A beginner’s guide to native British wildflowers

The simple beauty of wildflowers is a joy. Our guide to native British wildflowers looks at lovely flowers that bloom over summer.

blue forget-me-not flowers

Beautiful British wildflowers provide a vital food source for pollinators, such as butterflies, bees and other insects.

Advertisement

Flora in the UK can be enjoyed throughout the seasons, with early winter blooms such as snowdrops and wood sorrel appearing in January and February.

Come spring woodlands, hedgerows begin to fill with wildflowers, such as wild garlic flowers and cow parsley.

Later in early summer, the countryside comes alive with the colourful wildflower meadows, hedgerows and road verges fill with cornflowers, dandelions and poppies.

Wildflowers seeds are distributed on the breeze – or you can have a go at sowing your own mini wildflower meadow.

Here is our beginner’s guide to British wildflowers, explaining how to identify each species of flower and where to spot.

If you’d like to learn more, our British seasonal wildflowers guide gives a more comprehensive overview.

How to identify British wildflowers

1

Dog Rose – Rosa canina

Dog Rose – Rosa canina
Dog Rose – Rosa canina/Credit: Getty

Flowering period: May – July

In the 18th and 19th century it was thought that Dog Rose could treat the bite of a rabid dog, giving a possible explanation for its name.


2

Honeysuckle – Caprifoliaceae

Honeysuckle – Caprifoliaceae
Honeysuckle – Caprifoliaceae/Credit: Getty

Flowering period: June – September

Honeysuckle has long been associated with various superstitions, one being that if it was planted around the entrance of a house, it could prevent witches from entering the home.


3

Enchanter’s nightshade – Circaea lutetiana

Enchanter’s nightshade – Circaea lutetiana
Enchanter’s nightshade – Circaea lutetiana/Credit: Getty

Flowering period: June – August

The botanical name of this wildflower is named after Circe, a witch from ancient Greece, who notoriously turned men into animals.


4

Columbine – Aquilegia

Columbine – Aquilegia
Columbine – Aquilegia/Credit: Getty

Flowering period: May – June

Part of the buttercup family, this flower is also the state flower of Colorado.


5

Kingcup – Caltha palustris

Flowering Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris) on the banks of a pond
Kingcup – Caltha palustris/Credit: Getty

Flowering period: March – August

Kingcup’s are also known as Marsh Marigold, the term marigold came about when it was used in church festivals in the middle ages, as a devotion to the Virgin Mary.


6

Cornflower – Centaurea cyanus

Cornflower – Centaurea cyanus
Cornflower – Centaurea cyanus/Credit: Getty

Flowering period: June – September

In folklore young men who believed they were in love wore these flowers, and if the flower faded quickly it represented that their love was not returned.


7

Water avens – Geum rivale

Water avens – Geum rivale
Water avens – Geum rivale/Credit: Getty

Flowering period: May – September

The roots of this plant has many medical uses due to it containing high amounts of tannins, the root can also be used as an anti-inflammatory and antiseptic.


8

Forget-me-not – Myosotis

Forget-me-not – Myosotis
Forget-me-not – Myosotis/Credit: Getty

Flowering period: April – June

The name comes from a German romantic tragedy, where a man falls into a fast flowing river while on a stroll with his lover. While being swept away he throws a bouquet of these flowers at her, shouting, “Forget me not!”


9

Scarlet pimpernel – Anagallis arvensis

Scarlet pimpernel – Anagallis arvensis
Scarlet pimpernel – Anagallis arvensis/Credit: Getty

Flowering period: May – August

Best known as the emblem for the famous fictional character in Emma Orczy’s first novel, this British wildflower is probably our most pleasant weed.


10

Ragged Robin – Lychnis flos-cuculi

Ragged Robin – Lychnis flos-cuculi
Ragged Robin – Lychnis flos-cuculi/Credit: Getty

Flowering Period: May – August

Advertisement

“flos-cuculi” is supposedly means “Flower of the cuckoo”, named as the first flowers of the Ragged Robin appear just as the British Cuckoos are first heard in May.