Buckthorn for Brimstone

Wednesday 16th March 2016

Pic: Brimstone butterfly, by Janet Packham

Essex Wildlife Trust, Tendring District Council and Butterfly Conservation have been working together to deliver the ‘Buckthorn for Brimstone’ campaign.

Nearly 600 Common Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) shrubs were distributed for free from the Council Offices last Friday and Saturday.

The shrubs will act primarily as the sole food plant of the beautiful and much-loved Brimstone butterfly (Gonepteryx rhamni) and will also support many bird and small mammal species, who will also feed on the buckthorn fruits.

The Brimstone is legendary in its ability to find the required shrub on which to lay its eggs; the Common Buckthorn or Alder Buckthorn. The word "butterfly" possibly refers to the male Brimstone's bright yellow colouring: "butter-coloured fly".

Those collecting the plants were provided with an information pack containing planting advice, and details of how to report Brimstone butterfly sightings, via www.essexwtrecords.org.uk.

Recording sightings of the Brimstone butterfly will allow the partnership to monitor the success of the campaign as well as identifying corridor links required to guide any future planting programmes.

Emma Ormond, Living Landscapes Coordinator for Essex Wildlife Trust, said: “We are delighted with the success of this campaign, which has been supported by over 200 councils, schools, community groups, businesses and individuals who will be planting nearly 600 shrubs for the benefit of wildlife across the District.

“This campaign is part of Essex Wildlife Trust’s wider Living Landscapes initiative and the excellent partnership working demonstrated here between Tendring District Council, Essex Wildlife Trust and Butterfly Conservation is vital to the success of this initiative.”

Cllr Neil Stock, Leader of TDC said he was pleased that residents are keen to support the biodiversity of the District: “I believe that it is important to maintain and enhance the qualities of the landscape and the wider environment both for the benefit to wildlife and for local residents as well as visitors to this beautiful part of Essex.”