Survey finds 800 plant species in King’s Lynn

A Flora of King's Lynn

A five-year survey has identified 800 different plant species in King’s Lynn.

Gallant Soldiers from South America are to be found all over King’s Lynn. So is Fleabane from Mexico, Comfrey from Russia, and Maple from Norway – along with a host of native British plants.

They are just some of the 800 or so plants listed in A Flora of King’s Lynn, a new publication cataloguing the wild plant species found in the town over a five year period by local botanists Robin Stevenson and Frances Schumann.

“When we began we expected to find 400 or so species” says Robin “but we have been surprised by the sheer quantity and variety of the plants we have identified.

“There are very few particularly rare plants, indeed even those with rather outlandish names from far-away places will be familiar to many. The importance is that our work illustrates the degree of biodiversity and how much there is in an urban area such as King’s Lynn.

“We have not confined our searches to obvious ‘green’ areas such as The Walks or Harding’s Pits; most of what we have found has been on little patches of waste ground, un-regarded corners and roadside verges.”

Gallant Soldiers (Galinsoga) growing at kerbside.

Unusual locations where plants have been found include a road grating, from which Pellitory-of-the-Wall was emerging, and a substantial Rowan tree growing on the top of a high brick wall.

The study will be of interest to planners, developers, naturalists, and anyone who cares about the local environment.

Frances and Robin embarked upon their study because a previous survey (in 1995) of the flowering plants of Lynn had only covered a rather small area. It was decided to record over a substantially larger area, one that had already been covered by Robin in a study of the local mosses; Frances volunteered to help in this second project.

Published by the Norfolk & Norwich Naturalists’ Society, with additional financial sponsorship from the Norfolk Biodiversity Information Service, the Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership, and the Gaywood Valley Project, the authors have aimed to make the work an informative and entertaining introduction to the Flora of King’s Lynn.

Cowslips on the River Ouse bank.

An introductory section, which describes the setting, scope and habitats of the town, is fully illustrated by colour photographs taken by the two authors. This is followed by an alphabetical listing of all the plants found. All, except the commonest species, are accompanied by a distribution map and text, commenting either on the biology, history or uses of the plant – a mixture of facts designed to make the flora appeal to as wide a selection of people as possible, not solely botanists.

The scope includes some of the rural margins of the town, such as the arable areas to the north and east, in the belief that these are liable to be developed in future years. This will give the Flora an historical value, as and when such changes occur. It will also act as a baseline database against which changes associated with global warming, or other environmental alterations, may be measured.

The native Bluebell, still quite common in Reffley Wood.

Habitats are not only to be found in the countryside. Urban areas made a significant contribution to our wealth of flora, and they are often overlooked. This publication shows what a resource there is in even the densest built-up parts of our towns. We cannot ignore them.

A Flora of King’s Lynn, by Frances Schumann and Robin Stevenson will be available via the Norfolk & Norwich Naturalists’ Society website (, Waterstones in King’s Lynn and selected booksellers, price £8.00

Robin Stevenson has lived in Lynn for the last 30 years. A lecturer at the College of West Anglia before his retirement he has always been interested in all aspects of Natural History, although he does draw the line at birds.

Frances Schumann

Frances Schumann

Frances Schumann became interested in wildflowers when she came to live in Norfolk. She joined the Norfolk Flora Group when the survey work for the publication ‘A Flora of Norfolk’ (1999) was taking place, and with the help of many of the other members enjoyed the challenge of trying to identify every single ‘weed’ she came across.

The Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership ( works to conserve, enhance and restore the county’s biological diversity. Established in 1996, the Partnership brings together 21 organisations – including local authorities, statutory agencies, private sector companies and voluntary groups – in pursuit of a shared vision: the implementation of the Norfolk Biodiversity Action Plan.”

The Norfolk Biodiversity Information Service collects and collates records about the biology and geology of Norfolk. These records are available to planners and ecologists, as well as ordinary members of the public:

The Gaywood Valley Project (SURF) is local to King’s Lynn. It is concerned with enhancing green spaces, making the area more accessible and increasing awareness about the local natural environment:


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