How to Identify Plants in the UK

Written by lacy enderson
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How to Identify Plants in the UK

The United Kingdom grows plant species specific to the area, although some of the more popular plants grow elsewhere. UK plants are found growing in churchyards, village greens, cemeteries, waste grounds and roadside banks. Most plants grow in a variety of cultivars, so properly identifying them takes some practice. Pay close attention to details like flowers and the shape of leaves for proper identification.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy


  1. 1

    Make note of the name of the plant. Is it English or Latin? If known, list the name of the family the plant belongs to. For example, rosaceae is the family name for roses.

  2. 2

    Pay attention to the plant's habitat. Certain UK species are specific to certain environments. The environment may be a bog, grassland, marsh, meadow or wasteland.

  3. 3

    Identify the type of plant. Is it a bulb, climber, herb, grass or tree? Shrubs are very small with a woody frame work. Bilberry, heather and thyme are all shrubs.

  4. 4

    Locate the plant's country. UK plants do not grow all over the UK. Some plants only grow in certain areas; UK destinations include England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Cornwall, Hampshire, Warwickshire, Hull, Northumberland and Norfolk.

  5. 5

    Determine if the plant is a fern, club moss or horsetail. Determine what time of year the plant grows best. If the plant has flowers, what colour are they?

  6. 6

    Notice the plant's reproductive structure. They're not always easy to identify, but structures include: actinomorphic, located in poppies and daffodils; catkin, found in trees and shrubs; cones, connected to conifers; and sori, a spore-producing fern.

  7. 7

    Describe the leaf structure. Are the leaves cut, divided, leafless, linear or simple? Are they hairy? How are the leaves arranged on the stem? Are the leaf margins entire, lobed, revolute, spiny or toothed? What is the length of the leaf blade?

Tips and warnings

  • Write down every feature you observe, omitting nothing, before asking an expert what type of plant you have. Don't forget to take a photo.

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