A Beginner’s Guide to Identifying Wildflowers in Britain
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A Beginner's Guide to Identifying British Wildflowers

From bluebells to buttercups, primroses to ramsons, Britain is home to some of the most wonderful wildflowers in the world. Commonly found in wildflower meadows, woodland areas and all over the great British countryside, the beauty of these flowers is waiting to be explored. Read our guide on how to identify British wildflowers, when they flower and where to find them.

Can you pick wildflowers in Britain? Under the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act it’s unlawful to pick, uproot or destroy any wild plants. Therefore you can look, take wonderful photos and enjoy wildflowers but please be careful not to disrupt them in any way.

1. Wood anemone (Anemone nemorosa)

Wood anemone

Wood anemone is a common early-spring flower from the buttercup family and usually indicative of ancient woodland. This pretty flower is easily identifiable, with usually six to seven petals that are normally a crisp white with a hint of pink, surrounding a cluster of bright yellow anthers. The stem of a wood anemone is normally thin and brownish red.

Wood anemones usually flower from March to May and are often found in woodlands, forests, hedgerows and meadows.

2. Dog rose (Rose canina)

Dog rose

Dog rose (Rose canina) Dog rose (also known as wild briar or wild rose) is a member of the rose family and a deciduous shrub often grown as a hedge up to 3m tall with arching branches. It is widely recognised by its beautiful large pink or white flowers that bloom in summer, producing a faint, sweet smell. Dog rose also produces bright red and glossy fruits, eaten by birds and small mammals.

Dog roses flower normally in June and July and are most commonly found in hedges, but they also grow in woodlands, meadows and scrubland.It is a resilient shrub that can thrive in a wide range of conditions such as poor soil.

3. Ragged robin (Lychnis flos-cuculi)

Ragged robin

Ragged robin is a dainty perennial plant in the Caryophyllaceae family. Ragged robins are characterised by their delicate deep pink to magenta colour, fringed petals and slender dark green leaves.

Ragged robins usually bloom from late May to early July and you will often find them in a damp wildflower meadow or other marshy areas. As their flowers are rich in nectar, you will often find ragged robins surrounded by bees and butterflies.

4. Primrose (Primula vulgaris)


Primroses are a group of flowering plants belonging to the Primulaceae family. Primroses are widely recognised by their large, milky yellow petals with darker yellow/orange centres. They also come in various other beautiful colours, including pink, purple, white and sometimes blue.

Primroses flower from late winter and welcome spring, flowering through to May. You will often find them in woodland and grassland, thriving most in partial shade.

5. Cowslip (Primula veris)


Cowslip is a herbaceous perennial flowering plant in the Primulaceae family and a cousin to the primrose. Cowslip is known for its deep golden hue and pretty bell-shaped appearance, enough to brighten up anyone's day.

Cowslip waves a cheerful hello to spring, flowering from April to May. Cowslip can be found in meadows, grassland and woodland areas all over the UK.

 6. Common daisy (Bellis perennis)

Common daisy

The common daisy is a perennial herbaceous plant belonging to the Asteraceae family. Daisies are easily identified by their size (10 - 15 centimetres) and their delicate white petals and bright yellow middle.

If the autumn and winter months are mild, the common daisy can bloom all year round but their most significant flowering months are April to June. You will find the common daisy all over Britain during spring and summer, blanketing large fields of grass or even high up in the mountains.

7. Lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis)

Lily of the valley

Lily of the valley is a beautiful perennial. It is well recognised by its bell-shaped, white flowers and fresh, spring-like smell often used in perfumes and soaps.

The leaves of lily of the valley start to appear in late March or early April and bloom for just three weeks. Lily of the valley is commonly found in dry woodlands, gardens and occasionally limestone pavements!

Please note: This plant is poisonous, keep dogs and children well away.

8. Ramsons (Allium ursinum)


Ramsons (also known as wild garlic) are a bulbous perennial herb, native to Britain. They have long, lance-shaped leaves that are bright green with a smooth texture and crisp white petals. When ramsons flowers bloom they transform the colour of the ground into bright white and vibrant green. The most distinctive feature of a ramson is the strong garlic smell that comes when it is crushed.

Ramsons flower from April to June and you will usually find them in shady woods or the banks of streams.

Please note: Be careful not to mistake wild garlic for highly poisonous lily of the valley (see number 7) which is similar in appearance . The key difference between these two plants is wild garlics distinctive smell.

 9. Cornflower (Centaurea cyanus)


Cornflowers are pretty flowering plants that belong to the Asteraceae family. They are well-recognised for their vibrant purple two-tiered flowers, the upper ones taking a distinctive lanceolate shape and the lower ones serrated. Cornflowers can also be pink, white, red and pink.

Cornflower’s first flower around the beginning of summer, continuing to bloom for around 10 weeks from June to September. You will find cornflowers in many leafy areas, including gardens, fields and meadows.

10. Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis)


Snowdrops are small, bulbous perennial plants from the Amaryllidaceae family. Snowdrops are recognised by their six dainty white bell-shaped tepals - three larger outer ones and three smaller inner ones. Tepals are similar looking to petals and translucent enough to let sunlight shine through.

Snowdrops flower from January to early March and can be found in numerous places including: woodland, riverbanks, parks, gardens and meadows.

11. Fly orchid (Ophrys insectifera)

Fly orchids

Fly orchid is a species of orchid native to Europe. The fly orchid is a fascinating wildflower as it mimics the appearance and scent of a female fly to attract digger wasps. When the male then attempts to mate, they get a dusting of pollen and carry this to the next flower to entice them and as a result pollinate the next plant.

You will recognise a fly orchid from their fly-like appearance: A dark reddish brown colour, a metallic blue-white centre that looks like a pair of wings and two small spikes that look like an antennae.

The bloom of fly orchids is relatively short, usually flowering from May to June. You will find fly orchids in limestone and chalk soils from woodlands and forests to scrublands and coastal areas.

12. Bulbous buttercup (Ranunculus bulbosus)

Bulbous buttercup

The bulbous buttercup is a perennial plant and part of the Ranunculaceae family. The bulbous buttercup is well-known for its bright glossy yellow petals and green hairy stem. They are one of the smaller wildflowers, growing to a height of 15 to 30 centimetres.

Bulbous buttercups flower in early spring and are commonly found in gardens, fields, pastures and hedgerow meadows.

13. Wood forget-me-not (Myosotis sylvatica)

Wood forget me not

Wood forget-me-not is a species of flowering plants in the Boraginaceae family. Wood forget-me-nots grow flurries of pretty bright blue flowers with yellow centres. Wood forget-me-nots typically flower from late spring to early summer. As well as being a popular garden plant, you will find forget-me-nots in meadows, fields and wet woodland areas.

The common poppy flowers from June to August. You will often see the common poppy brightening up fields, meadows and roadsides.

14. Common poppy (Papaver rhoeas)

Common poppy

The common poppy is a flowering plant belonging to the Papaveraceae family. The common poppy is easily distinguishable by its ruby red flowers and dark middle. Whilst bright scarlet is its signature colour, the common poppy can also be white, mauvish or a lighter red.

The common poppy flowers from June to August. You will often see the common poppy brightening up fields, meadows and roadsides.

15. Wild daffodil (Narcissus pseudonarcissus)

Wild daffodil

Wild daffodils are perennial plants from the Amaryllidaceae family. Daffodils have flowers that tend to be a light, milky yellow colour with a dark yellow circle in the middle. They usually have a sweet, floral smell. Daffodils usually grow to around 20 to 40 centimetres, however it can vary.

Wild daffodils herald the arrival of spring and warmer days to come, typically flowering from March to April. Wild daffodils can be found across plenty of areas in the UK, particularly thriving in damp woodlands and meadows.

16. Foxgloves (Digitalis purpurea)


Foxglove is a well-known wildflower across Britain and belongs to the Plantaginaceae family. They have a distinguishable appearance: Tall up-right spikes and tubular flowers that are normally a pretty pink or rich purple, however they can also be yellow and white. Foxgloves vary in height, normally around 90 to 150 centimetres.

Foxgloves typically flower from May to July. You can find foxgloves in meadows, woodlands, coastal cliffs, along hedgerows and on roadsides.

Please note: Be careful not to touch or consume wild foxglove as it is poisonous.

17. Early purple orchid (Orchis mascula)

Early purple orchid

Early purple orchids are flowering plants and part of the Orchidaceae family. They usually have a single flower spike that grows around 10-30 flowers that are a deep purplish-pink colour.

As indicated by its name, early purple orchids are one of the first wildflowers to bloom in spring, flowering from April to June. You will find early purple orchids often on hedgerow verges. You may also find them in meadows, woodlands and hedgerows.

18. Common bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta)

Bluebell Woods 

Bluebells are a perennial purple/blue bell-shaped wildflower in the lily family.

Bluebells tend to flower from late March to early May, reaching full bloom in late April or early May, however, it can vary each year. The initial bluebell bloom often marks the beginning of spring. You will find bluebells in woodlands and forests, as the bluebell is commonly used to identify ancient woodland.

Please note: Bluebell sap contains toxic glycosides so keep dogs and children away.

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