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Native Plants of Scotland

According to the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh, Scotland has 1,000 native vascular plant species and more than 1,500 native lichens. The Scottish climate is damp, cloudy and cool and the green, lush landscapes provide habitat for plants that are both endemic to Scotland and found worldwide. Many of the native plants of Scotland are garden favorites beyond the country’s shores.

Scottish Primrose

The Scottish Primrose is endemic to Scotland and grows only on the Caithness, Orkney and northwest Sutherland coasts in the far northeast of the country. The plant produces clusters of bluish-purple flowers with a yellow throat. The flowers appear on a stalk that grows from a rosette of leaves 2 to 3 inches in diameter close to the ground. The plant generally flowers in May and may have a second flowering two months later. Scottish Primrose grows in colonies that sometimes contain hundreds of plants. The plant is endangered in some areas because of changing grazing patterns on farms. Primrose is quickly overcome by other plants and grows best where the undergrowth is cleared away by farm animals.


Also known as marsh trefoil, moonflower and bog myrtle, bogbean grows to about 9 inches tall. The aquatic perennial plant has star-shaped flowers that are pink on the outside and white on the inside. The blossoms have five petals fringed with hairs and bloom from May through July. Bogbean grows in wet areas like shallow flowing water, marshes or bogs, and the leaves resemble those of a bean plant--hence its name. The stem grows under water while the leaves and flowers are above water. The leaves are used medicinally to aid digestion and for circulatory problems. Bogbean is sometimes called bog hop because the leaves are used as a flavoring in beer.

Shetland Mouse-ear

Shetland mouse-ear, also known as Edmonston’s chickweed, is believed to be endemic to Shetland, in the United Kingdom, though there have been reports of it growing in Snowdonia, Wales. It grows in the Keen of Hamar Natural Nature Reserve and on the island of Unst. The small plant’s stem and purple-tinged leaves are densely covered with hair. Its cousin, the Arctic mouse-ear, is also found in Scotland. Mouse-ear grows on debris areas that are formed from serpentinite, a metamorphic rock. Botanist Thomas Edmondston first made note of the plant when he was 12 years old. The plant is protected under Scotland’s Wildlife and Countryside Act.

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