This summer has seen a record year for the exotic-looking Field cow-wheat at the Wildlife Trust’s St Lawrence Field nature reserve.
A recent survey found over 3,000 plants, the highest number since counts began in 2009.
Locally known as ‘poverty weed’, field cow-wheat once commonly grew alongside arable crops; however its seeds affected the taste of flour so farm workers were employed to pull it out and burn it. Combined with other changes in agricultural practices, its numbers declined and it is now only found in 4 places in England, including St Lawrence Bank here on the Isle of Wight. It’s identifiable by the bright purple-pink and yellow flowers atop a 40-60cm spike.
Jamie Marsh, Reserves Manager at Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust said:
“Field cow-wheat is a stunning flower, one that reminds us how amazing the wildlife on our doorstep can really be. It’s one of those species for which the Isle of Wight is remaining a stronghold, so we’re delighted to see it doing so well here. Every year we’re learning more about the species, and hope to see the population grow again next summer.”