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Rare plant discovered in Bexley park

PUBLISHED: 07:00 17 September 2018

Lesnes volunteer Keith Langley. Picture: Bexley Council

Lesnes volunteer Keith Langley. Picture: Bexley Council

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Volunteers attending a ‘botany for beginners’ training day at Lesnes Abbey Woods got more than they bargained for when they discovered a plant which was previously thought to be extinct in Kent.

The Turritis glabra, or Tower Mustard plant, is listed on the Plantlife website as endangered and is on the ‘Probably Extinct’ list for Kent.

It was last recorded in Kent at Leybourne Wood in 1964.

The event is a free training class for volunteers organised by the council in partnership with the London Natural History Society (LNHS) and Lesnes Abbey Conservation Volunteers (LACV).

The discovery of the Tower Mustard plant was identified by Tristan Boulton of LACV and confirmed by George Hounsome from LNHS, who led the training day.

Tristan Boulton said: “I’ve been volunteering at Lesnes for around 10 years now yet every time I visit the site I see something new.

“That’s part of its magic. The volunteer group is very friendly and I’ve made some valued friends.

“We also have a great relationship with the staff linked to the site.

“It was really exciting to find this rare and unusual species and the excitement grew as I started to realise the importance of this find.

“This discovery is an excellent example of how Bexley staff and volunteers can work together and achieve excellent results.”

Cabinet member for places, Cllr Peter Craske, said: “We want to play our part in encouraging and supporting more of this type of activity and we would like to hear from you how we can help you make a difference in your community. Just email us at stronger.communities@bexley.gov.uk.”

Staff at Lesnes Abbey Woods have contacted Plantlife for further information on the plant and how best to manage this small but important population going forward. Some seed has already been collected for sowing in suitable locations nearby.

For the park’s ongoing management, the council works with organisations such as Lesnes Abbey Conservation Volunteers, London Wildlife Trust and Trees for Cities, to provide volunteering opportunities.

It also provides training, tools and regular volunteer days for anyone who would like to help manage the valuable wildlife and gardens, and a mess room for its volunteers.

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