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Five new National Plant Collections are awarded by Plant Heritage in Spring 2020. Find out more about these unique collections of Spider Plants, Medlar, Box, Metasequoia and Liriodendron.

29th May, 2020

Horticultural charity Plant Heritage has accredited five new National Plant Collections, including Mercy Morris’ spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum cvs.) collection in Kent, which is the first of its kind in the UK and boasts an impressive 18 different varieties of spider plant.

The charity has also awarded National Plant Collection status to a traditional medlar (Mespilus germanica) orchard in Norfolk (the first of its kind in the county), a Buxus collection in Hampshire which is thriving against all odds, and two new tree collections (Metasequoia and Liriodendron) at RHS Garden Wisley in Surrey.

Mercy Morris has been growing spider plants (Chlorophytum comosum) for as long as she can remember. A chance encounter with an unlabelled cultivar at her local nursery resulted in her setting out to acquire as many different spider plant varieties as she could.

Now, with 18 taxa at her home in Kent, Mercy hopes to dispel the misconception that there is only one ‘type’ of spider plant and is aiming to further expand her collection to Chlorophytum as a genus, especially now it has National Plant Collection status.

Vicki Cooke, Conservation Manager, Plant Heritage explains: “Mercy’s spider plant collection is found in a small, private home (with some plants in the greenhouse too), and is proof that you can successfully care for a National Plant Collection, whatever space you have. Our National Plant Collections contain a staggering 95,000+ plants, held in over 650 collections in all corners of the country. With the help of Collection Holders like Mercy, who keep and nurture these living examples of rare plants, we’re able to conserve the diversity of garden plants for future generations to enjoy.” Vicki adds: “Spider plants are one of the easiest houseplants to grow, so make a fantastic first houseplant for anyone looking to make their home a bit ‘greener’, especially as most of us are spending more time at home.”

Four other National Plant Collections accredited


Medlars (Mespilus germanica), an ancient fruit that is starting to make a comeback through its uses in jelly, fruit cheese and chutney, are the focus of Eastgate Larder in Norfolk. Now, this medlar orchard has become a National Plant Collection – the first in Norfolk and the second in the UK.

Following the extreme weather of 2018 (the Beast from the East in the first half of the year and a heatwave in the second half), the then very young medlar trees survived and are now thriving, producing an abundance of fruit. All fruit grown at this traditional orchard in Norfolk is used for preserves, and now gin too - the latter of which will be available come autumn.

Vicki adds: “We particularly liked the vision of those who are working on the medlar orchard at Eastgate, which is to revive this forgotten type of fruit. Seeing the team at Eastgate producing so many different products with medlars is fantastic, so hopefully this, and its new National Plant Collection status, will help to bring medlars back into the forefront of the publics’ mind.”

In Hampshire you’ll find Andrew Napier’s new Buxus (known as ‘box’ or ‘boxwood’) collection, located just outside Southampton, which boasts well over 100 species and cultivars of Buxus from Europe, NW Africa and Asia. This collection (found mostly in pots in a small back garden) is thriving, despite this popular genus’ recent pest and disease troubles (including box blight and box moth), which shows the importance of having a Collection Holder who is active in researching and conserving these plants.

In the neighbouring county of Surrey, Plant Heritage has also awarded National Plant Collection status to RHS Garden Wisley for their Metasequoia (also known as ‘dawn redwood’) and Liriodendron (also known as the ‘tulip tree’, after its tulip shaped flowers) collections.

To find out more about Plant Heritage, its National Plant Collections or for information about how to become a Collection Holder, Plant Guardian or member, visit www.plantheritage.org.uk.

Conserving the diversity of garden plants

eg: plant genus, common name, county, collection holder name.