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This plant is on clover here!

PUBLISHED: 20:06 23 July 2008 | UPDATED: 10:34 12 July 2010

It is an iconic flower that has its national stronghold in south Norfolk but has become increasingly scarce over the decades.

But things are looking up for the sulphur clover as a new project is launched in the county to aid its recovery.

It is an iconic flower that has its national stronghold in south Norfolk but has become increasingly scarce over the decades.

But things are looking up for the sulphur clover as a new project is launched in the county to aid its recovery.

Leading the initiative is Norfolk Wildlife Trust which will be working alongside Norfolk County Council, South Norfolk Council, the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group and private landowners to establish new sites for the species.

A plant of old meadows and roadside verges, sulphur clover (trifolium ochroleucon) has large lemon-yellow flowers similar to ordinary white clover, and is a food source for bees, butterflies and other insects.

Helen Baczkowska, conservation officer for the trust, said: “Sulphur clover is an iconic plant of south Norfolk clayland meadows and if we can turn its fortunes around, this will be a big success for nature conservation in the county.

“South Norfolk is often overlooked in conservation terms, but it contains commons and meadows teaming with wildlife.”

She explained that the plant's decline was hastened by the loss of more than 95pc of lowland meadows in England after the second world war.

“It was certainly more common that it is today. Now it's just clinging on to road verges and that's a vulnerable place to live your life.”

The trust hopes to establish new sites for the plant by using green seed hay.

This involves cutting hay from road verges while the flower heads still contain seed; this hay will then be raked and spread on new sites. It is hoped the seeds will fall into the soil and germinate next spring.

Using green seed hay is one of the best ways to gather wild flower seeds and as well as benefiting sulphur clover, will hopefully spread seed of other grasses and flowers associated with meadows.

This work is part of the trust's Magical Meadows project, which aims to promote the value and management of Norfolk's flower rich meadows.

A recent study found that more than 60pc of species-rich meadows are in unfavourable condition, and the trust aims to work with landowners and conservation bodies across the county to ensure that meadow sites are valued and cared for.


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