Red-Tipped Cudweed (Filago lutescens) - Species Action Plan

Ref 2/S15 Species Action Plan 15
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-tipped cudweed is a species of light, open soil generally on extensively managed arable land or other disturbed ground including field edges, tracks and sandy commons. It is an annual plant which flowers mainly between July and October. Most seed germination takes place in the autumn, with a second flush in spring. Observations suggest that there is no innate seed dormancy, and it seems unlikely that it has a persistent seed-bank, although this requires further investigation.
  • Although once recorded as far north as Yorkshire, the UK range of red-tipped cudweed has always centred around the south-east of England. It has suffered a severe decline over the last 50 years, from 212 sites pre-1930 to just 16 sites today (two of these have not been surveyed since 1994). Its remaining sites are in Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex, Essex, Cambridgeshire and Suffolk, with the largest populations in Surrey. Red-tipped cudweed remains relatively widespread in continental Europe, particularly in central Europe, but appears to be declining throughout its range.
  • In Great Britain, red-tipped cudweed is classified as Vulnerable. It is specially protected under Schedule 8 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

Norfolk Status

  • Red-tipped cudweed has been recorded from only five sites since 1950, and was found at only one site in 1997 (a disused railway line in Snettisham). A recent (2005) isolated record has been received from Forest Enterprise land at Weeting Forest near Brandon.

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Current factors causing loss or decline in Norfolk

The following factors were largely responsible for the decline of red-tipped cudweed and are now proving to be constraints on its recovery:

  • Increased use of herbicides and fertilisers;
  • The development of highly productive crop varieties;
  • The destruction of field margin refuges;
  • Earlier summer harvests, destroying plants before they have set seed;
  • The demise of traditional crop rotations;
  • The conversion of marginal arable land to pasture in traditional areas of mixed farming;
  • Metalling and hard-coring of unmade paths and tracks;
  • Possibly the decline in stock and rabbit populations on heathlands, leading to the loss of beneficial disturbance.

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Current Action in Norfolk

  • None specifically for this plant. Plantlife has been involved with this species in the past, but is not currently active.

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Action Plan Objectives and Targets


  • Maintain viable populations of this species at all extant sites.
  • Achieve an increase in population size at ten extant populations by 2010.
  • Establish three metapopulations by 2010.


  • Ensure that the population remains viable at the remaining current sites.
  • Provide opportunities for the spread of red-tipped cudweed from extant sites.

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