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Rare flower found on Suffolk power site

Beautiful pink plants that are rated “nationally scarce” have been spotted in the grounds of an electricity substation in Suffolk’s Breckland.

From News & press - 9 July 2021 12:00 AM

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The substation, on a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), near Icklingham, was visited by members of UK Power Networks’ environment team as part of the company’s Green Action Plan to improve biodiversity at 100 sites. They were accompanied by Dr Simone Bullion, consultancy manager for Suffolk Wildlife Trust, who identified a patch of Maiden Pink (Dianthus deltoides) flowers.

The find was confirmed by the botanical recorder for Suffolk, Martin Sanford.  The low growing plant, whose flowers can reach 12 inches high, is only found on a few sites in the north west of the county due to loss of Breckland habitat, and is now classed as “near threatened”.

Heather Patrick, environment adviser at UK Power Networks, said: “We are very excited by this find. We’re trying to provide more space for nature through our Green Action Plan and have set a target of improving the biodiversity potential of 100 sites by up to 30%. Enhancements include planting hedges and fruit trees, sowing wildflowers, restoring a pond and changing how we cut the grass. 

“This is the second nationally-scarce plant that we’ve identified at a substation in East Anglia. The first was the Lesser Calamint at Belchamp St Paul. Our biodiversity management plan aims to maintain this very special Breckland habitat by mowing and removing cuttings, hand-pulling ragwort and removing self-sown silver birch trees.” 

Maiden Pink flowers between June and September on dry sandy fields and dry chalk or limestone grassland. It is a native species and only small populations exist and are threatened by overgrazing, undergrazing and the encroachment of scrub.

Dr Simone Bullion from Suffolk Wildlife Trust said: “This is a really significant discovery because this beautiful flower of dry, sandy soils is listed as nationally scarce and in Suffolk there are only a few sites in Breckland where it can still be found.”