Gentianella anglica 

Scope: Global & Europe
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Plantae Tracheophyta Magnoliopsida Gentianales Gentianaceae

Scientific Name: Gentianella anglica (Pugsley) E.F.Warb.
Common Name(s):
English Early Gentian
Taxonomic Notes: Gentianella anglica is considered one of the few endemic plants of Great Britain. However, the taxonomic status of this species is still uncertain. It is not clear whether G. anglica is a species or whether it is part of the Gentianella amarella aggregate (Wilson 2009). Taxonomic research is currently underway.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Data Deficient ver 3.1
Year Published: 2011
Date Assessed: 2011-06-28
Assessor(s): Wilkins, T.
Reviewer(s): Wilson, P.J. & Bilz, M.
Gentianella anglica is endemic to Great Britain and his its centre of distribution in Dorset, Wiltshire, and the Isle of Wight. It can be found in more than 100 localities but the populations have declined in the past and are believed to be still declining. A survey on a representative sample of 20 sites showed an overall decline of nearly 17% from 1998 to 2008. However, the number of individuals fluctuates extremely from one year to another; a hundredfold fluctuation is not uncommon. The causes of this fluctuation and whether it is natural are not fully understood yet. It is therefore difficult to determine the overall rate of decline within the last ten years. Lack of grazing or overgrazing are the main threats and specific site management is therefore required. The taxonomy of this species is also still under debate; the reason why it is not listed in the UK red list. Due to this level of uncertainty, the species is classed as Data Deficient for the moment. It is likely to be either Near Threatened or even Least Concern thanks to the good conservation efforts under way and the high level of protection.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species is endemic to Great Britain. It is restricted to southern England but has been reported as far north as Yorkshire in the past. Now the centre of its distribution is in Dorset, Wiltshire, and the Isle of Wight (Plantlife International 2006). It has been recorded from 69 grids of 10x10 km between 1987-1999 (Wilson 2009).
Countries occurrence:
United Kingdom
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:6900
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Gentianella anglica has been recorded in 154 localities (Commission of the European Communities 2009). The populations have declined in the past and are believed to be still declining in central and eastern England (Plantlife International 2006, Wilson 2009). The number of individuals fluctuates extremely from one year to another; those can be hundredfold and more. Fluctuations from zero individuals to more than one million from one year to the other have been observed.

A sample survey undertaken in June 2008, looked at 20 representative sites. On 15 of those sites, the species was found. The sites where it was not present or only appeared in low numbers, were generally in poor condition. However, two sites appeared to have favourable conditions and still no plants were found. An overall decline was noted, but in some populations the number of individuals increased (Wilson 2009). Comparing numbers of individuals between 1998 and 2008 on the 20 sites surveyed, a decline of nearly 17% was noted. However, it is difficult to use this figure as an overall rate of decline as the number of individuals is strongly fluctuating and the causes of those fluctuations are not well understood yet.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This species occurs in chalk or limestone grasslands of exceptional quality that have never been treated with fertilizers or pesticides. It tends to be a very poor coloniser and does not like large scale disturbance. This plant prefers south or west facing slopes which receive longer periods of sunlight. It has been observed that the plant has a soil seed bank and can emerge under favourable conditions in places where it had formerly disappeared.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): This species is very sensitive to sward height and the availability of open soil for germination. Therefore, the main threat is posed by a lack of grazing, inappropriate timing of grazing or overgrazing (Wilson 2009).
A further threat is the modification of cultivation practices - the species is sensitive to the use of fertilisers or conversion of grassland into agricultural land, and that led to the loss of many populations in the past (Commission of the European Communities 2009, Plantlife International 2006). Quarrying was another cause for habitat loss (Plantlife International 2006).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Gentianella anglica is listed on Annex II of the Habitats Directive and under Appendix I of the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention). In the United Kingdom, it is protected under Schedule 8 of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981. In the UK Red List the species is marked as requiring more taxonomic research (Cheffings and Farrell 2005). It is found in several protected areas and Natura 2000 sites throughout its range.

This species needs moderate grazing to keep the habitat open, ideally is light grazing by cattle through the summer. The great majority of sites are on farmland managed at a low intensity as part of the traditional extensive grazing systems of the southern English chalklands.

Research into its taxonomic status should continue and more information on the causes of fluctuations and decline as well as the right conservation measures should be collected.

Citation: Wilkins, T. 2011. Gentianella anglica. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2011: e.T162380A5582326. . Downloaded on 19 September 2018.
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