Corn buttercup produces yellow flowers with shiny petals on an erect, leafy stem (2). The leaves are split into narrow lobes (3), and the seed heads (called achenes) are extremely spiky (4), and have earned this buttercup the alternative local names of Devil's claws, Devil-on-all-sides, and hellweed (5).
Formerly widespread, but now very scarce (4) and only seen regularly in the south of England (3). It also occurs at a few sites in Wales, south-west England and some scattered localities in the north-west of England and Scotland (2). Elsewhere it is found in central and southern Europe, North Africa and west Asia, reaching as far east as India (2).
It is likely that agricultural intensification is responsible for the decline of this once common species (5), starting at the end of the nineteenth century when seed cleaning techniques were improved (2). Like all weeds of arable land, corn buttercup faces the more modern threats of herbicide and fertiliser use, the loss of field-margins, the use of more productive and competitive crops and alterations in the traditional style of crop rotation (5).
A simple single-seeded fruit that falls from the plant in one piece; they usually in occur in clusters.
These schemes allow the government to compensate farmers for using methods that benefit the environment. The two main initiatives in the UK are the Countryside Stewardship Scheme and Environmentally Sensitive Areas. Since October 2000 these have formed part of the England Rural Development Programme (EDRP), administered by DEFRA, the Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs. See http://www.defra.gov.uk/erdp/erdphome.htm for more on these initiatives.
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