South Scotland

Threave Nature Reserve sees mudwort thrive in pools

Image caption Ecologists said the tiny mudwort was not the easiest plant to monitor due to its size and the muddy locations where it grows

A rare and tiny plant has been found to be thriving in the mud of southern Scotland.

National Trust for Scotland ecologists discovered large patches of mudwort on the Threave Nature Reserve near Castle Douglas this week.

The small annual plant's flowers only ever reach up to 3mm (0.1in) in width.

Ecologist Lindsay Mackinlay said it was the only NTS site where the plant grew and it showed conservation efforts in the area were paying off.

The mudwort was found to be growing in large patches around the muddy pools usually used for feeding by Threave's hundreds of ducks and waders.

Mr Mackinlay said: "It is not the easiest plant to monitor as you're never sure if the next step into the mud will see you disappear up to your waist or result in a welly boot being stuck fast.

"However, our efforts were worth it this year as upon arriving at the muddy pools, we discovered hundreds of these small plants growing very well on top of the mud.

"This is the only property where we have it growing and it is only found in a few locations in Scotland.

"It's great news and shows that the management of the trust and its tenant farmer, on this site, is conserving these rare plants."

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