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Wednesday 27 September 2023 Dublin: 10°C
# orchids
Over 100 native Irish plants are endangered, including these well-known favourites
Twenty vascular plants (or 1.7% of those assessed) are critically endangered, 25 (2.1%) are endangered and 61 (5.0%) are vulnerable.

allium schoenoprasum 3 Cilian Roden / DAHG Chives (Allium schoenoprasum). Cilian Roden / DAHG / DAHG

A REPORT PUBLISHED by the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs shows that over 100 native Irish plants can be classified as endangered.

A total of 1,211 different plant species, subspecies and hybrids are assessed in the report, ranging from the largest trees to the smallest wild flowers, grasses and ferns.

Of the plants assessed, 106 (or 8.8%) are assigned an IUCN Red List threat category and are Ireland’s “red-listed” plants.

Twenty vascular plants (or 1.7% of those assessed) are critically endangered, 25 (2.1%) are endangered and 61 (5.0%) are vulnerable, the report added.

Pseudorchis John Conaghan / Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. Small-white orchid (Pseudorchis albida). John Conaghan / Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. / Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.


Vascular plants include ferns, clubmosses, horsetails and the whole range of flowering plants from grasses, sedges and rushes to herbaceous wildflowers and woody shrubs and trees.

Red lists are a globally recognised assessment providing information on the degree to which species are under threat and at risk of extinction and, by implication, those for which conservation measures need to be considered.

The assessment is carried out along guidelines developed by the IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature.

WhitebeamScannell’s Whitebeam (Sorbus scannelliana).Source: Mike Wyse Jackson/DAHG

Native to Ireland

The vascular plants assessed are those that are native to Ireland or were introduced to the island before the year 1500.

These comprise vascular plant species, subspecies and certain hybrids that are recorded from the wild.


Fly Orchid1192 Mike Brown / DAHG Fly Orchid (Ophrys insectifera). Mike Brown / DAHG / DAHG


In addition to the 106 red-listed plants, 15 plants (1.2%) are extinct in Ireland.

Another 98 (8.1%) are considered to be "near threatened", and 887 (73.2%) are of "least concern".

Mertensia .John Conaghan / DAHG Oysterplant (Mertensia maritima) .John Conaghan / DAHG / DAHG


Of the vascular plants considered, 18 are endemic, or found only on the island of Ireland, including two types of the whitebeam tree, several hawkweeds, a saxifrage and an orchid.

Ireland is of international importance, because it is home to a quarter of the population for 47 vascular plants, including several orchids, sea-lavenders and ferns.

helianthemum num Janice Fuller / DAHG Common Rock-rose (Helianthemum nummularium). Janice Fuller / DAHG / DAHG

Read: Kids who spend time in nature are more relaxed - here are 8 tips to get them outdoors

Read: Experts warn giraffes face 'silent extinction' as population substantially drops

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