Winter Storms Wipe Out Rare Plant In Scilly

Shore dock

Shore dock

The winter storms have wiped out one of the rarest plants in northwest Europe.

Scilly was identified as stronghold of hard-to-find shore dock in J E Lousley’s guide to the islands’ flora and fauna.

Its loss has been noticed by plant expert Rosemary Parslow, who has been surveying Scilly’s beaches with Natural England.

Rosemary has monitored the plant over 30 years of visiting the isles and says the plant, which is also found around the coast of Brittany, Cornwall and Wales, used to grow well here at around one meter above high water mark.

But she says it has disappeared at every site in Scilly where it had been recorded. Rosemary says in many cases, the beach has been swept away or boulders thrown over the sites.

She feels it’s a shame that the shore dock has been lost because of the February storms, but adds the seeds can float in salt water and there’s a chance they could germinate again.

There is some good news though. Three years after the Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust began their controversial land management policy, Rosemary claims that the project is paying dividends.

She’s noticed sheets of yellow, wild golden rod in the last few weeks and in May, the spring squill, which looks like a small bluebell, had also spread.

Rosemary maintains that the policy, which involve gorse burning and animal grazing, has helped smaller wild flowers bloom again.