10 Native British Plants Beginning with A

Explore the top 10 native UK plants starting with letter A. Detailed descriptions, habitat, physical characteristics, growth habits & conservation status.

10 Native British Plants that begin with the letter A
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From Anemone nemorosa, also known as Wood Anemone, to Alnus glutinosa, also known as Common Alder, this article delves into the unique characteristics, habitats, and conservation status of 10 native British plants that begin with the letter A.

As you explore the article, you will discover the beauty and diversity of these native plants through detailed descriptions and accompanying images. The accompanying table provides a quick reference guide to key information about each plant. You can also find links to additional resources including books and websites for further information and to aid in plant identification.

Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or just starting out, this article is sure to deepen your understanding and appreciation of the rich tapestry of native UK plants. So, whether you’re planning a wildflower walk, creating a naturalistic garden or just looking to learn more about the plants that surround us, I invite you to dive into this article and discover the wonder of these 10 plants beginning with the letter A.

Aconitum napellus (Monkshood, Wolfsbane)

  • Native habitat: Moist meadows, woodland edges
  • Physical characteristics: A perennial herb with blue or purple hooded flowers, dark green leaves and a tall stem. The leaves are lobed or divided and are arranged in opposite pairs.
  • Growth habits: Blooms in late summer, prefers moist soil and partial shade.
  • Conservation status: Not evaluated by the IUCN

Aconitum napellus is a poisonous plant that has been used for centuries in traditional medicine and as a source of poison for arrows and fishing lures. Monkshood is also a popular ornamental plant and is grown in gardens for its striking blue or purple flowers. It is a hardy plant that can tolerate cold temperatures and is a good choice for planting in damp, shady areas.

Arum maculatum (Lords-and-ladies, Cuckoo pint, Adam and Eve)

  • Native habitat: Woodland, hedgerows, and damp places
  • Physical characteristics: A perennial herb with green and purple spathe, glossy green leaves, and a tall stem. The leaves are large and arrow-shaped.
  • Growth habits: Blooms in late spring, prefers moist soil and partial shade.
  • Conservation status: Least Concern (LC)

Arum maculatum is a woodland plant with a distinctive appearance, it produces a green and purple spathe which surrounds a central yellow spadix. The plant produces red berries in the autumn. It is a popular ornamental plant, and it is grown in gardens for its striking flowers and foliage.

Anemone nemorosa (Wood Anemone, Windflower)

  • Native habitat: Woodland, heathland, and grassland
  • Physical characteristics: A perennial herb with white or pink flowers, lobed leaves, and a short stem. The leaves are simple, basal, and lobed or divided.
  • Growth habits: Blooms in spring, prefers well-drained soil and partial shade.
  • Conservation status: Least Concern (LC)

Anemone nemorosa is a woodland wildflower that produces delicate, white or pink flowers on short stems. It is one of the first wildflowers to bloom in the spring and it creates a beautiful display in the woods. It is also a popular ornamental plant and is grown in gardens for its early spring blooms.

Astrantia major (Greater Masterwort, Hattie’s Pincushion)

  • Native habitat: Woodland, heathland, and grassland
  • Physical characteristics: A perennial herb with pink, red, or white flowers, lobed leaves, and a short stem. The leaves are simple, basal, and lobed or divided.
  • Growth habits: Blooms in summer, prefers well-drained soil and partial shade.
  • Conservation status: Least Concern (LC)

Astrantia major is a wildflower that produces large, fluffy flowers in shades of pink, red, or white. The flowers are held on tall stems above a rosette of lobed leaves. It is a popular ornamental plant and is grown in gardens for its striking flowers and foliage.

Acer campestre (Field Maple)

  • Native habitat: Woodland, hedgerows, and along riverbanks
  • Physical characteristics: A deciduous tree with green leaves that turn yellow in the autumn, small yellow-green flowers in spring, and winged fruits (samaras) in the autumn.
  • Growth habits: Blooms in spring, prefers well-drained soil and partial shade.
  • Conservation status: Least Concern (LC)

Acer campestre is a small to medium-sized tree that is often found in woodlands and hedgerows but also can be found in parks and gardens. Its leaves are green and often turn yellow in the autumn. The tree produces small yellow-green flowers in the spring and winged fruits (samaras) in the autumn.

Agrostis capillaris (Common Bent)

  • Native habitat: Grassy habitats, such as meadows, pastures, and coastal dunes
  • Physical characteristics: A perennial grass with fine, hair-like leaves, and small, inconspicuous flowers
  • Growth habits: Blooms in summer, prefers moist, well-drained soil and full sun.
  • Conservation status: Least Concern (LC)

Agrostis capillaris is a common grass found in many grassy habitats, such as meadows, pastures, and coastal dunes. It has fine, hair-like leaves and small, inconspicuous flowers. It is an important food source for grazing animals and wildlife, as well as being used for turf, forage, and erosion control.

Image Source | © S. Hammonds

Alchemilla mollis (Lady’s Mantle)

  • Native habitat: Moist, shaded areas, such as woodland and along streambanks
  • Physical characteristics: A perennial herb with soft, velvety leaves and small, yellow-green flowers in clusters
  • Growth habits: Blooms in summer, prefers moist, well-drained soil and partial shade.
  • Conservation status: Least Concern (LC)

Alchemilla mollis, also known as Lady’s Mantle, is a popular ornamental plant with soft, velvety leaves and small, yellow-green flowers in clusters. The leaves are often used in floral arrangements, and the plant is also believed to have medicinal properties. It is a hardy plant that can tolerate a range of soil conditions and can be found in moist, shaded areas, such as woodland and along stream banks.

Allium ursinum (Wild Garlic, Ramsons)

  • Native habitat: Woodland, damp meadows and along streambanks
  • Physical characteristics: A perennial herb with broad, glossy leaves and small, white flowers in clusters
  • Growth habits: Blooms in spring, prefers moist, well-drained soil and partial shade.
  • Conservation status: Least Concern (LC)

Allium ursinum, also known as Wild Garlic or Ramsons, is a popular wildflower that is often found in woodland and damp meadows. It has broad, glossy leaves and small, white flowers in clusters. It is also a popular edible plant and is often used in cooking, and also has medicinal properties.

Arbutus unedo (Strawberry Tree)

  • Native habitat: Woodland and coastal areas
  • Physical characteristics: A evergreen tree or shrub with glossy, dark green leaves and small, bell-shaped flowers, followed by large, red, strawberry-like fruits
  • Growth habits: Blooms in autumn, prefers well-drained, neutral to acid soil, and full sun to partial shade.
  • Conservation status: Least Concern (LC)

Arbutus unedo, also known as the Strawberry Tree, is an evergreen tree or shrub that is often found in woodland and coastal areas. It has glossy, dark green leaves and small, bell-shaped flowers, followed by large, red, strawberry-like fruits. It is also a popular ornamental plant and is grown in gardens for its striking fruits and foliage.

Alnus glutinosa (Common Alder)

  • Native habitat: Moist soils, such as riverbanks, swamps, and wet woodlands
  • Physical characteristics: A deciduous tree with alternate, simple, serrated leaves and small, inconspicuous flowers
  • Growth habits: Blooms in winter, prefers moist soils and full sun to partial shade
  • Conservation status: Least Concern (LC)

Alnus glutinosa, also known as Common Alder, is a deciduous tree found in moist soils, such as riverbanks, swamps, and wet woodlands. It has alternate, simple, serrated leaves and small, inconspicuous flowers. It is a pioneer species, often the first tree to colonize disturbed sites. It has a symbiotic relationship with a nitrogen-fixing bacterium, which allows it to grow in nutrient-poor soils.

Summing up

This list features the top 10 native British plants that begin with the letter A, including Anemone nemorosa, Astrantia major, Acer campestre, Agrostis capillaris, Alchemilla mollis, Allium ursinum, Arbutus unedo, Alnus glutinosa, and more. It’s designed as an introduction to some of the native plants in the British Isles. Below is a table of info that covers key details about each of the plants we’ve mentioned.

Scientific NameCommon NamesNative HabitatPhysical CharacteristicsGrowth HabitsConservation Status
Anemone nemorosaWood AnemoneWoodlandWhite or pink flowers, lobed leaves, short stemBlooms in spring, prefers well-drained soil and partial shadeLeast Concern (LC)
Acer campestreField MapleWoodland, hedgerows, and along riverbanksA deciduous tree with green leaves, small yellow-green flowers in spring, and winged fruits (samaras) in the autumnBlooms in spring, prefers well-drained soil and partial shadeLeast Concern (LC)
Agrostis capillarisCommon BentGrassy habitats, such as meadows, pastures, and coastal dunesA perennial grass with fine, hair-like leaves, and small, inconspicuous flowersBlooms in summer, prefers moist, well-drained soil and full sunLeast Concern (LC)
Alchemilla mollisLady’s MantleMoist, shaded areas, such as woodland and along streambanksA perennial herb with soft, velvety leaves and small, yellow-green flowers in clustersBlooms in summer, prefers moist, well-drained soil and partial shadeLeast Concern (LC)
Allium ursinumWild Garlic, RamsonsWoodland, damp meadows and along streambanksA perennial herb with broad, glossy leaves and small, white flowers in clustersBlooms in spring, prefers moist, well-drained soil and partial shadeLeast Concern (LC)
Arbutus unedoStrawberry TreeWoodland and coastal areasA evergreen tree or shrub with glossy, dark green leaves and small, bell-shaped flowers, followed by large, red, strawberry-like fruitsBlooms in autumn, prefers well-drained, neutral to acid soil, and full sun to partial shadeLeast Concern (LC)
Alnus glutinosaCommon AlderMoist soils, such as riverbanks, swamps, and wet woodlandsA deciduous tree with alternate, simple, serrated leaves and small, inconspicuous flowersBlooms in winter, prefers moist soils and full sun to partial shadeLeast Concern (LC)

These plants are a small selection of the many native British plants that begin with the letter A, and the information provided is not exhaustive. However, it gives an idea of what we have in this country and can serve as a starting point for further research and identification. It’s essential to consult with experts and refer to multiple sources for accurate information if you’re considering planting these in your garden.

Resources and further reading

If you’re interested to learn more about the native plants and trees in the UK, here is a list of resources that should serve you well.

Books

“Flora Britannica” by Richard Mabey:

This book provides a comprehensive guide to the wildflowers, trees, and shrubs of Britain and Ireland, with detailed information on the ecology, history, and folklore of each species.

Learn more

“The Plant Book” by D. J. Mabberley:

This is a comprehensive reference guide to over 20,000 species of seed plants, ferns, and fern allies, with detailed information on the botanical characteristics, distribution, and uses of each plant.

Learn more

British Wild Flowers” by Marjorie Blamey and Richard Fitter: This guide features over 1,000 species of wildflowers, with beautiful illustrations and detailed information on the identification, distribution, and ecology of each plant.

The Wild Flower Key” by Francis Rose: This guide provides a simple and effective method of identifying wildflowers, with clear illustrations and detailed information on the characteristics of each plant.

The New Flora of the British Isles” by Clive Stace: This is the most up-to-date and comprehensive guide to the wildflowers, ferns, and fern allies of Britain and Ireland, with detailed information on the identification, distribution, and ecology of each species.

British Trees: A photographic guide to every common species” by Paul Sterry: this guide includes over 800 photographs and illustrations, as well as concise text descriptions of all native and naturalized trees in the British Isles.

Websites

Here are a few websites that would be a good starting point for exploring native British plants in more detail:

https://www.rhs.org.uk/: The Royal Horticultural Society’s website provides a wealth of information on gardening and horticulture, including a database of plants, gardening advice, and a calendar of events.

https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/: The Woodland Trust’s website provides information on the conservation and management of woodlands in the UK, as well as resources for identifying and studying the plants and animals that inhabit these habitats.

http://www.plantlife.org.uk/: Plantlife’s website provides information on the conservation and study of wild plants in the UK, including resources for identifying and studying individual species.

https://www.wildflower.org/: The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center provides a searchable database of wildflowers, with detailed information on the identification, distribution, and ecology of each species.

http://www.botanical.com/: This website features a wide range of information on botany and medicinal plants, including a searchable database of plants and a library of articles on different aspects of botany.

https://www.brc.ac.uk/plantatlas: The UK Plant Atlas is an online resource for exploring the distribution, ecology and conservation status of wild plants in the British Isles.

https://www.fscbiodiversity.uk/: FSC (Field Studies Council) offers a range of identification guides and courses, as well as a searchable database of UK wildflowers, trees, fungi and more.

These are just a few examples of the many resources available online for studying British plants. We encourage you to explore further and find the ones that suit your needs and interests best.

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