Sunday, 17 April 2011

Tower Mustard

Kingsley (no, not the SSSI Kingsley Common)  is one of only around 32 remaining known sites in England harbouring the famous "Tower Mustard" (Arabis glabra).  Although widespread elsewhere in Europe and western Asia, it is classified as endangered and protected under the terms of The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. It is considered to be facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild and is listed as a Priority Species under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.

Tower mustard is a biennial or sometimes short-lived perennial member of the cabbage family which generally favours light, nutrient-poor sandy soils often over chalk or limestone. Plants germinate in spring, spending at least one season in a vegetative state before flowering the following May-June. It can produce abundant seeds, which appear to remain viable for many years with plants often reappearing on old sites after long periods of absence. As a mobile and opportunistic species, it appears to be well matched to the traditional management cycle of extensive grazing with occasional arable cultivation.

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