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June wayside flowers

Other June pages: Meadow and field flowersDownland and seaside flowersHedgerow, trees and berriesBirds Butterflies and insectsWeather

Picture: poppies in a wheat field. Click here for more June wayside flower photos.

The lovely displays of wildflowers that line country lanes in May have gone over by June, and by mid month the path and lane verges that were a riot of colour earlier in spring have reverted to plain green. But there are still a wonderful variety of flowers to be seen if you keep your eyes peeled - perhaps the most species of any month in the year.

Among the most noticeable June flowers are oxeye daisies, which favour dry grassy banks. By the end of the month they are past their best but they can crop up in places into July. Other verge flowers include red campion, which can survive in places right through the month, and the less common white campion and bladder campion: there is also a pink campion, which is a hybrid of red and white, though this is actually quite rare: more usually you just see red campion with lighter pink colourings.

Note also delicate purple spikes of hedge woundwort which can be found throughout the month in shadier places. In the second half it is joined by the pink-flowered black horehound (which is nicer than its name suggests). More in the first half, though sometimes also in the second, you see the purple or blue flowers of Russian comfrey, which is more common than the native common comfrey (see Damp places below). Just occasionally creeping comfrey survives into June.

This is also the month of the enormous purple spikes of foxgloves, which go over towards the month’s end, and the beautiful hedgerow cranesbill. You may also see the larger, showier meadow cranesbill, which often appears to be a garden escapee in the south east, though it grows wild in Wiltshire and Oxfordshire. In addition you see a lot of French cranesbill, which is a sort of pink version of meadow cranesbill and usually has spread from nearby gardens onto wild verges.

Much smaller cranesbills such as dovesfoot cranesbill, cut-leaved cranesbill and small-flowered cranesbill (with pale lilac flowers) are found on verges too, and more rarely you might see round-leaved cranesbill, shining cranesbill or even pencilled cranesbill. A much commoner member of this family is herb robert, which is less frequent than it was in May, but still survives in places in June on shady road and path edges.

Early in the month you may still see May survivors such as white deadnettle, common vetch, bush vetch, ground ivy, bugle, wood spurge and wild strawberry (though the latter is also producing its tiny fruits by now). In late springs some garlic mustard or greater stitchwort may also scrape into June. Very rarely fodder vetch, a kind of outsized bush vetch, may be seen flowering on path verges in arable areas - not to be confused with the attractive tufted vetch, seen later in the month. Wood avens (aka herb bennet) is already past its best but a few isolated flowers can crop up at any time in June.

Also occasionally found until late in in the month, usually near houses, is green alkanet (which is blue-flowered: the green in its name refers to its leaves being around most of the year, ie evergreen). Some tiny-flowered forget-me-nots also survive - usually field forget-me-not, though early forget-me-not is possible.

In addition, you may see some remaining flowers of greater celandine - nothing to do with the lesser celandine that flowers in early spring, but a relative of the poppy. The more normal red poppy is mainly found in arable fields (see below), but sometimes crops up on ordinary waysides.

Umbellifers and other plant families

Cow parsley has gone over in late May - it may just last into the first week of June in a few locations - and in place of its dreamy drifts of white flowers there are only brown seedheads. But you might be fooled into thinking some of it is still out, because a range of other similar flowers – from the family known as umbellifers – appear in June. Most similar to cow parsley is rough chervil, which has purplish stems (though some start out green) that are rough to the touch, and delicate separate elements to its flower heads.

A larger and coarser umbellifer is hogweed, which can be seen in places right from the start of the month and is widespread by the third week along lane and path verges. (I often wonder if its name refers to its aroma, which is slightly unpleasant). You might also see giant hogweed, a rather terrifying outsized version of the flower, introduced in Victorian times from the Caucasus. If you are not sure you are seeing a giant hogweed, then you are not: it is unmistakably bigger than ordinary hogweed in scale - sometimes as large as a small tree - with flowers up to 30 centimetres across and very different leaves. It is poisonous and an irritant to the skin, and should not be touched.

Even more deadly is hemlock water dropwort, a very poisonous umbellifer that is very commonly seen flowering in ditches and streams in June, fading in the second half: it looks far too attractive for such a harmful plant. The same cannot be said of hemlock, which is tall (not infrequently two metres or more) and untidy-looking, with purple blotches on its woody stems. Also poisonous (it was the drug used to execute Socrates in ancient Greece), it can form large stands on road and stream banks throughout the month.

A less lethal umbellifer, but a massive irritant to gardeners (it is almost impossible to eradicate), is ground elder, which has elder-like leaves quite different from other plants in the family and which can be found on path, track and road edges all month. A plant with a umbellifer-like flat white flower head, but in fact a member of the fleabane family, is yarrow, which appears in the second half (sometimes more towards the end of the month) and then lasts all summer.

Another confusing family of flowers which can sometimes be seen on waysides and field edges in June are the various cabbage and mustard family plants, most commonly the rather feeble looking hedge mustard. Black mustard with its spray of yellow flowers sometimes also occasionally crops up - hoary mustard and bastard cabbage look very similar - while charlock is an arable weed but occasionally spreads to other habitats. Wintercress is another of this family which may last into the first week of June, while in 2021 and 2023 the white coloured hoary cress survived along main roads into the first half of the month.

Yet another group of flowers has dandelion-like flowers, though dandelions themselves have nearly all gone over in May - if you think you see a dandelion on a grassy verge in June, it is very likely to be a catsear. Taller, straggly plants with dandelion-like flowers include beaked hawksbeard and rough hawksbeard, the latter having more luxuriant flowers than beaked hawksbeard and rounded ends to its lower leaves (though the two species are still very hard to tell apart). Both of these might be confused at a casual glance with a sow thistle (see below).

Much daintier, with diamond-shaped leaves and much smaller flowers, is the unfortunately named nipplewort. Its flowers in turn look very similar to those of smooth hawksbeard, which appears as the month goes on. Also confusable with nipplewort (though with distinctive arrow-shaped lower leaves) is the much rarer wall lettuce, which you may just see in shady spots. And just in case you are losing the will to live at this point, in dry grassy places you also occasionally come across hawkweeds, a confusing group with lots of sub-species, though always growing on a single stem.

A further family with dandelion-like flowers are the sow thistles. Smooth sow thistle is the most common variety in June, a plant that looks like it will be spiny but is in fact soft when you touch it. It is found in all sorts of situations, but is rather fond of odd urban or suburban corners. Rather different in appearance is prickly sow thistle, which looks like a thistle with yellow flowers (often closed, it seems), and which is more of a rural wasteground plant.

True thistles can also be seen growing throughout June, with the earliest to flower being slender thistle, which is largely coastal (and quite common in such locations), and at its best in the first two thirds of the month. Other thistles you may just see in flower in the first half include welted thistle and marsh thistle - the latter found in rough grassland and damp places. Musk thistle, usually seen on downland and characterised by with its nodding flowerheads, is more likely in the second half but sometimes crops up earlier.

In the second half, marsh thistles flower more widely and you start to see some of the very common creeping thistle in flower, its foliage now being everywhere, sometimes looking pale and lettuce-like to begin with. Towards the end of the month it is joined by the handsome-looking spear thistle.

Burdock, a shrub with thistle-like flowers which look as if they are only half out, may also just be flowering at the end of the month, and by this time you can see the spiky plants of teasel, with their large oval flower heads, though they do not flower yet.

A gardener's despair (another one that is very hard to eradicate), but a very pretty climbing flower, is bindweed. Its huge white trumpets (large or hedge bindweed) cover hedgerows, verges or wasteground from the first or second week, while field bindweed, with smaller flowers, usually pink but sometimes white, is found more on grassy verges, as its name suggests. Two other climbers worth noting are honeysuckle, with its aromatic white flowers, and bittersweet (aka woody nightshade) with its inverted purple flowers, both of which can be seen all month: see June hedgerow, trees and berries for more on these.

Unnoticed plants and bare ground

Unnoticed, cleavers (aka goosegrass: the plant that sticks to your clothes) has miniscule white flowers in early June: towards the end of the month its seeds, at first green and then reddish, may be sticking to your socks. Stinging nettles, also now in flower, have reached waist or even neck height, and along with other vegetation can block paths that were perfectly clear earlier in the year.

Throughout the month one can see the fly whisk plants of horsetail, a survivor from the age of the dinosaurs. Broad-leaved or curled dock flowers may still be green or have rusty-coloured flowers that look as if they are already over, but are probably still budding: both plants are quite variable in the timing of their flowering, out in one place, over in another. Broomrapes - strange pale organisms that grow as parasites on the roots of particular plants - can also sometimes be seen, particularly ivy broomrape that lives on ivy, and common broomrape that lives on clover and a range of other hosts.

On bare ground, such as muddy paths and tracks, greater plantain puts up its flower spikes from mid month. You have to look very carefully indeed to see them in bloom, however, as all that is produced is a slight purple haze that is only evident at very close quarters. In the same place you can see pineapple weed, looking a bit like a mayweed that has lost its petals. Its flowers do indeed look like pineapples and smell like them too if you rub them.

Another very common plant of such habitats that you will probably overlook is knotgrass - a common but little regarded mat-forming weed which colonises bare ground: it can be flowering later in June but its flowers are too tiny to be noticed. Much prettier is scarlet pimpernel whose orangey-red flowers may crop up on bare ground at any time in the month. You may just also see spreading yellow sorrel - an attractive but rather elusive little flower of urban bare ground.

Shepherd's purse and groundsel can also sometimes occur as urban weeds, as can chickweed early in the month. Oxford ragwort sometimes spreads to the same habitat from its railway line home (see below).

Definitely not an unnoticed plant, and a bush not a wildflower, but perhaps the supreme plant of bare ground is buddleia, an aggressive shrub that finds all sorts of urban and rural wasteground perfectly mirror its native habitat of the stony deserts of China. It can be starting to flower as early as mid month, though more usually nearer its end or not until July.

Grassland flowers on verges

Early in the month one may still see crosswort – whose greeny-yellow flower spikes look quite attractive en masse - while occasional patches of germander speedwell may last even into the second half. Other grassland flowers on verges during June include ribwort plantain, black or spotted medick, birdsfoot trefoil (possibly even greater birdsfoot trefoil), goatsbeard, and red and white clover. In mown or grazed grass daisies are still seen.

Silverweed can be found in flower at any time of the month, as can cinquefoil, but both are easily overlooked as their flowers look very similar at a casual glance to creeping buttercup, which also crops up occasionally on verges till late in the month. (Silverweed has very distinctive silver-backed leaves, from which it gets its name, but the flowers often look a bit detached from them: cinquefoil has five lobed leaves). Some meadow buttercup may also crop up on verges, particularly in the first half.

In the second half of the month flowers appear on verges that are better known from downland. Examples include agrimony – a small spike delicately splashed with yellow flowers - as well as self-heal, hedge bedstraw, lady's bedstraw, field scabious, knapweed, vervain, restharrow, mignonette, wild carrot and common spotted orchid. Meadow vetchling and lesser stitchwort - more normally meadow flowers - can also sometimes be seen.

Summer stalwarts

June also sees the appearance of wayside flowers that will go on to last the whole summer. One that can be found from quite early in the month is common mallow, which forms clumps of attractive pink flowers on odd bits of wasteground and by the side of roads and tracks. It has a rarer, more delicate variety called musk mallow, which appears towards the end of the month.

More of these summer stalwarts appear in the second half of June - that is when, for example, the bright orange common ragwort starts to appear on fields, verges and downland, as well as along railway lines. Poisonous to horses (which therefore don't eat it..) and so persecuted by some landowners, it is nevertheless a very pretty plant and an important food source of insects.

Sticking with this part of the colour pallet, the yellow flowers of St John’s wort (used to treat depression) appear from the second week of June onwards, along with their large flashy garden relative, rose of sharon. Towards the end of the month you start to see the striking purple spikes of rosebay willowherb and possibly also the less showy great willowherb, though early July is a more normal time for both species to appear. A smaller member of this family that can be seen from early in the month is broad-leaved willowherb.

Ribbed melilot, a tall yellow relative of the pea family, can appear on disturbed ground from quite early in the month. There is a much less common white version of this plant - white melilot. At the very end of the month you may also see common toadflax or dark mullein, as well as the flower buds (ie they are not yet in bloom) of hemp agrimony and mugwort. You may also see the attractive blue nettle-leaved bellflower at this time.

On heathland some bell heather and cross-leaved heath can be in flower in June, mainly from mid month onwards, a foretaste of the main heather flowering to come in late July and August. Heaths are also the place to see tormentil, a common yellow flower of acid grassland. Much rarer species in this habitat include heath speedwell, heath bedstraw or heath groundsel.

Along railway lines

Banks alongside railway lines can be alive with flowers in June. In particular this is a favourite place for oxeye daisy, which grows in great profusion on trackside banks, fading in the last third of the month. The same habitat is also a good one to see foxgloves throughout the month and rosebay willowherb towards its end (sometimes as early as mid month).

Track verges are a popular place for climbing plants too. Quite early in June you can see the showy white flowers of Russian vine here, and it is joined in the second week by large or hedge bindweed and from mid month by broad-leaved everlasting pea.

On the trackbed itself, the Oxford ragwort that appeared in early May is generally over by early June, though can hang on later in a few places. Originally from the slopes of Mount Etna, it escaped in the 19th century from the botanical garden in Oxford and found railway clinker the perfect substitute for the volcanic scree that is its native habitat.

In the same habitat you can also see herb robert. In these dry stony conditions its foliage often turns red, but if you look closely it still manages to flower. Creeping ivy-leaved toadflax, normally found tumbling down walls, also sometimes finds a footing here.

On the stony ground between rail lines and along their edges red valerian or its white variant can flourish, and you sometimes see the garden escapee purple toadflax. Buddleia is also abundant in this habitat, as well as being found on trackside banks. As mentioned above, it may be starting to flower as early as mid month, though sometimes not until its end or even early July.

You can also see hawksbeards next to rail lines right from the start of the month - most likely beaked hawksbeard, though exact identification tends to be difficult from passing trains, with the smaller and daintier smooth hawksbeard possible later in the month. Black mustard (or similar species) may sometimes crop up too.

Also from around mid month you get the showy yellow evening primrose and sometimes large amounts of the similarly coloured ribbed melilot. Towards the end of the month you may see huge spikes of great mullein, or its smaller cousin dark mullein. Common ragwort - much taller than the Oxford variety - flowers at this time too, both on track margins and on lineside banks, and you sometimes see St John's wort in the same habitat from the second week onwards.


While the big floral displays of early spring are long gone in woodland, there are still a few flowers to be seen. At the very start of the month sanicle or woodruff may just be in flower, and you may come across some surviving germander speedwell. Ramsons (aka wild garlic) leaves are now dying back, still giving off their pungent wild garlic smell. Throughout the month you may just come across a few herb robert, wood avens or red campion flowers, while foxglove can be seen in woodland clearings. Hedge woundwort is also often found by the sides of woodland paths.

In the second half you may see enchanter's nightshade, a common woodland flower in July. At any time of the month note also wall lettuce, whose flowers look a lot like those of nipplewort (which also occurs along woodland paths) but which has very distinctive arrow-shaped lower leaves.

Rarer species include small balsam, a large leafy plant with small yellow flowers, and occasional patches of yellow pimpernel or creeping jenny, both ground creepers with yellow flowers. You may just come across common figwort, and in woods on acid soils, such as Blean Wood in Kent and Hockley Wood in Essex, this is the month for common cow wheat, the food plant of the rare heath fritillary butterfly.

Cuckoo pint - whose leaves were such a common sight on woodland floors in late winter and early spring - has by now produced its strange green berry seedheads, which can be starting to ripen to orange or red at the end of the month.

Garden escapees

In gardens lavender flowers in the second week and it is also found as a crop on some farms, such as Castle Farm to the south of Lullingstone in Kent . Looking a bit like it, the tall attractive spikes of purple toadflax can be found right from the start of the month, often growing on bare ground just outside garden boundaries. That is also true of occasional yellow welsh poppies (a much commoner wayside plant in the north of England). Very occasionally you still see some periwinkle flowers, though most have gone over by now.

Other escapees include showy and aromatic clumps of dame's violet and the cheerful purple-pink flowers of goat's rue, both of which can occasionally be found in odd corners or on roadside verges in June. By contrast, the pretty upside-down purple flowers of columbine, still around early in the month, are actually a native species, though more often seen in or near gardens. Yellow loosestrife is also technically a native flower, but the variant you usually see, with orange centres to its flowers, is whorled loosestrife, a cultivar. Looking like an escapee but in fact a wild flower, stinking iris is found in shady, scrubby and coastal places on lime.

The blue star-shaped flower tumbling down walls is trailing bellflower. Mexican fleabane (a type of daisy), ivy-leaved toadflax and yellow corydalis also grow out of the most unlikely cracks in stonework, as do red valerian and its white valerian variant. Feverfew with its daisy-like flowers, sometimes lurks at the bottom of walls, and you sometimes see striking pink wood sorrel making a bit for freedom from gardens.

From mid month broad-leaved everlasting pea straggles over walls and hedges, and near the end of the month hollyhocks appear. Russian vine, which drapes over fences and even trees, may start to flower in white cascades from quite early in June, but more usually does so towards its end.

Damp places

In the first half of the month you see lots of hemlock water dropwort flowering in streams and damp ditches. Though very poisonous, it makes an attractive display with its white cow parsley-like flowers. In the second half the most noticeable species is meadowsweet, which produces drifts of white flowers in damp meadows and on the edges of streams and ditches,

Early in June in ponds and in marshy places you see the attractive yellow flag iris, and as the month goes on you get water lilies - both yellow and white ones. They are indicators of the quality of the water, because both need it to be clean, white needing even cleaner water than yellow. In streams on chalk you can see water crowfoot growing - a pretty white flower with a yellow centres - and in the same habitat you might see watercress flowering (try the River Darent above Farningham).

Reeds are now at their full height, and later in the month bulrushes shed the covering of fluff (last year's seeds) they have had all winter, and produce their distinctive blooms - the brown cylinder of the female flower and the fluffy beige male flower on top. You may also see the distinctive oval leaves of water plantain rising out of shallow water.

In wet grassland in the second half look out for lesser spearwort, which looks very like a buttercup except for its long narrow leaves. There is also a much rarer celery-leaved buttercup, a specialist of wetter ground, more likely in the first half of the month. Marsh thistles, not surprisingly, can also grow in damper meadows.

Another plant of damp places is common comfrey with cream or dull purple flowers and leaves that seem to creep down the stem. Despite its name, it is not that common. Seen more often is the non-native Russian comfrey, whose leaves partly creep down the stem, and whose flowers that are blue or purple. It is often found on river banks, as well as in other habitats, more in the first half of the month, but sometimes also in the second.

Towards the end of the month you may just see common valerian (not to be confused with the red or white valerian found on railway lines or at the seaside). Water forget-me-not, water chickweed, water speedwell, water violet and marsh bedstraw also sometimes crop up.

Towards the very end of the month himalayan balsam may just start to flower - very invasive (it can choke streams) it is nevertheless very popular with bumble bees - and you may just see the first spikes of purple loosestrife or marsh woundwort.

Arable fields

Arable fields can look rather attractive in June, with green wheat rippling in hypnotic patterns in the breeze. Towards the end of the month barley, which is the earliest to ripen, may turn gold. In later springs, such as 2013 and 2021, oilseed rape fields may still be in flower early in the month, but generally they are now just acres of green seeds. These can be starting to turn brown at the month's end, sometimes with a brief period of golden hues in between.

On arable edges scented mayweed, looking like a large daisy, smells faintly of chamomile if you rub its flowers. Having almost identical flowers, but rarer and on a more frizzy, straggling plant, is stinking chamomile. As its name suggests it has a less pleasant aroma (though "stinking" is overstating it a bit), and a key to identification is that it is the leaves as well as the flowers that carry the scent.

Later in the month the larger-flowered scentless mayweed may appear - easy to identify as it has no aroma at all: it goes on to become the most common arable weed in the summer and early autumn. The frizzy leaves and yellow heads of pineapple weed look like a mayweed about to flower, but it is in fact a separate species and increasingly common on disturbed ground as the month goes on. It does indeed smell of pineapple if rubbed.

The most striking arable weed in June is undoubtedly the poppy, however. It can appear in ones or twos on field margins or can take over whole fields, but just where it does the latter is unpredictable from year to year. That being said the South Downs and the vineyards around Luddesdown in Kent are often good places to see it.

The edges of arable fields are also the place to see tiny white field pansies, the red flowers of scarlet pimpernel and - sadly much rarer - the delicate purple flowers of common fumitory and the tiny pink stars of field madder. Cut-leaved cranesbill is fond of crop margins too, and you can sometimes also find dovesfoot and small-flowered cranesbill in the same place. Field speedwell also may hang on on arable edges after it has disappeared from the other wayside habitats it is found on earlier in the year.

Oilseed field edges are particularly good places to see many these species, and they also attract other crucifers (cabbage-like plants), such as wild radish - identified by the particular bulbous shape of its petals, which can be white, yellowish or purple and are veined with delicate purple lines. Also in the same plant family are charlock and hedge mustard, both yellow flowered.

Prickly sow thistle can be an arable weed too, while fat hen and knotgrass (which may just be starting to put out its very tiny and inconspicuous flowers at the end of the month) colonise bare ground at field edges. Shepherd's purse, with its distinctive heart-shaped seeds, is also sometimes seen, though it seems more at home on town streets these days: the same is true of groundsel.

Very occasionally you see stunning fields of blue-flowered flax (aka linseed), whose peak flowering seems to vary from one year to the next, sometimes in the first half of June and sometimes the second. Isolated flowers of both this and purple lucerne (once a fodder crop) may also turn up on arable verges.

Another purple-flowered plant, the exotic-looking tansy-leaved phacelia, can be deliberately used as a conservation strip plant or occur as an arable weed, having original escaped from wildflower seed mixes. Very rarely (and usually to the west of London, in Wiltshire or Oxfordshire) you also come across the striking blue borage, which looks like a garden escapee.

Traditionally haymeadows were cut in late June or early July and you can still see this happening, sometimes as early as the second week of the month (and occasionally even in May). The grass is either fairly quickly baled and wrapped in black plastic for use as silage (slightly fermented grass used as winter feed for cattle), or left to dry in the fields and then gathered into uncovered bales for use as straw. Historically, sheep were then released into the fields to graze the remaining grass, but this is not so often done these days.

And talking of sheep, by June those cute lambs of early spring are almost fully grown. They no longer look so adorable and are presumably not long for this world. During June (or even in late May) it is made even more obvious which ones are destined for the abattoir, since the ewes which will go on to breed again next year are shorn and the lambs are not.

Cattle in the fields in June are usually beef cattle in the south east. Some may still be cows with calves, who are usually perfectly docile if you keep a respectful distance, but you also get herds of young males - bullocks - who have been separated from their mothers and can be worryingly frisky and nosey when walkers turn up.

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