Spreading-hedge Parsley - Reintroductions in Somerset

On Thursday 13th February, a group of 12 volunteers, the Colour in the Margins Field Officer, Alison Mitchell and I met up at a farm in Somerset to reintroduce Spreading-hedge Parsley, one of the priority species for Colour in the Margins.

The seeds were collected in the first year of the project in 2018 at Fivehead Arable Field SSSI in Somerset and since then, have been looked after and propagated by the Seed Bank at Kew Gardens – and on Thursday they were ready to sow.

We all met up at 10am, on what turned out to be a very rainy morning and with the help of a gazebo, we were able to make up 11 buckets of wet sand and dry sand, adding 5,000 seeds to each for the first site for reintroduction. We then all travelled together to the site, parked up and walked to the start of the transect – by now, it had stopped raining thankfully!

The field we were reintroducing into had an 850m long, cultivated un-cropped margin. This means the farmer has prepared the land for sowing crops, churning up the soil, but isn’t actually going to sow crops on this section, but has left it for arable species to grow naturally without effecting the crops that will grow adjacent to the margin. You can just about see the difference in these two areas in the photo below.

We walked along the margin, marking out 50 metres and leaving a bucket at each 50 m mark, until the full 850 m had been marked up and then split into groups of 2 and 3 and using a 1m square quadrant, sprinkled a hand full in each quadrant until we reached the end of the 50m section and repeated until the whole margin had been covered – we did this again with the smaller field on the other side of the plot – all in all, we reintroduced 85,000 Spreading-hedge Parsley seeds.

We are hopeful that come the Summer, some of these plants will have germinated and would have grown into small seedlings – we certainly will be heading back to the site in the Summer to check on their progress – and of course keep you updated!

Spreading-hedge Parsley a member of the carrot family which looks similar to its close relatives, Cow Parsley, Upright Hedge-parsley and Knotted Hedge-parsley.  It grows up to 40cm tall and is often branched.  Each individual flower produces two oval seeds (between 4-6 mm long) which are covered in slender, long spines that have tiny hooks at the very tip.

This plant is included as a species “of principal importance for the purpose of conserving biodiversity” under Section 41 (England) of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 and is currently Endangered.

We will be doing other re-introductions in different areas around England this year, so if you’d like to get involved, keep an eye out on the newsletter for upcoming reintroductions, or email colourinthemargins@plantlife.org.uk if you’d like to join or find out more about Colour in the Margins.


Zoe Morrall

Colour in the Margins Outreach Officer

Images (c) Zoe Morrall & Cath Shellswell, Plantlife


Would you like to help these incredible species? There are numerous ways in which you can:

  • Why not volunteer for Back from the Brink? Check out our events page for opportunities near you.
  • Help us to spread the word of this species, and the others we will be helping over the next 3 years, by sharing our message across our Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube pages. Follow us: @naturebftb.
  • Finally - help support the work we do across England by donating. Our impact will be greater with your help.