The Lundy Cabbage, Coincya wrightii, is only found on Lundy and is one of the few plants that are endemic to Britain. As such it is protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act.
The cabbage grows along the east coast and is predominately found lining the beach road track and stretching its way along the coastal slopes. It thrives on bare soil, such as on the old landslips on the soft slates of the southern cliffs.
The cabbage is easily identified by its four yellow petals and can grow up to 1.5m tall. It can be seen flowering in late spring and early summer. When it is not in flower, it resembles a large radish plant with leaves in a rosette during winter and early spring or with large numbers of seed pods in late summer and autumn.
The cabbage itself is a unique home for the equally endemic Bronze Lundy Cabbage Flea beetle, Psylliodes luridipennis, and Lundy Cabbage weevil, Ceutorhynchus contractus spp.pallipes. The flea beetle is a tiny yellowy bronze insect around 3mm long with huge back legs that allow it to jump like a flea. Smaller than flea beetles at 1.5mm are the weevils which also feed on the cabbage.
Rhododendrons once threatened the survival of the Lundy Cabbage, however these invasive plants are now under control. For more information see the ‘Introductions ’ section.
The most notable species that has been introduced to Lundy is the Rhododendron, Rhododendron ponticum, which was brought over in the 19th Century by the Heaven family and planted within Millcombe Gardens as their spectacular flowers were revered by the Victorians. Unfortunately, this non-native plant, is an invasive one and it was allowed to colonise the east coast thereby reducing the area available for Lundy’s endemic Lundy Cabbage.
Many visitors have enjoyed walking through the enclosed pathways through the Rhododendron patches on the east coast, however as the island has a duty to protect the Lundy Cabbage an extensive eradication programme was put into place.
It will be many years until all trace of these alien invaders is removed, however we are well on the way with March 2013 seeing the removal of the last large bush. Visitors now walk through the stacks of brash which remain. Many volunteers visit the island to assist with the eradication programme which now consists of seedling searches and brash burning. For more information on volunteering please visit the Volunteering page.
Alexanders, Smyrnium olusatrum, were brought to the UK by the Romans who used this plant as a vegetable in a similar manner to the way we use celery today. This plant has spread extensively throughout Millcombe Gardens and its spread is being controlled by flower-head, seed and whole plant removal.
Lundy has an abundance of native Bluebells, which thrive across the island and not just in the wooded areas. Unfortunately just like the rest of the UK, the island’s population has been infiltrated by the Spanish Bluebell, Hyacinthoides hispanica. Active searching for individuals and hybrids are sought out during the summer months and removed.
Whilst wandering across the squelchy patches of the Plateau, keep your eyes peeled for the tiny insectivorous Round-leaved Sundew, Drosera rotundifolia. Sundews are unable to get all the nitrogen they need to grow from the acidic soil in which they grow and so supplement their diet with insects which are attracted to their brightly coloured and sugary coated leaves. Throughout the world there are nearly 200 species of Sundew, although only one has been found on Lundy so far.