Species Profiles

 

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

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. 

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.

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.

Bristle Sedge

Carex microglochin

We hold a number of very rare sedges in cultivation; among them is Bristle Sedge, 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.

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. 

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.

 

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 International in the 1990’s but unfortunately the donor did not disclose their name or where the plant came from. 

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.

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. 

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.

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. 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 

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.

Meadow Clary

Salvia pratensis 

Meadow Clary is one of our most stunning rare wildflowers. It grows in unimproved pastures and meadows where there is a long history of favourable management. The largest British populations are in Oxfordshire.  

Drooping Saxifrage

Saxifraga cernua 

A rare species of Saxifrage known only from a few scattered mountain tops in Scotland. It flowers infrequently in Britain and is unable to set viable seed. It reproduces vegetatively by axillary bulbils.

Tufted Saxifrage

Saxifraga cespitosa

Our material was collected under special licence from Cwm Idwal in Snowdonia. The entire Welsh population of this rare arctic alpine is restricted to just two individuals that grow side by side on a large moss covered boulder. As far as we are aware we are the only botanical institution to hold Welsh material in cultivation. It can be difficult to propagate as the plants are very susceptible to mould and mildew. We hope that one day our plants will allow reintroduction to Cwm Idwal. We recently passed seeds of this special plant to the National Botanic Garden of Wales.

Perennial Knawel

Scleranthus perennis ssp. perennis

Our material was collected under licence and was used in a successful reintroduction at its only native British site at Stanner Rocks in Radnorshire. We also hold Scleranthus perennis ssp. prostratus in cultivation which is endemic to the Brecklands of East Anglia. 

Viper’s Grass

Scorzonera humilis

The intriguingly named Viper’s Grass is restricted to just two locations, one in Dorset and the other in Glamorgan where hundreds of plants were discovered in 1996.

Fen Ragwort

Senecio paludosus 

Historically this fenland species was once quite widespread, particularly in Cambridgeshire, but drainage of its habitat eliminated it and the last reliable record in the 19th century was from Wicken Fen in 1857. It was considered extinct in Britain up until 1972 when a small colony was discovered growing in a roadside ditch near Soham in Cambridgeshire.  The ditch had been created a few years previously and it appears that the plant established from long dormant seeds that were brought to the surface by the ditch clearance works. Seeds from the Soham population have been used in recovery projects that have successfully established Fen Ragwort at historical sites such as Wicken Fen and Woodwalton fen.

Cut-leaved Germander

Teucrium botrys

Cut-leaved Germander is a rare monocarpic biennial of sparsely vegetated places.  It is now restricted to less than ten sites, all in the southern half of Britain. Our material is from its most well-known location, Micheldever Spoil Heaps in Hampshire. 

Perfoliate Pennycress

Thlaspi perfoliatum

This rare annual of bare limestone soils is primarily a plant of the Cotswolds and is sometimes called Cotswold Pennycress. It is known from nine native sites, most are in Gloucestershire with a handful of sites in Oxfordshire. It is a very early flowerer and in favourable years we have seen flowering plants on our rockeries as early as February.  Conservation organisations have established new populations in old quarries such as at Grange Hill Quarry in the Cotswolds. 

Twin-headed clover, Long-headed clover & Upright Clover

Trifolium boconnii, T. incarnatum ssp. molinerii & T. Strictum

The three rarest annual clovers from the Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall. We have had these in cultivation for almost twenty years. A survey of all known populations on the Lizard Peninsula in 2012 found 176 Twin-headed Clover plants, 1,500 Long-headed Clover plants, and 136 Upright Clover plants. Much reduced on previous counts and apparently absent from many of their historical sites these modest numbers reflect a change in management and a lack of bare open ground.

Breckland Speedwell, Fingered Speedwell & Spring Speedwell

Veronica praecox, V. triphyllos & V. verna

These three annual Speedwells are restricted to Breckland. In the wild they are associated with arable field margins and bare open ground that is kept free of competing vegetation by sheep and rabbits. Often diminutive in the wild, in cultivation they can reach a very large size. 

Please reload

Working with industry, conservation bodies and

statutory agencies to restore rare plant populations

© 2018 The Rare British Plants Nursery

Designs with a difference