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New Forest wild flowers - an introduction

New Forest wild flowers: primroses
New Forest wild flowers: primroses

Wild flowers brighten even the dullest day. Snowdrops in the midst of winter tell of better weather to come, whilst lesser celandines are one of the first signs of spring. Even late-flowering November blooms help hold at bay the prospect of shorter days and longer, colder nights. And of course, all the wild flowers in-between have their own special magic.

Amongst them in the New Forest are some real corkers. There’s the wild gladiolus, which in Britain is found nowhere else, and the tiny bog orchid is almost as rare. Then at the other end of the abundance scale are the heathers, plants that gloriously carpet the mid and late-summer heaths with extravagant colour.

These pages provide an overview of some notable New Forest wild flowers. Many are common and widespread; others take a bit of finding. Most, as will be seen, have been used in herbal medicine, a countryside art based on natural ingredients that pre-dates today’s modern pharmaceutical industry, and many would say, heals just as effectively.

Find out more about New Forest wild flowers

Getting started

Some notable New Forest wild flowers

Wild flowers of the New Forest coast - an introduction to the wild flowers of Keyhaven, Pennington, Normandy and Hurst
Bell heather - dark green foliage is beautifully offset by deeply coloured, robust, red-purple, bell-shaped blooms
Bluebells - one of the great joys of spring
Bog asphodel - cheery, bright yellow mid-summer
Bogbean - surely one of the most exotic blooms to be found in the New Forest
Bog myrtle - source of a delightfully aromatic, eucalyptus-like scent
Butcher's broom - one of the most unusual plants to be found in the New Forest
Cottongrass - the flower-heads are at their most conspicuous in late-spring
Cross-leaved heath - sometimes known as bog heather
Common dodder - a tangled mass of slender, reddy-coloured threads draped over gorse or heather
Foxglove- a plant that thrives in acid soil
Gorse - when gorse is not in bloom, kissing is out of fashion
Great sundew - like the other two related species, these plants supplement the nutrients found in acid, wetland soils by absorbing minerals from insect prey
Heather - often the dominant plant on dry heaths
Honeysuckle - a sweetly aromatic woody climber
Lesser celandine - bespangles our banks with its brilliant, glossy, golden stars
Lousewort - a partial parasite on the roots of other plants
Marsh gentian - it's always a treat to find its bright blue, trumpet-shaped flowers
Oblong-leaved sundew - like the other two related species, these plants supplement the nutrients found in acid, wetland soils by absorbing minerals from insect prey
Orchids - many have conspicuous, extravagantly shaped flowers
Primrose- one of the first flowers of spring
Round-leaved sundew - like the other two related species, these plants supplement the nutrients found in acid, wetland soils by absorbing minerals from insect prey
Wild daffodil - forerunner of the many well-known cultivated varieties
Wild gladiolus - an illustrious member of the iris family
Wood anemone - elegant, erect perennials; members of the buttercup family
Wood-sorrel - one of a number of woodland plants that bloom before the trees come into leaf
Yellow iris - perhaps the most striking plant to be found in the New Forest
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** New Forest ponies **
New Forest ponies in the road
Ponies, cattle, pigs, sheep and donkeys are a popular part of the New Forest scene, but during the first six months of 2018, 36 animals were killed or injured on Forest roads, compared with 26 in the same period in 2017, a shocking rise of 38%. And in the full year, 63 animals were killed on the roads compared to 56 in 2017.
** Always take care when driving **
New Forest seasonal highlights
July
Silver-washed fritillary butterflies brighten many woodland rides.
Bird song subsides as the annual moult begins, old worn feathers are cast off and new replacements grown.
Wild gladiolus plants bloom. (In the UK, this species is found only in the New Forest).
Dragonflies and Damselflies take to the wing in ever increasing numbers.

August
Heather blossom produces huge swathes of heathland colour, adding to the pinks and purples of earlier flowering cross-leaved heath and bell heather.
Fallow, red and sika deer antlers, when fully grown, are cleaned of velvet in preparation for the autumn rut.
New Forest pony drifts - the annual round-ups begin.
Painted Lady butterflies have arrived in some parts of the UK in large numbers, having travelled all the way from Africa. Look out for them throughout the New Forest.
New Forest 'what's on' - a small
selection of local events and activities
July 2019
Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 4th, 5th and 6th - Burley Village Hall, Burley Players' summer production.
Friday, 12th - Brockenhurst Village Hall, Film night, Wild Rose (15), 7.00pm - 10.30pm.
Wednesday, 24th - New Forest Reptile Centre, Wild Wednesday, 10.30am - 3.30pm.

August 2019
Sunday, 4th to Sunday, 11th - Lyndhurst Community Centre, New Forest Art Society Exhibition, 10.00am - 5.00pm.
Saturday and Sunday, 17th and 18th - New Park, Brockenhurst, Polo in the heart of the New Forest - watch, learn and enjoy.
Saturday, 31st - Burley Village Hall, Craft Fayre, 10.30am to 5.00pm.

For further details, view the full New Forest What's on programme.
Content produced by Andrew Walmsley
Content produced by Andrew Walmsley