UK: Last reprieve for Rapunzel's bane


The plant - Phyteuma spicatum - that led to Rapunzel's imprisonment in the classic German fairy tale has received some long overdue hope.

It was the obsession of Rapunzel's mother that led her husband to steal the plant - named White Rapunzel on the continent and Spiked Rampion in the UK - from the garden of an enchantress. The old woman struck a deal with the couple meaning the unborn child would be locked in a tower where eventually she would be discovered by the obligatory handsome prince.

Spiked rampion flower We all know how this story ends: but the ending for the plant named after the imprisoned girl is still up for grabs. Found in only a few sites in East Sussex, where it grow on road verges, streamsides and coppiced woodlands. It's estimated there are less than 300 plants on 10 sites so funding received by Plantlife, the wild plant conservation charity, from Sita UK comes at an opportune moment.

Plantlife’s Species Recovery Officer, Dominic Price, said: “This project comes at a vital time for Spiked Rampion with populations reaching critically low levels and a very real risk of losing it all together."

Plantlife aim to start the project in June this year by surveying all the known historical sites in the hope of finding undiscovered populations and unearth the reasons for its decline. They then plan to work with landowners to open up the woodland glades and rides that seem to be the ideal habitat for this graceful little plant.

Related links:

Phyteuma spicatum species information on Natural England website

UK: Britain's rarest flower under police guard


Lady's Slipper Orchid (Cypredium calceolus) is probably the UK's rarest wild flower but it's being given extra special protection this year on one of its very few known sites - a golf course in Lancashire.

Spain: Polygala balansae - only known European population under threat


polygala thumbnailResearchers at the University of Granada (UGR) have studied the natural history and conservation status in Spain of the only known population of Polygala balansae in Europe, a thorny bush that can grow up to 1.5 metres high, and previously thought to be exclusive to Morocco.

UK: Losing the taste for gin?


juniper berriesJuniper (Juniperus communis) is probably best known for being the principal flavouring in gin; the scourge of housewives up and down the country. But a new survey highlights a different problem - its slow march to possible extinction in the next 50 years.

UK IN PICTURES: Common spring flowers


bumblebee on primrose flowerThese glorious pictures were sent to Plant Talk by Jim Dimmock and were taken at the National Trust property Coleton Fishacre, once the 2,000 acre holiday home in Devon of the D'Oyly Carte family.

UK: Rare plant returns to old school haunt


starved wood sedgeLate 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.

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.