Plant story - British cornflower a native UK plant species, is under threat from modern agricultural methods
In the 1930's the British cornflower was widespread but by the 1990s this plant species was found in only three of the 10 km grid-squares surveyed, possibly the most dramatic decline of any of our native wildflowers.
01 Jan 2010
Centaurea cyanus growing in the parterres of Kew's Millennium Seed Bank (Photo: John Dickie)
The natural distribution of British cornflower is complicated by the fact that, as a popular garden plant, it often escapes into the wild, where it may persist for a few years on disturbed sites. However, as an established component of the wild flora of cornfields, returning each year in response to ploughing, British cornflower was close to extinction.
In recent years a handful of new sites have been discovered and, fortunately, the bodies involved – Plantlife and the Wildlife Trusts – were forward-thinking enough to donate seed to Kew's Millennium Seed Bank. Genetic fingerprinting work was carried out by Kew to determine the relationships between the various wild populations and the cultivars available to the gardener.
Get involved - Adopt a Seed, Save a Species
We have successfully banked 10% of the world's wild plant species and we have set our sights on saving 25% by 2020.
Without plants there could be no life on earth, and yet every day another four plant species face extinction. Too often when we hear these kind of statistics there is little that we can do as individuals, but thanks to Kew's Millennium Seed Bank partnership and the Adopt a Seed, Save a Species campaign there is something that you can do to ensure the survival of a plant species.
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