Big Help for Rare Cheddar Plant

Posted by on 27/07/2010

In December 2005 Ecosulis Ltd, helped conservation charity Plantlife to protect one of the UK’s rarest plants: Starved Wood-sedge. With only two sites left in England, Ecosulis Ltd sent in a crack team of skilled climbers to Cheddar Woods. By reducing the dense tree canopy, which is blocking light, Plantlife hoped to boost this population of Somerset’s rarest plant. 

In an update from Plantlife in December 2006, Dominic Price, Species Recovery Officer stated:

"We were extremely grateful for your assistance with this ... the really encouraging aspect is that this summer 54 plants appeared, the highest population ever recorded at that site, and currently over 80% of the UK population for Starved Wood-sedge!"

  • Starved Wood-sedge Carex depauperata has long, yellow-green leaves and tall, flowering stems with green flowers. Easily mistaken for some common woodland grasses, it grows on light, dry soils on shaded hedgebanks or in woodland.  It has very few fruits, giving it the name ‘Starved’ Wood-sedge.
  • Starved Wood-sedge has never been common and 15 years ago it had declined to just one plant in the whole of Britain.
  • Though liking semi-shade, Starved Wood-sedge cannot tolerate deep shade and experts think that a lack of woodland management accounts for the decline of this species.
  • Starved Wood-sedge responds well to coppicing and periodic disturbance.  When ecosulis’ team of ecological and arboricultural consultants carried out work at Cheddar Woods, they ensured that enough light was directed back onto the forest floor to allow the existing plants to flourish.  Skilled climbers scaled the surrounding trees and selectively lowered branches to allow daylight through.
  • Plantlife Conservation Officer Dominic Price, says ‘We are absolutely delighted that ecosulis is taking time out to do this for us. We don’t want to fell any trees at the site so the expert work they are carrying out is absolutely vital to ensure the long-term future for this Cheddar rarity.’
  • Starved Wood-sedge is classified as Critically Endangered, and protected by Schedule 8 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.