New Year Plant Hunt: what and when it is, how to take part, and which species to look out for

Take part in this annual event to find out how our wild flowers are responding to changes in autumn and winter weather patterns.

Daisy in winter. © Minh Hoang Cong/500px/Getty

If you are planning to see wildlife, please follow the latest government advice regarding coronavirus, and bear in mind that there are different restrictions in place between England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and in more localised areas as well.

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What is New Year Plant Hunt?

New Year Plant Hunt is an annual event when people – whether absolute beginners or experienced naturalists – across Britain and Ireland head out to see how many wild or naturalised plants (not garden plants) they can find in bloom in their local area at midwinter.

BSBI President Lynne Farrell and friend examine a New Year plant. Image courtesy of L. Farrell
BSBI President Lynne Farrell and friend examine a New Year plant. Image courtesy of L. Farrell

Who runs the New Year Plant Hunt?

The New Year Plant Hunt started in 2012 and is organised by the Botanical Society of Britain & Ireland (BSBI).

When is the New Year Plant Hunt

Dates vary slightly each year but they always include New Year’s Day! The 2021 Hunt takes place between Friday 1 and Monday 4 January.

How to take part in the New Year Plant Hunt

Head out for a walk of no longer than three hours but your walk can be as short as you like and you can “stop the clock” as many times as you wish for tea breaks or comfort stops.

New Year Plant Hunters using handlenses and ID books. © Jo Wright
New Year Plant Hunters using handlenses and ID books. © Jo Wright

There is an app or online recording form that you can use to record your finds, either on your phone or on your computer. So you can either submit your records while out hunting or wait until you are back home where it’s nice and warm. You can also photograph the plants you see – so it doesn’t matter if you don’t know what the plant is, we will help you identify it from the photos you upload.

Usually people can choose between going out alone, with friends or family, or with a group. For 2021, we have had to cancel all plans for group meetings and we are asking people to check local restrictions around Covid-19 before they plan their Hunt and again just before they set out, in case of any last-minute changes to the guidance.

Find out more about taking part.

Which wildflowers am I likely to see during the New Year Plant?

The three most frequently recorded species are usually daisy, groundsel and dandelion. Gorse, yarrow, hogweed and dead-nettles (both red and white) also usually appear in the ‘Top Twenty’.

Gorse in full bloom at New Year. © Ciara Dwyer
Gorse in full bloom at New Year. © Ciara Dwyer

With more and more people taking part each year across Britain and Ireland, we are receiving records of 500+ species in bloom each winter. In January 2020, there were 115 species on the longest list which came from a plant hunter in Swanage, Dorset.

Learn more about the 2020 New Year Plant Hunt: frequently seen species and longest lists, and a detailed analysis.

More information on wildflowers:


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Main image: Daisy in winter. © Minh Hoang Cong/500px/Getty