Its official – after nearly three months’ of voting, the public have had their say. From a shortlist of 25 wild flowers, including honeysuckle, cowslip, poppy and foxglove, two spring woodland flowers have emerged as favourites in each of the UK countries.
While bluebell, known for carpeting spring woodlands in shimmering indigo, has come out on top in England and taken most votes overall in the poll, in a surprise result the humble primrose has clearly stolen the hearts of the Welsh, the Scottish and the Northern Irish.
There were also differences in opinion over which flowers should be placed in the top three for each country.
In England, primrose came a close second and poppy was third, perhaps spurred on by this year of remembrance
Wild daffodil - the well known national emblem for Wales - didn’t even make it to the top three, with bluebell and wood anemone coming second and third behind primrose
In Scotland, primrose was way ahead from the start, pushing “English bluebell” into second place and having a close-fought tie with harebell – a beautiful wild flower often called “bluebell” in Scotland
In Northern Ireland, bluebell took second place behind primrose, with foxglove - which thrives on acid soil and is found in nearly every part of the country – coming third.
Dr Trevor Dines, botanical expert at Plantlife, who are behind the vote says: “I’m really surprised – and quite delighted - that primrose has come out tops in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. This might reflect their curious pattern of occurrence; in northern and western Britain, where it’s wet and cool, primroses often spread out of woods and colonise roadside banks and verges. Perhaps they’re more visible as a result and are just more part of people’s lives.” Many voters were keen to explain their choice of wildflower. “One chap told me he voted for primrose because he thought they were ‘just perfect, and could not be improved in any way’”.
The Nations’ Favourite Wild Flower Vote is part of Plantlife’s 25th anniversary celebrations. Well known voters included Rachel de Thame, the charity’s Vice President who loves snake’s-head fritillary, and Mike Dilger, TV presenter and naturalist, who voted for lesser celandine.
Marian Spain, chief executive of Plantlife says: “We’re thrilled that so many people voted – it’s a clear sign that people value and cherish the wildflowers around them. But some of the flowers on the list are declining – pasqueflower is now vulnerable to extinction and even widespread plants like ragged Robin and harebell are becoming threatened in England. I wonder how many of these will be around when we repeat the vote in 25 years time? That’s our challenge – to keep the colour in the countryside.”
To find out more about The Nations’ Favourite Wild Flower Vote, the 25 flowers in the shortlist and the conservation work that Plantlife carries out, see plantlife.org.uk.