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Wild flowers in Estonia

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Due to its exceptional position on the edge of the continent of Eurasia, but close enough to the Nordic Scandinavian peninsula, Estonia has experienced the invasion of flora from very different origins. A temperate climate and a border between limestone and poorer sandstone rock that lies right across the country help create a very rich and fascinating flora, as does a wide variety of habitats .  These include both broad-leaved and coniferous woodland, coastal cliffs, dunes, sand and stone beaches resulting in species list of almost one and half thousand flowering plants.      

Siberian Iris (Iris sibirica) / Tiit Leito

Around 300 species have the edge of their range in Estonia - either their northern most limit, southern or even east or west creating a unique mix of species here.  The majority of these (71 spp.) are those which have their northern border in Estonia, such as Great Fen-sedge, Dwarf Everlasting, Sword Lily, Short-spurred Fragrant Orchid, Fool Stone, Hairy Milk-vetch etc. 

Snowdrop anemone (Anemone sylvestris) / Kaarel Kaisel
Slightly less (50 species) are on the eastern border of their distribution, including Blunt-flowered Rush, Whitebeam, Yew while among several others Alpine Mouse-ear Chickweed, Dwarf Scouring Rush and Yellow Oxytropis are on the southern border of their flatland distribution area, only found further south high in the mountains.

Liverleaf (Hepatica nobilis) / Raili Mets

In late March or April, even before the snow has ultimately melted, the first harbingers-of-spring may be found, such as Mezereon, whose lilac-coloured flowers are opened directly on the branches and stems.  Soon Liverleaf, Wood Anemone and Yellow Wood Anemone follow then a flurry of species appear, such as Fumeworts, Wonder Violet, Common Dog-violet, Cowslip, Dwarf Milkwort and conspicuous Spring Vetchling. In ditches and pools there are masses of Marsh Marigold and Cuckoo Flower. In Hazel stands flesh-coloured Toothwort flower and deciduous woods are carpeted with Ramsons.  In dry calcareous meadows Cat’s Foot, Pygmyflower Rockjasmine, Kidney Vetch and Small Pasque Flower are emerging while on damper ground Bird’s Eye Primroses and Globe Flowers are abundant.


May is the time of early orchids. Military Orchid, Early Purple Orchid, Sword-leaved Helleborine, Fly Orchids and Lady’s Slippers all come into flower sometimes with plenty of Common Twayblade. Lesser Twayblade is harder to fin d amongst the heather in swampy coniferous forests. In deciduous stands Garlic Mustard and Perennial Honesty an be found while in raised bogs Bog Rosemary, Labrador Tea and Cranberry are in full blossom.


Lady´s slipper (Cypripedium calceolus) / Peeter Vissak

June-July is the peak time for flowers and each habitat has its stars! Wooded meadows and limestone pavements obtain their real look with a show of Bloody Cranesbill, Mountain Clover, Northern Bedstraw, Dropwort, Small Scabious and Hoary Plantain while many orchids such as Common Spotted Orchid, Early Marsh Orchid and Fragrant Orchid are at their best. On coastal shingle walls you can search amongst patches of Swallow Wort and Herb Robert for rare Woolly Milk Vetch. Other vetches such as Danzig Vetch, Smooth Tare and Wood Vetch are in the meadows and among the later orchids are Marsh Helleborine, Broad-leaved Helleborine, Dark-red Helleborine, Musk Orchid and Bog Twayblade. The dark forests hide delightful Twinflower, Green-flowered Wintergreen and One-flowered Wintergreen while in swamps, fens and raised bogs it is the time of Cloudberry, Bladderworts, Sundews, Common and Alpine Butterworts.


Common Butterwort (Pingui vulgaris) / Peeter Vissak

Wood Cow-wheat (Melampyrum nemorosum) / Tiit Leito

Did you know?
  • Estonia’s flora is comprised of about 1440 species of vascular plants, 550 species of mosses, 800 species of lichens and 3000 species of algae.
  • 36 species of Orchids have been found in Estonia.



Butterflies in Estonia
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Estonian Orchids





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