Searching for Tubular Water-dropwort in northern England

Anne is our People, Ponds and Water project officer in northern England. Here she describes her summer looking for Tubular Water-dropwort

Tubular Water-dropwort at a site in County Durham

I’ve been very busy these last couple of months searching for Tubular Water-dropwort (Oenanthe fistulosa), a Priority Species for conservation, on sites across the North of England. With the help of the Local Environmental Records Centres, I’ve been able to gain permission to visit fourteen sites with previous records of the plant across Derbyshire, Lincolnshire, East Riding of Yorkshire, County Durham and Tyne & Wear. Along the way I’ve also been able to engage with local volunteers and landowners keen to learn more about this lovey, delicate plant and how to best conserve it for future generations to enjoy.

There is good news and bad news though….on these sites I have searched around 35 individual ponds, only to find it present on nine of these. Sadly, due to factors such as lack of grazing management and the presence of the invasive non-native New Zealand Pygmyweed (Crassula Helmssi), the plant appears to have been lost from many of sites in the North.

Tubular Water-dropwort holding on whilst Crassula helmsii encroaches

The drawdown zone – Tubular Water-dropwort habitats – between Typha latifolia and moderately grazed pasture

The good news, however, is that I did find several sites which are doing really well, with good populations of Tubular Water-dropwort in the drawdown zone, its favourite habitat. As expected, these ponds were mainly farmland ponds with a good grazing regime. The collection of environmental data, as well as presence/absence, during surveys is key to helping us understand why the plant is doing well at some sites and why it has been lost at others.

Tubular water-dropwort amongst rushes in the drawdown zone

Another positive, whilst talking to one of the local land managers in Tyne & Wear, we discovered a new pond site, which we weren’t previously aware of with abundant Tubular Water-dropwort…. a great result!

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