The Spring Flowers Project is run by the National Biodiversity Data Centre and the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. This project has chosen 20 species that are relatively easy to identify that flower in the Spring. Flowers (vascular plants) are a huge group in Ireland so by starting these 20 easily identifiable plants you can build on your knowledge.

Spring flowers on farmland

Advances in farming have reduced the amount of flowers mainly due to the switch from hay to silage cutting and the increase in sprays used. However, in recent years, there has been an increasing interest in leaving areas for biodiversity on farmland through fencing off field margins, introducing species rich areas. Hopefully, with the growing interest in biodiversity, we will begin to see more flowers across the agricultural landscape. By taking part in the Spring Flowers Project you will increase your knowledge in plant identification, become more familiar with your land and help us build data in flowering species that can be otherwise lacking.


Spring Flowers to look out for on the farm, laneways and hedgerows in May

Many of the species chosen for the Spring Flowers Project are heavily associated with woodland. However many of these species still cling on along the base of mature hedgerows, treelines and laneways.

Here’s a few species to look out for on your farm in May.

Lesser Celandine – A distinctive bright yellow flower, which generally has between 8 – 12 petals and dark green, glossy, heart-shaped leaves. The Irish name of the plant is Grán arcáin meaning “Piglet’s Grain”, referring to the grain like tubers near the base of the leaves. Lesser Celandine can be found along laneways, grassy banks and the base of mature hedgerows.


Primrose – A well known, common and widespread species throughout the country. Primroses can be found along roadsides, laneways and the base of mature hedgerows and treelines.


Cowslip – Cowslip is in the same family as Primrose and used be found in pastures and meadows. The species declined with a move towards more intensive agriculture, but can still be found in pastures and even along roadsides. The plant is upright, with the small yellow flowers facing the one direction. The name is apparently thought to come from “Cow slop” as it was often found growing near cow pats.


Cuckooflower – Also known as Lady’s Smock, this flower likes wetter areas and can be found near ditches and damp corners in fields. The plant is upright with 4 petals ranging in colour from white to pale pink. Cuckooflower is also the larval foodplant of the Orange-tip butterfly, a distinctive species which is on the wing right now. Why not take a look behind the flower to see if you can see any Orange-tip eggs.


Violets – There are two species of Violets in our Spring Flowers Project, the Common Dog-Violet and the Early Dog-Violet. Both of these species are very similar appearance. They are small purple/violet in colour and have two petals above and three petals below. They also have small heart-shaped leaves and while often found in woodlands, they can be found along wooded laneways and grassy banks.


Bluebells – Are one of our most distinctive and charismatic Spring species and are very heavily associated with woodland habitats. However if you have mature hedgerows or treelines, especially along laneways, then you may find this species also. The flowers are purple/blue, tubular bells which droop or hang in one side.

If you farm has an area of broad-leaved woodland, then you may have many other Spring Flowers Species also, check the full list below and submit your sightings through Ireland Citizen Science Portal:


Spring Flowers species

There are 20 species in the Spring Flowers Project, click on each of the images to get the species profile to learn more about each one.

Bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) L. Lysaght Dog-Violet-Common-2_Zoe Devlin Cowslip-2_Zoe Devlin Dog-violet-Early-5-13_Zoe Devlin

          Bluebell                   Common Dog-Violet                  Cowslip                     Early Dog-Violet

Orchid-Early-Purple-1_Zoe Devlin Cuckoo-Flower-4_Zoe Devlin Ficaria verna_Zoe Devlin Lords-and-Ladies_llysaght

Early-Purple Orchid                Cuckooflower              Lesser Celandine             Lords and Ladies

Primula_vulgaris_llysaght Toothwort-6_Zoe Devlin Wild Garlic_Paul Green Heliotrope Winter_Zoe Devlin

Primrose                            Toothwort                             Wild Garlic                       Winter Heliotrope

Wood anemone (E. W. Delaney) Sorrel-Wood-1_Zoe Devlin  

Wood Anemone                 Wood Sorrel                       Coltsfoot                   Three-Cornered Garlic

Spring Gentian              Opposite-Leaved         Common Whitlowgrass             Alexanders

______________________  Golden Saxifrage


For more details on the Spring Flowers Project, please see this webpage

Check out the following presentation on the Spring Flowers Project here: Spring Flowers ID Presentation

If you have any questions on the Spring Flowers Project, please contact


This short video gives identification tips for Spring Flowers which may be found growing on or near your farm during the month of May. The species covered are Lesser Celandine and Bluebell.


Identification tips for Common Dog-Violet and Primrose: