We are Plantlife
For over 25 years, Plantlife has had a single ideal - to save and celebrate wild flowers, plants and fungi. They are the life support for all our wildlife and their colour and character light up our landscapes. But without our help, this priceless natural heritage is in danger of being lost.
From the open spaces of our nature reserves to the corridors of government, we work nationally and internationally to raise their profile, celebrate their beauty, and to protect their future.
The future of wild flowers isn't cut and dried. Join us.
Plantlife are promoting their road verges campaign:
Road verges are a refuge for some of our rarest plants
Driving around my local roads recently I started to wonder just how many plants grow on our verges? The buttercups, bluebells and oxeye daisies are easy to spot, quick ticks in the game of roadside botanical bingo. But others – such as betony (Betonica officinalis), ragged-Robin (Silene flos-cuculi) and early-purple orchid (Orchis mascula) – are more elusive, scoring more points in my head and a little sigh of relief that they’re still surviving.
And then there are the real rarities. To paraphrase the Great Bard, I know a bank where the wood bitter-vetch blows. Unfortunately, it’s not over-canopied with luscious woodbine, with sweet musk-roses and with eglantine, but is on the side of the A740 just past the nuclear power station. I always try and stop to check it out; the delicately painted flowers give me a moment of joy as the rest of the world hurtles past.
The richness of our roadside flora is astonishing.
Our new road verges report brings this flora together for the first time – a national catalogue of all those species known to grow on verges and roadsides somewhere in the UK.
We’ve found that over 720 species grow on our road verges. This is an astonishing total. If we add in hedgerows and ditches, the total rises to over 800 species, representing nearly half our total flora. As well as highlighting the sheer diversity of our verges and roadsides, it really drives home their value for wildlife.
But unfortunately, the story of loss and destruction of road verge plants is a long one. In 1641 a road in Kent was widened, destroying the first colony of lizard orchid (Himantoglossum hircinum) ever recorded in Great Britain.
© Sandy Wildlife
Crested cow-wheat © Sandy Wildlife
Today, nearly 100 ‘threatened’ or ‘near threatened’ species are found on our verges.
Many of these were once more abundant in meadows, pastures and woodlands. But today, with these habitats gone or in poor condition, we’ve found that road verges now represent their last refuge. For example:
Proper management of our roadside verges is critical if these species are to avoid extinction. Please support our call for councils to manage their verges better for all our wildflowers and wildlife.
To sign Plantlife’s road verge petition, visit plantlife.love-wildflowers.org.uk/roadvergecampaign2016#letter-to-your-council