Weeds – sources references links contacts

Books and articles

[Page being transferred and updated – 19 September 2015]

There are few recent books on weeds. For identification of species, try to get hold of Chancellor or Hanf, both still available second-hand, or else try the web sites below, including our own ASIS site.

For readers with a deeper interest, Brenchley’s title was the first substantial book on weeds in Britain and gives an idea of the practical and economic problems due to weeds before the pesticide years. The books by Long, also well out of print, give the picture one or two decades after Brenchley.

CTW is still the best for summaries of functional form and life cycle biology of most weed species likely to be met.  Those readers interested in more specialist books and papers are welcome to contact the authors.

  • Brenchley WE. 1920. Weeds of farm land. Longman, Green and Co. London. 239 pages.
  • Chancellor RJ. 1966. The identification of weed seedlings of farm and garden. Blackwell Oxford. 88 pages. (One of the best for identification of seedlings.)
  • Clapham AR, Tutin TG, Warburg EF. 1952. 2nd ed. 1962. Flora of the British Isles. Cambridge University Press. 2nd edn 1269 pages. (Later revisions with changed authorship are available.)
  • Grigson G. 1958. The Englishman’s flora. Paperback published 1975 by Paladin, St Albans, UK. 542 pages.
  • Hanf M. 1983. The arable weeds of Europe with their seedlings and seeds 1983 BASF. [http://web.adas.co.uk/WeedManager/FurtherReading.aspx].
  • Hubbard CE. 1954. Grasses. Second edition 1968. Penguin Books. 463 pages. (There are later, revised editions with different authors.)
  • Hutchinson J. 1955. British wild flowers. Volumes I and II. (Pelican) Penguin Books. 947 pages.
  • Long HC. 1929. Weeds of arable land. HMSO London.
  • Long HC. 1927. Poisonous plants on the Farm. HMSO London.
  • Long HC. 1938. Weeds of grass land. HMSO London.  (All books by Long are useful still, but hard to find. Good black and white drawings and photographs, some in colour in the one on grass land.)
  • Ranson F. 1949. British herbs. (Pelican) Penguin Books. 203 pages
  • Stace C.  New flora of the British Isles. Cambridge University Press. 1130 pages. ISBN 0 52158933 5. (Current standard reference for plant names and taxonomic status.)

The Plants For A Future web site has a searchable database on plants including many of those classed as weeds.

Botanical Society of the British Isles (BSBI) guides

The BSBI have a set of invaluable handbooks on common plant families or groups.

  • Lousley JE, Kent, DH. 1981. Docks and knotweeds of the British Isles. BSBI London. 205 pages. Paperback ISBN 0 901158 04 6.
  • Rich TCG. 1991. Crucifers of Great Britain and Ireland. BSBI London. 336 pages. Paperback ISBN 0 901158 20 8.
  • Tutin TG. 1980. Umbellifers of the British Isles.  BSBI London. 197 pages. Paperback ISBN 0 901158 02 X.
Weeds and the Law

Colin Reid of Dundee University has kindly allowed us to make the following article available via a pdf. His book on Conservation Law contains additional material.
Reid CT, Reid MA. 1990. Weeds and the law. Journal of the Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society, (1990) 47-49. Pdf file 300 kb.

Web sites and databases

The Plants For A Future web site has a searchable database on plants including many of those classed as weeds.

At the Hutton

The information on this page is based on the Institute’s work on arable seedbanks, initiated by Harry Lawson (now retired), and Gladys Wright, and carried out since the 1980s. Databases on seedbanks and weed vegetation are maintained to help research on sustainable food production and biodiversity. An online guide called ASIS was constructed to enable people to identify the common weeds. The Living Field garden provides refuge for and a teaching resource on weed species.

ASIS (Arable Seed Identification System) is a free, web based guide to weed seeds, later extended to include seedlings and mature plants. It was developed by Gladys Wright and Bruce Marshall at SCRI and a group of students at the University of Abertay Dundee. The original online system is still current and (we hope) will be updated. See it at ASIS.

Photographs of seeds and plants shown on this web page are from the Living Field’s own collection. Many of them, including those with a black background, were taken by the (then) SCRI staff photographers, notably Stuart Malecki, from material prepared by Gladys Wright and helpers. Most other more recent photographs were taken by Geoff Squire. Please respect their work and do not use photographs from this page or any other part of the Living Field site without getting permission.

Recording of seedbanks and arable vegetation is a specialist skill learned and practiced at SCRI by (alphabetically) Cathy Hawes, Gillian Banks, Gladys Wright, Linda Ford and Geoff Squire. In addition, Pietro (Pete) Iannetta and Alison Karley contribute specialist knowledge of weed biology.

A summary of scientific studies on weeds at the Hutton and SCRI is available at IPM Weeds from which a PDF is available for download.

Text on this page by Geoff Squire.

Contact for seedbank studies and ASIS: Gladys Wright