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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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The Tufted Saxifrage population in Wales grows on just a couple of boulders where it is extremely threatened by spring droughts and lack of winter snow cover.
Just 2 small boulders at one site in Wales and a number of sites in Scotland.
Cliff ledges and boulders on calcium rich rocks in Eryri and the Scottish Highlands
This species flowers from May through to early June however the inaccessibility of its sites makes it a very difficult species to see in the wild.
Tufted Saxifrage was first discovered in the wild in Wales in 1796 but wasn’t seen between the late 1800’s and the 1950’s when it was rediscovered by Evan Roberts (the first warden of Cwm Idwal National Nature Reserve).
In the 1970’s its population was bolstered by a conservation reintroduction and it saw a population high in the 1980’s. Since then it has seen a steady decline and the Welsh population of Tufted Saxifrage now (2023) numbers just seven plants in the wild.
Through the Tlysau Mynydd Eryri Project (part of Natur am Byth!) we are successfully cultivating Welsh Tufted Saxifrage plants with a plan to enable them to move higher up the mountains of Eryri to sites where they will see snow for longer in the winter.
Read about Natur am Byth! A Green Recovery project to save vulnerable species from extinction in Wales, including the Tufted Saxifrage
Saxifraga rosacea subsp. rosacea
The Irish Saxifrage was once found in Wales too. Its upright buds and bright white flowers distinguish it clearly from the other ‘mossy’ saxifrages found in the British Isles.
Several localities in Ireland and once known from just one locality in Eryri, Wales.
Calcium rich rock ledges and crevices.
You can see this species flowering in cultivation at the National Botanic Garden of Wales during May and June
Rosy Saxifrage is extinct in the wild in Wales. It was last seen in the wild in Wales in the 1960’s.
Richard Roberts discovered a piece of a plant that had been washed down from a cliff whilst he was leading a group on a geology walk. Noticing it was something different he took the piece of plant home and grew it. All the Welsh Rosy Saxifrage material now kept in cultivation came from that small piece of plant. Through the Tlysau Mynydd Eryri Project (part of Natur am Byth!) we plan to reintroduce Rosie Saxifrage to the wild again in Wales.
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