Butterwort

Pinguicula vulgaris

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  3. Butterwort

About

An insectivorous plant, the bright yellow-green leaves of Common Butterwort excrete a sticky fluid which attracts unsuspecting insects. Once an insect get trapped, the leaves slowly curl around their prey and digest it. The acidic bogs, fens and damp heaths that Common Butterwort lives in don't provide it with enough nutrients, so it has evolved this carnivorous way of life to supplement its diet. Common Butterwort has purple flowers that appear from May to July, giving the plant its other common names of 'Bog Violet' and 'Marsh Violet'.

How to identify

Common Butterwort has a rosette of yellow-green and sticky leaves that appear flat to the ground and shaped like a star. It produces around two or three upright flower stalks which bear small, purple flowers.

Where to find it

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have the highest concentration, with some scattered populations in North West England.

Habitats

When to find it

  • May
  • June
  • July

How can people help

Windswept heaths and moors are an iconic feature of the UK's landscape and are the result of hundreds of years of low-impact human activities such as livestock-grazing and scrub clearance. Yet development and the decline of traditional farming methods have caused many of these precious habitats to be lost - over 80% of lowland heathland in the UK has disappeared in just 200 years. The Wildlife Trusts manage many heathland habitats for the benefit of all kinds of wildlife including Common Butterwort. By volunteering for your local Trust you can help too, and you'll make new friends and learn new skills along the way.

Species information

Common name
Butterwort
Latin name
Pinguicula vulgaris
Category
Wildflowers
Statistics
Height: up to 15cm
Conservation status
Common.