Inglestone Common is one of only two sites in the UK for an endangered wetland buttercup called Adder’s-tongue Spearwort Ranunculus ophioglossipholious, so called because of the shape of its leaves.
This plant thrives on the poached edges of ponds grazed by cattle, where the margin remains moist but free from water between June and September. Temporary ponds on grazed commons, which remain free from pollution, are an increasingly scarce resource in lowland England.
Over time, the management at Inglestone had become unfavourable, mainly through lack of grazing, and in the last few years only a handful of plants were recorded. Through the Flagship Ponds project with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Valpak, we worked with the Millennium Seed Bank at Kew to cultivate seeds collected historically from Inglestone. Plants were grown on by Bristol Zoological Gardens and reintroduced at the site at various points during 2016. With significant management work to reduce shading, and cattle now gazing the commons the population should be sustained without the need for regular intervention. Amazingly each plant is capable of producing over 820 seeds in one year, with the largest plants able to produce 3080 seeds!
Inglestone Common also supports three other priority pond species: Fairy Shrimp Chirocephalus diaphanus; Tassel Stonewort Tolypella intricata; and Great Crested Newt Triturus cristatus. As well as funding the plant reintroduction, the Flagship Ponds project has enabled training of the volunteer group at the site. With help from wetland plant expert Richard Lansdown, a series of training events were held which provided the skills for both volunteers and staff to identify and monitor rare plant species. Freshwater Habitats Trust also ran a training session for Fairy shrimp, searching ponds where this rare invertebrate had previously been recorded.
Accessibility: Some Flagship Pond sites are accessible to the public, and some are not. If in doubt, consult maps for rights of way, look online for site information, or contact the site manager, and follow any instructions on site. It is up to you to check whether you require permission to visit and access the ponds on a site.
Site owners/managers: Gloucestershire Council and Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust