Many people feel that they have to travel to the countryside to see flowers and trees, but according to a study in Germany in 2008, there are more different species of plants found in towns and cities than in the countryside.
One thing to remember, in both the town and the country – do not uproot any wild flowers, and do not pick any flowers protected by law.
Country Plants and Trees
Go out into the countryside and there are plants and trees everywhere, and a huge variety of different types of environment, from sparse hilltop to wooded valley. The different types of plants and trees in different areas depend on the type of soil, the weather and the use of the land – for example, there may be different kinds of plants and trees in a field grazed by sheep than in a field grazed by cows, and different kinds of plants on chalk downs compared with limestone dales.
Look at the plants in a square metre of ground at the top of the hill and compare it to the plants in a square metre at the bottom of the hill – which plants are the same and which are different? Try comparing plants by a country footpath with plants by a river. Don’t forget to look up at the trees as well as looking down at the plants on the ground.
Town Plants and Trees
In towns and cities, there are not as many different environments as in the country, but are plants everywhere, and not only in the parks. Look up at the trees planted along the streets or in the gardens. There might be horse chestnuts, lime trees and plane trees next to the roads, and apple, cherry and lilac trees in the gardens.
Unfortunately, in the UK, trees are being cut down in towns and cities because councils are worried about public safety and being sued, or because trees are dead or dying, and fewer trees are being planted to replace them.
Look down at the plants growing in the cracks in the pavements, or at the bottoms of the walls. There might be common plants such as daisies or cranesbill, plants more commonly associated with country fields such as poppies, escapees from gardens such as Italian bellflower, and even visitors from abroad like the kangaroo apple, a plant from Australia that is enjoying the higher temperatures of London streets.
Parks usually have large areas of grass. From a distance, this all looks like identical green spiky stuff, but looking closer there will be different types of grass, and other plants living with the grass.
Look out for city nature reserves – these may be tucked away down side streets. Sometimes it can feel like the middle of the country, even in the heart of the city.
Plants seem to be evolving to survive in towns and cities – Crepis sancta, a yellow flower that looks a bit like a dandelion, produces heavier seed in cities and towns than in the country. Heavier seeds will fall straight back into the soil where the original plant grew, but lighter seeds are more likely to be blown onto concrete surfaces.
Comparing the Two
Try comparing the plants next to a canal in a town and a river in the country, or the middle of a country field with the middle of a town park.