Road verges ‘last refuge’ for plants – conservation charity – BBC News

Image copyright Tim Pankhurst Image caption Fen ragwort: It grows naturally merely by a roadside in Cambridgeshire

Roadside verges are becoming the last refuge for some of the the rarest wild flowers and plants in the UK, according to a conservation charity.

Plantlife is calling for better management of grassy verges to preserve a wealth of different flowering plants.

It says road margins are a haven for wild plants that have been lost from the countryside.

Some wild plants, such as wood calamint and fen ragwort, are now seen naturally only on road verges.

The charity tells such plants can be brought back from near extinction, with preservation management.

But it tells even endangered plants on verges deemed nature reserves have been mown or cleared.

For too long road verges have been thought of as “dull, inconsequential places that flash by in the wing mirror, ” told Dr Trevor Dines of Plantlife.

“Sadly, road verges have been woefully disregarded for decades and are increasingly poorly managed for nature, ” he added.

“Some exceptionally rare plants including fen ragwort and timber calamint are merely hanging on thanks to the existence of some remaining well-managed verges.

“But we must not get complacent – only genuine management for nature will safeguard these and other plants from extinction.”

Image copyright Trevor Dines Plantlife Image caption Wood bitter-vetch is one of the 10 rarest plants on road verges identified by Plantlife
Image copyright Andrew Gagg Plantlife Image caption Sulphur clover: It is now discovered more commonly on road verges than on meadows

Plantlife says verges should be managed for wildlife as a matter of course, while remaining safe for motorists.

Its top 10 threatened plants grown in road verges are 😛 TAGEND Fen ragwort – now confined in the wild to a single trench beside the A142 near Ely in Cambridgeshire Spiked rampion – a woodland plant may be in only eight sites, including wooded lanes in mid Sussex Crested cow-wheat – observed primarily on road verges in Cambridgeshire Tower mustard – a type of cabbage found at about 30 sites, half of which are road verges Velvet Lady’s-mantle – a small herb once common in hay meadows Yarrow broomrape – grows in grassy habitats, including road verges Sulphur clover – has suffered from the loss of grasslands; over two-thirds of remaining sites are on verges Wood calamint – grows only in the Isle of Wight on a narrow road bordering a timber Welsh groundsel – endemic to Wales, it is found at 19 sites, 80% of which are on road verges Wood bitter-vetch – once common in grasslands of England and Wales, it is now near threatened. Image caption Velvet Lady’s-mantle

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