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Growing Wild: Dandelions and cowslips

Growing Wild: Dandelions and cowslips

Now is the time to look out for Dandelions and Cowslips, according to Catherine Keena, Teagasc Countryside Management Specialist, who takes a closer look at some of our native Irish biodiversity.


Look out for dandelions – not too hard to find. While this perennial plant keeps its leaves during winter and occasional plants bloom from January, the splash of yellow is now everywhere on roadsides, grass verges, weedkiller free unmown lawns and urban areas. They are opportunists, surviving in crevices with infertile soil and arid conditions. Bright yellow is visible from a distance, reflecting light and heat – useful in spring with fewer flowering plants and insects around. Over a hundred insects use dandelions, including bumblebees, honeybees, solitary bees, hoverflies, butterflies, moths and pollen beetles. While it may be hated by some gardeners, it is part of our native Irish biodiversity.



Look out for cowslips in dry, infertile grassland and roadside verges, occurring on lime rich soils. Its dark yellow flowers with an orange centre are held in drooping one-sided clusters borne on the top of a stout stalk with a basal rosette of crinkled leaves. They have a sweetly fragrant smell of apricots. Cowslips can cross with primroses to produce flowers called false oxlips. Flowers with pinkish flowers may be a cross with ornamentals. Well known in Irish folklore in herbal cures and one of the flowers gathered on May eve and hung in bunches over doors to protect from evil, cowslips are part of our native Irish biodiversity.


See previous Growing Wild articles below:

Keep an eye on Teagasc Daily for Growing Wild updates. Learn more from Teagasc about Biodiversity and Countryside here.