Cotswold pennycress (Thlaspi perfoliatum)

loading
Cotswold pennycress in flower with seed pods
loading
Loading more images and videos...

Cotswold pennycress fact file

Cotswold pennycress description

KingdomPlantae
PhylumAnthophyta
ClassMagnoliopsida
OrderCapparales
FamilyBrassicaceae
GenusThlaspi

Perfoliate, or 'Cotswold' penny-cress is an unusual member of the cabbage family, with one or more smooth stems. It has a rosette of waxy grey-green leaves at the base of the plant. These leaves have a distinct stalk to them and are roughly oval in shape with scalloped edges. The leaves on the stem are un-stalked and much narrower in shape, the leaves partially encircling the stem. The flowers are white, about two millimetres in diameter and form a cluster at the top of the plant. As they ripen, they form heart-shaped seed pods below the flower cluster.

Size
Stem height: 5 - 25 cm
Top

Cotswold pennycress biology

This plant is a spring-flowering species, recorded as growing in pasture, scree, walls and in quarries. It grows as an annual and can over-winter. The flowers appear in April and May. It does not disperse its seeds very effectively, and in order to germinate successfully, the seeds need to land on recently disturbed ground. It also prefers conditions where the young plants are not over-shadowed by taller vegetation.

Top

Cotswold pennycress range

As its name suggests, this plant is very local in its range, being found at eight sites in the Cotswolds in Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, but has also become established at other sites inside and outside this area, often being blown along railway lines by trains, or introduced with the limestone railway ballast. It is found throughout Europe apart from the far north, and its range extends into North Africa and the Near East. It has been introduced into North America.

You can view distribution information for this species at the National Biodiversity Network Gateway.
Top

Cotswold pennycress habitat

Cotswold pennycress shows a marked preference for habitats found on the limestone characteristic of the Cotswold region in the south midlands of England. This type of limestone is termed oolitic, from the Greek for egg and stone, which describes the appearance of this rock under the microscope. Oolitic limestone dates from the Jurassic period, from 200 to 135 million years ago, and has been extensively quarried for building use.

Top

Cotswold pennycress status

Classified as Vulnerable in the UK, and protected under Schedule 8 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act, as amended 2002.

Top

Cotswold pennycress threats

The increased use of herbicides threatens the future of the perfoliate pennycress, as does the removal of the walls, hedges and banks that it has traditionally used. Being a plant of marginal land, the clearance or neglect of this easily over-looked habitat also puts this species at risk.

This plant is one of the few to benefit from 'overgrazing', as this practise prevents the grass sward from closing over and reducing the pennycresses' opportunities to colonise bare patches.

Top

Cotswold pennycress conservation

Perfoliate pennycress is listed in the UK Biodiversity Action Plans and included in English Nature's Species Recovery Programme. The wild plant conservation charity, Plantlife, has also included this species in their 'Back from the Brink' project. As well as overseeing the management of four sites where it already occurs, a survey in 1992 provided information on the status of the pennycress and helped to identify sites where the plant could be re-introduced.

Because of the low dispersal rate of the wild plants, there is a danger that sites where it occurs become increasingly isolated from one-another, thereby reducing the opportunities for healthy populations to form. One way to overcome this risk (and many other species of plant and animal would benefit from management to overcome problems of isolation) would be to manage suitable 'corridors', whereby separate populations have the chance to cross-fertilise. This might well involve the development of railways and, where appropriate, the opening of new quarries or the continued use of existing sites.

An unusual side-effect from the management for the pennycress has been a request for the Countryside Stewardship scheme to allow 'overgrazing' where this plant is found. This runs counter to the usual specification for a Countryside Stewardship grant but has been included as the traditional level of disturbance by grazing cattle was insufficient for the plant to thrive.

There may be further information about this species available via the National Biodiversity Network Gateway.
The UK Biodiversity Action Plan for this species is available at UK BAP.
Top

Find out more

Top

Authentication

Information supplied by English Nature.

http://www.english-nature.org.uk

Top

Glossary

Scree
Small loose rock debris covering a slope.
Top

References

X
Close

Image credit

Cotswold pennycress in flower with seed pods  
Cotswold pennycress in flower with seed pods

© Bob Gibbons / www.ardea.com

Ardea wildlife pets environment
59 Tranquil Vale
London
SE3 0BS
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 208 318 1401
ardea@ardea.co.uk
http://www.ardea.com

X
Close

Link to this photo

ARKive species - Cotswold pennycress (Thlaspi perfoliatum) Embed this ARKive thumbnail link ("portlet") by copying and pasting the code below.

Terms of Use - The displayed portlet may be used as a link from your website to ARKive's online content for private, scientific, conservation or educational purposes only. It may NOT be used within Apps.

Read more about

X
Close

MyARKive

MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite ARKive images and videos and share them with friends.

Play the Team WILD game:

Team WILD, an elite squadron of science superheroes, needs your help! Your mission: protect and conserve the planet’s species and habitats from destruction.

Conservation in Action

Which species are on the road to recovery? Find out now »

Help us share the wonders of the natural world. Donate today!

Blog