meat-eating plants - Great sundew plant - pic by Josh Styles

One of England’s few carnivorous plants has been re-introduced to Cheshire at a secret location.

The insect-eating Great Sundew (Drosera anglica), which was made extinct during World War One, was re-introduced last week, says Cheshire Wildlife Trust.

Most plants that absorb everything they need through their roots.

But this species has evolved to thrive in acidic, low nutrient peat basins by getting its nutrition from insects.

The leaves of the Great Sundew look like a hairbrush, with sticky red ‘tentacles’ on one side.

The plant waits for an insect to become stuck in its trap, before slowly rolling up its leaf and digesting its meal.

Josh Styles, from the North West Rare Plant Initiative (NWRPI), who re-introduced the 15 plants on site, said: “It’s amazing to see this totally vivacious insectivore in Cheshire once again, after it’s extinction during World War One.

“With reinforcement and monitoring of this re-introduction planned in the long-term, I have my hopes set on big population increases at the site!”

Over the years land use has changed in the UK, meaning peatlands have been polluted, dried and dug up for commercial compost and agriculture.

Great sundew plants by Josh Styles

Great Sundew – by Josh Styles

Because this plant can only grow in peatlands, it was driven to extinction in Cheshire.

Trees are most often associated with carbon storage.

Despite peat bogs covering only 3% of the Earth’s surface, they store more carbon than all our forests combined.

But 94% of peatlands have been destroyed in England, releasing all the carbon they once stored.

Cheshire Wildlife Trust is managing and re-wetting peatland across the county and south Manchester.

“We’re incredibly excited to see this interesting plant back in our region – where it belongs,” said Ben Gregory, Operations Manager West at Cheshire Wildlife Trust.

“The site, owned by Forestry England, took over 7,000 years to form.

“Therefore it’s important to our heritage, as well as our wildlife to ensure it and all the other plants and animals that live here thrive for the next 7,000.

“Thanks to our supporters, we’re able to work with landowners and farmers to restore peatlands.

“We create pools and rewet areas, as well as remove ‘thirsty’ invasive plant species that would otherwise dry the land.”

This is the second plant species the NWRPI has reintroduced into a site managed by Cheshire Wildlife Trust.

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