Explore the species profiles below or click here to browse associated articles

classic west coast viewThe Lizard peninsula more than warrants a visit at any time of year. March or April is the best time to see the early species such as Early Meadow Grass, Three-lobed Water


Autumn is a wonderful time to be blackberry muncher - you cannot fail to notice bramble bushes hanging heavily with fruit at this time of year.

Blackberries

According to archaeological evidence (seeds found in the stomach of Neolithic Essex man), man has been blackberrying for at least 8,000 years – and that really is no surprise. Last year's cool wet summer delivered a poor autumn harvest, but conditions were good for growth, and so this year plants have been able to take advantage of ideal conditions for flowering, and warm dry conditions to ripen the fruit.

The Lizard is justly recognised as a hotspot for mosses and liverworts, much as it is for rare clovers, rushes and wild asparagus. This article explains more and highlights an exciting recent discovery.
Photo of serpentine outcrop: Des Callaghan

Although lots is known about the rare wildlife of the Lizard, there is plenty more to be revealed, and as a recent discovery has proven, some of it may have been right under our noses all along!

Mosses and liverworts, which are collectively termed bryophytes, tend to be less well studied than our more familiar higher plants, with few people having the specialist knowledge to be able to separate the rare from the commonplace. However, the Lizard is justly recognised as a hotspot for these lower plants, much as it is for rare clovers, rushes and wild asparagus.

Haresfoot clover - MullionThe Lizard peninsular is well known for its biodiversity importance but the importance of its genetic diversity is only just being realised. Research undertaken by Birmingham University in 2013 has shown The Lizard to be one of the UK’s ‘hotspots’ for the wild relatives of crop plants. These species are an increasingly important resource for human society; many plants potentially have a future role in the security of our food.

Crops have been developing over millennia by farmers using traditional breeding methods, and more recently by plant breeders incorporating specific genes into crops to produce new varieties. As a result of this prolonged human intervention modern crops have relatively low genetic diversity; they can be at greater risk to new diseases and pests as a result.

What a fabulous time to be out and about investigating our rich and varied flora! Even if you are not interested in naming species, a hand lens is a portal into a fascinating microscopic world of architecture and form. A hand lens is a simple device, and here are a few thoughts about getting the most from this mind-blowing key piece of kit.

How to use a hand lens Selection of hand lens


Hand lenses are lightweight and relatively cheap. Therefore you can easily have it with you when you need it, and you can buy a quality one for only a small outlay ( both plus points compared to binoculars)

Souther Marsh Orchid

The Lizard National Nature Reserve is noted for the diversity and floristic richness of the heathland and coastal grassland that comprises much of this 2000 ha. reserve, with considerable emphasis placed on the notable rarities to be found here.

The Lizard National Nature Reserve is noted for the diversity and floristic richness of the heathland and coastal grassland that comprises much of this 2000 ha. reserve, with considerable emphasis placed on the notable rarities to be found here.

In amongst these major habitats the NNR also manages other smaller areas which are also of value for wildlife such as hazel coppice, willow scrub and dune grassland.

Wild AsparagusThe Lizard Peninsula is justifiably well known for its rare and unusual plants. One of these is Wild Asparagus.

The Lizard Peninsula is justifiably well known for its rare and unusual plants. Whilst many of these plants have obscure and peculiar names such as fringed rupturewort, land quillwort and hairy greenweed reflecting their, well, obscure and peculiar status, others have more familiar names such as wild chives, chamomile and wild asparagus.

Wild asparagus was previously much more widespread, found around many of our coastal sites and presumably common enough to give it's name to Asparagus Island at Kynance Cove. Today however, the plant is extremely rare, found in only about 20 coastal sites across Cornwall, with its stronghold being the Lizard, a few plants in south Wales – and, until recently, the single, lonely Dorset plant.

Corn MarigoldThe mild end to 2016 has allowed many plants to keep flowering deep into winter, despite the short hours of daylight. This photo, taken in December near Coverack on the Lizard, is of Corn Marigold, still going strong on the Winter Solstice! Corn Marigold is an arable weed; a rather unexciting name for a group of very interesting plants.

Hawthorn berries
It seems as if there is a peripheral red haze at the edge of my vision at the moment – and though some may say that I have anger management issues, I know the truth is actually a wonderful crop of lustrous red berries this autumn. Last autumn was a premium one for blackberries and sloes, this year red is the vogue with wonderful displays of hawthorn, black bryony and holly.

Scury grassWell April 1st seems a perfect day to get our bodies out of winter torpor, clean off the walking boots and head off to the promised- land that we all know as The Lizard. It is probably a good time to coax our brains back into action as well so I thought that we should start off with something relatively simple.

So April's challenge is to find the connection between
Harry Potter - Captain Cook - Bad weather on the A30 and The Lizard

Your answer will be aided by a walk along the coastal footpath or even a drive down the A30. So something for locals and visitors alike. We could even find you some tenuous links with 'Poldark' and 'Banished', two very contrasting period dramas currently taking up prime television schedules.

Anyone walking The Lizard's coastal path will not fail to notice the swathes of white along the coastal cliffs and crannies. The same could be said of the swathes of white on the roadside verges spotted whilst driving down the A30 within the legal speed limits.