The Scots pine has been voted Scotland’s favourite native tree and the Scottish bluebell is named the nation’s most popular native flower, in a survey conducted by the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE).
The survey, which opened online last April, attracted 1,677 votes from Scotland and the UK as well as 37 countries around the world including America, Canada and Australia.
The results reveal that the iconic Scots pine is the number one choice with 15 per cent of the vote. Seen as evocative of Scotland’s landscape, the Scots pine is an important provider of habitat for species such as crossbill, pine marten and capercaillie.
In second place, with 14 per cent of the votes, is the Scottish bluebell. Also known as the harebell, this flowering plant from the bellflower family grows abundantly around Scotland and is considered by many to herald the start of summer.
The ever-popular rowan tree is in third place, the Scottish primrose – one of a handful of British flowers that only occur naturally in Scotland – is in fourth place and the distinctive silver birch in fifth place.
Votes have also been received for some more unusual choices including bog myrtle, melancholy thistle, Arran whitebeam, round-leaved sundew, twinflower, eyebright and woolly willow.
Commenting on the results, RBGE’s science conservation officer Dr Heather McHaffie said: “The survey has been fascinating and has also helped provoke discussion about the fragility of our trees and plants. Many of Scotland’s native species are vulnerable or endangered. This can be for a number of reasons from changing land uses or grazing to climate change. From Shetland to the Borders, RBGE is taking a lead to bring at least 75 per cent of threatened native species into its conservation collections.”
The survey was inspired by Scotland’s Big 5 campaign to identify Scotland’s favourite wildlife. When Scottish Natural Heritage revealed that its ‘big five’ were animals and birds, RBGE decided to champion biodiversity and find Scotland’s five most popular native trees, plants and shrubs.
Both the SNH and RBGE surveys were part of the Year of Natural Scotland celebrations, championed by VisitScotland.
Click here for images of all the nominated plants.