Coastal flowers guide: how to identify

Get to know the pretty summer blooms found on our coasts, cliffs, dunes and shores with our expert guide to coastal flowers found in the UK.

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Published: July 1st, 2019 at 3:56 pm
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Explore the UK's coastline and learn to identify wild flowers with our expert guide to coastal flowers found in the UK.



Also known as sea pink, thrift is usually found on cliffs but also on saltmarshes and sandy locations. The flowers form globular heads 15–25mm across. Flowers from April to July.

Wild flowers
Thrift also known as sea pink (Getty)

Where to see

Pretty clumps of thrift can be found all around the UK. Spot along coastal cliffs, shingle beaches, salt marshes and sand dunes.


Spring squill

Part of the asparagus family, and mainly found on the western and northern coasts of Britain. Blooms from March to August, with blue-violet flowers up to 15mm across.

Wild flower
Spring squill (Getty)

Where to see

Spring squill is found along the north and west coasts of the UK, the east coast of Scotland, the eastern coast of Ireland and coastal paths in West Wales. Found on coastal grassland.

Muker Meadows, North Yorkshire

Sea campion

A widespread seaside plant with a distinctive veiny tube known as a calyx beneath the flower. It blooms between June and August, with white flowers 20–25mm across.

Wild flower
Sea campion (Getty)

Where to see

Sea campion is found along most of the British coastline and some low-lying inland areas of north-west England and western Scotland on limestone habitats. Found on cliffs and amongst shingle.


Sea beet

The ancestor of beetroot and many other domesticated plants, sea beet is found in a variety of coastal habitats. The flowers are green and on spikes, and bloom from July to September.

Seaside plant
Sea beet, the ancestor of beetroot

Where to see

Sea beet is found throughout the UK coastline, except in northern Scotland. Found amongst shingle, bare ground, cliffs, sea-walls and in saltmarshes.


Sea holly

Despite the name, it’s not related to the holly we associate with Christmas. The blue flowers grow in globular heads up to 40mm across, and bloom between July and September.

Wild flower
Sea holly

Where to see

Sea holly is found all over the English and Welsh coast but less common in Scotland and north-east England. Find it on on sandy shores and dunes.


Sea bindweed

A pink-and-white creeping plant of sand dunes and cliff tops, it’s common in coastal Britain. The pink or purple flower, up to 50mm across, is split by white stripes. Blooms June to August.

Pink and white wild flower
Sea bindweed (Getty)

Where to see

Sea bindweed is found along the English, Welsh and eastern Ireland coastline but less common in Scotland. Find in sand dunes and on cliff tops.


Sea aster

Asters are also known as Michaelmas daisies. Common and usually found in saltmarshes, estuaries and on cliffs. It flowers from July to October, with purple flowers up to 20mm across.

Pink wild flower
Sea aster, also known as Michaelmas daisies (Getty)

Where to see

Sea aster is found all along the UK coastline, but absent in parts of north-east of Scotland. Often found in saltmarshes, estuaries and sometimes on cliffs.


Golden samphire

Grows on sea cliffs and other rocky places, and drier saltmarshes in south-west Britain and Ireland. Its yellow flowers, up to 25mm across, bloom from July to September.

Yellow wild flowers
Golden samphire

Where to see

Golden Samphire is found only in parts of East Anglia, the Southeast, South and Southwest of England and parts of southern Ireland. Found in saltmarshes and cliffs.


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