Scotland’s roadside verges are home to over 550 different species of wild flowers and are one of the most frequently viewed habitats in the country.
Wild plant conservation organisation Plantlife estimates that 556 species of wild plants are found on Scottish road verges, including highly-threatened flowers such as spignel and greater butterfly-orchid.
“This equates to half of all Scotland’s wild flowers,” said Dr Deborah Long of Plantlife Scotland.
Road verges also constitute one of the most frequently-seen habitats in Scotland, providing millions of people every day with direct contact with the changing seasons and colours of the countryside.
In fact, for many people, the flower-filled verges they see on their daily commute or trip to the shops, are their main contact with nature.
In addition, 88% of vergeside plants provide nectar and pollen for bees and other insects, making road verges essential refuges for insect life – bird’s-foot trefoil alone is a food plant for 132 species of insect.
Swathes of colour on Scotland’s roads
The good news is that Scotland’s 9,386 ha of rural verges appear to be flourishing this summer and providing swathes of natural colour on Scotland’s roads for its users to enjoy, while also providing a valuable haven and food bank to the country’s wildlife.
From primroses, which were voted Scotland’s favourite wild flower, in spring, to the meadowsweet and ox-eye daisies which appear in summer, not to mention marsh orchids and devil’s-bit scabious that are also currently flowering, Scotland’s verges are home to a huge variety of wild flowers and, consequently, a host of diverse wildlife.
It’s important that we recognise the value of our road verges
“Scotland’s road verges are stunning, especially at this time of year,” said Dr Deborah Long. “If you’re lucky, you can spot melancholy thistle, ragged robin and meadow cranesbills.
“And it’s not just us enjoying the knapweed and scabious – bumblebees, hoverflies, butterflies are there too, reminding us all how important it is we recognise and celebrate our road verges.”
For more information, visit www.plantlife.org.uk/roadvergecampaign.
For lots more news and views about Scotland’s natural environment, pick up a copy of this month’s Scots Magazine. In the shops now or order online here.
- Plantlife protects the nation’s wild plants, and builds understanding of the vital role they play.
- Plantlife carries out conservation work across the UK, manages nature reserves, and influences policy and legislation.
- Plantlife promotes the conservation of wild plants for the benefit of everyone.