DWARF MILKWORT

Polygala amarella

Polygala amarella-Kentish Milkwort.jpg

The rarest member of the Milkworts, a perennial which grows on chalky grassland and limestone pastures.

  • Rarity:Roughly 11 sites, clustered on the Kent Downs and Lancashire fells.

  • Cause of decline: Loss of traditionally grazed pastures.

Recent re-working of the taxonomy of this species has placed Kentish Milkwort in its own distinct sub-species, separating it from the other Dwarf Milkwort populations in the Yorkshire Dales.

 

This means, what was already a rare species, has now become critically endangered, and we are fighting to try and conserve plants in just three remaining sites in Kent.

Monitoring this species is a considerable challenge due to the diminutive size of plants, and as the populations become smaller and more isolated within their sites, it is extremely difficult both to monitor and manage the conservation of the remaining plants.

Two Year Dwarf Milkwort Project

This report describes the results of the work undertaken during the first 2 years of the Dwarf Milkwort project. During this period, annual surveys have been undertaken at two of the three remaining sites for this species in the North Downs of Kent, and habitat conservation work has been undertaken at the smallest and most vulnerable colony. Ten of the sixteen historic sites in the North Downs have also been visited and assessed for habitat suitability. 

The steering group met for the first time in October 2013 and discussed the status of the remaining populations and the potential for conservation work at each of the sites. Seed was collected from the largest colony at Godmersham in June 2014 and sent to the Millennium Seedbank at Kew with the intention of cultivating for a potential reintroduction project.