Many councils are threatening wildflowers and the wildlife that depend on them by cutting verges too early in the year, campaigners have warned.
Plantlife, which campaigns to protect wild flowers, plants and fungi, says many councils have already started cutting verges - much too early for flowers to be able set seed - and should delay the work.
A new study by the group shows Britain’s road verges are home to 703 species of wild plants, more than in any other part of the landscape, but 87 of them are either threatened with extinction or heading that way.
It says wild plants provide nectar and pollen for bees and other insects, making road verges essential refuges for insect life.
Plantlife has produced new management guidelines and is urging the public to sign a petition asking local councils to adopt them.
Dr Trevor Dines, Plantlife’s botanical specialist, said: 'Road safety is the absolute priority, but we know that verges can be managed better for wildlife whilst remaining safe for motorists.
'This means adopting some simple changes to management – like a delay in cutting to allow seed to be set - so that wildflowers can thrive'.