Getting Started

The geographical area covered by this guide includes the counties of Norfolk and Suffolk, as well as neighbouring parts of Essex, Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire where the habitats are contiguous. In reality, the guide can also be used for much of lowland Britain since the plant species present are similar, but greater caution should be taken outside of the intended area since there may well be other species present that are not included here.

For such a small spot on the planet, East Anglia is remarkably diverse in its habitats and, consequently, in its flora. Perhaps best 'known' for being flat, this observation of the region only really applies to Fenland and Broadland, with much of the region's interior consisting of pleasantly rolling landscapes. Natural landscapes are fast declining in East Anglia, as they are everywhere, yet the region still boasts some wonderful areas for those seeking quiet spots to study wildlife. Areas such as the North Norfolk Coast, Breckland, Broadland, Suffolk Sandlings, Ouse Washes, the High Suffolk woods and Suffolk's coastal estuaries host an almost bewildering array of plants, while there are many other smaller spots just waiting to be explored.

In addition to natural and semi-natural habitats, there has been a long history of human land use and development in East Anglia and this has resulted in a high percentage of non-native plant species being introduced to the region. Like them or loathe them, these species are now an important part of the wider landscape, yet are ignored by a number of identification guides. All such species are included here as I believe it is important to be able to identify things correctly. Thus, this site aims to include all species of higher plants that have been recorded in the East Anglian region, including those that may have been recently 'lost' since re-finding them is dependent on knowing how to identify them!

When thinking of flowers, most people think of herbaceous annuals or perennials that bear obvious, colourful flowers during spring and summer. But 'flowering plants' also includes many woody trees and shrubs (including conifers), as well as ferns, horsetails and clubmosses. It does not include the true mosses, or other taxonomic groups such as lichens, liverworts and fungi.

In this guide, you will also find a section covering the main plant communities of the region, as well as a glossary to help you understand some of the technical terms that it is necessary to use to identify some of the trickier groups. Finally, there is a reference section which gives due credit to the various sources that were used when compiling this site.

Using the Guide

This site is aimed at beginners or those with little experience of identifying plants, and focuses primarily on identifying plants using their flowers. More experienced observers and trained botanists will have plenty of other resources to draw from elsewhere, including technical keys and, where such methods are required for the trickier groups, this is indicated on this site. I have used the flowers as a primary identification tool as this is how people less familiar with plants will begin. Once the plant has been identified, then attention to its leaves, fruits, stems etc. will add to the observer's knowledge and enable identification at other times of year, too. Of course, for ferns and their allies, there are no flowers, so leaves are the focus for identification.

Until you are more familiar with plants and/or this identification guide, you will find it useful to use the following picture links to the help pages to get started. If you are identifying a plant from its flower, click on flower basics; for trees, use leaf basics (which will help with other plants, too), for grasses, click on grass basics etc. These links will give you some background on these subjects and help you to better understand the navigation of this site. These help pages can also be reached via the links in the top left corner of this page.

Always remember rule 1: Never identify a plant from a single feature!

Flower Basics Leaf Basics Twig & Bud Basics Fruit & Seed Basics
Flower Basics

Leaf Basics

Twig & Bud Basics

Fruit & Seed Basics

Conifer Basics Fern Basics Horsetail Basics Aquatic Plant Basics
Conifer Basics

Fern Basics

Horsetail Basics

Aquatic Basics

Grass Basics Rush Basics Sedge Basics
Grass Basics

Rush Basics

Sedge Basics