Norfolk flapwort (Lophozia rutheana)
formerly Leiocolea rutheana - Species Action Plan

Ref 1/S24 Species Action Plan 24
Plan Author: Norfolk Wildlife Trust
Plan Co-ordinator: Norfolk Wildlife Trust
Final Draft 31 December 1998
Revised Final Draft 1 March 2005

Action Plan Summary

Current Status

National Status

  • Known to occur at two sites - Scarning Fen in Norfolk and Orton Moor in Cumbria. The former site is var. laxa and the latter site is var. rutheana (pers comm F.Rose). Both varieties formerly occurred in Norfolk. The size of the Cumbrian population is unknown. In addition to the records cited it has been recorded from Ireland (Lockhart 1989), and Scotland (Corner, in Blackstock 2002). The first of these references includes useful notes on the phytosociology and ecology of the species.
  • Leicolea is asociated with the highly restricted Juncus subnodulosus- Schoenus nigricans (M13) vegetation community.
  • The species is listed as critically endangered on the GB Red List and is protected under schedule 8 of the WCA 1981.

Norfolk Status

  • According to Rose (1997) it is found at Scarning Fen and is not threatened through habitat changes at present. It has not been recorded from former sites for a number of years, namely Flordon Common, Buxton Heath, Booton Common, Holt Lowes, Swangey Fen (location probably destroyed) and possibly Coston and Kettlestone Fens. A survey undertaken in July 1997 did not locate Leicolea at any of these former sites.

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Current factors causing loss or decline in Norfolk

  • Lack of management, drainage and moss gathering have contributed to the decline of the species in Norfolk. A number of sites are considered to retain the NVC M13 community and calcareous flush fen species with which Leiocolea is associated.
  • Any plans to widen the A47 in Norfolk may adversely impact on Scarning Fen.

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Current Action in Norfolk

  • Fen management is being undertaken at Buxton Heath, Booton Common and Holt Lowes, although the last named site may require further considerable scrub clearance should the original location for Leiocolea be found. The continued presence of suitable habitat may be problematic following scrub clearance. Flordon Common and Coston Fen are both SSSIs and management should be undertaken to achieve favourable condition. 
  • The management situation at Kettlestone Fens (County Wildlife Site) is considered to be unfavourable.
  • Francis Rose surveyed former and extant sites to ascertain status and make recommendations on future management. A report was produced by FR on the past status and nomenclature of the species (Rose, F. Norfolk Flapwort (Leiocolea rutheana) Historical report 1997).
  • A survey was undertaken during 2004 of all extant and former sites to ascertain the habitat management requirements and suitability for introduction (conclusions not published to date).

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Action Plan Objectives and Targets


  • Maintain the existing populations.
  • Survey to establish current distribution.
  • Re-establish in at least five former sites by 2004.


  • Maintain existing population.
  • Enhance former sites.
  • Introduce appropriate variety to suitable sites by 2010 based on conclusions of 2004 survey.

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