The shorter native plant list

Trees and shrubs

English name

Taxonomic name

Form and habitat



Alnus glutinosa

Common tree beside rivers

Really distinctive waisted mature trees, heart-shaped glossy leaves


Fraxinus excelsior

Mixed woodland large tree

Separate male and female plants. Under threat from Ash dieback


Populus tremula


Seldom flowers, sometimes difficult to find, but beautiful silver bark


Betula species

Common throughout – especially in the north

Two tree species:

Betula pendula = silver birch

Betula pubescens = downy birch (in wetter areas)

Blackthorn / Sloe

Prunus spinosa


Sloes in autumn, dark, twigs with vicious thorns and small purple buds. Flower early – even by March

Burnet rose

Rosa pimpinelifolia

Coastal dunes – reasonably common


Sambucus nigra

Common woodland shrub

Late fruits may still be about. Twigs silvery olive with spotted lenticels. Bark is very distinctive and look out for ear fungi.


Ulex europaeus


A slightly weedy species, but very common – particularly in coastal areas

Guelder rose

Viburnum opulus

Uncommon – woodlands and hedgerows

A delicate shrub with bright red fruits in Autumn. Lace-cap inflorescences in April (not a true rose)


Crataegus monogyna


Flowers and fruits (early)


Corylus avellana

Common – Mixed woodland

Male catkins in February, Females in March. Hairy young twigs


Calluna vulgaris

and Erica species

The really dense, larger species is


Ilex europaeus

Mixed woodland understorey

Year round foliage, fruits on female trees


Lonicera periclymenum

Woodland twiner


Hedera helix

Flowering September to November Striking fruits through the winter, foliage year-round


Juniperus communis

Heathland and pine forest margins

Year round interest – flavours gin and the wood burned with little smoke. Protected


Quercus robur

Clusters of rounded orange-brown buds. Fissured bark


Quercus petraea


Rubus idaeus

Common native – grown in gardens


See whitebeams below

Scots Pine

Pinus sylvestris

Common native

Year- round interest from all parts – amazing bark and needles. Male cones by late April. Ever-changing female cones

Sea buckthorn

Hippophae rhamnoides

Coastal areas

Woolly Willow

Salix lanata

Mountain plant, but common in gardens


Sorbus spp.

Scottish endemics

Distinctive fruits – attractive bark and habit


Sorbus aucuparia

Common in gardens and woodlands

Wych Elm

Ulmus glabra

Many elms in cities are hybrid or non-native species

Fissured, rough Bark. Small, neat, rounded blackish buds. Early clusters of simple-but intricate flowers.


Taxus baccata

Debatably native

Year-round foliage, Female cones are berry-like, male cones in Feb-March

Herbaceous plants

English name

Taxonomic name



Geum rivale

Geum urbanum and their hybrid

Flowering from May onwards

Bramble / blackberry

Rubus fruticosus

Evergreen, but of greatest interest at start and end of the course


Ajuga reptans

Glossy leaves – purple (Rarely white) mint-like flowers


Ranunculus species

Several similar species – most flowering later in the Spring. R. bulbosus in April-May. Ranunculus acris and R. repens following.


Pinguicula vulgaris

A little bog-dwelling carnivore


Tussilago farfara

Flowering March, leaves follow in April

Cuckooflower, Lady’s smock

Cardamine pratensis

Flowering April to June


Taraxacum spp.

Flowering year- round if you’re lucky


Digitalis purpurea

Sinister- looking woodland beauty

Geraniums and cranesbills

Geranium lucidum, Geranium robertianum

Several species – large and small. Bloody, wood and meadow cranesbills can be difficult to distinguish


Many diverse species, please see ‘Scotland Species List”

Ground ivy

Glechoma hederacea

Broad grey-green leaves with scalloped edges and small mint-type flowers, in woodlands

Heath pea / Bitter vetch

Lathyrus linifolius

Grasslands and heaths

Iris, yellow flag

Iris pseudacorus

Our only native – easy to grow in wet areas

Lady’s mantle (alpine)

Alchemilla alpina

Alpine areas

Lesser celandine

Ficaria verna

Early flowering (March – May)

Marsh marigold Kingcup

Caltha palustris

A magnificent plant – fascinating from March to June


Primula vulgaris

Winter foliage. Interesting allied species (P. elatior = oxslip / P. veris = cowslip)

Ramsons / wild garlic

Allium ursinum

Above ground between March and June. Bulbs below ground year-round. Beware of other Allium species

Red campion

Silene dioica

Available almost year-round if you’re lucky

Red deadnettle

Lamium purpureum

A year- round weed with challenging textures and shades of greens and purples


Juncus and other groups

Grass-like – many tuft and mound-forming species


Carex species

Many diverse species


Prunella vulgaris

A weed that can be found year round with occasional flowers at all times


Drosera species

A little bog-dwelling carnivore with sticky trapping hairs on the leaves


Cirsium species and Carduus species

Many different species – Cirsium vulgare (spear thistle) is the native ‘Scotch Thistle’. Melancholy thistle (Cirsium heterophyllum)


Vicia (and Lathyrus) species

Many different species – often with climbing tendrils on the leaves


Viola species

Flowering April onwards

Wild angelica

Angelic sylvestris

Wet areas – in water, or at very wet woodland margins. This is one of many interesting umbellifers (members of the carrot family)

White deadnettle

Lamium album

Nettle-like member of the mint family with white flowers Available almost year-round if you’re lucky

Wood anemone

Anemone nemorosa

Early flowering (March – May). Beware of cultivated varieties

Wood sorrel

Oxalis acetosella

Later spring and early summer interest

Scottish rarities

Alpine sow thistle

Cicerbita alpina

Alpine areas on crags

Alpine mouse-ear

Cerastium alpinum

Alpine areas on crags

Dwarf birch

Betula nana

Northern moorland and uplands

A creeping shrub

Mountain avens

Dryas octopetala

Mountain areas – rocks

A creeping subshrub with striking white flowers and tufted fruitheads

Moss campion

Silene acaulis

Alpine crags (often alkaline)

A mound-forming little alpine

Oblong woodsia

Woodsia ilvensis

Alpine screes

A lovely little fern

Pyramidal bugle

Ajuga pyramidalis

Woodland edges near rocky areas

Deep purple cones of leaves and flowers

Rock cinquefoil

Potentilla rupestris

Very few spots on slightly acid rocks

Smallish rose-like flowers on a shrub. Rare in UK, but available from nurseries

Scottish primrose

Primula scotica

Tiny, herbaceous

Easy cultivated

Endemic species (found only in Scotland). Tiny, but with very bright little flowers and grey-green leaves

Scots lovage

Ligusticum scoticum

Coastal cliffs

Easily cultivated

Compact carrot-family member


Sibbaldia procumbens

Alpine areas on acid rocks

Named for Robert Sibbald, founder of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, and Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Sticky Catchfly

Lychnis viscaria


Rocky areas

Easily cultivated

Related Alpine catchfly (Lychnis alpina) is rarer


Linnaea borealis

Pine woodlands and old plantations

Very distinctive flowerheads


Sorbus species

Isolated spots on Arran and the East