Plants by a road side

Britain’s rarest plants and wildflowers on the brink of extinction while roadsides become ‘their final refuge’

The UK’s rarest wildflowers and plants are at risk of becoming extinct, it has been cautioned. Since 1930 the country has lost 97% of its wildflower plants and florae due to land being substituted for food crops.

by Puneet Brar 1st September 2017

Country road verges are the final refuge for the remaining species of wildflowers which have survived losing their habitats after being driven out of farms and provinces. Endangered species include spiked rampion, tower mustard, and crested cow-wheat.

Today, the countries verges are home to over 700 different kinds of plants and wildflowers, with 12% under risk of extinction, charity Plantlife claims.

“The roadside verges are often the last refuge for wild flowers and the wildlife there depends on them.” said Dr Trevor Dines - botanical specialist for Plantlife.

“Plants are the energy house of all other species – if we get that mixture of plants back we get diversity with everything else.”

Road verges have become significant for the existence of rare wildflowers and plants which act as wildlife corridors as well as providing pollen for bees, moths and butterflies.

However, overlooked as insignificant, these verges have come under threat due to poor maintenance and management. “Sadly, road verges have been woefully disregarded for decades and are increasingly poorly managed for nature.” said Dines, who claimed that there are a few remaining wildflowers still “hanging on” due to a few maintained verges.

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With over 20,000 signatures, Plantlife has called a petition for councils around the country to improve and better manage the preservation and protection of plants and wildflowers around verges and roadsides.

Dr Dines told reporters: "If we just give them a chance, wildflowers can return."

The top five endangered wildflowers and plants include:

  1. Fen Ragwort – critically endangered
  2. Spiked Rampion – endangered
  3. Tower Mustard – endangered
  4. Velvet Lady’s-mantle – endangered
  5. Crested cow-wheat -endangered