Bid to preserve rare wild flower in Abbots Wood

A RARE wild flower which is on the brink of extinction is only found in eight sites across East Sussex one of which is in Hailsham, a plant conservation charity has said.

Spiked rampion (Phyteuma spicatum) - a wild flower is a member of the bellflower family with unusual cream-coloured spikes of flowers, and only grows in woodland and road verges in East Sussex.

In recent years it was thought to be present at 10 - 13 sites, but the new survey carried out this year only found it present at eight sites one of which is at Abbots Wood near Hailsham.

Environmentalists from Plantlife International - a wild plant conservation charity, say causes of its decline are the loss or degradation of its original habitats through building houses and roads, a lack of traditional woodland management and the fragmentation of its remaining habitat. Experts are now working to preserve the beautiful flower, known on the continent as white Rapunzel. It is mentioned in the fairytale as the plant which Rapunzel steals and as a result is locked in her tower.

Plantlife is holding a training day at Abbots Wood during the flowering season next year where local volunteers will find out more about spiked rampion and how to monitor Abbots Wood and other sites in East Sussex.

Dominic Price, Plantlife’s species recovery officer, said: “Plantlife’s project is timely, and we still have a chance of improving its fortunes if we act now.

“If we had left it any later, it may have been too late, but we are optimistic that we can help boost its chances.

“With generous funding from SITA Trust, we hope to be able to secure flourishing populations of this spectacular plant for future generations to enjoy.”