Local BBC Sites

Neighbouring Sites

Page last updated at 09:45 GMT, Friday, 25 September 2009 10:45 UK
School days for endangered plant
By Heather Driscoll-Woodford
BBC Surrey

Starved Wood-sedge
By the mid 1940s, no Starved Wood-sedge plants could be found

Once, boys from Charterhouse would have not given a thought to the grassy little plant which grew in abundance in the woods below the school grounds.

Starved Wood-sedge was a familiar sight, probably being trampled underfoot in the pupils woodland forays or used for grass whistles.

However, after the Second World War, the plant disappeared and it is classified as critically endangered.

Now pupils from the school are helping introduce it to the woods once again.

No-one is quite sure why Starved Wood-sedge died out, as it did throughout the country.

In the case of Charterhouse's woodland it is rumoured to have been a knock-on effect of the war effort.

Of the few estate workers who returned from the front, most were unable or unwilling, to return to work on the land.


With no-one to tame it, by coppicing and cutting timber, the wood simply returned to its natural state, starving the little Wood-sedge quite literally, of the sunlight it needed to survive.

By the mid-1940's the delicate grassy plant had become almost extinct.

Over the next 60 years botanists tried and failed to find a single plant , and with only two sites remaining in the country, time was running out.

In 2007, the charity Plantlife, who champion wild plant conservation approached Charterhouse, suggesting that Starved Wood-sedge returned to the school, where it belonged.

And where estate staff and pupils could keep an eye on the little new-comer and make sure it didn't get bullied by larger, more leafy woodland inhabitants.

So on 16 September 2009, the Starved Wood-sedge was replanted in land bordering the the golf course and woodland, on the school's estate.

Charterhouse Bursar David Williams says, "We are delighted to see a plant that was historically here being reintroduced into the banks of the School."

"I hope that, with careful management by our Grounds Team, it will once again flourish."


The Charterhouse site not only gives us a link to the past as a true historical home of the species but it also now has the perfect habitat
Dominic Price, Plantlife's Species Recovery Officer

The charity was founded in 1989 after a band of conservationists and botanists came together to champion wild plant conservation.

Led by Professor David Bellamy, the group decided the nation's flora needed an "RSPB for plants."

Since then Plantlife has been working to protect wild plants and their habitats with national offices in England, Scotland and Wales.

The now have the backing of HRH The Prince of Wales as their Patron.

In pictures: Starved Wood-sedge
25 Sep 09 |  Nature & Outdoors


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2017 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific