Friday, 7 June 2013

Ups and downs of endangered species

Endangered wild orchids are set to return to the South Downs after pioneering research in Sussex.

Plumpton College students are involved in a detailed project to reintroduce the plants to the county.

With help from experts from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, they will grow 2,500 orchids in a controlled environment using the latest techniques before replanting them throughout the National Park.

The number of wild orchids in the South Downs has dropped drastically during the past 50 years, due to farming. The orchids are tough to grow due to the size of their dust-like seed, which blows away in the wind and has even been known to make it across the English Channel, according to a press report.

The new project sees college students grow the tiny seeds in a specialist lab in Stanmer Park for the first 18 months to two years of their life.

The students plan to nurture 500 of each of the five different types of orchid – the frog orchid, man orchid, heath spotted orchid, bee orchid and musk orchid.

By Pamela Kelt