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Thoughts, news and updates from members of the Plantlife team.

In praise of the wild daffodil

In a a guest blog, Springwatch presenter Michaela Strachan explains why she's championing this yellow spring bloom.

April 17 2015 - 14:58

© Bob Gibbons

© Bob Gibbons

Being a huge fan of the flower fairies when I was a child I want to say that lavender is my favourite flower as I so wanted to be the lavender fairy! 

Mainly because of the cute purple dress and the fact that it was one of the easier fairies to trace! Or how about the very sweet marigold fairy or Narcissus fairy in the little white tutu. Every girl's dream! But after my co-presenter on Springwatch, Chris Packham, called the daffodil the "naffodil", I feel I should champion the yellow spring beauty. The flower that 'floats on high o'er vales and hills', the flower that is such an obvious, bold and blatant sign of spring, it simply can't be missed.

There has been a lot of debate on twitter since Springwatch at Easter aired, on the virtues of the daffodil. Is it a naffodil or a daffodilight? Take this flower for granted at your peril I say! Numbers of daffodils have decreased in the wild so let's celebrate and champion this wonderful yellow beauty for when 'my heart with pleasure fills', it 'dances with the daffodils'!'

Is the wild daffodil your favourite wild flower? Give it your vote on the Nations' Favourite Wild Flower chart.

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Ghost Orchid: the wild flower that came back from the dead

Chris Packham named it his favourite wild flower - but what is it?

April 10 2015 - 14:15

Ghost orchid © Orchi under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported licence

Ghost orchid © Orchi under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported licence

Those of you who watch Springwatch (and there are many!) may have scratched your heads at what was Chris Packham's favourite wildflower: the wonderfully spooky-sounding ghost orchid (Epipogium aphyllum). If you did, you have good reason as it is one of the UK's rarest wildflowers.

In fact, "ghost orchid" is a remarkably apt name: not only does it look phantom-esque, it also came back from the dead. After 23 years with no sightings, it was classified as extinct in the UK. Then, a single flower was spotted in a Herefordshire wood in 2009.

One small wildflower, however, does not a long-term population make. Unlike many other plant species ghost orchid cannot be reintroduced from cultivation or using seed from a deep-freezer. Its presence in Britain thus remains precarious and it is classed as Critically Endangered. 

Above: Close-up of a ghost orchid flower, by Hans Stieglitz - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

What else happened in 2009? Well, inspired by this rare beauty, Plantlife released a "call to arms". The Ghost Orchid Declaration highlighted the threat our wild plants faced. As Dr Trevor Dines, Plantlife's Botanical Specialist said at the time: 

"The Ghost Orchid itself remains an evocative emblem of the 1 in 5 of our wild flowers that are threatened with extinction. If we fail to focus attention on these fundamental building blocks of our countryside, then all our other wildlife will fail to thrive."

This is the cause that Plantlife remains committed to. Whether its protecting the rare and threatened (such as corncockle (Agrostemma githago) and meadow clary (Salvia pratensis) at our Ranscombe Farm Reserve or fen orchid (Liparis loeselii) at Kenfig) or preventing more common species going into decline (such as ragged robin (Silene flos-cuculi) and cornflower (Centaurea cyanus)), we believe that the great diversity of our flora should be saved. For such plants feed not only our wildlife but also as our own senses. 

So join us in celebrating them and raise the profile of their plight by voting for your favourite wild flower and encourage others to do the same.

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