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One of our rarer plants, its pretty pale yellow flowers liven up our dunes.
This wild flower is difficult to spot as it is small (around 8cm tall) and inconspicuous. The leaves wrap around the bottom of the single stem which supports several flowers towards the top of the plant.
The orchid is dependent on the unique, open conditions of fenland, a naturally marshy area. Fen orchid needs wet areas with bare sand, short grasses and a lot of calcium in the soil.
The species has declined due to habitat loss as a result of wetland being reclaimed for agricultural use or fens being allowed to “scrub over” and slowly revert to woodland. Plantlife has worked with Suffolk Wildlife Trust to translocate Fen Orchid to restored habitats.
The majority of the Fen Orchid populations were lost through drainage and in the late 20th Century through peat digging and mowing. Other threats include climate change, inappropriate water and habitat management.
After a decade of research and partnership work, the orchid has been re-discovered at former sites and the total population has risen through proper management.
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A prickly, sprawling evergreen shrub in the Cypress family with short spiky leaves.
Juniper blooms with small yellow flowers, followed by ‘berries’ – actually fleshy cones, that start green but ripen to blue-black.
These are famously used to flavour gin and certain meat dishes particularly game and venison. Used whole they impart a bitter, crunchy bite to savoury dishes. In fact, the word “Gin” derives from either genièvre or jenever – the French and Dutch words for “juniper”
Juniper is dioecious, which means that it is either male or female, unlike most tree species. The form of individual bushes varies from being low and prostrate at the one extreme to cylindrical and conical at the other.
In the Saving England’s Lowland Juniper project, Plantlife joined forces with landowners, supported by Natural England, to revitalise Juniper across southern England. 48 patches of land at nine sites in Wiltshire and Oxfordshire were scraped back to create a grassland habitat suitable for Juniper to regenerate.
Tephroseris integrifolia subsp. maritima
The South Stack Fleawort is found along a small section of the North Wales Coastal Path on Ynys Gybi (Holy Island).
Found only between Parth Dafarch and RSPB South Stack Nature Reserve
Grassy cliff tops and vegetated gullies
May and early June
Plantlife supports a project to understand why this subspecies of Fleawort is only found in this small area of Ynys Gybi and the ecological requirements of the plants.
A native wild relative of the familiar garden vegetable.
Wild Leek has globe-like heads on stems that can grow to a metre tall. Its leaves are just like the common garden leek, although the stem is not quite so fat. All parts have a strong onion scent.
County flower of Cardiff/Caerdydd.
Found wild on Flat Holm island just off the Cardiff coast, what better than the wild leek for representing the nation’s capital?
Just one locality on Ynys Mon (Anglesey) in North Wales and on a couple of islands in the Severn Estuary, two other forms of wild leek (var. bulbifera and var. babingtonii) are distributed around the coast of the British Isles.
Sandy and rocky places near the sea, especially in old fields and hedge banks, on sheltered cliff-slopes, by paths and tracks and in drainage ditches and other disturbed places.
Flowers from late June to August
Wild Leek is believed to have be en introduced to Britain. It is a scarce species, naturalised in only a few areas.
Wild Leek, image by Robbie Blackhall-Miles
Wild Leek on Anglesey, image by Trevor Dines
However, there is nothing to match seeing it in its natural habitat: atop dramatic coastal cliffs or astride craggy islands.
Globular heads of pink flowers have stalks 5-30cm long. Flattened, linear, dark green leaves.
Across wild, coastal areas throughout the UK – especially Scotland. As well as rocky cliffs, Thrift can also be commonly found brightening up saltmarshes and other sandy areas.
April to July when it flowers.
Has started to appear inland on roadsides as salting creates favourable conditions.
Thrift growing on the Gower
Thrift growing along the coast
In fact, it’s incredibly tough and resilient. It needs to be given the environment it grows in: the harebell is a wild flower of dry, open places from the bare slopes of hills to the windswept coast.
Hanging blue bells on slender stalks. Grows 15-40cm tall. Roundish leaves at base, very narrow linear leaves up thin stem. (Source: the National Plant Monitoring Scheme Species Identification Guide).
Dry, grassy places. From mountain tops to sand dunes. Quite catholic in its choice of habitats: as happy on chalk grasslands as on acid heaths, and under tall bracken as on exposed cliff tops. However, damp is one condition that harebells cannot tolerate.
July to September.
Generally stable although there have been some local declines at the edges of its range.
Harebell flowers in a meadow
Harebell, image by Cath Shellswell
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