Re-establishment of the extinct native plant Filago gallica L. (Asteraceae), narrow-leaved cudweed, in Britain

  • Published source details Rich T.C.G., Gibson C. & Marsden M. (1999) Re-establishment of the extinct native plant Filago gallica L. (Asteraceae), narrow-leaved cudweed, in Britain. Biological Conservation, 91, 1-8.


The narrow-leaved cudweed Filago gallica became extinct in the UK in 1955. This species lives on disturbed ground, and changing agricultural practices and myxmatosis which eradicated rabbits Oryctolagus cuniculus, are likely to have caused its decline. In 1948, a botantist (D.McClintock) collected seeds from narrow-leaved cudweed (probably one individual) at Berechurch Common, Essex (southeast England) and has grown it in his garden ever since. Using individuals derived from this population, it was therefore possible to attempt a reintroduction using native narrow-leaved cudweed stock.

Reintroduction: In 1993, 30 plants from a cultivated population of 200, were collected from the garden of origin in Essex (southeast England), grown in potting compost in pots, and their seeds collected. On 19 October 1994, plants were released in three plots with different habitat conditions at Berechurch Common, Roman River SSSI, Essex.

Plot 1 - A 2 x 2 m area had bentgrass Agrostis sp. turf stripped leaving gravel, on which 12 pot-grown plants and 1000's of seeds were planted.

Plot 2 - On a 5 x 1 m area of south-facing bank, 10 pot-grown plants were planted

Plot 3: A 20 x 5 m area had small cudweed Filago minima and rarely common cudweed F.vulgaris turf stripped leaving open gravel, on which 1000's of seeds were scattered.

Monitoring: The plots were monitored over the winter, and at flowering on 12 July 1995, and then subsequently in 1996, 1997 and 1998.

Plot 1: All twelve pot-grown plants survived initially and five seedlings were present in July 1995. Of the pot-grown plants, seven flowered, but two of these subsequently died due to drought. In 1996, no plants were present, and in 1997 there was one plant and in 1998 there was six plants.

Plot 2: By July 1995, all pot-grown plants died.

Plot 3: By July 1995, 39 plants had grown from spring germinated seeds. Subsequently, 50 plants were present in 1996, 10 in 1997, and 66 in 1998.

Conclusions: Seed grown plants were most successful (Plot 3), and the re-emergence of plants in Plot 1 after the pot-grown plants had died also illustrated the importance of creating a seed-bank. The potting compost used for pot-grown plants shrank when dry, splitting it from the surrounding soil thus enhancing the effects of drought. The authors suggest therefore, that pot-grown plants should be planted in soil from the site instead of potting compost.

Note: If using or referring to this published study please read and quote the original paper. This is available from Please do not quote as a case as this is for previously unpublished work only.

Output references
What Works 2021 cover

What Works in Conservation

What Works in Conservation provides expert assessments of the effectiveness of actions, based on summarised evidence, in synopses. Subjects covered so far include amphibians, birds, mammals, forests, peatland and control of freshwater invasive species. More are in progress.

More about What Works in Conservation

Download free PDF or purchase
The Conservation Evidence Journal

The Conservation Evidence Journal

An online, free to publish in, open-access journal publishing results from research and projects that test the effectiveness of conservation actions.

Read the latest volume: Volume 21

Go to the CE Journal

Discover more on our blog

Our blog contains the latest news and updates from the Conservation Evidence team, the Conservation Evidence Journal, and our global partners in evidence-based conservation.

Who uses Conservation Evidence?

Meet some of the evidence champions

Endangered Landscape ProgrammeRed List Champion - Arc Kent Wildlife Trust The Rufford Foundation Save the Frogs - Ghana Mauritian Wildlife Supporting Conservation Leaders
Sustainability Dashboard National Biodiversity Network Frog Life The international journey of Conservation - Oryx Cool Farm Alliance UNEP AWFA Bat Conservation InternationalPeople trust for endangered species Vincet Wildlife Trust