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Which plants are classed as wild flowers?

English wild flowers can be divided into the following types


Indigenous plants which have been around since the last ice-age.

Introduced or alien wild flowers

They are divided into archeophytes and neophytes.

Archaeophytes are non-native plant species introduced into England

prior to 1492 and the discovery of the New World

Neophytes are non-native species introduced after 1492 when the

Columbian exchange began.

Some plants introduced prior to 1492 are classed as neophytes because

they did not escape into the wild until after that date

Where do they come from?

There are a variety of sources.

1. Deliberately brought in as a food plant or as an ornamental garden plant

2. Accidentally brought in by wind or birds

3. Accidently as a contaminant of imported crops or goods

Escapes into the wild

There are two main types of escapes from gardens and estates, casual

and naturalised.

Casual - weakly persistent, dying off in a year or two, and not becoming

naturalised in the wild

Naturalised - persistent, proliferating and forming permanent populations

in the wild

There are now more non-native plants than native plants in the wild in

the UK (Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland Press Release

 - March 2023)

Invasive Aliens

These are plants, which have escaped from gardens and have formed

persistent, spreading and nuisance populations in the wild.

This may happen many years after the original introduction into the country.

According to the Royal Horticultural Society there are 1,402 alien plants

established in the wild in the UK of which 108 (8%) have a negative impact. 

A global register of introduced and and invasive species has (27-01-2018)

been announced. It suggests that a fifth of 6,400 plants and animals

catalogued are causing harm.


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