Bee orchid

  • Bee orchid

Bee orchid flowers look as if they have a female bee on them. This attracts real male bees, who try mate with the flower. Eventually they give up and take the orchid pollen with them to another plant.


  • Bluebells

Bluebells are ancient plants which can cover woodland floors in spring. Their white bulbs were used to make glue and for starch to stiffen ruffs.


  • Celandines

"What is Yellow?"

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Celandines are common flowers. Celandine seeds are oily. Snails feed on the oil and then the seeds get stuck to the snails and carried away. Celandine sap was a cure for warts.


  • Cowslips

Cowslips grow in meadows and are similar to primroses, but have longer flower stems. The flowers look like bunches of keys, and there is a story that they grew on the spot where St Peter dropped his keys to heaven.

Cow wheat

Cow wheat grows everywhere that grasses grow. Cows like it and people thought that the milk from cows that ate it would make lovely yellow butter.


Dodder looks like a tangle of pink threads spreading over heather and gorse. It is a parasitic plant which attaches to its host plant with suckers. It has other horrible names, like ‘hellweed’ and ‘devil’s guts’.

Early purple orchids

  • Early purple orchids

Early purple orchids like to live in woodland. The old West Country name for them is ‘Long Purples’ and they used to be used in love potions.


  • Forget-me-nots

People used to wear these blue flowers when they were apart from their sweethearts, to show they would remember each other. Forget-me-nots grow in woods and farmland.


  • Foxgloves

Foxgloves or ‘fairybells’ grow in woods and on the heath. They are very poisonous but is used in the drug digitalis which treats heart problems

Lady's smock

Lady’s smock is called after the Virgin Mary (Our Lady). It often has large drops of water on its leaves, and medieval alchemists thought this water might help turn ordinary metal into gold. ‘celestial water’.


  • Poppies

Poppies were also called Corn Roses because they grow in corn fields. They have been used for many traditional remedies. Since the end of the First World War they have been the symbol of Remembrance.


  • Primroses

Primroses flower early in the spring and their name means ‘first rose’ in Latin. They grow in woods and hedge banks.

Ragged Robin

Ragged Robin grows in damp places. It was also called Bachelor’s Buttons, because the flower buds start tightly closed like buttons. Girls used to pick the buds and give them names of different unmarried men (bachelors) they knew. The bud that opened first represented the man they would marry.


  •  Ragwort

Ragwort has ragged leaves and a bad small when it is trampled. It grows on waste ground and neglected pasture. The leaves are poisonous to animals, causing liver-damage.

Red Campions

  • Red Campions

Red Campions like the rich soil at woodland edges. White Campions grow in arable fields. The two plants can cross, making pink flowers.

Rosebay willow herb

  • Rosebay willow herb

Rosebay willow herb is wind-pollinated and grows quickly on ground that has been disturbed or cleared by fire. It is also known as Fireweed.


  • Snowdrops

"How Many Snowdrops?"

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Snowdrops are the earliest signs of spring. They usually grow in woodland. The flower bud has a special protective leaf-like sheath that protects it as the plant pushes up through the snow.


  • Sundews

Sundews are adapted to living on wet boggy acid soil which doesn’t contain all the nutrients they need. So they trap insects in their sticky leaves and extract nutrients from their bodies.


  • Violets

Violets grow in woodland. The scent of Sweet Violets is called the ‘scent of love’. They were also used to mask other smells in damp buildings. Dog Violets look the same but have no scent.

Water Mint

Water Mint grows anywhere watery. People have used it for many centuries for cooking, treating stomach upsets and earache and for making rooms smell nice.

Wood anemones

  • Wood anemones

Wood anemones are in the same family as buttercups. The name means ‘wind flower’. They can carpet the woodland floor.

Yellow Archangel

  • Yellow Archangel

Yellow Archangel is called after the Archangel Michael. People used to believe it protected cattle against a disease they called ‘elf shot’. It grows in woodland and hedgerows.