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 

Close up of tiny blue forget-me-not flowers on branch
Dog Rose – Rosa canina
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Flowering period: May – July

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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.

Honeysuckle – Caprifoliaceae

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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.

Enchanter’s nightshade – Circaea lutetiana
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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.

Columbine – Aquilegia

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Flowering period: May – June

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

Kingcup – Caltha palustris

Flowering Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris) on the banks of a pond

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.

Cornflower – Centaurea cyanus

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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.

Water avens – Geum rivale

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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.

Forget-me-not – Myosotis
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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!”

Scarlet pimpernel – Anagallis arvensis

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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.

Ragged Robin – Lychnis flos-cuculi

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Flowering Period: May – August

“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.

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