Best wildflowers to spot in February

The first wildflowers of the year lift our spirits with their promise of spring, also providing a vital source of nectar and pollen for the emerging bees and butterflies, tempted out by late winter sun. Here is our guide to the best wildflowers to spot in late winter, plus how to identify

Closeup of glowing springtime flowers Star of Bethlehem
1

Alexanders

The green umbels of Alexanders have a musty smell that attracts fly pollinators. A former herb, it fell from favour after celery was introduced. It’s now naturalised near the coast.

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Yellow dung fly (Scathophaga stercoraria) with prey
Common fly feeding on Alexanders ©Getty
2

Wood sorrell

Its nodding flowers may be marked with pink veins and yellow spots at their base. Wood sorrel often grows over decaying branches on the woodland floor.

Common Wood Sorrel, Oxalis acetosella, flowers macro with leaves defocused, selective focus, shallow DOF
The leaves of wood sorrel are edible ©Getty

Snowdrops in woodlands

3

Butterbur

Underground rhizomes produce conical pink inflorescences that erupt through riverbank soil before the leaves expand. It has separate male and female plants.

Short to tall, hairy patch-forming perennial. Leaves rounded-heart-shaped, grey-hairy beneath, appearing after the flowers and often very large, irregularly toothed. Flower heads pale reddish-violet, unscented, the male larger 7-12mm, the female 3-6mm, borne in cone-shaped panicles.
Butterbur has unscented white-pink flowers ©Getty
4

Yellow star of Bethlehem

Green-backed petals open to reveal umbels of yellow blooms that are easily overlooked among the lesser celandines. It is locally common on limestone soils.

Closeup of glowing springtime flowers Star of Bethlehem
The yellow star of Bethlehem is a member of the family Liliaceae ©Getty
5

Sweet violet

The only native violet that’s fragrant, this is always the first to flower. Creeping stolons root at their tip, so old plants form large patches in hedgebanks.

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Sweet violet is also commonly known as wood violet ©Getty
6

Barren strawberry

Similar to wild strawberry, this blooms earlier and its petals don’t touch one another. Fruits are dry and inedible. It is very common on woodland edges.

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geograph-1243653-by-ceridwen-e60cedb
Look for hairy, blue-green leaves ©Ceridwen, Geograph
7

Spurge Laurel

Clusters of scented green flowers on this evergreen shrub attract the first bees and brimstone butterflies. Find it in calcareous soils, in hedge banks and beech woods.

geograph-5289399-by-Patrick-Roper-8bc8a04
Spurge Laurel in flower ©Patrick Roper, Geograph