April is here – and with it comes the start of the wildflowers! This month really brings us joy as wildflowers begin to emerge in earnest. And, it’s the perfect time to plant wildflowers too! We’ve popped some info below on some of the ones you might spot at this time of year.
Daisy (Bellis perennis)
This sweet lawn flower has spoon-shaped leaves that stay green all year round, the yellow-centered white-petalled daisy is called the Day’s Eye. It’s little face follows the sun’s trajectory throughout the day, opening its petals at sunrise and closing them at sunset, or if it rains.
Forget-me-not (Myosotis arvesis)
Also known as Field Forget-me-not, the familiar blue-flowered plant has downy greyish leaves that form a rosette appearing at the beginning of the year, the flowers will then start to open in early April lasting right through to Summer. Once it starts to bloom the tiny flowers attract hoverflies and small solitary bees. If you have a forget-me-not plant it should happily self-seed, producing many other plants nearby.
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
The sunny tufty cushions of bright yellow dandelions will start to pop open as soon as the days begin to get brighter. This perennial is a fantastic source of nectar for early bees and other pollinators. The rosette forming leaves are serrated like a set of lion’s teeth (dente-de-lion in french) and can be eaten raw in a salad. Every part of the dandelion is edible from root to petal, the latin name ‘officinale’ denotes a plant that was used in cooking or herbal medicine.
Cowslip (Primula veris)
Once a common field flower that popped up every Spring in grazing pastures often near cow-pats or cow-slops! The cowslip is actually beautifully fragranced with a scent likened to apricots. A relation of the primrose, the leaves are deeply crinkled forming a flat rosette at ground level. A tall stem with a cluster of tiny yellow trumpets dotted with gold appears in April.
Primrose (Primula vulgaris)
The pale yellow flowers of primrose form in starry clumps above the crinkly rosette of broad leaves. This is one of the first flowers to emerge in Spring and is visited by early bee-flies or bumblebees. Primroses have two types of flower, pin-eyed and thrum-eyed to promote cross-pollination, famously much studied by Darwin.
Fritillary (Fritillaria meleagris)
The fritillary (often named snakes-head fritillary) is an unmistakeable plant known for its chequered, purple, pink or even white, bell-like flowers. It has thin stems and narrow, grey-green leaves that appear at the base of the plant and occasionally up the stem. Once thousands filled flooded hay meadows across middle and southern England. However, modern agricultural practices, draining lands has led to them being classified as vulnerable.
Cow Parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris)
The feathered leaves of cow parsley appear by early spring and some sunnier spots may have already seen the white flower. A single plant has up to 5,000 flowers making it wonderful for pollinators. The beautiful lacy blooms can be found in hedgerows from late April through to July.
Bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta)
Shiny dark green sword shaped leaves appear from February and from early April to May depending on the weather. Slim stems shoot up to hold a string of bright blue beautifully fragranced floral bells. Bluebell woods are synonymous with early Spring in the UK, which is home to about half of the world’s English bluebell population.
English bluebells are a protected species, usually found in ancient woodlands – and can take as long as 5 years to bloom. They are sweet-scented, with delicate bell-shaped flowers attached to a curved slender stalk and white pollen. The Spanish bluebell was introduced as a garden plant in Victorian times, and has started to cross-pollinate and hybridise the native English bluebell.
Garden bluebells are often the Spanish variety, these have thick stems and clusters of large pale blue bell flowers on an upright stalk with blue pollen and no scent. If you spot any of these characteristics on a bluebell it is probably not the pure English variety.
Bluebells are an important early insect forage, rich in pollen and nectar and are pollinated by bumblebees as well as being visited by many other insects.
Which early wildflower blooms have you spotted, or are you growing this Spring? We’d love to see your sightings do tag us @seed_ball on socials. x