Alexandra Park is home to a large variety of wild flowers as well ornamentals and planted wild flowers. You can always find something flowering... A lot of pictures here.

There is also an attempt at a systematic list here.

As reported in our November 2015 Newsletter, we have possibly the first report of a Western Sword Fern (a native of North America) growing wild in London. Picture.

Caroline kicked off by talking us through flower structure using a diagram of a simplified flower. The idea was to look at the function of the different parts, and how their shapes and colours can vary from one plant to another. We then walked around looking at all the variations – from wood anemones and white deadnettle to bluebells and honesty. A hand lens was very useful for the smaller structures, such as a dusting of bright yellow pollen.

Wildflower Walks: 16th September

Our rather unglamorous location (the Cricket Pavilion car park) proved very fruitful. Among the highlights was a rose bush that led to a conversation about the way that roses pop up in all sorts of contexts: rosaries (the beads were made of compressed rose petals); ceilings (if you speak under a rose – sub rosa – everything said in that room remains a secret); nutrition (during World War II rosehip syrup was a very good source of vitamin C). We compared the very different seeds of three members of the carrot family (hogweed, cow parsley and wild carrot), and the subtle difference between soft rush (smooth) and hard rush (slightly ridged). In spite of it being the end of summer, there was plenty to see.

Wildflower Walks: 22nd July

We started by moving across Redston Field at botanist’s speed (which may well be slower than snail’s pace) because there was so much to look at: dock seeds under a lens, the different growth forms of broad-leaved plantain out in the open (flat against the ground) and in amongst other plants (upright), and the similarity between bramble and wild rose flowers, indicating that they are indeed in the same family. We picked up speed to get to the back of the Cricket Pitch to look at a few members of the pea family (goat’s rue, white clover, red clover) and a few of the daisy family (hoary ragwort, bristly oxtongue, creeping thistle), but very few actual daisies. The rain held off until the end of the walk, at which point we sped right up to get home. 

Wildflower Walks: 20th May 

Caroline being trapped inside by her broken front-door lock prevented her from leading the morning walk, but luckily for all Stephen was able to take over. Thankfully Caroline was released in time to lead the afternoon walk. 

In both groups we noted the amount of cow parsley. Later we compared those flowers to elder, which are similar, even though the two plants aren’t in the same family. We also compared shining crane’s-bill (leaves shiny-ish, petals rounded) to dove’s-foot crane’s-bill (leaves duller, petals notched). We looked at creeping and meadow buttercups (the latter has finely divided leaves), and then the only bulbous buttercup to survive the mowing: the leaves are similar to the meadow buttercup’s but under the flower, you can see that the sepals fold back on themselves. Another highlight was comparing two related plants: the yellow goat’s-beard and the mauve of salsify (pictured). 

Summer Wildflower Walk 

We focused on two main habitats. In the grassland near the Newland Road entrance we considered how grasses hold soil and store carbon, and we looked at grasses ranging from tall false oat grass to short perennial ryegrass. We also saw other plants such as lucerne, mugwort and ragwort and discussed some of their uses past and present. In the habitats that lie between the hedge around the Cricket Pitch and the Conservation area, we looked at plants ranging from the tiny duckweed on the surface of the ponds to the tall reed sweetgrass. We compared hogweed to cow parsley and also looked at the clusters of spores under a fern frond under a hand lens. 

Late Spring Wildflower Walk

Caroline started the walk with a question: are grasses flowering plants? The answer is yes – the flowers are so much less showy because they are wind pollinated and therefore don’t have to advertise their pollen using colour and scent in the way that insect-, bird- and mammal-pollinated flowers do. 

Grasses can be tricky to identify, so it’s best to start with some that are easy to differentiate: we looked at rye grass, wall barley, cock’s-foot and annual meadowgrass

Another tricky group are the dandelion-like flowers (part of the daisy family): we compared dandelion with smooth sowthistle, hawk’s-beard and nipplewort

mongst the other topics we covered were the way that some leaves are positioned to avoid overlapping to catch the maximum amount of light, how leaves on the same plant can have different shapes and how plants of the same species can vary in size and form depending on where they happen to be growing. 

March 2022 Wildflower Walk

Caroline led two walks to look at the wildflowers that are already out and about this year. There was information on identification and lots of interesting background stories on folklore of the plants. We started at the Park Visitor Centre and made our way down to the area where the compost head lies.

Caroline explained the difference between the Lesser Celandine and Greater Celandine which can be both found in the park, but only the Lesser is flowering. They both have yellow flowers, but are unrelated. Lesser Celandine is a relative of the Buttercup whereas Greater Celandine is in the Poppy family.

Stephen led an overflow walk that just concentrated on the identification of the flowers.

Wildflower walk: October

Very unlucky with the weather for our wildflower walks in October with the rain trying hard to put us off. No chance, Caroline led a morning and afternoon walk in the south eastern corner of the park. It was impressive the list of plants seen flowering as just a casual look in the park gives one the impression there is nothing much. The largest number of plants flowering were bristly ox-tongues near the cricket pavilion. The picture on the left shows some of hardy afternoon group admiring them. Next time there will be sun. 

Wildflower walk: August

Caroline led two wildflower walks from the Gas Hut to the cricket scrub via the Lower Road (where there are always some interesting flowers on the south side). She explained some of the ways to tell flowers that are grouped into the same family. The flowers in the daisy family, for example, are not a single flower but many flowers clustered together to look like a single flower. Daisy family species spotted included common fleabane, creeping thistle, Michaelmas daisy, bristly oxtongue, pineapple-weed, common ragwort and knapweed. Red bartsia (a plant in the figwort family that is partially parasitic on grasses) was also spotted, and we all had a look at the fairy’s slippers under the hood of the white deadnettle (in the mint family and therefore unrelated to nettles).

Stephen led an overflow walk starting from the opposite end of the park, with the highlight of a flax flower.

Members Walk: Wildflower walk: 26th June

It’s amazing how many plants you can find if you look closely at a stretch of grass or the roadside verges in a park. Caroline and Stephen led three walks and between them found 70-odd species, which included several grasses, and flowers from the cabbage, daisy, dock, mint, rose, and pea families.

Wild Flower Walks - April 2021 

In fine weather, but with a cool wind, Caroline led two wild flower walks to give two small groups of people insight into some of the spring flowers found in the park. 

Another perfect day for the wildflower walks. We saw a good range of bluebells – native, Spanish, and hybrids that were rather more native or rather more Spanish. There was lots of lesser celandine and chickweed, but only one coltsfoot and just a few common dog-violets.  

A sharp-eyed person spotted the flowering part of lords-and-ladies, which looks like a crayon and was in fact what she had used it for as a child. And we compared various leaves – dock with wild garlic, meadow buttercup with creeping buttercup, and nettle with red deadnettle, white deadnettle and black horehound (the latter has a curious smell when pressed).

These walks were so popular that an extra walk was led by Stephen at the other end of the park in the Nature Conservation Area. A list of wild flowers and trees flowering on that walk. Seen at the end of the walk was a young oak apple..... (a type of gall)

Members' Walk: Wild Flowers 

A cold and overcast April day for our Spring wild flower walk. An impressive 19 people were present to search for wild flowers and a few native trees.

Meeting at the Park Visitor Centre. We gave the participants a list of the flowers expected to be seen. (and all bar one were!)

By the centre, we saw Daisy (left), Lesser Celandine, Hybrid Bluebells, Herb Robert among many others with some participants trying to out-guess others....

Some trivia was added along the way including the fact that the Celandine comes from the Greek for swallow and flower is meant to welcome the arrival of these birds....

Another unsubstantiated fact was the the name oeing swept away in the Danube crying "Vergissmeinnicht". See here. or from German Wikipedia an alternative explanation: "Because the blue flowers remind of the folk belief in the eyes of newly in love people, forget-me-nots were given as love and loyalty, mostly from the man to the woman."

The other side of the car park, we found that the Wood Anemones were still flowering and someone spotted a flower not on the original list - a Smooth Sow-thistle. Double points!!!

Divertissement... We looked the Horse-chestnut and noticed how the colour changes from white and yellow to white and red when flowers are pollinated. Picture left courtesy of Conchita Navarro.

Wandering downhill, we looked the female and male holly flowers before crossing the road and heading towards the Paddock Car Park - a surprising wild flower hot spot.

Native bluebells, common vetch (left below) and most impressively a path through wild garlic.

After a look at some delicate Cowslips and Greater Stitchwort, we finished the walk with Borage and Greater Celandine and the last of decamped to the Capital Garden Centre for a welcome cup of tea and something nice to eat.

A good haul of flowers in a one hour short walk.

Disclaimedr. Links to Male Holly and Sow-thistle from elsewhere in the Park.

Pictures of all the flowers seen (except the Sow-thistle).

A full list of the flowers seen on the walk.

Members Winter Flower Walk 

Good weather for our Flower Walk beginning.... We admired the Snowdrops by Park Information Centre and Hebe with Viburnum tinus before moving off into the Railway Orchard to spot one of the first Cherry Laurels in flower.

Walking anticlockwise around The Grove, we came to the crocuses by the Parkland Walk exit. Another little patch of Snowdrops and then some Cow Parsley in flower.

Mahonia was flowering by the Little Dinosaurs. We then did a little trek past the Springfield Orchard to discover some of the first Forsythia flowers. Here one of the participants caught sight of a flower not on the original list.... .... a late Bramble

Walking along the Lime Avenue we passed a couple of early Lesser Celandines.

Turning left we walked back past the Information Centre and saw some Hebe and Leatherleaf Viburnum and also Viburnum davidii.

We turned left to look at a Garrya eliptica with its lovely dangling flowering before doubling back and spotting an odd Brachyglottis flower.

Crossing the road we spotted some Cyclamen.

Then the route was up towards the Palace passing some Chickweed, Hazel and Ash flowers before crossing the road and ticking off Shepherds Purse.

Daisies and Dandelions had been appreciated by this point.

The skies turned black and hail poured from the sky turning the ground white for a brief few minutes. We ended the walk below the BBC Tower with White Deadnettle, Red Deadnettle and Annual Mercury.

Full list of flowers seen on the walk.

March Members Walk, 2017 

On the hunt for wild flowers by the Bedford Road entrance.... Too late for crocuses and snowdrops (still to be seen in The Grove).

What did we see then? Lesser Celandine coming to its peak. Colts Foot, Shepherds Purse and a great favourite the Primrose. To add to flowers on flowers, we also saw flowers on trees Ash Tree, Wych Elm and male and female Goat Willow flowers.

Photo shows people studying the white Sweet Violet flowers.

Members' Wild Flower Walk, July 2016 

A lot of people turned up for this walk so maybe it was not such a good experience for those who came....

We followed a route along the Lower Road with participants trying to find any wild flowers actually in flower.

They were given a list of what might be seen, but with no illustrations. Some attendees were beginners and some more expert than the person leading the walk, but most seemed spot some of the flowers along the route.

Lots of small flowers, but among the larger, more spectacular ones were Rosebay Willowherb, Mallow and Bristly Ox-Tongue.

The list grouped the flowers by family to try show what similar flowers have in common. e.g. Knapweed flower looks like Thistle flower.

The last plant seen was a Red Campion (pictured). 

Thanks to all that came along and makes us think that maybe a Beginners Wild Flower Walk might be a good idea....

Will add a list of the Wild Flowers seen soon.....

March 2016 Members Walk 

Splendid Spring weather for our Early Spring Wild Flower Walk. About 20 enthusiasts of all ages gathered by the Gas Hut to start our walk.

We were given a list of the plants to spot and pictures to help us, but the sneaky thing was that the pictures didn't have the names on.

Walk participants were asked to spot flowers as we walked around a small circuit of the Park. One of the youngsters spotted a Dandelionand we were up and running. Quickly Field Speedwell was ticked off along with Red Dead-Nettle before we had gone more than a few paces.

On right of the Lower Road, we ticked off Shepherds Purse, Groundsel, Lesser Celandine, Daisy and Cow Parsley and on the left we observed a nice bunch of Primroses.

Walking further along, we came across a small euphorbia called Petty Spurge then we took the steps down towards the Alexandra Park Club. Turning left at the bottom along the old racecourse the group were enjoying the stroll so much that they walked straight past a nice little surprise of some Snowdrops still in flower. A little further along was one last minute female hazel flower.

Turning right along the new path we saw Blackthorn flowering, assuring us of sloes to come, before coming across a nice bunch of Colts Foot growing near the water. A Hawthorn next to it was pointed out which had been flowering since late January.

We reversed past the Nature Pond, and just managed to see one or two Goat Willow flowering and making their common name of pussy willow very evident.

Back at top the leader forgot to point out the White Dead-Nettle(shame). 

We then finished by taking our lives in our hands and crossing Alexandra Palace Way. Just over the road is a warm, South facing, grassy slope where we saw the last group of flowers - Scentless Mayweed, Common Chickweed, Sticky Mouse-Ear and Common Whitlow Grass together with Gorse with its vibrant yellow flowers.

Wild Flower Talk, February 2016 

We were privileged to have renowned botanist, David Bevan come and talk to the Friends on Wild Flowers of London.

He pointed out that London is a hot spot for wild flowers in more ways than one. The higher temperature allows plants that wouldn't otherwise survive to prosper.

David took us on a tour from central London out to the leafy fields of Harrow...

Our speaker explained that the blitz bomb sites post war, with their explosion of new plants, were the spark that enthused a whole generation of London Botanists. One good example that is still to be found in many places is buddleia. 

We heard the story of the Oxford Ragwort coming to London by following the train lines. It loved the clinker which was similar to the volcanic stone of its native Mount Etna.

In our borough of Haringey, three species of orchid have been known including the Common Spotted Orchid. Have you ever spotted one?

David mentioned that now is the time to look out for early flowering Colt's Foot (pictured by the cricket pitch).

May 2015 Members Walk 

On same day as last year, we held a Wildflower walk starting form the Park Information Centre.

We had a pre-prepared list of wild flowers to find on the walk and enjoyed ticking them off as they were found.

This time, instead of walking around The Grove we went down to the Paddock Car Park. The edge of the car park was especially good for producing a number of wild flowers that enjoyed the poor soil and habitat edge.

We spotted several plants not on our list including salsify and the small flowers of cleavers.

This link takes you to a list of wild flowers seen in flower on the walk.

May 2014 Members' Walk 

We had our fourth members' walk on the evening of Thursday, 15th May in The Grove.

We started with a patch of mauve honesty by the railway bridge at the Dukes Avenue entrance.

The largest and most impressive Spring flowers out was Queen Anne's Lace (Cow Parsley) with its delicate white flowers swathing wild areas of The Grove. 

This was contrasted with similarly flowered, but with more thuggish leaves of the Hogweed. 

Three different types of speedwell were observed as well as the green alkanet (which is blue).

The walk was well attended with about 15 people joining us and some us adjourned for a pleasant drink on a clear evening on the terrace of the Bar and Kitchen.

A list of the wildflowers seen on the walk and links to pictures taken of each one in Alexandra Park.