Only some plant species survive well when sown or planted onto species-poor meadows to enhance plant diversity; experiments in Hampshire, UK

  • Published source details Fenner M. & Spellerberg I.F. (1988) Plant species enrichment of ecologically impoverished grassland a small scale trial. Field Studies, 7, 153-158


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Restore/create species-rich, semi-natural grassland

Action Link
Farmland Conservation
  1. Restore/create species-rich, semi-natural grassland

    A replicated trial in 1986 and 1987 at the Chilworth Research Centre, Hampshire, UK (Fenner & Spellerberg 1988) tested survival of twelve native plant species, either grown in pots or sown as seeds on an existing meadow. Three species, black knapweed Centaurea nigra, St John’s wort Hypericum perforatum and musk mallow Malva moschata always survived well (83% or more survived). Five species survived better when sown as seeds (oxeye daisy Leucanthemum vulgare, self-heal Prunella vulgaris and lady’s bedstraw Galium verum) or when planted as plug plants (betony Betonia officinalis and cowslip Primula veris). Four species had poor survival in both treatments: yellow rattle, Rhinanthus minor, field scabious Knautia arvensis (both 0% survival), harebell Campanula rotundifolia and bulbous buttercup Ranunculus bulbosus (0-8% survival). Plants sown as seeds into cleared plots were almost always larger after two growing seasons than those planted out as plug plants. Sown plots were cleared with herbicide in March 1986. Seeds were covered with 2.5 cm of compost, a perforated polythene cloche, or both. There were three replicates of each treatment. Results showed no difference between the germination or survival of plants under different coverings. Twenty-four plants of each species were planted out into a meadow where the vegetation was 10-15 cm high in July 1986, at 1 m intervals. The growth of sown and planted plants was monitored in September 1987.


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