A rare plant has reappeared after more than a century in hiding. The pinkish-flowered plant, known as grass-poly, was found growing on the banks of an old farmland pond in Norfolk.
The mystery species “came back from the dead” after seeds submerged in the mud were disturbed during work to restore the pond. And scientists say conservation efforts could lead to the return of other long-forgotten botanical gems.
Carl Sayer, a professor at University College London (UCL), stumbled on the plant when he went to survey the pond at Heydon shortly after the first national lockdown ended.
Having never seen anything like it before, he quickly snapped a picture, which he sent to local botanist Dr Jo Parmenter.She identified it as grass-poly, one of the rarest 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.” The last confirmed record for grass-poly (Lythrum hyssopifolia) in Norfolk dates to more than a century ago.