Volunteers fight to save endangered plants at Wakehurst Place

Volunteers with a crop of corn chamomile, which is a species in decline.
Volunteers with a crop of corn chamomile, which is a species in decline.

An army of volunteers is bolstering the fight to save our most endangered plants in a pioneering conservation effort at Kew’s country garden in Mid Sussex.

Wakehurst Place is home to the UK Native Seed Bank, run by Kew’s conservation teams based in the Millennium Seed Bank and the gardens’ plant propagation unit.

Among the native species being protected is spiked rampion or Phyteuma spicatum.

Jo Wenham, the plant propagation and conservation unit manager at Wakehurst who co-ordinated the volunteers, said: “It is now an extremely rare plant in Britain, it is nationally scarce and listed as endangered, so needs all the help we can give it before it becomes extinct.”

The group are also working on corn chamomile, a member of the buttercup family in decline, as well as pheasant’s eye of Adonis annua.

The team at the 350-acre estate at Ardingly, near Haywards Heath, work to give a lifeline to the threatened species and collect their seeds for use in research and conservation projects around the country.

They are assisted by volunteers who give freely of their time to support the initiative.

Much of the gardens’ activities are on show to visitors this summer who can see the work progress through the growing season.

Details are on www.kew.org/wakehurst