From tulips to chrysanthemums, our series “The Language of Flowers” explores everything from fresh flower care tips to flower symbolism and meaning. In this story, learn about the most popular Irish flowers.
Clovers and shamrocks may be the most recognizable plants in Ireland, but other flowers thrive on the Emerald Isle. In fact, blooms are a significant part of the country’s landscape and lore. Here are 12 Irish flowers that are worthy of attention.
1. Bog Rosemary
Bog-rosemaries are wildflowers native to Ireland and are found in the country’s center. They are extremely small, and, considering their height, they’re easy to miss amid the surrounding moss. Bog-rosemary flowers bloom in early May. By June, they have usually settled into a pale pink color.
2. Easter Lilies
The Easter Lily is a symbol of peace in Ireland. The flower’s distinctive shape symbolizes unity, equality, and prosperity for all Irish people. Its colors, which share the same colors as the Irish flag, are also symbolic. The green stem represents the ancient Celtic people, the orange represents Ireland’s Protestant settlers, and the white symbolizes the peace and respect between the two.
Many Irish wear a lily-shaped badge during the Easter season to remember those who died during an uprising in 1916.
3. Sheep’s bit
Sheep’s bit is a scrappy purple flower similar to the Scottish thistle but with rounder heads and thinner leaves. The flowers thrive in dry, grassy locations, bloom between May and September, and grow in large numbers. You can easily tell that you’ve spotted them when you find the round flowers that are a mix of blue and purple.
4. Wild cherry
Wild cherry trees are some of the most beautiful found in Ireland, and there are two different species of native wild cherry that you can come across. The first, Prunus avium, can be found in hedgerows and woodlands throughout Ireland. The second, Prunus padus, is relatively rare and is usually found in the Midlands and the West in limestone areas. And though they may be different in the way they look, the flowers they produce are beautiful whether they are on the tree’s branches or the ground,
5. Spring squill
Spring Squill, known as “sciolla earraigh” to the Irish, is a part of the Asparagaceae family. These relatively small perennial flowers thrive best in dry, short, and coastal grounds. Native to Ireland, spring squills are commonly found growing in groups (often in the spring) and possess a beautiful pale blue color.
Poppies are distinctive from their papery red petals and black center. The flowers are worn to remember those who died during World War I because they grew on battlefields throughout Europe. Wearing poppies can be interpreted as a political statement. Some consider the poppies as a symbol that advocates war, which has caused heated opinions on the appropriateness of wearing them — notably by Irish athletes.
7. White clover
White clovers grow freely along the Irish countryside and are used as a cover crop. Their trefoil leaves attract bees, butterflies, and mice. They bloom from May to October.
There is more to daisies (Bellis perennis) than their cheerful appearance. The poet Percy Shelley described the daisy as earthbound stars that never set. These hardy little plants grow as wildflowers on Ireland’s rugged grasslands. Daisies have a long lifespan too, as they can be spotted from March till October.
Buttercups are a harbinger of the calendar’s warmer months, as these shiny yellow flowers cover the countryside in May. Their rapid growth is a result of a robust root system. Many varieties native to Ireland can be identified by turning over the flower to inspect their petals for the number of sepals they have. The name buttercup is derived from their tiny cup-shaped scales that hold their nectar.
Ragwort is a foe to those who suffer from allergies, can cause liver damage to horses and livestock, but are beloved by bees and butterflies and help the ecosystem. The bright yellow wildflowers, which appear to be the scrappy cousin of a daisy, blanket the countryside from June to November. Ragwort provides a consistent blaze of yellow because they can grow as many as 2,500 yellow flowers in a season. According to ancient lore, Ragwort transported fairies on the flower’s cushiony center.
11. Early Dog Violet
Early Dog Violet has a regal purple flower that balances on a dainty stem. The violet gets its name “early” because it grows as early as March, while other violets bloom in April. Homeopaths use them because they reportedly reduce chest inflammation.
The primrose is another early spring wildflower with delicate leaves and a powerful, fragrant scent. It is advisable not to pick them up since they will immediately wilt. According to Celtic beliefs, the primrose is sacred and the key to heaven. They were commonly placed in doorways as a signal to fairies to keep their homes safe.