UK: Rare plant returns to old school haunt


Late last year Plant Talk reported on an ambitious plan to create a third population of one of Britain's rarest plants on the site of a historic population; Charterhouse School in Surrey.

Starved wood-sedge by Dominic PriceStarved wood-sedge (Carex depauperata) - a delicate grass-like plant - used to be common in the grounds of the school until the early 20th century. But war took its toll on the estate workers. Many of the men went off to fight and as the well-managed woodlands lost their workers the valuable sunlit glades, the perfect habitat for the sedge, began to close in and disappear.

Despite hunting high and low for the plant over the past 60 years not even a single specimen has been discovered. But this prompted conservationists, led by Plantlife, to re-populate the old Charterhouse site. Their assumption was the plant was too endangered to guarantee survival at the other two known sites in Somerset and Surrey. In September 2009 25 plants were re-united with their former home into areas of the grounds that could be easily monitored by pupils at the school.

Dominic Price, Plantlife's Species Recovery Officer, who led the re-introduction programme said: "It is a rare step for Plantlife to consider re-introducing a population of rare plants - but in this case, the national outlook for the plants was so critical that we needed to throw a lifeline to starved wood-sedge. The Charterhouse site not only gives us a link to the past as a true historical home of the species but it also now has the perfect conditions in which we hope the plants will thrive."

According to recent reports all the plants survived the bitter winter and we look forward to a successful growing season at the historic site.

Photograph - Starved Wood-sedge © Dominic Price / Plantlife

Related links:

UK: Making wildflowers count


Red campionAs spring begins to take a firm hold on the British countryside the timing is perfect for the launch of Plantlife's Wildflowers Count - the successor to Common Plants Survey.

UK: Bluebell watch


bluebellsRecords have started appearing at the National Trust's bluebell watch. First out of the blocks was Blickling Hall in Norfolk, closely followed by Downhill Demensne and Hezlett House in Northern Ireland.

UK: Recovering from the winter blues


Bluebell flowerThe unusually harsh winter has taken its toll on many UK species while others seem blissfully unaware and are merely getting on with business as usual. But one plant which has almost certainly been stalled by the cold weather is the bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta).

UK: 2009 is a good vintage for Britain's rarest plants


picture of pink flower The wild plant conservation charity, Plantlife, report that 2009 has been a great year for Britain's rarest plants.