Wildflower spotting on the Isle of Wight

The Isle of Wight has a special warm maritime climate that makes it unique in the UK and we manage our land so that wildflowers thrive.

The island’s wildflowers are special because of the persity of habitats: woodland, salt marsh, sand dunes, cliffs, heathland and chalk downland. We have a number of nationally scarce plants but there's also an absence of some common mainland species, probably because of our isolation.

Early purple orchids and Galloway cattle on Compton Down
Galloway cattle and early purple orchids on Compton Down, Isle of Wight
Early purple orchids and Galloway cattle on Compton Down

Where to go?

The meadows at Newtown National Nature Reserve are full of flowers. In good years, there's a mass of green-winged orchids in May. The muddy estuary is home to many salt marsh species.

On Tennyson and Mottistone downs look out for early purple and common spotted orchids flower in late spring. They're easier to spot than some other varieties - early purples can grow up to a foot tall. They thrive here, where grazing cattle help to keep the scrub at bay and the grassland open.

St Helens Duver is renowned for its flowers, both in the grassland of the old golf links where you may find the rare autumn squill and around its marshy shore.

The unimproved open downland hosts a mass of spring and summer flowers, such as a carpet of bird's-foot trefoil on Bonchurch Down.

Bluebells and wood anemones brighten up Borthwood Copse and the wood behind Mottistone Gardens.

Spring buebells in Mottistone Gardens
Bluebells in Mottistone Gardens, Isle of Wight
Spring buebells in Mottistone Gardens

Coastal specialists such as thrift and sea campion adorn the cliffs, particularly around Compton Bay and Sudmoor.

Two types of gorse, heather and bilberries can be found on the acid heathlands of Headon Warren and Luccombe Downs.