Ground pine Ajuga chamaepitys

Status Red - Endangered & Critically Endangered
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Also known as bugleweed and carpet bugle.

Ground pine is small plant with long, narrow, hairy leaves and little yellow flowers that nest close to the stem, thus making it easily overlooked.

It is so called because at certain stages of its growth it looks like a pine seedling (as well as smelling of pine when the leaves are crushed).

Distribution

Historically it was fairly common in the south-east of England, but it is now confined to about 12 sites, mainly on the North Downs of Kent and Surrey.

Habitat

It needs small patches of open ground on chalk soil to grow, so it is found on steep downland grazed by rabbits or sheep, as well as arable field margins.

Status

Classified as Endangered, it is considered to be facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild. It is also protected under Schedule 8 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

Key threats

The major reasons for its decline are habitat changes due to loss of grazing, smothering by coarse plants, and changes in agricultural practices, i.e. loss of field margins and use of herbicides and fertilisers.These factors still threaten its future.