Experiment hopes to save rare Red Hemp-nettle

107224097 redhempnettle - Experiment hopes to save rare Red Hemp-nettle
Red Hemp-nettleImage copyright Cath Shellswell
Image caption The Red Hemp-nettle is critically endangered

Seeds from a rare plant have been sent to The Royal Agricultural University for an experiment to try to save it.

The critically endangered Red Hemp-nettle was common in UK fields 60 years ago, but it has now almost disappeared due to herbicides, fertilisers, and the spread of highly productive crops.

Kew Gardens sent 27,000 seeds, which were planted at the University’s Harnhill Farm, near Cirencester.

The plants will be monitored under different conditions.

Red Hemp-nettle thrives on light sandy or chalky soils but is now found in only a few dozen places.

The university said the experiment aimed to determine the best conditions for future reintroduction projects, germination and survival of the plant.

Dr Kelly Swallow said the plant was “once classified as a weed”, and its reintroduction was important,

The seeds, from the Millennium Seed Bank at Kew, were sown in April, and are now being monitored for germination.

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