Go wild for weeds!

Jon Hawkins - Surrey Hills Photography

Weeds are overlooked and misunderstood, they brighten up our road verges, fields, parks and gardens, and benefit a whole range of wildlife. We list some of our most well known weeds and why you should show them some love!

It's time to embrace the weeds! 

Weeds may seem like a nuisance but they actually have so many benefits for a whole range of wildlife. For pollinators in particular, weeds can provide a lifeline when nectar sources are limited. 

Embracing weeds in your garden means less work for you! So why not put your feet up, let the grass and weeds grow and see what garden visitors you get? By letting nature do its thing, different plant species are able to grow, which helps insects to thrive, creates feeding opportunities for birds and shelter for small mammals.

You can also find weeds brightening up road verges, in woodlands, along field edges, and in our local parks and green spaces. Here is a list of some of our most well known weeds, and why you should show them some love!

Stinging Nettle

nettle

Katrina Martin / 2020VISION

The stinging nettle is most well known for its prickly sting! I am sure we've all brushed along a stinging nettle and quickly searched for a dock leaf to relieve the itch!

Nettles can be found growing in gardens, hedgerows, fields and woodlands, and prefer damp, fertile and undisturbed ground. It attracts a number of species; caterpillars of the small tortoiseshell and peacocks use them as a food source, ladybirds feast on aphids that shelter among them and seed eating birds enjoy their spoils.

Over the years, the stinging nettle has been used for food, herbal remedies and dyes.

Common Dandelion

bee and dandelion

 Jon Hawkins - Surrey Hills Photography

The beautifully bright yellow dandelion is a familiar flower in our gardens, roadside verges, pastures and meadows. The white, fluffy heads that come straight after the golden flowers, have enabled a popular childhood game for many years - counting down the dandelion ‘clock’ while blowing the seeds from its head.

Dandelions start appearing in spring and grow right through to autumn, so provide a year-round source of nectar for pollinators including bees, hoverflies and butterflies. Some birds also feed on the seeds of the dandelion.

Creeping Buttercup

creeping buttercup

Mark Hamblin/2020VISION

Creeping buttercup is the most familiar buttercup often found in damp places on grassland, along woodland and field edges, and in parks and gardens. The little yellow flowers are a childhood favourite, with the myth that if you hold it up to your chin and see a yellow reflection, then you must like butter!

Creeping buttercup spreads across lawns with its long, rooting runners, creating beautiful carpets of yellow. The open, flat shaped flower is pollinated by short-tongued bees, who reach the food using their tongue.

Thistle

Common thistle and bumblebee

Zsuzsanna Bird

The thistle grows between July and October on disturbed and cultivated ground such as pastures, roadside verges and field edges. The distinct purple fluffy looking flowers sit atop a spiny ball and it has tall spiny stems. The thistle is recognised as the Scottish national emblem.

The seeds of the thistle attract birds like goldfinches and the flowers provide a nectar source for bees and butterflies like the small copper.

Red clover

red clover

Ross Hoddinott/2020VISION

Red clover is a common plant found growing on all kinds of grassy areas in the UK including lawns, roadsides and meadows. It is often sown as a fodder crop for livestock and has long been used in crop rotation systems because of its ability to fix nitrogen, enriching soils.

The trefoil leaves are collected by wood mice and the flowers which appear from May to October provide nectar for all kinds of bees including the red-tailed bumblebee.

Teasels

The teasel is best known for its brown, prickly stems and conical seed heads, which persist long after the plants themselves have died back for the winter. Teasels flower between July and August, when the spiky heads are mostly green with rings of purple flowers. They mostly grow in damp grassland, along field edges and on disturbed ground such as roadside edges and waste grounds.

The flowers provide nectar for bees and the seeds are very important for birds such as the goldfinch and blue tit, who can be seen in the autumn ‘teasing’ seeds from the old, brown flower heads.