Sandy Stiltball (Battarraea phalloides) - Species Action Plan

Ref 1/S20 Species Action Plan 20
Plan Author: NWT and Norfolk County Council
Plan Co-ordinator: Communities and Nature BAP Topic Group
31 December 1998 First version
Revised version 4 November 2010

Action Plan Summary

Current Status

National Status

  • This species was first noted in Britain in 1782 near Bungay on the Norfolk/Suffolk border, by W. Humphrey.
  • There is a record from 1937 attributed to E.A. Ellis from TM3290, Earsham area, near Bungay. This and the initial record above might actually be from Suffolk.
  • The most reliable sites are in Norfolk and Suffolk, but there have been recordings in some of the southern counties including Surrey, Kent, Avon, Gloucester, Oxfordshire, and in Jersey. In total, there are approximately 24 recorded sites in the UK (JNCC 2007). The Biodiversity Action Reporting System (BARS) gives a figure of 16 occupied 10km squares in 2005.
  • Very little is known of this fungus, which requires a dry, sunny habitat, possibly facing towards the light and possibly inside hollow trees. It was first described from Britain and has a scattered distribution in western Europe. Although it was formerly known from much further north, its main areas of distribution became confined to sites in southern and eastern England.
  • This species is listed as endangered on the GB Red List and is protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981 (Schedule 8).

Norfolk Status

  • The species has been recorded at probably no more than ten sites in Norfolk or on the Norfolk/Suffolk border, including six since 1995. A summary of recent records for Norfolk is given in Table 1 below.
  • The species was formally described in 1784 from specimens from the Bungay area (Woodward, T. J Royal Society). However, no accurate details have been found for this site.
  • Sandy stiltball was noted near east Norwich and Stoke Holy Cross in the nineteenth century. One specimen was recorded in this area by Mr T Dove in both 2000 and 2001. However, a site on the western side of the road (TG 231026) was searched with no results by Helen Baczkowska (Norfolk Wildlife Trust) in 2000.
  • An October 2010 survey for the sandy stiltball by Lizzy Carroll (NBIS) of the six post-1995 sites recorded the species only at the Norwich/Ipswich Road/Harford Hill (TG220055) and Drayton (TG093128) sites (both of which are Roadside Nature Reserves).

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Current factors causing loss or decline in Norfolk

  • Little is known about this fungus and its occurrences are sporadic, rendering it possible that it has always been rare. It is therefore difficult to determine whether the species is declining; however, some of the existing sites, on road verges, are vulnerable.
  • Existing sites are not always well managed and are vulnerable to fly tipping (especially at Drayton Road) and to becoming dominated by taller, rank vegetation (notably at Harford Hill).
  • Where the fungus occurs on road verges, cutting when fruiting bodies are visible would be damaging.
  • It should also be noted that this species can occur sporadically and at varying times of the year, thus making the collection of records difficult.

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Current Action in Norfolk

  • Three of the Norfolk sites are on road verges that are listed on the Roadside Nature Reserve (RNR) directory, held by Norfolk County Council. Additionally, Danby Wood is a Local Nature Reserve (LNR) managed by Norwich City Council and listed as a County Wildlife Site (CWS).
  • The RNR sites are monitored annually.
  • Most of the sites for recent records have been visited by Trevor Dove of the Norfolk Mycology Group and records are held on the Norfolk Fungus Record Database. This has enabled some work to be done on eliminating duplicate records and wrongly recorded locations, giving a more accurate impression of the fungus’ distribution in the county.

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Action Plan Objectives and Targets


  • Maintain the known range of sandy stiltball at 16 10km squares.


  • Maintain and protect populations at the two sites where the species was recorded in 2010 (Harford Hill and Drayton Road)
  • By 2015, seek to re-establish populations at the four other sites where the species has been recorded since 1995, through appropriate habitat management (Cockley Cley verge, Stoke Holy Cross, Narborough layby and Cockley Cley RNR).

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