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Spiked speedwell (Veronica spicata)

Spiked Speedwell, Spiked Speedwell

Ecology

Spiked speedwell, Veronica spicata, is a strikingly attractive plant found on carboniferous limestone and other hard basic rocks. It grows mainly on inaccessible cliff ledges and in rock crevices, but also occurs on shallow, often humic soils on cliff-tops near rock outcrops. Predominantly seen south of the Scottish border, spiked speedwell remains in a few small colonies in south Cumbria, namely Humphrey Head and Heathwaite. 

Reason for decline

In south Cumbria, spiked speedwell has a few robust local populations, however increased agricultural intensification across the region over the last century has left these populations isolated and vulnerable to extinction, with it already classed as extinct in north Lancashire. Over the past decade, the re-establishment of appropriate limestone grassland management in south Cumbria has paved a way for many species of plant to naturally re-colonise into their historic and natural range. Unfortunately, spiked speedwell has very limited dispersal abilities and with populations being small and over grazed by rabbits, it is unlikely to naturally re-colonise areas of its own accord. 

Therefore, reinforcement of current populations and translocation of spiked speedwell into new sites within its historic range in Arnside and Silverdale AONB seems necessary in order to help this plant achieve what it cannot do autonomously.  

Project aims 

This project aims to reinforce the populations of spiked speedwell at Humphrey Head and Heathwaite and reintroduce the plant into areas within its historic or geographic range to ensure the reintroduction is ecologically viable. Suggested locations are Jack Scout SSSI, Coldwell Parrock, Arnside and Silverdale AONB and an area north east of Hawes Water in Gait Barrows Natural Nature Reserve.   

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