Bog Waters

The decline of wild Irish flora and what we can do about it.

Written by our herbalist

September 26, 2021

Ireland, in terms of its flora diversity, is quite small compared to our continental counterparts.Many of our native plant species are under threat and need to be protected. Even the common bluebell has been over picked. So what can we do?

​​Conservationists are encouraging us not to pick wild flowers. When I was studying to practice herbal medicine, we were encouraged to go out to the area I lived in to record what flora grew in the area.

​​So I’m talking some 35 years ago when I mapped the flora in Ballybane East. I mapped out a 1 km square grid which included bog land, river system and farm land. Many of the flora I recorded on this grid have either decline or disappeared in the 35 years. One of my favourite bogland plants is Sundew (Drosera) was a thriving community in 1998, but over the years I witnessed a steep decline on the bog.

Luckily, this year, 2021, I have begun for the first time to see it return to the bogland which really is encouraging for this plant. It is a protected species and is a carnivorous plant, similar to the Venus fly trap. It is a valuable herb used by herbalists for millennia for asthma and other lung-related health issues.

The conservation of these plants must be achieved by protecting their habitats, since these plants do not occur in isolation, but as part of a living biological community. In conserving these habitats, it is necessary to continue particular management strategies, often involving the maintenance of traditional farming practices. Outside these areas, it is important to maintain features of the landscape that serve as refuges for wild plants, such as hedgerows, ponds, and roadside verges.

​Many pest species of plant have arrived in Ireland over the centuries. Care should be taken to avoid the introduction of any exotic plant species into the wild. The use of ‘wild flower seed’ should also be avoided as many are sourced out of Ireland, so only use Irish-sourced wild seed mixture.

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