After more than a century in hiding, one of the UK’s rarest plants has been discovered growing on the banks of a farmland pond in Norfolk, East Anglia, England.
The pink-flowered plant, known as grass-poly, “came back from the dead” after recent restoration of the farmland involved removing trees and mud from ponds that have become overgrown through decades of neglect. This benevolent disturbance let sunlight back into the ponds, allowing the seeds to germinate.
Professor Carl Sayer of University College London’s Pond Restoration Research Group was the one who stumbled on the plant while he was surveying the area: “I was out doing surveys and saw the plant at my last pond at the end of the day.”
Having never seen anything like it before, Sayer sent a photograph to a local expert botanist who confirmed that the mystery plant was the grass-poly, one of the most elusive plants in the UK.
“It’s really quite beautiful,” says Prof Sayer. “We only found a handful of these plants in the pond but we’re hoping to cultivate this population and keep it going and expand it now we know it’s there.”