Blooming Marvellous Wildflowers

Saturday, 1 August, 2009



Some of Britain's rarest wild flowers and other plants are making a comeback this year.

Thanks to conservation work by Plantlife (with the added ingredient of perfect weather conditions earlier this year), amazing results are coming in from some of the charity's sites for rarities.
'When we started working at these sites, the populations were facing a high risk of extinction,' says Victoria Chester, Plantlife's Chief Executive.
'This summer the results have been startling. We have a long way to go before safeguarding these lovely native species, such as Meadow Clary and Deptford Pink, but this is a great start.'
'It shows that, with the right management in place, the fortunes of our most threatened flora can be reversed and they can begin to thrive.'
Species showing a comeback include:
Meadow Clary: 1500% increase: 40 plants in 2007 to 600+ plants in 2009, plus 200 seedlings
Striking, violet-blue native sage found at only 22 places in Britain, mainly on the North Downs and Oxfordshire Cotswolds. At a site in Gloucestershire, a new management plan was initiated by Plantlife two years ago and has resulted in this dramatic increase in numbers.

Marsh Clubmoss: 5 new populations of plants: 0 plants in 2008 to 100+ plants in 2009
A curious member of the fern family, found in high quality heathlands and bogs. In 2007, Plantlife used excavators to scrape away choking vegetation in the Thames Basin and, two years later, five new sites for this plant have emerged as long-buried spores have been allowed to germinate. Additional benefits of this work include the emergence of a host of other locally rare heathland plants, such as carnivorous Sundews, as well as providing habitat for dragonflies and Snipe to thrive.
Pigmy Rush: Reappears after 25 year absence
Only found on the Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall, Pigmy Rush reappeared this year in places where it had not been seen for 25 years. Since 2007, Plantlife has focused on restoring old trackways across the heathland and this work is now reaping its reward. Other species which thrive in similar habitats have also increased, including Pillwort, Strawberry Stonewort and delicate Yellow Centaury.

Broad-leaved Cudweed: 100% increase
An attractive, silvery-green plant, which has declined dramatically over the last 60 years and is now restricted to just six sites in the UK, one of which is Plantlife's Ranscombe Farm reserve in Kent. After 4 years of sensitive management, we now have a population of over 1000 plants.
Deptford Pink: Kent population goes from strength to strength
Plantlife has worked closely with Kent Wildlife Trust in Sandwich Bay at one of the south-east's handful of sites for the beautiful Deptford Pink. By carrying out scrub clearance and introducing grazing to the site they have achieved an unparalleled increase in numbers. For many years, numbers had fluctuated at critical levels of between 25 and 60 but, after management was started in 2002, the flowers responded astonishingly and the 2008 count revealed almost 500.