Saving the rare oxlip flower in Britain


From British daily The Independent:

How the oxlip is being brought back from the brink

Immortalised by Shakespeare, the oxlip had all but died out.

Now, thanks to the efforts of one Essex village, it has bloomed again this spring

By Jack Watkins
Published: 17 May 2007

It’s a commonly held belief that modern living has disconnected us from the rural heritage of our ancestors.

Where they had an instinctive feel for the passing of the seasons, and the flowers of the fields, lifestyle changes of the post-war era have inflicted upon us a kind of collective amnesia.

We now rely upon naturalists and other experts to remind us of what earlier generations took for granted.

But in the village of Great Bardfield, Essex, a scheme is under way to save the oxlip, a once famous, but now rare flower, and it is the knowledge of locals and input across generations that have helped the project gain momentum.

It is a reminder that, whatever eye-catching national campaigns environment groups may come up with, the most effective approach is still to literally bring conservation to people’s doorsteps. …

Shakespeare described one in The Winter’s Tale, but for centuries it was mired in disputes among botanists, some of whom doubted that it really existed. …

The true oxlip (Primula elatior) has a cluster of pale-yellow flowers, all hanging to one sideof the stalk.

The flowers aremidway between a cowslip and a primrose in size, but more similar to the latter in colour (although primroses have only one flower per stalk).

Even botanists can have problems identifying the true oxlip from the hybrid.

Wallasea island in Essex: here.

Wild roses in the Netherlands: here.

6 thoughts on “Saving the rare oxlip flower in Britain

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