Wild Flowers of Ireland
Ireland's Wild Flowers
Despite the dark side of Ireland's history, the land glows with green-colored beauty. It is an emerald jewel of an island with misty, verdant countrysides framed by rocky coastlines. Travel its 170 miles from east to west and you will delight in seeing the country's fertile central plain, ringed by gently rolling hills and imposing mountains. Journey from north to south (about 300 miles) and you will be entranced by its scenic lakes and rivers, by its magnificent coastal panoramas, and by the variety of color, a profusion of greenery and flowers. Once seen, Ireland's beauty is difficult to forget.
Although the country is fundamentally agricultural, in recent years some industries have sprung up. The few large centers of population, like Dublin, capital of the Republic, and Belfast, capital city of Northern Ireland, contrast starkly with the quiet, peaceful towns and villages of rural areas with a lot of wild flowers to delight the locals and visitors alike.
Initially I am only including photographs of Irish wildflowers which I think I can identify correctly, however, I won't mind having any mistakes pointed out. As time goes on, I hope to add more photographs of Irish wild flowers.
I am wild about flowers and the the wild flowers of Ireland are no exception .. I hope that you will get some enjoyment from this lens.
Photo -"Wild Flowers" courtesy of Will Borden Inspiring Photography & Digital Designs
The National Flower of Ireland
The thought of "Irish shamrocks" evokes in me visions of the green landscape of the Emerald Isle.
The Shamrock, a three-leafed old white clover is a symbol of Ireland and a registered trademark of the Republic of Ireland.
The term "shamrock" derives from the Irish word, "seamrog," which translates to "little clover." Rather vague, considering that there are many kinds of clovers -- and even more plants that can pass as clovers to the layman. Consequently, in St. Patrick's Day celebrations a number of plants serve as Irish shamrocks. But there is no "real McCoy" that can claim to be the authoritative shamrock.
Even among the denizens of Ireland itself, there is no consensus that dubs one particular plant as the true Irish shamrock, as Tippitiwitchet Cottage reports in a 1988 survey concerning shamrocks. The survey, conducted at the National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin, Dublin, revealed that when the Irish wear the "shamrock," it can be any one of four plants. Three of the plants are clovers, while the fourth is a clover-like plant known as "medick."
During Victorian times, the shamrock was a very useful little plant, traditionally used for its medical properties.. Today Shamrocks are used mainly, as a badge for sports teams, state organizations, troops abroad from Ireland and, of course, to show "Irishness" on St. Patrick's Day.
A visual tour - By the by ...
I have taken it upon myself this spring to learn about some wild flowers in various parts of the world and record them. The first of my diaries are of flowers growing wild in Ireland. I have done my best to correctly identify these plants in the photographs but I may have made a mistake here or there. Please do not use my Wild Flower Diary as your only resource for identifying the wild flowers of Ireland as it is only meant to be enjoyed as a visual tour of these wild flowers. I am not an expert on wild plants, I am only beginning on my wild plant education.
I hope to add a new dimension to a country walk or bicycle ride by drawing your attention to the amazing but often overlooked beauty of what is growing along the way. Even in the earliest parts of the year there are wildflowers to be found and when you get into the habit of looking at every hedgerow, wayside and ditch, you'll be well rewarded. You will find rare wildflowers such as gentian and orchids and bloody cranesbill.
I hope that you get some enjoyment from this lens.
Bell Heather, a short, hairless, evergreen undershrub is also known as Ling. This native plant is a much loved sight on hills, moorland and dry acid soils. Coloring the landscape from June to September, the bell-shaped, pink/purple flowers are 5-6mm long and occasionally white. The 'bell' in fact is four petals fused together. Bell Heather's leaves are narrow, dark-green - sometimes bronzy - and in whorls of 3 up the stems. Heather is a very versatile plant. It can survive in many soil types, from those which are peaty with a high water content to those which are free draining and relatively dry.
Although heather can be found growing in the wild in many variations of purple/red, it is considered to be lucky to find heather with white flowers.
All heathers have been much used over the centuries, from bedding material, brooms, fuel, baskets, thatching to flavoring for beer. Heather also supplies nectar for the bees and it is well known to give flavor and color to honey.
The Red Deer and Roe Deer browse heavily on the heather, particularly in the winter months when other food is hard to find. Other 'nibblers' include Mountain and Brown Hare who require the young heather for browsing, and rank heather for cover. Rabbits living on moorland also enjoy young shoots.
Of course domestic animals too, such as cattle and sheep, benefit from grazing on heather in areas which have been specially designated and managed solely for this purpose.
Lavender Blue by Sammy Turner - Beautiful!
"Lavender Blue" is an English folk song that dates back to the 17th Century, and it has since been sung and recorded with variations on the verse. The first popular recording of the tune was turned in by Burl Ives in Disney's 1949 film "So Dear To My Heart". Several other recordings of "Lavender Blue" were soon made notably by Sammy Kaye and Dinah Shore. Ten years later Sammy Turner sang this tune for the recording of his life, and one by which he will always be remembered. "Lavender Blue" was the #3 song in the nation during the summer of 1959.
For me, this plant represents the Burren at its best. With its most attractive foliage and its bright red-purple flowers it carpets rocky places, banks and even grows in the little hollows of the limestone pavements. From June to August, these 2-3cm five-petalled flowers appear, each on its own hairy stem. The deeply-lobed, dark green leaves are round but deeply divided to the base. The fruits of this outstanding native plant of the Burren, as is common to all cranesbills, end in long pointed crane-like seed heads.
When the blooms first appear on this plant, they are a beautiful magenta color and as they begin to fade, the flowers turn to a more violet hue. The stamens also change color during the short life of the flower: they start out with beautiful blue anthers which, when they have shed their pollen also shed their color. The leaves also change color becoming a beautiful rusty red in autumn.
The Bog Rosemary is a small shrub growing to 10-20 cm (rarely to 40 cm) tall with slender stems. The leaves are evergreen, alternately arranged, lanceolate, 1-5 cm long and 2-8 mm broad, dark green above (purplish in winter) and white beneath with the leaf margins curled under.
The flowers are bell-shaped, white to pink, 5-8 mm long; flowering is in late spring to early summer. The fruit is a small capsule containing numerous seeds.
The name derives from the superficial resemblance of the leaves to those of the unrelated shrub Rosemary. Bog-rosemary, is found across northern parts of the Northern Hemisphere. Bog- rosemary is found in the cold peat-accumulating areas; large bogs of County Offaly including the Boora bog, Blackwater bog and the Bog of Allen.
Bog-rosemary contains grayanotoxin, which when ingested lowers blood pressure. Be aware: it may cause respiratory problems, dizziness, vomiting, or diarrhoea.
Also called wood violet, this familiar un-scented, little wildflower of the woodlands, grasslands and shady hedge banks is a herbaceous perennial plant growing to 5-15 cm tall. It is found in all soils except acid or very wet.
The flowers are a rich blue-violet, with a long slender stalk and dark-green heart-shaped leaves. The mouth of the flower is absolutely wonderful to view through a magnifying glass. It has a pattern of deep purple lines which run into the throat over a paler violet patch, becoming white. The upper petals have a fringe which is over the opening. Colonies of plants may be extensive, blooming from April to July in Ireland.
The name 'Dog' - probably suggests that this plant was thought to be inferior to the scented violet, which was particularly favored during the Victorian Era. The "scented" violet (viola odorata) has always been one of my favorite flowers. It blooms on the warm South side of our home. The flower's sweet fragrance wafting through open windows is very pleasing.
"Look at us, said the violets blooming at her feet, all last winter we slept in the seeming death but at the right time God awakened us, and here we are to comfort you."
Edward Payson Roe 1838-1888
"I would give you some violets, but they withered all when my father died."
William Shakespeare 1564 -1616
Common Fragrant Orchid
The Orchid family is a very large one and the plants belonging to it are fascinating and have long been considered very special. The colour of the flowers can vary from deep purple, through pink to white. This stunning Common Fragrant Orchid (Lus taghla) is most often found in a dense, cylindrical spike of pink flowers, sometimes up to 15cm long. Each individual little flower has petals closed together to form a hood. These flowers, blooming in July and August have an extremely clove-scented fragrance.
"Therewith fantastic garlands did she make
Of crow-flowers, nettles, daisies and long purples
That liberal shepherds give a grosser name
But our cull-cold maids do dead-men's fingers call them."
It is claimed that when William Shakespeare wrote those lines in Hamlet, his 'long purples' referred to the Early Purple Orchid. The lines were spoken by Gertrude and referred to the coronet which Ophelia was wearing when she drowned.
Crowds of these beautiful flowers can be seen in meadows, along roadways, in cornfields and on waste ground. They have papery scarlet petals, dark centres with a black spot at their base and bristles on their long stems.
Also known as Poip and Corn Poppy, the plant is a variable annual, blooming from June to August, forming a long-lived soil seed bank that can germinate when the soil is disturbed. Poppies ( Cailleach dhearg) generally flowers in late spring, but if the weather is warm enough other flowers frequently appear at the beginning of autumn.
"Pleasures are like poppies spread,
You seize the flower, the bloom is shed."
Common Sea pink
Sea pink - a hardy, tufted thrift of coastal cliffs, mountains and saltmarshes of Ireland are sun-loving, low-growing evergreens. The little individual flowers on slender, leafless stalks are borne in dense spherical heads of pink or white during April to July but will often produce a second flush later in the season.
Sea Pink, a native to Ireland is also called cliff rose. They are very wind, drought and salt-tolerant and actually perform better on rather poor soil. They can even survive in soil with heavy metals!
This flower appeared on the old English twelve-sided threepenny-bit which was introduced in 1937 - perhaps it was meant to encourage another kind of 'thrift'?
Convolvulus arvensis L.
Field bindweed is a summer perennial member of the morning glory family. Common on walls, hedges, disturbed ground and the upper parts of shingle strands, the Field Bindweed has a twining steam that enables it to climb other plants and fences. Its elegant white to pink funnel-shaped flowers close in late afternoon and when its wet or overcast.
Although very pretty while flowering, it is a serious weed problem. Field bindweed intertwines and topples native species. It competes with other species for sunlight, moisture and nutrients. It poses threats to restoration efforts and riparian corridors by choking out grasses and forbs. It can decrease habitat biodiversity. It is one of the most serious weeds of agricultural fields in temperate regions of the world. It is mildy toxic to grazing animals.
Common Names: wild morning glory, creeping Jenny, creeping Charlie, small flowering morning glory, Perennial morning glory, devil's guts, orchard morning glory, possession vine, corn bind.
The fragrant Honeysuckle can be found on many lanesides, hedges and roadside banks. Honeysuckle is one of the most beautiful of all wildflowers for it scent and ability to grow in difficult places.
Honeysuckles are arching shrubs or twining vines in the family Caprifoliaceae, native to the Northern Hemisphere. There are about 180 species of honeysuckle..
The Honeysuckle have sweetly-scented, bell-shaped flowers that produce a sweet, edible nectar which attracks Hummingbirds. Breaking of the Honeysuckle's stem will release a powerful sweet odor. The fruit is a red, blue or black berry containing several seeds; in the species grown in Ireland the berries are mildly poisonous.
Did you know?
~The British actress Honeysuckle Weeks was named after the honeysuckle flowers, which were in bloom at the time of her birth.
~Honeysuckle Rose - a song composed by jazz pianist Fats Waller and Andy Razaf.
~Honeysuckle Rose is also a 1980 Willie Nelson film.
~Honeysuckle is mentioned in Robert Frost's poem "To Earthward"
~The band Drivin' N' Cryin' is well known for their 1989 single "Honeysuckle Blue"
~Woodbine .. good for whooping cough. - From the National Folklore Collection, University College Dublin. NFC S.454:18 From Co Kerry
"..how sweetly smells the honeysuckle
in the hush'd night...."
Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1859)
Woodbind, wind and hold her,
Woodbind shall enfold her;
Hawk-moths hover in the night-
Love her and behold her.
All about the hazel wind,
Like lovers in their beds entwined.
Flowers, clothe my love in white;
Honeysuckle, twist and bind.
Giles Watson : 2005*
Follow link to Poems on Flowering Plants
Whether you know it as Gorse, Furze or Whin, this must be Ireland's most remarkable native shrub. Throughout the year, the rich yellow peaflowers seem to light up the Irish landscape.
The 15-20mm long flowers, with their wonderful aroma of coconut, are borne on stems of spiny bluish-green spikes. The leaves have been modified over centuries into rigid and furrowed thorns which withstand the harsh conditions of winters at higher altitudes, making the entire bush one mass of prickles and spines.
These shrubs form very many hedgerows around the fields, they line the country roads and particularly from February to May, when their flowers are in abundance, they are a sight to behold. This plant belongs to the family Fabaceae.
From our folklore: "Get a few handfuls of the yellow blossoms of the furze and boil them in water. Give the water as a dose to the horse and this will cure worms."
From the National Folklore Collection, University College Dublin. NFC 782:356 From Co Kerry.
There's also a well-know country saying :
"When gorse is out of blossom, kissing's out of fashion."
The common name toadflax means "resembling a cymbal" for the somewhat rounded leaves.
By far the best known species is Ivy-leaved toadflax( Buafln balla) , has widely naturalised and is well known in English-speaking countries as Kenilworth Ivy.
It characteristically grows in sheltered crevices in walls and pathways, or in rocks and scree, making a trailing or scrambling plant up to 1 m long. Its small (1/4") pale lilac flowers, often with two areas of yellow near the centre, are somewhat orchid-like in form. The various species differ in subtle details of leaf shape and flower color; the flowers of one are pure white with a yellow centre and occasionally several species can be found growing together.
Ivy-leaved Toadflax is also known as Kenilworth Ivy (in the UK) and Aaron's Beard because of its long trailing roots or runners.
Daisy-like flowers of Sea Mayweed (Lus Bealtaine) provide splashes of color by the seaside in summer. It can be found on grassland and open ground by the sea, on shingle and waste ground on sea-cliffs and bird islands.
This is one of those plants described as "variable." It is very pretty, blooming from April to October with its lovely 20-40mm flowers with yellow centres and white petals. The fleshy leaves are also very pretty. This is one of Ireland's native coastal plants.
Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora
Montbretia (Fealeastram deargare) grown worldwide, and more than 400 cultivars have been produced. Some hybrids have become invasive species especially C. x crocosmiiflora hybrids which are invasive in Ireland.
Hummingbirds are especially attracked to the sweet nectar of this flower.
They are commonly known in the United States as coppertips or falling stars. Other names, for hybrids and cultivars, include antholyza, and curtonus. The genus name, is derived from the Greek words krokos, meaning "saffron", and osme, meaning "odor."
Montbretia are winter-hardy in temperate regions. They can be propagated through division, removing offsets from the corm in spring.
This plant was named after Coquebert de Montbret (1780-1801) who was a French botanist who accompanied Napoleon when he invaded Egypt in 1798 and who died there at the age of 20. However, horticulturists also refer to this plant as 'Crocosmia' which comes from the Greek 'krokos' - saffron - and 'osme' - smell. I am told that they smell of saffron when placed in water.
Scurvy grass or Spoonwort) is a genus of about 30 species of annual and perennial herbs in the cabbage family Brassicaceae.
They are widely distributed in temperate and arctic areas of the northern hemisphere, most commonly found in coastal regions, on cliff-tops and salt marshes where their high tolerance of salt enables them to avoid competition from larger, but less salt-tolerant plants; they also occur in alpine habitats in mountains and tundra.
Scurvy grass is typically 5-20 cm tall with smoothly rounded, spoon-shaped leaves (the scientific name Cochlearia derives from Latin cocleare, a spoon). The flowers are white with four petals and are borne in short racemes (as in the lily of the valley)
Extensively eaten in the past by sailors suffering from scurvy, after returning from long voyages, scurvy grass leaves are rich in vitamin C, which cures this deficiency disease resulting from a lack of fresh vegetables in the diet. The leaves, which have a strong peppery taste similar to the related horseradish and watercress, are also sometimes used in salads.
Spring Gentian (Ceadharlach Bealtaine) is the wildflower for which the Burren in County Clare is famed. Although there are many startlingly attractive flowers growing in this wonderful limestone area of western Ireland, the Spring Gentian is the plant which has become best known of all by those seeking to see the Burren's great variety of flowers. Its pure, bright blue solitary flowers are extremely beautiful.
As each of the five petal tubes unfurl, they spread to reveal a little white throat. Each flower has small fringed lobes or scales between its petals. The flowers are borne on upright stems, the leaves being bright green, oval, mostly in a basal rosette.
These exquisite flowers bloom from late April to June. They are best found on grassy areas, near sand dunes and rocky pastures. In Ireland they are confined to the Burren and parts of Counties Galway and Mayo.
The name is a tribute to Gentius, an Illyrian king who was thought to have found out that the herbs had tonic properties.
Gentian is used as a flavouring, for example in bitters, and the soft drink "Moxie" which contains "Gentian Root Extractives."
...is for that relatively mild downheartedness we sometimes feel when things go wrong. We miss a bus; fail an exam; miss out on an opportunity: it knocks us back. Often the feeling lifts by itself, but the remedy can be used to lift it sooner so that we are able to make things go right instead of just hoping they will.
An Irish Peep at Wild Flowers
Not quite pocket-sized, but no bigger than most modern field guides, this might well be the standard illustrated guide for amateurs to the British and Irish flowering plant flora. The guide covers all naturally occurring species plus a large number of naturalised plants.
The format is very similar to the "Wild Flowers of Britain and Northern Europe" by the same authors, published by Collins. However, all the illustrations are new and improved.
The section on grasses is new and particularly useful, truly enabling the user to identify all the flowering plants in the region.
This title has not yet been released.
You may pre-order it now and they will deliver it to you when it arrives.
This looks like it could be a good. What a nice gift it would be for someone special. I'll certainly be watching for the release date on this one.
This is an exceptional book! A Souvenir Field Guide to flowers, fruits and ferns. The pages are color coded according to flower color. Space to record where & when you saw the plant. Flowering period and distribution of each plant is listed.
A wonderful gift for the person who has everything (or nothing.) What a great find!
A Photographic field guide to over 600 species.
Gallery of Ireland's Wild FlowersClick thumbnail to view full-size
Scenes and flowers of Ireland
There is nothing I like better than to travel along a winding rural road drinking in the beauty. This video I have picked for you is indicative of the wonders of Ireland. You'll notice along the way, the wild flowers waving in the breeze. Enjoy!
When God first made the world, He looked at the bare and barren hillsides of Ireland and thought how nice it would be to cover them with some kind of beautiful tree or flower. So he turned to the Giant Oak, the biggest and strongest of all of the trees he had made, and asked him if he would be willing to go up to the bare hills to help make them look more attractive. But the oak explained that he needed a good depth of soil in order to grow and that the hillsides would be far too rocky for him to take root.
So God left the oak tree and turned to the honeysuckle with its lovely yellow flower and beautiful sweet fragrance. He asked the honeysuckle if she would care to grow on the hillsides and spread her beauty and fragrance amongst the barren slopes. But the honeysuckle explained that she needed a wall or a fence or even another plant to grow against, and for that reason, it would be quite impossible for her to grow in the hills.
So God then turned to one of the sweetest and most beautiful of all the flowers - the rose. God asked the rose if she would care to grace the rugged highlands with her splendor. But the rose explained that the wind and the rain and the cold on the hills would destroy her, and so she would not be able to grow on the hills.
Disappointed with the oak, the honeysuckle and the rose, God turned away. At length, he came across a small, low lying, green shrub with a flower of tiny petals -some purple and some white. It was a heather.
God asked the heather the same question that he'd asked the others. "Will you go and grow upon the hillsides to make them more beautiful?"
The heather thought about the poor soil, the wind and the rain - and wasn't very sure that she could do a good job. But turning to God she replied that if he wanted her to do it, she would certainly give it a try.
God was very pleased.
He was so pleased in fact that he decided to give the heather some gifts as a reward for her willingness to do as he had asked.
Firstly he gave her the strength of the oak tree - the bark of the heather is the strongest of any tree or shrub in the whole world.
Next he gave her the fragrance of the honeysuckle - a fragrance which is frequently used to gently perfume soaps and potpouris.
Finally he gave her the sweetness of the rose - so much so that heather is one of the bees favorite flowers. And to this day, heather is renowned especially for these three God given gifts.
Featured at Winging-ing It on Squidoo.
It was an honor to have been chosen as a featured lens at Winging-ing It on Squidoo.
Thank you, Chazz
Many thanks to the SquidTeam
You made my day!
Wild Flowers of Ireland received a Purple Star on August 31, 2011.
Along with our new Squidoo program (you know, the experience points and trophies) comes a change to the Purple Star Program. Purple Stars are no longer jus...
Bluebells - Hyacinthoides non-scripta
Photo Credit: Kenneth Allen
The Bluebell is generally known in English as the common bluebell or simply bluebell, a name which is used in Scotland to refer to the harebell. In spring, it produces a nodding, one-sided inflorescence of 5-12 tubular, sweet-scented violet-blue flowers, with strongly recurved tepals, and 3-6 long, linear, basal leaves.
Particularly associated with woodlands where it may dominate the understorey to produce carpets of violet-blue flowers in "bluebell woods", the Bluebell also occurs in more open habitats in western regions.
Found along shady paths in Atlantic areas from north-western Spain to the British Isles many are tempted to uproot and take this plant home as a garden plant. Please do not do this as it is protected under UK law, and in some other parts of its range.
Did You Know?
1. Bluebell bulbs produce contractile roots; when these roots contract, they draw the bulbs down into deeper layers of the soil where there is greater moisture, reaching depths of 10-12 cm (3.9-4.7 in). This may explain the absence of Bluebells from thin soils over chalk in Southeast England since the bulbs are unable to penetrate into sufficiently deep soils there.
2. Legends associate bluebells with fairies. It was said that a child should never pick bluebells alone in the woods otherwise the fairies would steal them away.
BLUE BELLS, COCKLE SHELLS
A Jump Rope Rhyme
This rhyme was for beginners who could not jump in while the rope was swinging over and over.
(Swing the rope back and forth, not over)
Blue bells, cockle shell
Easy, ivy, over
(Swing rope over head on "over" and continue in normal rope swing.)
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for promoting Canadian lenses
I have listed here, only a few of the more than 800 wildflower species growing in Ireland.
If you are wild about wildflowers would you please leave a comment.
Laraine, the wild rose, thanks you. ;)