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Common British wildflowers found on the waterways

13th January 2023

If you’re thinking about booking your next trip in the UK and want to experience some of the fantastic wildlife that the UK has to offer, then look no further. The waterways are one of the best ways to experience UK wildlife while cruising along and enjoying the atmosphere.

Your journey may take you past some rarely seen creatures such as otters, stoats and even barn owls which you can read about in our guide to wildlife on the canals. While in this guide, we’ll share some of the beautiful wildflowers that grow in the wetlands around the canal.

Aquatic Plants

Water lilies (Nymphaea alba)

Water Lilies

Water lilies are aquatic plants that can be found across the UK in slow-moving rivers and canals. Water lilies have large circular leaves that float on the surface of the water and delicate white or pink flowers.

Generally, water lilies are a benefit to the local ecosystem - this is because they provide food and habitat to aquatic animals. They also help improve water quality by reducing pollutants such as algae.

Occasionally, water lilies can be seen as a nuisance if they are left to grow too densely and block the flow of water.

Common Water Crowfoot (Ranunculus aquatilis)

Common Water Crowfoot

The common water crowfoot is usually found in bodies of water like lakes and canals. It has delicate pink and white flowers that look a bit like buttercups floating on slender stems.

Although the plant is toxic and an irritant, in the past, it was boiled and consumed for medicinal purposes. This plant is valuable to the ecosystem as the matted stems provide egg-laying sites for dragonflies and are essential for attracting bees, butterflies and other insects.

Wetland Plants

Yellow Flag Iris (Iris pseudacorus)

The yellow flag iris is one of nature’s natural showstoppers. Growing up to 1.5m in height with bright yellow flowers, this flower creates a bright border along the towpaths and margins of the waterways.

The yellow flag iris is a magnet for baby frogs who love to hide in its root system. It is also said to be the inspiration behind the fleur-de-lis and, in English folklore, was used to ward off evil.

Cuckoo Flower (Cardamine Pratensis)

The cuckoo flower is a pretty little flower, known under many other names such as lady’s smock or milkmaids. In folklore cuckoo flowers were believed to be sacred to fairies, and therefore, it was considered unlucky to bring this flower inside.  The cuckoo flower has been used in the UK over hundreds of years in natural medicine. The tea of this flower has been used as a spring tonic to help digestion. And, it’s high vitamin C content was also used to ward away scurvy.

If you’re looking for your next break and want to experience some of the exquisite wildlife the UK has to offer, now is the ideal time to book for spring and summer. With routes available through the quaint countryside in rural Wales, or the natural wetland of Cambridgeshire, there are plenty of opportunities to experience local wildlife from the water. To find out more about the different routes on offer across the UK check out our featured routes and short breaks. Or, if you’d like more information on any of our routes, contact our helpful team today.

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