Purple saxifrage (Saxifraga oppositifolia) is now flowering its heart out in the Snowdonia mountains.

Dr Trevor Dines

Dr Trevor Dines

Plantlife Botanical Specialist

12th April 2017

One of our earliest wildflowers to bloom, the deeply coloured flowers are often carpeted with a light dusting of snow - but for how long?


Purple saxifrage © Laurie Campbell

All is not well for arctic-alpine plants like this. As our recent report We Need to Talk About Nitrogen shows, the uplands of Wales are subject to some of the highest rates of atmospheric nitrogen deposition in the UK. This comes from a combination of high rainfall and close proximity to sources of nitrogen, such as ammonia from livestock farming and nitrogen oxides from industrial areas of NW England.

Even on the remote mountaintops of Snowdonia we are now seeing changes to vegetation as a result, such as an increase in grasses and damage to sensitive mosses like woolly fringe-moss (Racomitrium lanuginosum).

Nitrogen deposition has been the elephant in the room of nature conservation, but thanks to our report people are now starting to talk about it. Read my blog from last month to find out more.