Tag Archives: plants

‘Dangerous’ weeds good for bees and diversity, say scientists

The Times reports five species of wildflower native to Britain are officially classed as injurious under the 1959 Weeds Act, meaning that they are considered able to cause harm and landowners can be ordered to control their spread. However, a study has found that three of the weeds — ragwort (Jacobaea vulgaris) and two types of thistle (Cirsium arvense and C. vulgare) — are enormously popular with bees and other insects. 

Country diary: My paean to the hawthorn, feeder of many

Hawthorn flowers by Bill Stanworth

The Guardian reports this little tree is barely twice my height yet it feeds so many. A grey squirrel pauses to snack on its daily run along the dry stone wall. Heaps of chewed berries on the ground show where mice have fed. In spring, hawthorn leaves are the first to emerge in the valley, followed by blossoms, plentiful in nectar and pollen for bees and hoverflies. 

Snowdonia Hawkweed: ‘One of most threatened in the world’

The BBC reports on cliffs above Bethesda that can only be reached with specialist mountaineering gear, grows one of the most endangered plants in the world. The exact location is a closely-guarded secret, but even sheep are unable to get to it, meaning they cannot eat the last of the Snowdonia Hawkweed. Their grazing has wiped the plant out in six of seven areas it once thrived. But from the verge of extinction, it is thought three plants spotted on a cliff in 2002 may have doubled their number.

“For some of the rarest plants, the only places they can sustain themselves is away from grazing and humanity, on the most inaccessible ledges and cliffs,” said horticulturist Robbie Backhall-Miles, who is trying to revive them.

Norfolk’s rediscovered ‘ghost ponds’ offer up trove of long-lost plants

The Guardian reports rewilding projects reveal rare species preserved in buried ancient wetlands. Botanists believe that this will lead to new plant discoveries; seeds can survive for centuries under layers of leaves and mud so once they are given water and exposed to sunlight the plants will grow.

Already, six plants of the endangered wetland flower grass-poly have been found at the edge of an old cattle-watering pond on the Heydon estate in north Norfolk. The species had not been seen in the county since the early 1900s. 

Orchid thought to be extinct in UK found on roof of London bank

THE GUARDIAN reports a rare species of orchid believed to have been extinct in the UK has been discovered on the roof of an office building in the City of London.

Serapias parviflora, also known as small-flowered tongue orchid, was found growing in the 11th-floor rooftop garden of the Japanese investment bank Nomura. It is usually found in the Mediterranean basin and the Atlantic coast of France, Spain and Portugal.

Pampas grass might be having a style revival on Instagram, but it is a threat to wildlife, experts warn

iNews reports once a staple of a 1970s garden, the pampas grass has burst back into fashion as a favourite of the Instagram generation. The plant’s dried fronds have made a comeback as the ultimate interiors accessory, with fans even resorting to stealing it from coastal beaches to get their style fix. But although pampas grass might be a trendy alternative to a vase of fresh flowers, it is no substitute for native grasses on UK coastal dunes, experts warned this week.  

‘Superplant’ shrub absorbs 20pc more pollution than other hedges

The Daily Telegraph and iNEWS report one metre of dense hedge will mop up the same amount of pollution that a car emits over a 500-mile drive. Plant scientists at the Royal Horticultural Society have advised growers choose bushy, hairy-leafed alternatives, as these have been found to remove more air pollution.

Researchers tested three hedges for pollution removal in traffic hostpots;  Cotoneaster franchetii, Thuya plicata (Western red cedar) and Crataegus monogyna (hawthorn). They found that the cotoneaster franchetti was by far the most effective at cleaning the air, and that in just seven days a one metre length of well-managed dense hedge will mop up the same amount of pollution that a car emits over a 500 mile drive. 

Botanists in race to save rare flower from extinction

The Times reports one of the rarest plants on a Scottish mountain celebrated for its botanical riches could become extinct in the wild. Experts are now planning a rescue mission for the mountain sandwort, which has delicate white flowers, after a big decline in numbers.

The most recent count of the plant on Ben Lawers, Scotland’s tenth highest Munro reveals a fall of more than half in just 15 years. Botanists will gather seeds on the Perthshire mountain this summer to grow in a safe place and ensure the plant’s survival.