Information on Common Butterwort

Common Name: Common Butterwort
Scientific Name: Pinguicula vulgaris
Irish Name: Bodán meascáin
Family Group: Lentibulariaceae
Distribution: View Map (Courtesy of the BSBI)
Flowering Period


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Common Butterwort could sometimes be confused with:

Butterwort, Large-flowered,

This is a delightful little wildflower unless you are an insect and happen to land on its leaves.  It's a carnivorous plant and such a pretty one if you're not an insect.  Common Butterwort is a hairy little perennial with violet coloured two-lipped flowers (10m across) which are held solitarily on slender stems.  Each flower, which blooms from May to August, has an upper lip with two lobes and a wide spreading three-lobed lower lip.  The corolla has a purple streaked white throat and a pointed spur behind.  The glandular leaves are in a basal rosette which is light green and comprised of several sticky, oblong almost pointed leaves in a star shape, the margins being rolled inward. When an insect lands on the leaf it sticks fast.  The leaf margins roll in further and then the leaf exudes an enzyme which aids the digestion of the insect thereby giving valuable food to the plant.  This is a plant which grows on nitrogen deficient bogs, wet rocks and mountain heaths.  It is a native plant and belongs to the family Lentibulariaceae.

I first identified this plant on Moneen, Co Clare in 1979 and photographed it at Pollardstown Fen, Co Kildare in 2008.

If you are satisfied you have correctly identified this plant, please submit your sighting to the National Biodiversity Data Centre

Butterwort, Common
Butterwort, Common