Plants are essential to everyone's lives. Welcome to Plantlife.

Forget-me-not: bringing nature back into childhood

With familiar words like primrose, clover and blackberry disappearing from the children's dictionary, forget-me-not is Plantlife's campaign to re-connect young people and families with the pleasure and importance of wild plants and flowers.

Think of catkins, conkers and buttercups...  or bluebell, cowslip and holly.

These are familiar words to many, conjuring up the seasons and the nature we've known since childhood.

But these words are no longer in the Oxford Junior Dictionary. Gone too are hazel, gorse and willow. Neither does dandelion feature. Nor bramble and fern.

This is not because the dictionary is anti-nature.

'All our dictionaries are designed to reflect language as it is used,' says its publisher Oxford University Press.

The sad fact is that for many children bluebells, acorns and chestnuts are less relevant than broadband and 'cut and paste'.

As nature writer Robert Macfarlane puts it: 'Do we want an alphabet for children that begins "A is for acorn, B is for buttercup and C is for conker"; or one that begins "A is for attachment, B is for block-graph, C is for chatroom?"

Benefits of nature for children

Of course childhood is different in the 21st century. But we think plants and nature are still hugely important for children. After all:

  • The outdoors is a key part of all children's experience, whether you grow up in a town or the countryside. What are your happiest memories from childhood? Our bet is many of them come from playing outside - in a park, say, or in nearby scrub or woods.   
  • We care about what we know. Wild plants are the building blocks of nature, which humans rely on for food, materials and many medicines. 
  • Plants are part of our culture, from painting, folk music and poetry, to the flowers of the clans of Scotland.
  • Nature is good for our health and happiness. There are a growing number of studies that say nature is good for mental and physical wellbeing.

Nature activities with children

Here are some things that you and your family can enjoy with Plantlife so the next generation 'forget-me-not'.