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New project to save sole surviving population of rare wildflower

A new conservation project at the Botanic Garden hopes to save a rare wildflower that is almost extinct throughout Leicestershire and Rutland - and has a declining population nationwide.

Announced to coincide with World Environment Day 2016, which takes place on Sunday 5 June, the project will see bulbs of the Yellow Star of Bethlehem flower planted at the Botanic Garden in order to reintroduce the species to the area.

The Yellow Star of Bethlehem, which has a scattered distribution throughout the British Isles, has seen a decline throughout much of the country – including Leicestershire and Rutland.

While the uncommon flower could be found in areas such as Cloud Wood and Stoke Dry Wood in Leicestershire in the early 1900s, the only location in the county it can now reliably be found is in east Leicestershire where it is unprotected and at-risk of over-grazing, raising concerns about its long-term stability.

Dr Richard Gornall from the Botanic Garden said: “We plan to rescue the sole surviving population of Yellow Star of Bethlehem in Leicestershire and Rutland.

“Given the declining population of many wildflowers throughout the British Isles, there is a strong case to be made for better protection by means of intelligent habitat management including the establishment of nature reserves.

“Where this approach is not available or practical, however, it is clear that there is also a good argument to be made for ex situ conservation either by growing the plants in botanic gardens or special collections.”

The project is partly funded by the Friends of the Garden and highlights the University of Leicester Botanic Garden’s commitment to conservation.

 

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