Wild asparagus pollination plan results in Dorset colony

Wild asparagus The wild asparagus has been found to be flowering

Related Stories

A seven-year bid by conservationists to save wild asparagus has resulted in a new colony being established.

Parts of a male wild asparagus plant were brought from Cornwall in 2006 to artificially pollinate what was thought to be the last female plant in Dorset.

The team behind the plan has found most seedlings, planted at secret locations in Portland, have survived.

Botanist Tim Rich said the relationship between the Cornish and Dorset asparagus had been "very fruitful".

The Dorset asparagus, thought to be up to 70 years old, was hand-pollinated by male flowering stems brought from Cornwall.

The plan, instigated by Natural England, Dorset Wildlife Trust and the National Trust, involved collecting the resulting berries and growing on the seedlings.

'Very special'

Sixty seedlings were planted at two secret locations on Portland. An inspection has shown all but nine have survived.

The appearance of 11 flowering plants - seven males and four females - also raises the prospect that seedlings could reproduce naturally.

Mr Rich said: "It's a very special little plant and incredibly drought-tolerant."

He said it was important to preserve the wild variety as work could be done to breed its drought resistance into cultivated garden asparagus.

Loss of habitat and the spread of invasive species are thought to have caused the decline in numbers of the once plentiful wild variety.

Classed as an "endangered" species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), it only grows in a handful of British counties, including Glamorgan, Pembrokeshire, Cornwall and Dorset.

Wild asparagus grows on cliffs and sand dunes and has a more bitter taste than the cultivated variety.

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

BBC Dorset



12 °C 8 °C

Features & Analysis

  • French luxury Tea House, Mariage Freres display of tea pots Tea for tu

    France falls back in love with tea - but don't expect a British cuppa

  • Woman in swimming pool Green stuff

    The element that makes a familiar smell when mixed with urine

  • Female model's bottom in leopard skin trousers as she walks up the catwalkBum deal

    Why budget buttock ops can be bad for your health

  • The OfficeIn pictures

    Fifty landmark shows from 50 years of BBC Two

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • ITChild's play

    It's never been easier for small businesses to get their message out to the world


  • An aerial shot shows the Olympic Stadium, which is closed for repair works on its roof, in Rio de Janeiro March 28, 2014.Extra Time Watch

    Will Rio be ready in time to host the Olympics in 2016? The IOC president gives his verdict

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.