Five rare plants to spot on the Great Orme

The Great Orme in North Wales is one of my favourite places in Britain to see rare plants. By working with farmer Dan Jones to establish the right grazing system, Plantlife and the National Trust are helping rare flora thrive on this exposed stretch of coast.

Trevor Dines, Botanical Specialist, Plantlife Trevor Dines Botanical Specialist, Plantlife
Great Orme Berry

1. Great Orme Berry

The Great Orme is the only place in the world where you will find this native cotoneaster growing in the wild – just six bushes survive. New plants grow from small orange-red berries produced in late summer.

Spiked Speedwell

2. Spiked Speedwell

A plant with bold blue spikes of tiny flowers found in the late summer is now restricted to a few sites in the UK such as the Avon Gorge and the Great Orme. It loves the inaccessible ledges on the limestone with light grazing from goats or sheep but because it produces little seed it is slow to colonise new areas. Extra grazing will create more opportunities for it to spread. summer.

Basil Thyme

3. Basil Thyme

This little plant with violet flowers has become almost extinct in arable fields, where it fell victim to weedkiller chemicals. Basil thyme needs open areas of rocky, lime-rich soil to thrive. It dislikes any competition from other plants and the grazing sheep will create perfect conditions for it to seed.

Goldilocks aster

4. Goldilocks Aster

Growing at just six sites in the whole of Britain, the Great Orme had the richest population of this late-flowering plant. But it has declined rapidly here over the last few years.

Dark-red helleborine

5. Dark-red helleborine

An exotic looking orchid with deep reddish-purple flowers that is found mostly on bare rock or thin soils overlying limestone. The Great Orme has the largest population of the plant in Wales. Grazing by sheep will help keep open the habitats where it thrives.