Oxfordshire rarity gets a new home

21st August 2017

Greater Water-parsnip is being planted at a special pond site to keep it growing in Oxfordshire

The two meter tall plant is found in just two places in the county, leaving it very vulnerable and at risk of disappearing.  Freshwater Habitats Trust has carefully created ideal conditions on Pinkhill Meadow Flagship Pond site.  On Thursday 17th August, local botanist and Greater Water-parsnip expert, Judy Webb, lead a work party to plant out the new seedlings.

Greater Water-parsnip is very particular, requiring just the right amount of disturbance from grazing animals.  Too little and other plants overpower it; too much disturbance and the flowers are grazed and trampled, unable to set seed.  The hope is that Pinkhill Meadow, sandwiched between Farmoor Reservoir and the River Thames, will be the perfect new home.

Pinkhill Meadow is one of 70 top quality pond sites – called Flagship Pond sites – that Freshwater Habitats Trust is working with in England and Wales, thanks to support from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Each site is carefully surveyed and cared for to protect the pond plants and animals that make it special. At Pinkhill Meadow, surveys have shown it to be one the richest pond sites in the country.  Work funded by the Trust for Oxfordshire’s Environment (TOE2) to clear some of the vegetation has created even more space for different plants and animals.

The Greater Water-parsnip seedlings have been grown by Oxford Botanic Garden, using seed collected from another Oxfordshire site.  Creating seedbanks and introducing plants to new sites is vital when plants are unable to spread themselves because the countryside is no longer suitable for them.


Notes to editors:

  1. Freshwater Habitats Trust, based in Oxford, works to protect freshwater wildlife for everyone to enjoy. More information is available at freshwaterhabitats.org.uk.
  2. Freshwater Habitats Trust took photos on the day, and can provide them to you. Contact Pete Case on pcase@freshwaterhbaitats.org.uk or 07703 808520.
  3. Judy Webb, member of Oxfordshire Flora Group, and Flora Guardian for Greater Water-parsnip, is available for interview about her work co-ordinating efforts to conserve this plant – contact Pete Case above.
  4. More information on the identification, ecology and threats to Greater Water-parsnip is available.