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare)

One of the most common and easily identifiable herbaceous plants, it belongs to the Compositae family. It has a basal rosette of leaves from which numerous stems arise. One or a few flower heads are arranged at the end. Although in the past it was used for medicinal purposes, it is not used nowadays, as it is a toxic plant. Its use is limited to decorative use in gardens. Not to be confused with chamomile or feverfew, which does have medicinal properties.

White bryony (Bryonia dioica)

This herbaceous plant is usually 1 to 3 metres long, with a root thickened into tubercles from which the aerial stems arise. It climbs by means of filamentous structures or “tendrils”, which means that it often invades other plants. It belongs to the cucurbitaceae family and although it has certain properties in the external treatment of joint rheumatism and muscular pain due to its local anaesthetic effect, we must be very careful because its red berries are very toxic and can be lethal.

Nettle (Urtica dioica)

Nettle is a perennial plant that can reach 1.5 metres in height. Its leaves are lanceolate, toothed and very hairy, which cause skin irritation when touched or rubbed. Its whitish flowers and fruits are arranged in slightly pendulous branched clusters. It lives in soils with a certain humidity and rich in organic matter and is known for its medicinal properties. It is vasoconstrictor, reduces haemorrhages, favours blood circulation and is diuretic and anti-anaemic. It is also used in cosmetics to combat skin conditions.

Water buttercup

This plant has white flowers, yellowing at the base of the petals. They grow in water or mud. Some have only finely divided underground leaves. Others have only floating or bare leaves that are palmate-lobed in shape. In some cases, there are buttercups with both types of leaves.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

This plant has a bushy shape and is highly branched. It is a perennial and belongs to the Labiatae family. It grows to a height of 0.5 to 2 metres. Its leaves are narrow and elongated and its pale bluish to light lilac flowers are arranged in spikes from the leaf axils. Their strong, balsamic scent is unmistakable. They occur in cleared thickets and are also grown in gardens and orchards.  It has been used by popular culture as a condiment in food and drink. It has been used in medicine as a stimulant, antispasmodic and diuretic. In perfumery and cosmetics it is highly prized

Salicaria (Lythrum salicaria)

A herb that grows to a height of 60 to 120 cm. Its leaves are ovate-lanceolate, pointed, toothless and opposite in pairs or threes. Its inflorescence is dense, spike-shaped, 10 to 30 cm long. Each flower has 6 purple-red petals. It grows next to rivers, lakes or marshes, although it needs a lot of sunlight. Sometimes it is even found rooted in the river bed. Traditionally, in natural medicine, it has been attributed properties that favour the cutting of haemorrhages.

Elder (Sambucus ebulus)

Herbaceous plant that belongs to the Caprifoliaceae family and is perennial. It has an unpleasant smell. Its stems are erect, normally without branches and characterised by a thick white pith inside. The leaves are opposite, oval, elongated and toothed. Raw roots and fruits are not recommended due to their toxicity, but the white flowers in inflorescences are used in infusions for flu-like conditions and as a detoxifier, due to their powerful sudorific and diuretic action. It normally appears in areas of undergrowth, sheepfolds or uncultivated land.

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)

It belongs to the labiatae family. It is a very branched, compact, greyish bush. It normally reaches 20 to 30 cm in height and is usually found associated with lavender and gorse in dry soils. It has very strong roots and is sometimes seen forming extensive patches of thyme bushes, whose main characteristic is their low cover and pungent aroma. Its flowers are white or pale pink and form clusters of 5 to 6. It has traditionally been used as a general tonic. It has balsamic and circulatory properties. In external use it is used as a rubbing for anti-rheumatic treatments.

Bramble or blackberry

It belongs to the Rosaceae family. It is an almost woody shrub with multiple thorns. Its flowers are white or pink with 5 petals. And its fruits, blackberries, are juicy fruits that everyone knows, which are used to make drinks and jams. It also has a dyeing character for fabrics. It is usually found on the banks of rivers, copses, ditches, banks or boundaries of farms and forests.

Bibliography

Coombes, Allen J. Árboles. Ed. Omega. Barcelona 1999

Grau/Jung/Münker. Plantas medicinales, bayas, verduras silvestres. Ed. Blume. Barcelona 1990

Coord. Zaldívar Ezquerro. C. Guía de plantas de La Rioja. Gobierno de La Rioja. Logroño 2008

Medrano Moreno, L.M. Coord. Zaldívar Ezquerro, C. Guía de Plantas de los Caminos de La Rioja. Gobierno de La Rioja. Logroño 2010