In this series of articles we review the plant species that currently occur on the UK red list {priority species of conservation concern. Here in article 6 we review the Creeping Marshwort. As the name suggests it is a low growing species. The leaves are toothed with a single large cut and the the plant send out strawberry -type runners  along or just below the ground. Along these runners, at intervals, the plant sends down rootlets.

The flowers are small and white and are borne in umbrella-like spokes called umbels. These are difficult plants to identify correctly for there are two very similar species, the other being Fool's Watercress Apium nodiflorum, that strongly resembles it. Hybrids between the two have also been recorded.

Apium nodiflorum is a very similar species 

Courtesy of Jeroen Willemsen  www.freenatureimages.eu.

 Creeping Marchwort.

This species is a perennial plant that flowers in July. Along with its rooting runners this species also produces viable seed and it relies on trampling by cattle to aid in its distribution. However, it would seem this needs to be restricted as to much trampling can compact the soil which does not help in Germination.

At one site in the UK the plant reappeared after an absence of thirty years after appropriate cattle management was introduced.

The species occurs in several European countries but in the UK it is now restricted to just two sites in Oxfordshire and at another site where reintroduction has occurred. 

Apium repens

Courtesy of Peter Mieninger. www.freenatureimages.eu

Conservation and the Species Action Plan.

According to the species action plan {SAP} the localities in England are Port Meadow {native}  Binsey Green {restored}  North Hinksey {introduced}.Walthamstore Marshes {restored}. Actions identified by experts include to implement appropriate grazing regimes { taking into account intensity and timing of the grazing}, at all extant sites to maintain /enhance habitat condition and sustain populations by means of specific species management action.

2/Research into exact requirements for this species to further refine  management requirements. By means of species specific research.

3/ expand range with extension of grazing at Walthamstow to create more open areas ; consider reintroduction at suitable sites in Oxfordshire. Via species specific management action.

4/- address threats to populations from invasive species through appropriate management plans for control and eradication. Via the priority habitat action plan.

5/- monitoring of all known populations Via monitoring and surveys.

The priority habitat named are Improved grassland and coastal and floodplain grazing marsh. 

Apium repens -The creeping marshwort

Courtesy of Jasenka Topic www.free natureimages.eu

Ongoing conservation actions for Apium repens.

Future prospects--- assessed as being poor with the species likely to struggle without condition change.

This species is found in unimproved floodplain pasture. The main site Port Meadow and Wolvercote Common at Oxford is an extensive neutral grassland on the Thames Floodplain with an history of extensive grazing going back thousands of years. The characteristics associations of this plant at this site and nearby hay meadows reflect better than any other grassland in Britain the influence of grazing treatment on the balance of the species.

The habitat at Walthamstow Marshes is restricted to a moderately open area created by ditch management on the edge of pasture which has been ungrazed for many years and has become tall herb vegetation. Grazing has now been restored and it is hoped that open poached areas along the ditch will increase as the result of grazing management. 

The plant is fully protected by  law under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 {as amended}. 

The Oxford Rare Plants Group continue to monitor this species annually at all the sites around Oxford, and produce an annual report. The plant seems to be doing well despite some major flooding events in July 2007 and over the winter period 2007/8. A few populations were flooded at the time of the survey and therefore a full survey could not be undertaken. A further population occurs at Lee Valley park and at Walthamstow Marshes.

 For further information see UK BAP/priority species/vascular plants/ apium-repens. 


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Red List UK plants -1  { Pheasants eye}

Red List -Man Orchid.

Ground Pine UK -3  {Red list} 

UK-4 Lady's mantle {Red List}.

Ribbon -leaved water plantain {Red List}

Pyramidal bugle {UK Red List}.

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