15 September 2012

There Are No Cranesbills in Yorkshire

According to the charity Plantlife 10 species of wildflower have become extinct in Britain since the 1950s.

Land management changes since then are the cause. Industrial scale farming means there are fewer proper hedges and untouched field margins, and of course the increased use of herbicides plays a part. Since the war 97% of wild flower meadows have been lost, with a third of all plant species in Britain currently in danger of extinction.

Let’s repeat that statistic – a third of ALL plant species, not just the pretty flowers, but the ferns and mosses and lichens, grasses, shrubs and trees are ‘in danger of’ extinction.

And let’s face it, bar major changes in the economic, political or population spheres, that ‘in danger of’ means ‘will become’.

On the county scale the situation is stark. Middlesex has lost 76 species in the last 40 years, Warwickshire has lost 74 species since 1970. Even the subject of the last post, the wood cranesbill, has disappeared from Yorkshire.

Plantlife will publish a report next month. Not a light read I should think.

I’ve whacked up a little montage of the 10 lost plants.

Something that struck me while I did was that this impoverishment is not only in terms of biodiversity, but also language. In the last post I wondered how the cranesbill got its name. How did the Interrupted Brome or Summer Lady’s Tresses get theirs? Isn’t that interesting – it’s Summer Lady not Summer Ladies? Who was the summer lady?

It’s sad to think there will no longer be anything new in Britain in need of a name.

Information from Telegraph article

Image of Hawkweed from Kingsdowner blog , saxifrage from this Tumblr blog, other images from newspapers and wiki.