Save the Botanicals this Earth Day with a Cocktail!

This April we’re launching out first Save the Botanicals campaign for Earth Day, Monday 22nd April. Our aim is to raise awareness of endangered British plant species in the best way we know how, cocktails. The Save the Botanicals cocktail menu will be launched across top bars in the UK over the Easter Bank Holiday. Each cocktail is named after and inspired by one of Britain’s most rare indigenous plant species.

Earth Day takes place annually on the 22nd April and is the world’s largest environmental movement whose mission is to educate the public about the environmental challenges facing our planet. We have chosen this cause due to our own reliance on sustainable botanicals; from the ginger root, yarrow and speedwell that help form the basis of our beverages to the citrus, florals and spices that add flavour. Each natural ingredient we use is the result of a harmonious eco-system of which every species plays a vital part, so it’s time to help preserve some of the hedgerow, woodland and meadow plants which have fallen dangerously into decline in recent years.

The Botanicals

Teaming up with Plantlife, the wild plant conservation charity, we have compiled a list of botanicals that are amongst the rarest in Britain:

Spreading bellflower- Campanula patula

A delicate plant with well-spaced branches with large, blue, star-like flowers at their tips. Unlike many bellflowers, the petals spread widely, hence the name. Branches often flop onto surrounding vegetation, so the plants can appear prostrate if they are in the open. Occurs mainly on the Welsh borders and in the West Midlands.

Ghost orchid - Epipogium aphyllum

Its spooky name is rather apt: the ghost orchid is a pale flower - lacking both chlorophyll and leaves - and prefers to grow in poorly lit areas. Furthermore, it is a plant that came back from the dead: the ghost orchid was thought extinct in the UK until it was found growing in a Herefordshire wood in March 2009. It is still, however, one of our rarest plants.

Red helleborine - Cephalanthera rubra

This orchid is hard to spot, even when in flower. In the UK it is now only present in single sites in the counties of Buckinghamshire, Gloucestershire and Hampshire. In the UK this orchid is classified as Critically Endangered and is a fully protected species. It flowers from May to June.

Lady orchid - Orchis purpurea

Tall, elegant herbaceous plant belonging to the Orchidaceae plant family. The Lady Orchid occurs in short grassland, on woodland edges and sometimes in open woodland. HIts main stronghold is in Kent, but there are other populations in Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.

Twinflower - Linnaea borealis

This beautiful plant has two pink bell-like flowers on a slender stem, and thicker stems below which creep along the ground, forming small mats of the plant. It is one of our smallest and most delicate native flowers. Twinflower is confined to pinewoods in Scotland. Continued habitat destruction and changes in woodland management means this plant now survives at only about 50 sites.

Lesser butterfly orchid - Platanthera bifolia

Beautiful and delicate, this orchid is one of the rarer gems to be found on our rapidly diminishing grasslands. It has a single flowering spike that can reach up to 30 cm in height. At night, the flowers produce a strong clove-like scent to attract large hawkmoths for pollination.

Cotswolds pennycress - Microthlaspi perfoliatum

A small greyish plant with a cluster of white flowers at the top of the stem. The bottom of its distinctively pointed leaves completely encircle the flower stem so that the stem is, in fact, perforating the leaf, hence “perfoliate” penny-cress. It grows mainly in the Cotswolds, and has probably always been rare in Britain.

Meadow clary - Salvia pratensis

This handsome plant has striking blue flowers in a spike on the stem and pleasantly aromatic leaves when crushed. Meadow Clary declined before 1950, mainly due to loss of grazing and the resulting smothering by coarser plants, and is still declining, now only found as a native population at 21 locations, mainly in Oxfordshire, the North and South Downs and the Chilterns.

One-flowered wintergreen - Moneses uniflora

This delightful plant used to be called St Olaf’s Candlestick. It has a single nodding white flower at the top of a stem, and a rosette of leaves at the base. It grows in pine forests in the hills of north-east Scotland, where it shows up brightly above the dark soil and dark dropped needles. Most current sites are in the commercial pine plantations.

Crested cow-wheat - Melampyrum cristatum

Found in grassland, often hard to spot, and is semi-parasitic on other plants. This is an annual plant, with purple/yellow flowers. It grows to 50cm in height, flowering in July and August. It is now very rare in the UK, confined to East Anglia only.

The Cocktails

To raise awareness of the endangered botanicals we have partnered with some of the UK’s best bars. Each bar will be creating their own signature drink dedicated to one of the endangered plant species; this will be served with a small packet of plant seeds for drinkers to sow in their own private gardens or in local community plots.

We’re working closely with Plantlife to ensure that the seeds are sustainably sourced and given with the correct care advice. The menu will be beautifully illustrated with botanical drawings of the rare plant species and be available to try at the participating bars over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend from 18th-22nd April. Each bar will also be serving a Save the Botanicals G&T: 50ml The Botanist Gin, 10ml House of Broughton Cucumber Syrup, 125ml Fentimans Botanical Tonic Water.

More about Plantlife

Plantlife is a British conservation charity working nationally and internationally to save threatened wild flowers, plants and fungi. They own nearly 4,500 acres of nature reserve across England, Scotland and Wales where you can find over 80% of the UK’s wild flowers. Priorities for their work include saving the vanishing wildflower meadows, rescuing amazing lichens of ancient woodland, and bringing rare flowers of heaths, dunes and cornfields back from the brink of extinction. They have over 11,000 members and supporters and HRH The Prince of Wales is their Patron. Their team of dedicated conservation experts work with landowners, businesses, conservation organisations, community groups and governments, pushing boundaries to save the rarest flora and ensure familiar flowers and plants continue to thrive. For more information on their work and how you can get involved visit www.plantlife.org.uk

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