Across the British Isles, some plant species are afforded special legal protection to help ensure their survival. Nearly 300 species are protected somewhere in the British Isles. The exact species, protections and legal punishments vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction; the only species explicitly protected in each of Great Britain, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and the Isle of Man is Mentha pulegium (pennyroyal).
▸ Great Britain
Schedule 8 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 lists plants that may not be picked, uprooted, destroyed or offered for sale. It applies throughout England, Wales and Scotland. The two slight exceptions are that Hyacinthoides non-scripta (bluebell) is only protected against being sold in any form, and Dianthus armeria (Deptford pink) is only protected in England and Wales, as it is not native in Scotland.
Ophrys sphegodes is one of nine specifically protected orchids in Great Britain.
Rhinanthus angustifolius is, like many of our rarest species, widespread in continental Europe.
Stachys alpina is protected by law, but may well be a recent introduction at its few persisting sites.
Tephroseris integrifolia subsp. maritima is endemic to the north-western part of Holyhead Island, Anglesey.
▸ Northern Ireland
In Northern Ireland, the relevant list is Schedule 8 of the Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985.
Silene acaulis is one of several mountain plants that are protected in Northern Ireland.
Although common in England and Wales, Betonica officinalis is rare elsewhere, and is protected across the island of Ireland.
Gymnocarpium dryopteris is widespread in upland Britain but may already be extinct in Northern Ireland, having last been recorded there in 1974.
▸ Republic of Ireland
In the Republic of Ireland, species are protected under the Republic of Ireland Flora Protection Order 2015.
Ranunculus lingua is common across Great Britain, but much scarcer in Ireland.
▸ Isle of Man
In the Isle of Man, species are protected under the Wildlife Act 1990 (amended 2004), with the protected plants listed in Schedule 7. All orchids are covered; the list below includes only those species that have been recorded on the Isle of Man, and none of their hybrids.
On the Isle of Man, Blysmus rufus is only found on the Langness Peninsula and at Dalby.
Echium vulgare is an easterly species in the British Isles, found at only a few sites on the Isle of Man.
Dactylorhiza fuchsii is common in the Isle of Man, but is protected there like all other orchids.