Irish Wild Flowers


Springtime in Ireland is a thing to behold. Wild flowers grow everywhere in Ireland on rock ledges, marshes, dunes fields and lakeshores. The varied soil conditions and moist mild climate allow for over 800 species of wild flowers to flourish. There are many rare species that not only grow in abundance, but also grow together even though they have different habitats elsewhere.


Most species of wild flowers that are native to Ireland are also found in England and Northern Europe. The exception is Lustianian Flora, a group of native Irish plants not found in Britain or Northern Europe. Ireland has a large biodiversity of habitats woodlands, peatlands, wetlands, heathlands, grasslands and coastal marine environments where wild flowers thrive.

Coastal and Marine Wild flowers

According to the Irish National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), "The Burren region, of counties Clare and Galway, is renowned for its wild flowers, including plants usually seen in southern Europe and Alpine-Arctic regions." Rich in wild flowers, the Burren region also has a large variety of rare plants such as Burnet Rose or Mountain Avens (Dryas octopetala Leaithin), Bloody Cranesbill (Geranium sanguineum), Early Orchid (Orchis mascula), Bird's Foot (Lotus corniculatus) and the beautiful blue of the Gentian (Gentiana Verna). This area is a coastal region and comprised mostly of gray stone, cow fields and limestone. Over 70 percent of Ireland's wild flowers are represented in this region.


Common woodlands wild flowers include Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus), Wood Sorrel (Oxalis acetosella) and Woodrush (Luzula sylvatica). According to the Irish Peatland Conservation Council, "By the 1900s only 0.5% (35,000 hectares) of the land area of Ireland was covered by woodland. Since state planting began the area of woodland has increased to over 600,000ha." Woodland wild flowers bloom early in the year before the leaves of the trees open and reduce the amount of available sunlight. Because of the limited sunlight in the woods, most wild flowers are found near the edge of the forest. Other common woodland wild flowers are Nightshade (Solanum dulcamara), Periwindle (Vinca major) and Wild Strawberry (Fragaria vesca).


Irish bogs encompass peatlands and wetlands plants, which includes grasses, mosses, lichens, sedges and heathers. Heathers flourish in the springtime painting the bogs in purple hues. They are disease resistant, drought tolerant and food for grazing animals. Some common bog wildflowers include Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea), Bog Myrtle (Myrica gale) and Bog Bean (Menyanthes trifoliate). Bogs growing in lake basins are Fens, raised bogs are mostly moss (Sphagnum) filled with water and blanket bogs covered with heathers and grasses cover the land and hills on the west coast of Ireland.


According to the NPWS, about 85 percent of Ireland's land area is made up of grassland. Many grass species, such as the Pale Butterwort (Pinguicula Lusitanica) rare elsewhere, are threatened by a shrinking of their habitat. The Irish Office of Public Works estimates that about "120 species are threatened in the country, of which six are on the verge of extinction." Fifteen wild flowers that are native to Ireland called Lusitanian Flora, are not found in Northern Europe or Britain, thrive in the grassland areas.

Keywords: Irish wildflowers, flora of Ireland, wildflower habitats, threatened wildflower species, bogs, peatland

About this Author

Caroline Thompson has been a professional photojournalist since 1999. She combines writing and photography in her stories. Thompson's work has appeared in the "Sacramento Bee," "People Magazine," "Newsweek" and other publications. Currently, Thompson writes for four web magazines and news services. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in photojournalism from California State University Hayward (CSUH).