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Red hemp

Red Hemp-nettle Galeopsis angustifolia Hoffm.

Red Hemp-nettle is a summer annual that usually germinates during spring and flowers from July to October, setting seed late in the year. It is a downy plant and has weakly-toothed narrow leaves in opposite pairs on the stem. It produces small but beautiful rosy-purple flowers with white spots on the bottom petal in small whorls around the stem.

It used to grow in many parts of southern England and south Wales, but has shown a severe decline since 1930 and is now found in only a few dozen places. The use of fertilisers and herbicides, development of highly productive crop varieties, loss of field margins and autumn cultivation patterns which destroy plants before they have shed their seeds are the principal reasons for its decline, and also the main threats to its future.

In the UK, this species is classified as Critically Endangered in “The Vascular Plant Red Data List for Great Britain” as well as being Nationally Scarce. It receives general protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and it has its own Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP). Elsewhere, it is found in Europe and is less rare on the French side of the channel.

Red hemp Red Hemp-nettle Galeopsis angustifolia Hoffm. Red Hemp-nettle is a summer annual that usually germinates during spring and flowers from July to October, setting seed late in the year.

Chris Lansdell’s Birding & Nature Diary

header photo – Chestnut-backed Owlet, Sinharaja, Sri Lanka

World Birding Trips

The Critically Endangered Red Hemp Nettle

On Sunday Belinda and I headed up to NW Norfolk armed with directions of how to find Red Hemp Nettle at Snettisham RSPB reserve. It was a spot Belinda had never visited before either so the perfect excuse for a long walk too. Let’s face it, all walks at Snettisham seem to be long!

Thanks to excellent directions I found Red Hemp Nettle in good numbers in one particular spot then a single large clump very close by. Apparantly this has been a good year for this red data book plant which occurs only on the shingle here and at Dungeness plus a couple of inland sites. The species is being carefully managed at Snettisham so hopefully it’s future there is secure. Also seen on our walk were loads of Sea Campion, Carline Thistle, Common Storksbill, Yellow Horned Poppy and some Sea Aster of note plus Common Fleabane and Marsh Woundwort by the carpark. Also of much note was a purring Turtle Dove but other than good numbers of raucous Common Terns the birds were generally disappointing as the tide was way out. Butterflies included Brown Argus, Common Blue, Brimstone, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown and Red Admiral .

When we eventually made it home we popped out to Dickleburgh Moor for half an hour in the evening and found 4 Black-tailed Godwits, 7 Green Sandpipers, 2 Common Sandpipers, c6 Yellow Wagtails, Stock Dove and the sight of 13 Grey Herons in flight together.

Chris Lansdell’s Birding & Nature Diary header photo – Chestnut-backed Owlet, Sinharaja, Sri Lanka World Birding Trips The Critically Endangered Red Hemp Nettle On Sunday Belinda and I