Red Hemp-Nettle (Galeopsis angustifolia) - Species Action Plan

Ref 2/S14 Species Action Plan 14
Plan Author: Norfolk County Council
Plan Co-ordinator: Farmland BAP Topic Group
Plan Leader Natural England
Final April 2007

Action Plan Summary

Current Status

National Status

  • Red hemp-nettle is a species of arable land, found mostly on calcareous soils but also on coastal sands and shingle in the southern counties of England and Wales. Its distribution is correlated with open vegetation on well-drained soils in sunny locations with low rainfall. It is a summer annual which tends to germinate in spring. Consequently, many plants are eradicated during harvest or by early autumn cultivation before they have set seed. It is therefore most frequently found in spring-sown crops.
  • Red hemp-nettle has shown a severe decline since 1930. It has been recorded from a total of 116 ten km squares since 1970, but has been seen in only 61 of these since 1980. Elsewhere, it is found in western, central and southern Europe, eastwards to Poland and Bulgaria. It is rare in north-western Europe.
  • In Great Britain, this species is classified as Nationally Scarce. It receives general protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

Norfolk Status

  • Now very scarce and recently seen only at Snettisham RSPB Reserve, where it was recorded from 1951 to 1970, then re-found in 1995.

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Current factors causing loss or decline in Norfolk

  • Widespread use of herbicides and fertilisers.
  • The development of highly productive crop varieties.
  • Destruction of field edge refuges.
  • Autumn cultivation which destroys plants before they have set seed.
  • The demise of traditional crop rotations and cultivation on marginal arable land.
  • Recreation and tourism on coastal sites may be important factors, but further research is needed to clarify their significance.
  • In the future, the species may be vulnerable to sea level rise and increases in salinity.

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Current Action in Norfolk

  • Coastal populations at Snettisham are protected within SSSIs.
  • The Norfolk Flora Group checks records for this species.

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Action Plan Objectives and Targets


  • Maintain current range of natural populations within 77 10km squares in the UK.
  • Achieve a two-fold increase in the area of habitat suitable for the natural colonisation of the species by 2010 in priority areas.


  • Ensure that the population remains viable at all current sites.

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