Sometimes referred to as the Rapunzel flower, a bellflower with a host of therapeutic properties, once used by monks.
Rarity: 8 sites, all in East Sussex.
Cause of decline: Loss of woodland management.
Spiked Rampion has a firm place in early European mythology - and plays a star role in the original Rapunzel tale. Its common names include Raiponce en épi (French), Ährige teufelskralle (German), Ährige Rapunzel (Swiss German), and Raponzolo giallo (Italian).
In England there have been some questions over its native status - as a ‘plague food’ (utilised when other food sources had run out) it would have been used in cuisine and transported for this use, and also had many medicinal uses. It is possible it was brought over from the continent to be grown in monastic gardens, which would go some of the way of explaining the tight cluster of sites in West Sussex.
What is certain is that it has grown in SE England for several centuries, and it forms a spectacular element to many ancient woodland sites, as well as now being included in the England Red List of endangered native species.
Recent conservation work has succeeded in gradually increasing overall numbers of plants, but sites have still been lost in the last decade, and several populations remain at critically low levels.
Ecology and Conservation
Spiked Rampion is a herbaceous perennial member of the Bellflower, and one of only two native Phyteuma in the UK.
It appears to be a long-lived perennial, forming an expanding rootstock as they get older. As yet it is unclear how long an individual plant can live for.
Populations mostly occur on woodlands glades and rides, although the largest populations now grows along a road verge.
Since 2012 we have chaired the Spiked Rampion UK steering group, which brings together all the national experts on this species, alngisde site monitors, landowners and site managers.
This ensures all the sites are monitored annually, and allows us to quickly transfer conservation techniques between different populations.
Our goal for this species is to establish it in 1.5x as many populations as it is currently growing in, and create self-sustaining populations in all these sites.