Snakes head fritillaries, April 2012

Delicate meadow flower puts on a show at Tamworth beauty spot

One of the UK’s rarest wild flowers has put on an amazing show at a Tamworth beauty spot following the determined efforts of Burton Conservation Volunteers along with volunteers from the Wild About Tamworth project.

Almost 200 snake’s head fritillaries, best known for their delicately-marked dusky purple or white flowers, have burst into bloom on Broad Meadow, a lush floodplain meadow beside the River Tame in Tamworth. The colony has grown in size this year thanks to management work undertaken by the volunteers.

The groups carried out a "hay cut" last September, which helped to limit the species competing with the fritillaries, giving them the opportunity to thrive. Wild About Tamworth officer Lindsey Bates said: "The snake’s head fritillary is very rare in Staffordshire, and is native to only two sites in the county, one of them being Broad Meadow, which is designated as a Site of Biological Importance (SBI).

"The colony had lapsed slightly over the last couple years and numbers had fallen to around 40 - 50 flowers. But now we can see that the efforts of the conservation volunteers last year to manage the site have really paid off, and we’ve been treated to a great show of almost two hundred snake’s head fritillaries this year, which is a beautiful sight.”

Snakes head fritillaries
Snakes head fritillaries The Wild About Tamworth initiative is a partnership between Staffordshire Wildlife Trust and Tamworth Borough Council, and was set up in 2003 to encourage the community to get involved in looking after its local green spaces. The initiative works with local conservation volunteers to look after wild spaces across the borough.

Pictures: Snake’s head fritillaries in flower on Broad Meadow in Tamworth. Photographs by John Bates

Broad Meadow: further information (Staffordshire Wildlife Trust)
Snakes head fritillaries