There are many pink wild flowers gracing the countryside of England. This is a guide to some of the more commonly found species that can be seen around the meadows, hedgerows, roadsides and woodlands. Common names are given, with scientific names in brackets, as common names can vary between regions, with hints on how to recognise them, as well as where and when to find them.
Red campion (Silene dioica). Red campion is a common sight along roadsides and hedgerows, with small deep pink flowers at the top of tall stems, and slightly hairy pointed leaves. The flowers have 5 heart shaped petals, with a pale ring in the centre and are about 2 cm across. They flower from May to October.
Ragged robin (Lychnis flos-cuculi). The dark pink flowers have five ragged looking long petals, giving it its name, and grow on long stems above a low growing rosette of leaves, flowering from May to August. It is found along roadsides, and in meadows and pasture land.
Herb Robert or crane's bill (Geranium robertianum). This is a very common plant, that grows almost everywhere, particularly along roadsides and in hedgerows. The plant has a branching habit, with reddish coloured stems and small fernlike leaves. It flowers from April, right through the summer into early autumn. The flowers are five petalled, about 1 cm across and pale pink, dotted around the plant at the end of the stems. The name crane's bill is given to many of the common bushy geraniums, because of the shape of the seed pods, which look a bit like the birds head with a long beak.
Rosebay willowherb (Epilobium angustifolium). Tall flower spikes on reddish stems, with long thin pointed leaved below. Individual flowers are a deep rose-pink, 1-2 cm across with four petals and four stigma arranged symmetrically. It is often found on wasteland where it is one of the first plants to re-colonise recently disturbed soil, so it is thought of as a “pioneer” species, it also grows in meadows, and along roadsides.
Common mallow (Malva sylvestris). A spreading plant of wasteland and roadside verges, growing up to about a meter in height. It has distinctive round, lobed leaves up to 10 cm in diameter and five-petalled pink flowers with purple veins that are about 4 cm across. It flowers between June and September.
Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea). These tall deep pink flower spikes are common in woodland and hedgerows in June and July. Its large hairy leaves are arranged in a rosette at the base of the plant, with a 1-2 meter spike of tubular flowers which are a deep pinky-purple colour with spots inside. The plant is poisonous if eaten, but digitalis extract is used medicinally to treat heart conditions.
Dog-rose (Rosa canina). This is a climbing wild rose that is found climbing through hedges and on trees in woodland. It is a single flowered five-petalled rose, can range from very pale to deep pink and has a yellow centre. Stems have spiny thorns. They flower from June to August, and bear orangey-red rose-hips in the autumn which are rich in vitamin C, and can be used to make tea, jelly or syrup.
Red valerian, or kiss-me-quick (Centranthus ruber). A common densely flowered plant that is often seen growing out of walls or rocky outcrops, and on wasteland, particularly in coastal areas. They flower from April to October, and the dark pink flowers are clustered in pyramidal shaped heads, with greyish-green pointed leaves.
Himalayan balsam (Impatiens glandulifere). A tall plant that grows mainly along riverbanks, it is an invasive species from Asia, and is a problem in some areas where it out-competes native species, but is still attractive, nonetheless. It has pretty pale pink to deep pink lobed flowers (similar to orchid flowers) from June to October, clustered on tall stems, and long pointed leaves with slightly serrated edges. The seed pods explode when touched or pressed, catapulting its seeds far and wide, explaining its success in spreading.
These are just a few of the species that can be seen in the English countryside, but are probably the most common pink flowers that you will encounter. It is always a good idea to take a good wildflower book on countryside rambles, you never know what you might see. For further information on all these species see: Red campion; Ragged robin; Herb Robert; Rosebay willowherb; Common mallow ; Foxglove; Dog rose; Red valerian; Himalayan balsam.