Here is our Spring flower guide for the Isle of Iona. Learn more and where to discover all of the wildflowers that bloom in the Springtime.
Spring on the Isle of Iona
Spring at last! The influence of the Gulf stream snow and hard frosts are rare on Iona. This weather pattern heavily influences the flora. Mainly the strong, salt-laden winds and relatively mild winters.
A robust little plant called ivy-leaved Toadflax lies in the granite walls of the Nunnery. Evergreen leaves and small mauve flowers bloom throughout most of the year. Its long thin roots penetrate deep into crevices between the stones seeking out moisture and nutrients.
On the rocks of Iona Beaches, Thrift (also known as Sea Pink) adopts a similar survival strategy. Its roots also penetrate crevices in the rocks and amazingly withstand the battering of winter waves. Thrift is salt tolerant. It seems to relish the salt water, whereas ivy-leaved Toadflax would not survive. Iona has a wide variety of plants, each one suited to a different environment, as these two species show us.
The Golden Saxifrage is one of the first flowers to appear. This flower can be found under the trees by the Iona Heritage Centre.
The cheerful little Celandine is also found here, near the Golden Saxifrage. Their bright yellow shiny petals reflect the early spring sunshine.
In amongst the Celandines in the short grass around the Nunnery and Iona Abbey is pale blue slender Speedwell. This little flower is one of the Veronica family of which Iona has several more that bloom in the summer. This species was introduced to Britain as a rockery plant and escaped. Unlike some more invasive non-native species in Britain, this pretty little flower does no harm. Unless you are a gardener nurturing a pristine green lawn!
You can see the pale mauve cuckoo flower along the roadsides. It is so named because it appears around the same time as the cuckoo bird is heard.
Scurvy grass, with its white flowers and round, fleshy leaves, is found on rocks by the sea. Its leaves are rich in Vitamin C, as the name hints. It thrives in a salty environment and is now often seen alongside motorways many miles from the sea, because of winter salting of the roads. Interestingly, its seeds will initially have been carried from the coast by vehicles.
Walking across the hills and moorlands, you may see yellow catkins of Creeping Willow, a close relative of Pussy Willow. Yes, it really is a tree! Because of the strong winds and its exposed habitat, it very sensibly keeps close to the ground.
On thin sandy soil of the low hills by the coast, the Spring Squill, with its pale blue starry flowers.
Similarly located is Mountain Everlasting, small white clusters of papery white flowers.
Also found here are Dog Violets, as well as Primroses where there is a little more moisture.
If you are lucky, in a damp, shaded place, you may find an early Purple Orchid. In the field behind the fire station, there are Northern Marsh Orchids. They are much bigger and bolder than the dainty Early Purple Orchid.
You can also find Marsh Marigolds here. These beautiful yellow flowers are also known as Kingcups.
Sundew and Butterwort
Iona has two insectivorous plants, both of which grow in boggy places. These are Sundew (Summer flowering) and the Butterwort. Both obtain some of their nutrients from catching insects on their sticky leaves. They then curl up and secrete digestive enzymes. Being small plants, they attract tiny insects. Therefore, doing their bit to control the Scottish midges!
Finally, let us not overlook two prevalent flowers, the bright yellow Dandelion and the little white Daisy flower.
Thank you to Joyce Watson of Iona.