Vote for the UK's Favourite Flower
For Biology Week 2018 we invited you to vote for your favourite native UK flower!
This poll is now closed. Thank you for your votes! Read about the winner of this years poll, the Sunflower, in our news story.
The theme for 2018's Biology Week Poll was chosen to highlight the importance of flowers not only environmentally, but culturally and economically. In the last 70 years, 95% of meadows have disappeared, making way for housing and infrastructure, resulting in this environment covering just 1% of the UK. This has undoubtedly had a negative impact on the abundance of some of the flowers featured in this poll.
Flowers are vital for maintaining wildlife populations, providing nectar and pollen for many bird and bee species. This is a critical step in cross-pollination of plants and flowers, creating seeds and maintaining diversity in a habitat. Flowering plants also aid in pollination of food crops, hence contributing greatly to our economy.
Those shortlisted were selected because of their wide distribution across the UK and their prevalence as household names and symbols.
Bluebell Hyacinthoides non-scripta
This violet-blue flower is a common sight in deciduous woodland across the UK. This is perhaps unsurprising when you come to find out that the UK is home to up to 50% of the world’s H. non-scripta population!
Signifying ancient woodland, this flower is becoming increasingly threatened due to over-collection and the destruction of woodland due to agriculture, despite being protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
Common poppy Papaver rhoeas
To many, this annual flower is a symbol of remembrance due to its presence on the battlefields and between trench lines during World War I.
This burst of growth during the war was primarily due to the ability of the seeds of this flower to survive under the soil for many years, only germinating when the soil is disturbed.
Cornflower Centaurea cyanus
An annual plant, cornflowers blossom best near hedgerows and in sandy soil. However, populations of this species are in decline due to an increase in agriculture and the growing of competitive crops.
This decline prompted C. cyanus to be named as a Priority Species under the UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework. It is also a common food source for the much-loved bumblebee (Bombus sp.), which act as popular pollinators of the flower.
Daffodil (wild) Narcissus pseudonarcissus
Known far and wide as the national flower of Wales, this yellow perennial is also the county flower of Gloucestershire. Growing in large clusters and flowering around March and April, it’s no wonder this flower has come to be known as the ‘Easter Lily’.
Unfortunately however, wild populations of N. pseudonarcissus are declining due to mismanagement of local habitats and an increase in agriculture.
Common Daisy Bellis perennis
Perhaps best known to children as material to make daisy-chains in the summer months, the daisy can colonise wide expanses of fields and meadows thanks to the rhizomes it possesses.
Daisies own an identifying yellow central disc known as a capitulum. Capitula are made up of clusters of small florets, joined together to form a single structure; in this case, the defining yellow central disc of the daisy.
Dog rose Rosa canina
The dog rose is a common feature in gardens and hedgerows across the UK. This pale pink perennial is often host to pests such as rose aphids (Macrosiphum rosae), that damage the plant by eating its leaves.
The petals and hips of the dog rose are often used medicinally to treat colds and flu, notably due to the high level of vitamin C contained in the hips. They can also be used to make syrups, teas and jams.
Foxglove Digitalis purpurea
The biennial nature of this plant allows primary growth of a ground-level rosette of leaves in the first year, followed by stem growth up to 2m tall and the blossoming of flowers in the second year.
The name of this flower is said to have come from folk myths suggesting foxes wore the tubular flowers on their paws to silence their footsteps when hunting prey.
The leaves, flowers and seeds of this flower can be fatally toxic to humans and some animals as they contain digitoxin. However, when used in the correct concentrations, digitoxin is also the active ingredient in digoxin, a medicine sometimes prescribed to those with various heart conditions.
Honeysuckle Lonicera periclymenum
It’s hard to miss this colourful climber, with long yellow, white and pink petals changing colour dependent on the flower’s stage of fertilisation.
Another unmissable feature of this perennial is the strong scent it produces at twilight, giving it the ability to attract more pollinating moths such as the hummingbird hawk-moth and, unsurprisingly, the honeysuckle moth.
Lily of the Valley Convallaria majalis
This flower was the recipient of the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award for Golden Merit, despite being highly poisonous. Large colonies of C. majalis are formed as the plant spreads rhizomes under the soil, allowing many small white bell-shaped flowers to blossom.
Despite population sizes of this flower being of little concern to conservationists, Gastropoda are common pests, feeding on the leaves and hence causing damage and disruption to photosynthesis of the plant.
Meadow buttercup Ranunculus acris
The subject of a common game amongst children to see if they like butter, the name of this flower is thought to have come from a myth that it gave butter its golden colour.
Buttercups are frequently found in meadows and damp soils, and grows abundantly across the UK as its seeds are easily distributed as achenes. The poison contained within this flower, protoanemonin, is toxic to cattle, and yet its toxicity is lost entirely when the plant is dried.
Primrose Primula vulgaris
The primrose is a common garden flower, as well as commonly growing in open woodland and grassland, favouring damp soils. The perennial flower is best seen in the spring months from February to April, as its pale yellow petals blossom.
Populations of P. vulgaris have increased in recent years, as the picking of the flower from the wild became illegal under the UK Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. This decision was made after populations started to decline due to over-collection and theft.
Scotch thistle Onopordum acanthium
Most commonly known as the national flower of Scotland, this flower provides a good source for various pollinators due to its high pollen and nectar levels.
As a biennial plant, primary growth produces a rosette of leaves, followed by plant growth up to 3m, and the blossoming of the striking purple flower. O. acanthium reproduces only by seeds which germinate when very close to the surface, due to their sensitivity to light.
Snowdrop Galanthus nivalis
The snowdrop appears in woodland as a symbol of hope at the coming spring, and represents the end of the winter months, blossoming from January to March.
The hardy bulbs of this flower survive the cold winter months, flowering early in the year and producing seeds that are then distributed by queen bees as the weather gets warmer.
Sunflower Helianthus annuus
Growing up to 3m tall, with flower heads up to 40cm in diameter, this yellow and black annual flower is hard to miss. The black central disc of the flower head is a psudanthium of numerous florets, and has been used to produce a mathematical model relating to the golden ratio.
Flowering most commonly in the late summer months of August and September, sunflowers contribute to the economy by producing vast amounts of edible seeds, oil and livestock feed. This species however, is threatened by Fusarium, a filamentous fungi that causes widespread damage to crops.
White clover Trifolium repens
Although the leaves of this flower are a common symbol for good luck, and the leaves considered to be by some as the Shamrock, the symbol of Northern Ireland, T. repens is more than just a symbol. The high protein content of this flower, and its ability to grow quickly across wide expanses make it an important crop for livestock feed.
Hymenoptera, specifically Apis and Bombus sp. are the primary pollinators of this flower.
See the results of last year’s poll to find the UK’s favourite tree.