Species Profiles

 

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

Baneberry

Actaea spicata

This rare perennial herb is found in shaded woodlands and limestone pavements in northern England.  The black berries contain toxins that have a sedative effect on humans. Ingestion of the berries can lead to cardiac arrest and death. Perhaps surprisingly this toxic plant is used as a homeopathic remedy for various ailments, particularly rheumatism. The berries are harmless to birds which are the primary seed dispersers.

Alpine Rock-cress

Arabis alpina 

This rare arctic alpine was discovered new to Britain in 1887 by Henry Hart, an Irish botanist and mountaineer. It is restricted to a small number of rocky ledges high up in the Cullin Mountains on the Isle of Skye. 

Northern Rock-cress

Arabis petraea 

A rare northern plant of open habitats such as cliff faces, river shingle and scree. It has a wide altitudinal range, from near sea level in Shetland to 1220 metres on Braeriach, South Aberdeen.

Bristol Rock-cress

Arabis scabra 

Bristol Rock-cress is a famous rarity associated with the Avon Gorge near Bristol. It grows on exposed south facing limestone rocks, scree and crags. It is extremely drought tolerant and will sit out desiccating summer droughts as a small compact tuft of leaves. It was first documented by the pioneering botanist John Ray who found it growing in the gorge at St. Vincent’s Rock in 1686. It is gratifying that over three hundred years later it can still be found in the same location.

Thrift

Armeria maritima ssp. elongata

This inland subspecies of the familiar coastal plant was once widespread in Lincolnshire and Leicestershire but declined rapidly as a result of agricultural intensification. It is now restricted to just two sites, Ancaster Cemetery in Lincolnshire and a nearby pasture.

Field Wormwood

Artemisia campestris ssp. campestris

This Breckland speciality is now restricted to a few locations in Suffolk and Norfolk. Historically many sites were lost as a result of agricultural intensification, forestry and development. The largest population is located in an industrial estate in Brandon where a small area is set aside and specially managed for the Field Wormwood. It has managed to spread beyond the confines of the reserve and can also be found as a pavement weed around the industrial estate.

Goldilocks Aster

Aster linosyris

This long-lived perennial is restricted to a few coastal localities in western Britain where it grows on rocky slopes and sea cliffs. Our material is from Pembrokeshire.

Alpine Milk-vetch

Astragalus alpinus

This beautiful alpine plant is known from just four sites in the eastern Scottish Highlands. It is typically found in species rich grassland and is often associated with other rare mountain plants. It was first discovered in 1831 in Glen Doll, Angus.

Coralroot 

Cardamine bulbifera 

This nationally scarce plant can be found on dry woodland slopes over chalk in the Chilterns, and in damp woodlands over clay in the Kent and Sussex Weald. It is a rhizomatous perennial herb that gets its name from the cream-coloured, coral-like rhizome. Whilst flowering can be prolific, few seeds are produced and reproduction is primarily by axillary bulbils that are formed in the leaf axils of mature plants.

Fingered Sedge

Carex diditata

This nationally scarce sedge grows in open woods, scree and hedge banks. It favours damp, slightly shaded sites with a high calcium content and good drainage. Our material originates from Gloucestershire. 

Bristle Sedge

Carex microglochin

Bristle Sedge is a tiny species that grows in a scattering of populations in the mountainous regions of Perthshire. Its small stature, similarity to Flea Sedge, and its remote mountainous habitat meant that it was not discovered until 1923.

 

Saltmarsh Sedge 

Carex salina 

This rare sedge was discovered new to the British Isles at Morvich in 2004. It is now known from a small number of other sites along the west coast of Scotland. It grows in saltmarshes near the high-tide level. Very few flowers are produced in the wild populations and this is also the case in horticultural conditions.

Saltmarsh Goosefoot

Chenopodium chenopodioides

This very rare goosefoot originates from a grazing marsh on the Isle of Grain, Kent. Usually diminutive in the wild, it can reach monstrous proportions in cultivation.

Stinking Goosefoot

Chenopodium vulvaria

The aptly named Stinking Goosefoot is without a doubt one of the smelliest plants in Britain. Its unpleasant smell is likened to that of rotting fish and it is produced when the leaves or flowers are rubbed or crushed. Once a widespread species, it has undergone a catastrophic decline and is now restricted to just a handful of coastal locations in south east England.

Alpine Sow-thistle 

Cicerbita alpina

Alpine Sow-thistle is known only from mountains in the eastern Highlands of Scotland.  It was first discovered by the famous alpine plant hunter George Don in 1801. It is susceptible to grazing by deer which has restricted it to inaccessible rock ledges. It was almost certainly much more widespread in the past prior to increased  deer numbers. It seems poorly adapted to mountain conditions and is probably a sub-montane species surviving in sub-optimal habitats at atypical elevations. Our material is from Glen Clova, Angus. 

Wood Calamint

Clinopodium menthifolium

The Wood Calamint is one of the rarest plants in Britain. Historically it has only ever been known from a single valley on the Isle of Wight but within this valley it is known to have occupied a few hectares of woodland, downland and scrub. It was first described by William Bromfield in 1843 as occurring ‘in the greatest profusion and luxuriance’. It is now restricted to just a few square metres of woodland edge alongside a single-track road. The plants demise is attributable to a change in woodland management, primarily a reduction in grazing animals and the abandonment of coppicing, both of which have resulted in a closed woodland canopy.

Strapwort

Corrigiola littoralis

This interesting annual is only known from a localised area of shoreline at Slapton Ley in Devon. Previously widespread around Slapton Ley, it has declined as a result of lack of open bare ground. It has been the subject of a reintroduction project to bolster the wild population.

Pygmyweed

Crassula aquatica

This diminutive little annual is only known from Lock Shiel, West Inverness. It was discovered in 1969 and is probably a relatively recent addition to the British flora, perhaps having arrived on the feet of migratory birds or even on the feet of visiting Salmon fishermen. It was once known from Adel Dam in Yorkshire but was last seen here in 1938. 

Green Houndstongue

Cynoglossum montanum

This rare plant from the Chilterns has escaped from our greenhouses and has established small wild colonies in the hedgerows around our nursery.

 

Brown Galingale

Cyperus fuscus

Brown Galingale is an annual plant associated with seasonally flooded pond and ditch margins. The best British sites have a continuous history of grazing by livestock which maintain the open, poached conditions favoured by Brown Galingale. Always a rare plant in Britain, Brown Galingale is now known from approximately half a dozen sites, all in southern England.  

Starfruit

Damasonium alisma

The Starfruit is a critically endangered species that is associated with the drawdown zone of ephemeral ponds. Our material is of unknown origin, it was originally given to Plantlife in the 1990’s but unfortunately the donor did not disclose their name or where the plant came from. 

Deptford Pink

Dianthus armeria

The Deptford Pink is a rare species of dry pastures, field borders and hedgerows. It acts as an annual or biennial and requires grazing or some other form of soil disturbance for seedling establishment. It is primarily a plant of southern England. It has never been recorded from Deptford.

Maiden Pink

Dianthus deltoids

Maiden Pink is a declining plant of dry grasslands and rocky banks. It is unable to tolerate modern sheep stocking densities and has been lost at many sites through overgrazing.  Our material is from Radnorshire.

Jersey Pink

Dianthus gallicus

This mat-forming perennial herb has been known from St Ouen`s Bay, Jersey since 1892. It may well be a deliberate introduction but it is treated by conservationists as an ‘honorary rarity’. It was once down to a single wild plant but numbers have been boosted following a species recovery project undertaken by Jersey Zoo. Our material originates from the wild population at St Ouen`s Bay.

Wall Whitlow-grass

Draba muralis

Wall Whitlow-grass is an overwintering annual. As a native plant it is found on open shallow limestone soils, and on south facing ledges and screes. It has also been recorded from old walls, forest tracks and railway embankments.

Floating Club-rush

Eleogiton fluitans

We cultivate Floating Club-rush not for the plant itself as it's not particularly rare, but for the very rare root smut fungus Entorrhiza raunkiaeriana that infects the roots of the plant. This rare root smut previously known from just one site in Denmark was found new to Britain in 2017 by Arthur Chater in Cardiganshire. We have subsequently found it in Radnorshire, but only in ponds where Floating Club-rush is particularly abundant. The fungus is not much to look at and resembles a tiny potato that is attached to the ends of its host’s roots, no wonder it was overlooked for so long!

Pipewort

Eriocaulon aquaticum 

In the British Isles this strange plant is known only from north western Scotland and western Ireland where it grows in oligotrophic lakes and pools. Its habitat is so widespread in western Scotland that it is difficult to explain why it has such a limited range. 

Copse-bindweed

Fallopia dumetorum 

This climbing annual plant is restricted to woodland margins, hedge banks and thickets in central southern England. It produces a vast number of seeds that can remain viable for many years. Germination is trigged by soil disturbance and the Copse-bindweed can appear in quantity when woods are felled or coppiced. It has always been a rare plant but it has become rarer in recent times as a result of changes in woodland management.

Red-tipped Cudweed

Filago lutescens

We cultivate a number a rare Cudweeds, our favourite is Red-tipped Cudweed that comes from Hampshire. Once known from more than two hundred sites it is now known from approximately twenty. Its decline is a result of agricultural intensification.

Red Hemp-nettle

Galeopsis angustifolia

This annual plant is typically an arable weed. It declined dramatically following the widespread use of fertilisers and herbicides and, as a species that sets seed late in the summer, it has also fallen victim to the early ploughing of stubbles. It also occurs on coastal sands and shingle in the southern counties of England and Wales. At these sites populations have been lost to gravel extraction and coastal engineering works. 

Nit-grass

Gastridium ventricosum

A rare annual grass usually associated with open grassland on steep cliffs and shallow calcareous soils in the south west of Britain. It has completely vanished from south-east England where it once occurred as an arable weed. It gets its name from the shiny swollen glumes that resemble nits (the eggs of head lice). Our material is from the Avon Gorge.

Green Hellebore

 Helleborus viridis 

This uncommon species has been lost from many of its former sites and many existing populations are vulnerable because they comprise a very small number of plants. Our material is from Northamptonshire. It was sent to us by a local botanist as a backup for a population that was once under threat from inappropriate management. Fortunately favourable management has now been restored through the efforts of a local volunteer and the site now supports over one hundred plants. 

Smooth Rupturewort

Herniaria glabra

This wintergreen mat-forming perennial is chiefly a plant of compacted sandy or gravely soils in eastern England. As a native plant it is now confined to Norfolk, Suffolk and Lincolnshire.

Hutchinsia

Hornungia petraea

A winter annual that germinates in the autumn and flowers very early in the spring, sometimes as early as January. In Britain this tiny plant is known from two distinct habitats; south or south west facing slopes on carboniferous limestone, and calcareous sand dunes.

Toadflax-leaved St. John’s-wort

Hypericum linariifolium

This globally rare St. John’s-wort is restricted to the western coast of Europe and has reached its northern limit in north Wales. It is a short-lived perennial of steep, south facing rocky slopes that are prone to summer droughts. In Britain it is now restricted to Cornwall, Devon and Caernarvonshire. It has been lost from some sites as a result of scrub encroachment. It hybridises with Trailing St. John’s-wort H. humifusum and this has resulted in the loss of pure Toadflax-leaved St. John’s-wort at some locations. Our material is Welsh.

Wavy St John’s-wort

Hypericum undulatum

This rare and beautiful St. John’s-wort is confined to rushy pastures and fens in the south west of Britain. It is usually found in seasonally or permanently waterlogged areas in association with other herbs of waterlogged ground. It has been lost from many of its former localities as a result of agricultural intensification. Wavy St John’s-wort is a globally rare species that is confined to the Atlantic fringe of western Europe, from western Spain and Portugal northwards to Britain.

Dwarf Rush & Pygmy Rush

Juncus capitatus & J. pygmaeus

We have had these two diminutive and very rare annual rushes from the Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall in cultivation for many years. They grow in one of our raised plant beds that is dedicated entirely to species associated with the drawdown zone of ephemeral ponds and lakes; a rare and declining habitat that supports a diverse range of specialist wet mud plants. 

Juniper

Juniperus communis ssp. hemisphaerica

In the British Isles this rare subspecies of Juniper is only known from Pembrokeshire and the Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall. All existing populations are extremely small. The Lizard population was first recorded in 1871 and was described as occurring ‘in abundance’ but the population is now down to just ten wild plants. Fortunately it is easy to grow from small cuttings and conservation bodies are working on recovery projects to bolster the dwindling wild populations. Our plants are female and originate from the Lizard Peninsula.

Least Lettuce

Lactuca saligna

Least Lettuce is an autumn or spring germinating annual that occurs on sandy shingle and old sea walls. It was once known from many sites in south east England but it is now known from just three. Its dramatic decline is attributable to sea-wall refurbishment and river engineering works. Often diminutive in the wild, it can reach two metres in height in horticultural conditions.

Mudwort & Welsh Mudwort

Limosella aquatica & L. australis

There are two species of Mudwort in the British Isles, Mudwort and the much rarer Welsh Mudwort. We have both in cultivation, they grow side by side but the long awaited hybrid has yet to appear.

Twinflower

Linnaea borealis

This creeping perennial plant is a native of Scottish pine forests. Recent research has found that 80% of the Scottish population is a single clone with the remainder comprising just two or three closely related clones. Twinflower is an outbreeding plant and as a result the scattered Scottish populations are sterile and produce no viable seeds.

Heath Lobelia

Lobelia urens

Heath Lobelia is restricted to the southern coastal counties of England and has been lost from many of its former sites. Our plants have been used in a reintroduction project in Dorset.

Slender Bird’s-foot Trefoil

Lotus angustissimus

A rare annual of rocky outcrops and grassy banks by the sea. Scattered populations occur along the south coast of England with the largest populations located between Prawle Point and Start Point in Devon. It is usually found in association with the nationally scarce Hairy Bird’s-foot Trefoil Lotus subbiflorus which we also hold in cultivation. Both species have declined as a result of coastal scrub encroachment following the cessation of traditional management practices such as grazing and burning.

Floating-leaved Water Plantain

Luronium natans

This very rare aquatic from the Montgomeryshire Canal grows like a weed in some of our ponds. We have had it in cultivation for many years. It originates from a small sprig that was posted to us by a local fisherman who was keen to know the name of the plant that was constantly snagging his fishing line.

Fen Woodrush

Luzula pallescens

The very rare Fen Woodrush is found at just two sites in the British Isles. Our material comes from Holme Fen in Cambridgeshire and was passed onto us by an amateur botanist who maintains a backup population in cultivation.

Sea Stock

Matthiola sinuata

A flower of sea cliffs and sand dunes in south Wales and Devon. The night-scented flowers are pollinated by lepidoptera, particularly noctuid moths. It is a plant of Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts that has reached its northern limit in Britain and Ireland.

Bastard Balm

Melittis melissophyllym

It is surprising that this beautiful native plant has not made its way into the horticultural trade. Perhaps its rude name has something to do with this.

Small Adder’s-tongue

Ophioglossum azoricum

This rare fern is primarily a plant of coastal grassland but it is also known from the New Forest where it grows in damp heathland hollows that are grazed by ponies. The gametophyte stage is mycorrhizal and subterranean and little is known of its life history.

Ivy Broomrape

Orobanche hedera

This scarce parasite of ivy is typically a maritime species but it is sometimes found as an introduction in parklands, gardens and cemeteries. Our plant nursery is home to the rare yellow variant that lacks anthocyanin. 

Purple Oxytropis

Oxytropis halleri

A rare perennial known from approximately twenty Scottish locations. Most populations occur on seaside cliff ledges but there are also a small number of inland populations. It was first reported in Britain in 1777 near North Queensferry in Fife, sadly this site was destroyed during the construction of the railway cutting to the Forth Bridge.

Childing Pink

Petrorhagia nanteulii

The oddly named Childing Pink is an extremely rare annual of coastal habitats in southern England. The largest population is on shingle at Pagham Harbour in Sussex. This population is inaccessible at flowering time because it grows inside a fenced enclosure that protects a breeding tern colony. Our material is from its other well-known site at Shoreham where it grows in the company of another Shoreham speciality, the Starry Clover Trifolium stellatum. The Starry Clover is a rare alien that has been known from Shoreham since 1804, we have had it in cultivation for a number of years.

Pillwort

Pillularia globulifera

This strange fern is an inhabitant of seasonal pools and pond margins. It is a global rarity with a substantial portion of the world population occurring in Britain. Pillwort is threatened by drainage and pollution of its wetland habitat and the continued spread of invasive alien species. Mid Wales holds some of the finest populations in Britain but these are now under threat following the arrival of New Zealand Pygmyweed Crassula helmsii.

Shaggy Mouse-ear-hawkweed

Pilosella peleteriana ssp. subpeleteriana

This creeping perennial is known from a handful of sites in England and one in Wales. In Wales it grows prolifically on quarry spoil heaps and tracks at Breidden Hill in Montgomeryshire. 

Sea Knotgrass

Polygonum maritimum

This very rare Knotgrass occurs on a few scattered beaches along the south coast of England. It is typically found growing on shingle or coarse sand just above the high spring tide mark. The open conditions it requires are created and maintained by winter storms. Our material is from Hayling Island in Hampshire where a small population maintains a tenuous hold despite the pressures of tourists, dog walkers and flood defence work.

Long-stalked Pondweed

Potomageton praelongus

From its only Mid Wales site at Llan Bwch-llyn Lake in Radnorshire. Our staff found a few bits of this rare pondweed washed up along the shores of the lake, the plants were a bit tatty and very dried out but with careful propagation they took root and now grow in one of our ponds.

Small Fleabane

Pulicaria vulgaris 

The headquarters of this rare annual species is the New Forest in Hampshire where it grows in seasonally wet grassy hollows that are grazed by ponies. Our plants are from an outlier population at Bramshill in north east Hampshire. Sadly the plant has now become extinct here through inappropriate management. 

Pasqueflower

Pulsatilla vulgaris 

The Pasqueflower is a beautiful perennial herb confined to shallow calcareous soils in England. It was lost from many sites as a result of agricultural improvements in the 18th and 19th centuries. Sadly, the decline continues today, primarily through a lack of appropriate management.

Badgeworth Buttercup

Ranunculus ophioglosifolius

This annual species of wet mud around pond margins is known from just two sites in the British Isles. Our material comes from Badgeworth Nature Reserve in Gloucestershire. According to the Guinness Book of Records this is the smallest nature reserve in the world. We have had it in cultivation for over twenty years. The Badgeworth population is thriving and in some years there are thousands of plants. At its other site at Inglestone Common a reintroduction project has recently been undertaken to boost the dwindling wild population.

Three-lobed Crowfoot

Ranunculus tripartitus

This rare winter annual of seasonal ponds and poached trackways has disappeared from many of its former sites through lack of appropriate management. It appears to have a long lived seed bank and has recently reappeared at Ysgeifiog Moor in Pembrokeshire following the removal of invasive vegetation.

Greater Yellow Rattle

Rhinanthus angustifolius

Now only known from three main areas; Surrey, North Lincolnshire and Angus. As an introduction it has an outpost here in Mid Wales where it grows in our specially managed hay meadow. It does not appear to hybridise with the much commoner Yellow Rattle Rhinanthus minor.

Shore Dock

Rumex rupestris

This globally rare species of Dock is threatened throughout its world range. It is a perennial species of sand and shingle beaches, coastal rocks and damp dune-slacks. It requires a constant supply of fresh water so is usually found close to streams and springs. In Britain it has been recorded from the Scilly Isles (where it is now extinct), Devon and Cornwall, with outlier populations in Glamorgan and Anglesey. Elsewhere it is only known only from north-west Spain, north-west France and the Channel Islands. Throughout its world range many populations have been lost through the construction of costal sea defences. Natural processes including winter storms have also resulted in the loss of some populations. Our material is from Anglesey.

Meadow Clary

Salvia pratensis