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Extinct species and endemics 


Some of the extinct species and endemics we hold in cultivation are showcased below and are listed in alphabetical order by scientific name.

Bromus interruptus
Interrupted Brome

Bromus interruptus

The Interrupted Brome is an English endemic grass that became extinct in the wild in 1972. Fortunately it was saved from global extinction by Philip Morgans Smith who was secretly cultivating it in his garden. It has recently been introduced to experimental plots near Whittlesford in Cambridgeshire.

Coincya monensis ssp. monensis
Isle of Man Cabbage

Coincya monensis ssp. monensis

This rare cabbage is endemic to Britain. It grows on sandy ground and cliffs close to the sea. It is found on the Isle of Man, the western coast of northern England and the estuary of the River Clyde.

Lundy Cabbage
Lundy Cabbage

Coincya wrightii

This fascinating species is endemic to the island of Lundy off the southwestern coast of England. It is the foodplant of the Lundy Cabbage Flea Beetle Psylliodes luridipennis which is also endemic to Lundy Island. This makes the Lundy Cabbage a unique British plant; it’s the only British endemic plant that is the exclusive host to an endemic species of insect.

Cotoneaster cambricus
Welsh Cotoneaster

Cotoneaster cambricus

This incredibly rare Welsh endemic is restricted to the Great Orme peninsula in North Wales. It is critically endangered and only six wild plants remain. Its decline is attributable to over grazing by sheep and goats.

Bowman's Horsetail
Bowman’s Horsetail

Equisetum x bowmanii

This extremely rare hybrid Horsetail is not known outside Britain. It is a hybrid between Wood Horsetail and Great Horsetail and is restricted to a small scattering of well separated sites in southern England and northern Scotland. Our material is from Hampshire.

Western Ramping Fumitory


Over the years we have cultivated all ten of the British fumitories. Two of these are endemic; Purple Ramping Fumitory Fumaria purpurea and Western Ramping Fumitory F. occidentalis that is restricted entirely to Cornwall and the Scilly Isles.

Gallium tricornutum
Corn Cleavers

Galium tricornutum

As a proper native species Corn Cleavers is now extinct but a small population is maintained at Rothamsted Experimental Station in Hertfordshire. Our material originates from Rothamsted.

Geranium purpureum ssp. forsteri
Little Robin

Geranium purpureum ssp. forsteri

Little Robin is known from a number of different habitat types in southern England ranging from hedge banks and coastal cliffs to railway cuttings and roadside verges. Our material is from Hayling Island in Hampshire where it grows on coastal shingle. This rarer prostrate coastal variant is often referred to as ssp. forsteri and is an English endemic.

Helosciadium x longipedunculatum


We have a range of Helosciadium species and hybrids in cultivation including Creeping Marshwort Helosciadium repens from Port meadow in Oxfordshire as well as F1 and F2 Creeping Marshwort hybrids with Fool’s Watercress Helosciadium nodiflorum, also from Port Meadow. These hybrids have yet to be recorded anywhere else in the world. We also have Helosciadium x moorei, the rare endemic hybrid between Lesser Marshwort Helosciadium inundatum and Fool’s Watercress. We are particularly lucky to have the endemic intergeneric hybrid between Lesser Water-parsnip Berula erecta and Fool’s Watercress that was described new to science in 2015 and is currently known from two British sites. We also have two very rare foreign Marshworts in our collection; Balearic Marshwort Helosciadium bermejoi that is endemic to Minorca and its even rarer naturally occurring hybrid with Fool’s Watercress.

Herniaria ciliolata ssp. ciliolata
Fringed Rupturewort

Herniaria ciliolata ssp. ciliolata

This endemic subspecies is found on the Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall. It is a mat-forming perennial associated with short coastal turf and bare open ground. It has a very long tap-root and is extremely drought resistant.

Cilau Hawkweed


The British Isles supports over four hundred species of Hawkweed many of which are endemic with extremely limited distributions. Our plant nursery is home to over fifty species of endemic hawkweed. One of our favourites is Snowdon Hawkweed Hieracium snowdoniense that was rediscovered in Snowdonia in 2002 after being considered extinct for almost fifty years.

Lolium temulentum

Lolium temulentum

This annual grass was once common in cornfields. As an arable weed it is now extinct but it occasionally turns up as a casual on rubbish tips and waste places. Our material is from Inishmaan, a small island off the west coast of Ireland. The retention of ancient farming systems on Inishmaan allowed Darnel to survive up until recent times and a small population may still be present.

Pilosella flagellaris ssp. bicapitata
Shetland Mouse-ear Hawkweed

Pilosella flagellaris ssp. bicapitata

Shetland Mouse-ear Hawkweed is endemic to Shetland where it is known from just three locations. Rare in the wild but quite invasive on our rockery. 

Saxifagea rosacea ssp rosacea
Irish Saxifrage

Saxifagea rosacea ssp rosacea

As a native plant in the British Isles Irish Saxifrage is now only known from Ireland. However, it did once occur at Cwm Idwal in Snowdonia but became extinct here almost immediately after its discovery in 1962. Fortunately material from the original find was cultivated by an amateur botanist. Recent DNA analysis has confirmed that the Cwm Idwal Irish Saxifrage is distinct from its Irish counterparts and was a genuine native species at Cwm Idwal. Plants retained in cultivation will hopefully allow a future reintroduction to Cwm Idwal. Our material originates from the original Cwm Idwal collection in 1962.

Scleranthus perennis ssp. prostratus
Breckland Perennial Knawel

Scleranthus perennis ssp. prostratus

This prostrate form of Perennial Knawel is endemic to the Breck grasslands of Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridge. It was first discovered in the seventeenth century by the great pioneering botanist John Ray. The largest population of this British endemic occurs at RAF Lakenheath where it is unwittingly protected by the American military who are stationed there. Polite gun wielding American soldiers usually see off any visiting botanists.

Senecio cambrensis
Welsh Groundsel

Senecio cambrensis

Welsh Groundsel is endemic to North Wales but was previously known from Scotland where it is now extinct.  Its habitat is entirely artificial and comprises urban sites where there is suitable bare ground for seedling establishment. Such areas comprise waste ground, stone walls and the edges of roads and pavements. The Welsh Groundsel is one of our most threatened plants. This recently evolved species formed from a hybrid between Oxford ragwort Senecio squalidus and Common Groundsel Senecio vulgaris. In 1983 the Welsh population numbered 2226 individuals, in 2004 the population numbered 349 individuals, the most recent detailed survey undertaken in 2011 found just 168 plants. These patterns of decline mirror that of the Scottish population that declined rapidly until it became extinct in 1993. Lack of open ground, herbicide applications to roadside verges, and the winter salting of roads are the most likely reasons for its decline. As a wild plant Welsh Groundsel appears to be heading towards extinction and as such plants held in cultivation will become particularly important.

Ley's Whitebeam


The British Isles supports approximately forty species of Whitebeam that are found nowhere else in the world, many of these are incredibly rare with some species restricted to just a small handful of individuals. Our Sorbus arboretum currently supports seventeen of these endemic Whitebeam species. The arboretum has been created over many years and most of the trees are now well established and flower most years. Of particular note in our collection is Motley’s Whitebeam Sorbus x motleyi that recently became extinct in the wild.

Symphytum x perringianum
Barton Road Comfrey

Symphytum x perringianum

This endemic hybrid Comfrey has only ever been known from a handful of locations around the City of Cambridge. The plant is now restricted to a single site along Barton Road and may soon be extinct. It is not fertile and can only spread by vegetative means. Our material is from the last remaining plant on Barton Road.

Tephroseris integrifolia ssp. maritima. Used with permission from Floral Images
South Stack Fleawort

Tephroseris integrifolia ssp. maritima

This Welsh endemic subspecies of Field Fleawort is only found on the coastal cliffs around South Stack on Holyhead Island. It grows on grassy cliff-tops and steep rocky ledges. The population numbers several thousand plants and there are no immediate threats to its future.

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