Plants at Woodside
Plants at Woodside are very important. We are continually planting trees, bushes and plants around the gardens and in the two tropical houses to create shade, food and shelter for hedgehogs, bees, butterflies and birds. We have outlined our main areas of botanical interest for you on this page.
Plants for Nature
All the plants at Woodside have been specifically chosen to enhance nature by supplying a reliable source of nectar for bees and insects, seeds for birds and fruit for small mammals. Throughout the year you will see these plants, trees and bushes providing perfect nesting sites for birds during the spring, but also valuable shelter during the winter. You may also spot areas of the park that we have left to nature, to grow wildflowers and grasses to provide a more natural option for various birds and insects.
Plants you may see around the park include:
Buddleia – Buddleia davidii
Originating in China, Buddleia is now an extremely common sight across the UK. Although classed as an invasive’plant, it provides a fantastic food source for our native butterflies.
Highly dispersible, wind-blown seeds, coupled with the ability to germinate (start growing) anywhere from grassy meadows, to brickwork, makes this plant a potential nightmare if left uncontrolled.
At Woodside we ensure Buddleia is restricted only to our flower beds and is not able to seed into natural, wildflower areas.
Lavender – Lavandula angustifolia
All species of Lavender originate from the Mediterranean, but one particular strain has earned the name English Lavender, due to its hardy nature.
At Woodside we use Lavender as a natural insect repellent in our Penguin enclosure, which ensures the area remains free of mosquitoes as they pose a high risk of transmitting Malaria to our Penguins.
Hebe – Hebe (100 different varieties)
Named after the Greek Goddess of Youth, the Hebe plant originates from New Zealand, with a couple of varieties now present in South America.
With some varieties flowering long into winter, the Hebe family offers a vast array of beautiful flowers, which attract a wealth of insects, bees and larger butterflies.
Common Knapweed – Centaurea nigra
Also known as Black Knapweed, this wildflower provides a fantastic food source to native butterflies and is rarely seen without some form of wildlife feeding from its brightly coloured, thistle-like flowers.
A common species, which will thrive almost anywhere, making it an invasive species in North America.
Common Poppy – Papaver rhoeas
Unfortunately, in decline largely due to the increase of intensive agricultural practises, the common poppy is an iconic flower in the UK. Largely present now due to intentional seeding, the common poppy is struggling.
A huge pollen source for insects and bees and a direct link to Remembrance Day, this wildflower has more importance than most people give it credit for. We have planted several areas of wild poppies at Woodside in our Grab That Gap wildflower areas.
Grab That Gap
BIAZA’s ‘Grab That Gap’ is an on-going In-Situ conservation project aimed to increase the wild biodiversity within every collection in the UK.
By leaving specific areas of the park at Woodside to grow naturally, the increased flora attracts a wealth of birds and insects, who otherwise may struggle to find a reliable food source.
Find out more about the project here: Grab That Gap
Plants for Tropical Butterflies
Woodside’s fantastic array of Tropical Butterflies in the Endeavour Tropical house requires a very specific collection of plants and flowers. Not only do several our butterfly species rely on these flower-based food sources, they also depend upon other plants species to lay their eggs on, providing a vital food source for hatching caterpillars.
Keep an eye out for the following plants in Endeavour:
Passiflora – Passiflora (550+ species)
Also known as the Passion Flower. This striking looking plant is a fantastic larval food source. Not only it it beautiful, it is also vital to the life cycle of one of our butterfly species, the zebra long-wing.
This species, like many other butterflies, will rely upon an individual plant, which is vital to its different life stages. Our Passiflora plants help our zebra long-wings thriving, all through their life-cycle from eggs to fully fledged butterflies.
Pentas – Pentas lanceolate
One of several plant species, which produce vibrant flowers and are a fantastic nectar source. You will see various areas filled with these flowers in Endeavour.
Woodside have designed these areas to provide reliable feeding areas for our Butterflies.
Lantana – Lantana camara
Our butterflies flock to the nectar rich flowers during the summer months. You will also find these plants in gardens throughout the UK, where people have provided them as nectar sources for our native wildlife.
Banana Tree – Musa sikkimensis
This plant is a member of the banana family and native to India. It can survive much colder weather than is usual for other banana plants, due to the high altitudes where they grow naturally.
The leaves of this plant are recognisable by the dark red stripes across them, earning the plant the nickname Red Tiger.
Bougainvillea – Bougainvillea spectabilis
One of the many specimens collected and brought back to the UK by Sir Joseph Banks. Highly adaptable to different climates, this plant is a great example of a species that could pose a threat to ecosystems due to its high potential as an invasive species.
Bottle Brush – Callistemon viminalis
Another plant that was first established in the UK by Sir Joseph Banks. Native to Australia, this striking plant has bright red bottle-brush-like flowers.
The seeds are only released once the plant dies, or released by fire, making them one of very few species to thrive in and around forest fires.
Tropical House Plants
Our Tropical Paradise houses a huge variety of plants, trees and flowers for a variety of reasons. Some provide an extra food source for our free-flying birds, in the form of fresh shoots, buds and fruit, whereas other denser trees and bushes provide natural shelter, privacy and perfect nest-building areas.
Ground cover provides lower areas of shade and a great area for natural bugs, insects and creepy crawlies to thrive, providing yet more natural food sources for our free-flying birds, as well as a great, yet completely natural way to break down leaf litter and keep the soil healthy. Some additions are included for aesthetic reasons, to bring a splash of extra colour to our Tropical Paradise.
Keep an eye out for the following:
Giant Reed/Cane – Arundo donax
This bamboo lookalike is actually a member of the reed family. It is native to the Mediterranean, Arabia and Northern Africa.
It can now be found in North America and the Caribbean too. This plant is proving to be useful in creating green energy because of how fast it can grow. By turning the plant into pellets or blocks it can be burned, providing a much cleaner energy source than fossil fuels.
Like most fast-growing species, this plant is extremely invasive, earning itself a spot on the world’s 100 most invasive plant species. You will see areas around the park where we have used controlled areas of this species for natural cover, such as in our Red Panda and Siamese Crocodile enclosures.
Angel’s Trumpet – Brugmansia
This plant can be found throughout our tropical house with its beautiful trumpet like flowers. Sadly, this plant is now extinct in the wild, however it is highly cultivated across the world.
This plant can contain chemicals, which are toxic to humans if eaten, however, these chemicals have also been used by scientists to help create medicines to treat a variety of different illnesses.
Spiked Cabbage Tree – Casonia spicata
Originating from the moist areas of South Africa, the spiked cabbage tree is a tall growing, narrow species, which has a fascinating covering of thorns all over its trunk.
You will see our free-flying birds feasting on the growing fruits and shoots right at the top of this impressive tree.
Bird of Paradise – Strelitzia reginae
Arguably one of the world’s most impressive plant species, this fascinating plant offers no food, nor attracts any wildlife other than small mites.
Planted at Woodside for its impressive flowers, it is a low-maintenance plant providing an impressive display throughout the warmer months.
Fig – Ficus carica
Native to the Mediterranean, this fruit-bearing tree is extremely popular with the free-flying birds in our Tropical House, and enables us to provide natural enrichment in the form of foraging behaviour across a variety of species.