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Rare plant flowers on Isle of Wight

Wed 17 Oct 2012

Rare plant flowers on Isle of Wight

A plant has flowered on the Isle of Wight for the first time in millions of years, which may tempt enthusiasts to book a trip to the island to see it for themselves.

The Cycad grew on Earth during the Jurassic period and is now flowering at Ventnor Botanic Garden on the Isle of Wight.

Curator Chris Kidd told the Daily Mail that this is a "landmark" for the location, adding: "We put these plants outside to see how they they would grow as part of an experiment. 'In the last ten years they've gone through one of the coldest winters for 30 years and survived. 'They've continued to produce a new flourish of leaves once a year."

Experts first noticed the plant was starting to grow on the Isle of Wight when a 20cm flower, which looks like a pine cone, appeared among the foliage at Ventor Botanic Garden at the beginning of this month.

"This year one has produced a flower, which is incredibly rare. It's hard enough to grow them inside, let alone outside. This is probably the first time it has happened outdoors since the pre-Jurassic period," Mr Kidd was quoted as saying by the newspaper.

He explained he believes climate change is behind the growing of the Cycad on the Isle of Wight for the first time in millions of years, due to the fact it needs very specific conditions in order to be able to flourish in the UK.

The flowering of the Cycad is likely to lead to many botanists booking Isle of Wight holidays in order to see the flowers for themselves.

It was revealed by the Botanic Garden that it is launching an investigation into how the Cycad was able to grow at the site, with climate change believed to be a crucial factor in the growing of the extremely rare plant.

Mr Kidd told the Daily Mail that he thinks the onset of climate change means the plant could be set to become increasingly common in gardens all over the UK, as well as in this corner of the Isle of Wight.

He suggested it may take as little as 50 years for the Cycad to become a regular sight in all parts of the country due to the effects on the country caused by the arrival of climate change.

"The Cycad likes heat and the micro-climate here on the Isle of Wight is quite different to the rest of the UK - we're several degrees warmer," the curator of the Ventnor Botanic Garden said.

Indeed, the positioning of Ventnor itself means the town often gets a different type of weather to the rest of the Isle of Wight, let alone the UK as a whole.

Its overhanging cliffs provide shelter from many types of weather conditions and this is one of the reasons why it is such a popular location to visit for those who go on Isle of Wight holidays.

Mr Kidd stated the Cycad is the type of plant that would not be able to grow even 25 years ago, which shows the extent to which the planet has changed over the course of the last quarter of a century, with experts expecting climate change to continue to have an impact in the future.

"We planted it on a south-facing plot where it was sheltered and got the most heat and sunlight," he explained to the news provider.

Ventnor Botanic Garden is already one of the most popular tourist destinations on the Isle of Wight and this latest breakthrough is likely to lead to a rise in the number of visitor numbers at the site.

However, as the Garden is only open until the end of October, those who want to go along and see the Cycad, as well as all of the other rare plants on show on the Isle of Wight, will have to move quickly to book their trip to the island.

Entrance to the Botanic Garden is from 10:00 BST to 17:00 and children under the age of six get in for free, which could make it an appealing destination for young families on Isle of Wight holidays this month.

Posted by Jon NobleADNFCR-3083-ID-801470918-ADNFCR

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