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British woodlands beyond bluebells

Posted on 08th May 2017

A spring stroll in a blue carpeted wood is a tradition so British it should be served with strawberries and cream, and has even been immortalised in verse. However, there is more to our woodland floors than these spring bulbs. Every child who grows up somewhere rural or enjoyed a Forest of Dean cottage holiday will know the joy of running through the dew-soaked flowers, but while they are pretty to enjoy en masse, there are other plants to seek out this spring. Here are a few of our favourite flowers to scout out during the British springtime.

Bugle

Common Bugle

Another purple flower that can easily get lost among the bluebells, the Bugle is an evergreen with a ground cover habit. The lowly Bugle had its place as a medicinal herb historically, used to cure everything from liver ailments to ulcers.

Coltsfoot

Yellow Coltsfoot

Part of the daisy family and native to Europe, Coltsfoot has long been visible in our woodlands.

The flowers appear some weeks before the leaves which gives this plant many of its common names, such as horse hoof or bull’s foot. It is also known as coughwort as the leaves were once used to make a tea that was thought to soothe colds.

Ramsons

Ramsons or Wild Garlic flowers

Ramsons are also known as wild garlic and you will be able to smell these before you see them. Related to the onion family they look a lot like the alliums you can grow in your own garden. They are edible and taste strongly of garlic and spring onions – the perfect addition to fresh salads, garlic mushrooms and much more.

Toothwort

Toothwort flowers

This is a parasitic plant, and, having no green stems or leaves, it will only be found on the bases of certain trees. It is often found at the base of alder, hazel and beech where it taps into the root systems. Often overlooked by longer-stemmed flowers, it is a sign of old forests.

Image Credit: Katja Schultz, Shenandoah National Park, Jerzy Opiola, Mark Coleman