Identifying wildflowers

Learn how to tell your corncockle from your cornflower with our ID tips and tricks

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Close up of a wasp on a corncockle

 

There are some plants we all know at first glance – the bright red poppy, or the tiny daisy – but could you tell the difference between upright hedge parsley and burnet saxifrage? If you came across a beautiful wildflower, on a walk in a woodland or amongst unmown grass in your local park, how would you go about finding out what it is?

Questions you should be asking involve the shape, colour and scent of the plant’s leaves and flowers. Get specific – are its leaves smooth or prickly? How are the flowers arranged on the stem? Does it have a distinctive smell?

 

Resources for identifying wildflowers

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Bindweed growing on a fence

 

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We’ve created a wildflower ID template to help you, and your friends and family, look at wildflowers more closely and to help you begin to build a botanical vocabulary. It’s not intended to be exhaustive, but we hope it will help you pay closer attention to wildflowers and develop the eyes, and nose, of a botanist!

This template assumes that you’re looking at wildflowers in bloom during the summer months, and that’s a very good place to start when you’re learning to identify wildflowers.

Print out some copies, share them around, and work through the template next time you’re out and about.

You’ll soon realise that there’s far more to wildflower identification than just looking at colour!

Download our wildflower template:

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GrowWild_Wildflower_ID_template.pdf

 

Once you’ve noted down the details of your unknown specimen, have a look through our wildflower gallery and compare your notes with some of the plants on the list.

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Corn Marigold

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Corn Marigold Factsheet.pdf

 

Musk Mallow

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Musk Mallow Factsheet.pdf

 

Yarrow

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Yarrow Factsheet.pdf

 

Corn poppy

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Corn Poppy Factsheet.pdf

 

Red campion

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Red Campion Factsheet.pdf

 

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The Wildlife Trust

More guides to wildflowers.

The Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland

Tips to get started in botany

A questionnaire on key plant characteristics to help you identify your flowers: Flora Search

Plantlife

Spotter sheets sorted by month and habitat.

Plants of the World Online

Plants of the world online is Kew’s digital record of plants from around the world. This record is searchable by description as well as name.

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The Wild Flower Key by Francis Rose

The Collins Wild Flower Guide by David Streeter

Wild Flowers by Simon Harrap

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The iNaturalist app can help you to identify plants, but also record and share what you’ve found with a community of scientists and enthusiasts around the world. 

Find out more and download the iNaturalist app.

 

Where can I see wildflowers in the UK?

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A wildflower meadow with Oxeye daisies

 

Walk through a wild landscape and you enter a spectacular, vivid and exciting world. A world alive with butterflies and bees, rich in colours and scents that evoke memories of summer.

Wildflower habitats are hugely varied – marshy pasture, mountainous landscape or traditional hay meadow – but wildflowers all do best in lightly managed or natural locations. Sadly, many fields and pastures where they once grew have vanished but, although under threat, there are still places where they can be enjoyed. 

Find out where Grow Wild's community projects are and if they're open to the public on our project map. (link)

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