How to identify spring wildflowers

Brush up on your spring wildflower ID skills with our handy guide. Here are 12 species for you to look out for. 

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 Field forget-me-not
All illustrations by Felicity Rose Cole

                                                                                                                                                                   

1. Field forget-me-not Myosotis arvensis (above) 

Annual on well-drained soils often near rabbit burrows and field edges. Blue flowers measure up to 5mm across.

 

 

2. Early forget-me-not Myosotis ramosissima

Local and tiny annual on well-drained soils. Smaller than field forget-me-not with intensely blue flowers 3mm wide.

 

 

3. Alternate-leaved golden saxifrage Chrysosplenium alternifolium

Locally scattered in lime-flushed places. Flowers in yellow clusters.

 

 

4. Opposite-leaved golden saxifrage Chrysosplenium oppositifolium

Non-limy soils, wet woodland, rocks and streamsides. Yellow-green sepals.

 

5. Cowslip Primula veris

Meadows, downs and road verges. Flower clusters smaller and brighter than single-stemmed primroses.

 

 

6. Oxlip Primula elatior

Ancient coppiced woods in south-east England, naturalised elsewhere. Drooping clusters of yellow flowers. 

 

 

7. Greater stitchwort Stellaria holostea

Woodland rides, hedgerows and roadsides. Much larger flowers than lesser stitchwort and broader leaves.

 

 

8. Lesser stitchwort Stellaria graminea

Well-drained grassland, roadsides on acid soils. Small flowers. Petals longer than sepals. Bright green leaves. 

 

 

9. Bugle Ajuga reptans

Creeping patches in woodland rides especially on heavy soils. Flowers blue in upright spikes. Shiny leaves.

 

 

10. Ground ivy Glechoma hederacea

Creeping mats especially on well-drained soils. Purple flowers. Leaves rounded, hairy and deeply toothed.

 

 

11. Sweet violet Viola odorata

Woods and hedgerows. Flowers rich purple, pinkish-purple or white. Spreads by stolons (runners).

 

 

12. Early dog violet Viola reichenbachiana

Woods and old hedgerows, often with wood anemone, primroses etc. Flowers lilac. No stolons (runners).

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