Endangered tassel stonewort

07th January 2012
Wort(h) all the tassel - Natural England
Lorry tracks prove an unlikely home for northern colony of rare water-plant.
Endangered tassel stonewort provoked a flurry of conservation activity when it was discovered deep in the Yorkshire Wolds in a pool formed where a lorry drove across a road verge. With such an unusual plant popping up in such an insecure habitat, a group effort was soon underway at the secret location to ensure its survival.
Yorkshire-based ecologist Martin Hammond spied the unfamiliar plant last year, and with the help of national experts confirmed it was the endangered tassel stonewort. The new colony was discovered in one the Wolds’ many Sites of Special Scientific Interest, so Martin contacted Natural England adviser Chris McGregor and they cast their net wide to find partners to help protect the plant. The Million Ponds Project stepped into the breach, offering advice, support and a grant funded by Biffaward. The brawn came from North Yorkshire County Council’s Countryside Volunteers group, Natural England staff and a BTCV work party, who dug seven small, shallow ponds close to the colony. Another two ponds were dug by machine on neighbouring land, and some invasive vegetation was removed from the original roadside pond. The ponds will be grazed to maintain the open conditions that tassel stonewort requires, and will be monitored over the coming years to assess the success of the colony.