Native Plants in the UK

The United Kingdom's native plants, says London's Natural History Museum, were present in the British Isles before there was an English Channel. The U.K.'s native wildlife has adapted to depend on these plants for food and shelter, and as the plants disappear, the wildlife struggles to survive. Native plants not only beautify the U.K.'s home gardens; they help ensure the future of its wild creatures.

Wild Gladiolus

Wild gladiolus (Gladiolus illyricus) is found in the woodlands and acidic loamy soil of southern England's New Forest. Growing from corms, these plants produce spikes of between three and 10 red-violet blooms in late June and early July. They attain heights of up to 3 feet. Their narrow, tapering grayish-green leaves may have red-tinged veins. While the protected plants must remain undisturbed in their natural habitat, wild gladiolus bulbs for home garden planting are available through nurseries.

Yellow Iris

Yellow iris (Iris pseudacorus) grows wild in the United Kingdom's marshes and wet forest areas and along its ponds and streams. Growing up to 5 feet, it has vivid green sword-like leaves and brilliant yellow violet-veined blooms up to 4 inches wide. Plants flower between May and July. Yellow iris is an excellent choice for summer color in water gardens. While its rhizomes (roots) are toxic, carefully dividing them every third spring is the best way to propagate healthy new plants.

Monkshood

Blooming in late summer along southern England and Wales' shady stream banks, monkshood is a member of the aconite family. Taking its name from its sky-blue spires of hooded flowers, monkshood can reach 5 feet in height. It's an excellent choice for the backs of perennial borders. Garden monkshood does well in sun or partial shade and well-drained moist soil. Plant it from seeds in March or April or from mature plants divided in the fall and winter. Pair monkshood, says the BBC, with Japanese anemones for a long-lasting autumn display of color. Always wear gloves when handling any part of a monkshood plant. Monkshood contains toxic diterpine alkaloids, poison to both humans and animals when ingested or absorbed through the skin.

Wood Anemone

Blooms that brighten shady forest glens, wood anemones (Anemone nemorosa) are an effective addition to home gardens. Plant it around shrubbery to provide early spring color. Lacking foliage for most of the growing season, wood anemone produces star-shaped white flowers with violet undersides between February and May, followed by a few short-lived deep green leaves. Wood anemone colonizes naturally by spreading its underground rhizomes. To start plants in new locations, divide the rhizomes in March or October.

Keywords: native British plants, United Kingdom wildflowers, wildflower gardening

About this Author

With a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from California State University at Pomona, Judy Wolfe has owned Prose for the Pros, a freelance writing business, since 2006. A former veterinary assistant, paralegal and retail florist, she has a certificate in advanced floral design. "Super Floral Retailer Magazine" published her Valentine's Day design in 2003.