Sundews spotted at Gentleshaw Common

Friday 16th June 2017

The extremely rare round-leaved sundew plant has been spotted blooming at a key nature reserve thanks to the efforts of a hard-working volunteer group managed by Staffordshire Wildlife Trust.

Thanks to the Trust’s Gentleshaw Common work party – who have been working in the valley mire, cutting back the invasive purple moor grass – sundew has been seen making a recovery at the reserve.

If left to its own devices, purple moor grass would gradually choke the mire, forming big tussocks, taking light and space from other species.

The strange and beautiful carnivorous sundew needs open wet peaty conditions to live. On each leaf, hair-like tendrils tipped with glistening droplets attract passing insects. But this 'dew' is very sticky and when the sundew's tendrils detect the presence of prey, it curls them inwards, trapping the insect before slowly digesting it.

Gentleshaw Common is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) because of its rare heathland plants.

Southern Heathlands Warden, Hayley Dorrington, said:

"Our volunteers worked really hard to get areas cut by hand so it is a delight to see that all their hard work is starting to pay off. We will be continuing to cut areas of the purple moor grass this year in the hope it will encourage the rare delicate mire flowers to recover, like the sundews, bog asphodels and wild cranberry.

“This task was certainly not an easy one. There were a few evenings spent drying out very soggy boots and socks after falling in-between the tussocks of purple moor grass."

The charity signed a 99-year lease with Lichfield District Council to manage Gentleshaw Common SSSI in January 2016.

The 86 hectare site is now the Trust’s fifth largest nature reserve after The Roaches and Black Brook, near Leek, Highgate Common in Wombourne, and Doxey Marshes in Stafford.

The Trust has taken over the management of Gentleshaw Common to encourage the site to become a haven for a whole host of wildlife, including birds, solitary bees and wasps.

To join the fortnightly volunteer work parties, email Hayley at gentleshawcommon@staffs-wildlife.org.uk