The vast expanse of Dartmoor National Park is home to thousands of different plants and wildflowers. Some of these species are unique to Dartmoor thanks to the granite and acid soil that makes up most of the park’s land. The lower slopes create a home to brightly coloured gorse and heather. Further down the gentle slopes and into the protected valleys, where the soil is less acidic, you’ll find more delicate flowers such as bluebells and the greater butterfly-orchid. Below we take a look at some of Dartmoor’s beautiful wildflowers and where and how to spot them when you visit.
Neither cotton nor grass, this plant is found in the higher areas of Dartmoor. Flowering in June, cotton grass is a type of sedge that loves bogs, marshes and moist acidic areas. Loving sunny areas, the pretty tufts of white flowers in June offset the dominate greens, browns and reds of Dartmoor’s scenery. View these wildflowers from a distance unless you’re prepared to get your feet wet!
Found on Dartmoor, Exmoor and many of the coastal areas of the UK, gorse is a highly adaptive plant with beautiful bright yellow flowers that have a coconut scent. Most common on the mid slopes of Dartmoor, gorse is a prickly customer, so don’t get too close unless you’re wearing tough clothing! Yellow dye made from gorse flowers can colour cloth.
Cloaking the slopes of Dartmoor in beautiful purple hues each summer, heather is a sight to behold. These wildflowers are both pretty and have been used for generations to provide scent in a warm bath or drunk as a tea to treat sleep disorders, breathing problems and coughs or colds. Sprigs of heather mostly have a herby smell with some floral notes.
Mid-May is the best time to see bluebells on Dartmoor. The rolling hills carpeted with England’s delicate blue flower are a delight to see. Signalling the onset of warmer months, bluebell walks on Dartmoor abound. You can choose from strolls through wooded areas, walks on open moorland or wander through protected valleys. Both English and Spanish bluebells are found on Dartmoor, the smaller more delicate blooms are the native flowers.
This native plant likes chalky soil. You’ll find the delicate whitish-green flowers in meadows and grasslands on the lower areas of Dartmoor. Flowers bloom in cylindrical bunches around the stem from May to July. The plant takes its name from the shape of the petals and sepals which are reminiscent of a butterfly.