Woodland

The UK is home to a variety of exceptional woodland, from the Celtic rainforests of Scotland and Wales, globally important for their lichens and mosses, to the bluebell woods of England.

We have more woodland than we did 20 years ago, yet woodland plants continue to decline: 1 in 6 of our woodland flowers is threatened with extinction, such as spreading bellflower (Campanula patula), the red helleborine orchid (Cephalanthera rubra), and small cow-wheat (Melampyrum sylvaticum).

Woodland birds and butterflies are declining too, as they rely on plants in one way or another.

How to protect UK woodlands

Why are UK woods declining? The simple answer is that too many of our woods are neglected - frequently overgrown with plants like nettles at the expense of woodland specialists. If our native woodland is to be protected and restored for future generations, then it needs to be better managed.

At Plantlife's Ranscombe Farm Reserve [link here] in Kent, for example, thinning out woodland through coppicing and other methods is bringing more light to the woodland floor.

This is creating ideal conditions for many woodland plants - lady orchid and early-purple orchid appear to be spreading, for example.

Find our more about our recommendations for UK woodland by downloading our Forestry Recommissioned report (pdf) {link to pdf}

Woodland Important Plant Areas (IPAs)

IPAs are areas of international importance for wild plants, and some of the UK's 150 IPAs are recognised for their exceptional woodlands.

The Meirionnydd Oakwoods IPA is a very large example of old sessile oak woods in north Wales, with outstanding bryophytes and lichens, while notable plant species include globe-flower and touch-me-not balsam.

Woodland is also dominant feature of the Chilterns IPA, which typically consists of ancient beech, ash and yew.

Check out our map of Important Plant Areas [link here] and find out more about IPAs

Common woodland plants

Common flowers to look out for in UK woodlands include wood anemone (Anemone nemorosa), bugle (Ajuga reptans) and primrose (Primula vulgaris).

Download our free spotter sheet of common woodland plants (pdf) [link to spotter sheet]

When to see woodland plants

Spring is a fantastic time to see woodland wildflowers, with carpets of wild garlic and bluebells a common sight. But there's still lots to see in autumn and winter in UK woods.

Beyond the trees and flowers there's a world of beautiful mosses, lichens and fungi to explore - small and so easily overlooked. [could we re-use Ray's 10 woodland species http://www.plantlife.org.uk/explore_nature/celebra...]

Find out more about plants and their specific habitats [link to database]

Dolmelynllyn Woodland (c) Dave Lamacraft.jpg

Woodlands we're working on

Find out about Plantlife's conservation work in the UK's woodlands.

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