Great Orme Berry Cotoneaster cambricus
|Status||Red - Endangered & Critically Endangered|
|Best Time to See|
One of our rarest wild plants, only six original wild bushes of this indigenous cotoneaster are know in the world.
This is a small shrub, growing up to about 50cm and producing many short, twiggy branches, the lower ones of which sometimes root in surrounding soil. It is clothed in small, grey-felted leaves that turn orange and drop in autumn. The small white flowers in May are followed by distinctive pear-shaped berries that ripen yellow then reddish-orange.
Where does it grow?
All six wild bushes grow on very dry, sunny limestone rocks on the cliffs of on the Great Orme in north Wales, where it roots into small pockets of humus-rich soil. Many other specimens have been raised from seed and cuttings, and some have been planted out to help bolster the population.
Several bushes raised from cuttings can easily be seen, one in the small wildflower garden beside the Visitor Centre on the summit of the Great Orme and other on the rock garden at Treborth Botanic Garden, Bangor.
How's it doing?
Classified as ‘Critically Endangered’ in the latest Red Data List due to the very small number of plants surviving in the wild. Until recently, the origin of this species was uncertain and some regarded it as an escape from nearby gardens. However, DNA analysis has now shown it to be a distinctive and unique species. Because of this ambiguity, though, it doesn’t currently have any legal protection.
Most of the surviving wild bushes exhibit evidence of grazing by from the feral population of Kashmir goats introduced to the Great Orme by the Victorians. Some bushes are now enclosed in metal cages to protect them. Some highly invasive non-native species of Cotoneaster, such as Small-leaved Cotoneaster (C. microphyllus) and Wall Cotoneaster (C. horizontalis) pose an additional threat as they occupy the same habitat as Great Orme Berry. Careful control of these is now being undertaken to avoid any more loss of plants.
Did you know?
In Welsh it has the rather beautiful name Creigafal y Gogarth, meaning "rock apple of Gogarth" (Gogarth being the original Welsh name for the Great Orme).
Find out more:
Great Orme, Conwy
One of the top five sites for rare and threatened plants in Britain, the Great Orme's flowers are threatened by a lack of grazing. Plantlife brings in the sheep to save them.