A wildlife charity has warned that 700 species of flowers are at risk due to councils mowing their road verges too early in the year.
Plantlife said many summer flowers are not getting the chance to set seed before being mowed, which also impacted on the wildlife that relies on them for food.
It found that yellow rattle and eyebrights have been ‘all but eradicated’ by early spring cutting, while white campion and man orchid are becoming increasingly rare.
The charity has launched the Good Verge Guide to encourage councils and community groups to cut road verges later in the year to protect wildflowers.
It also said that introducing certain flowers to verges, such as yellow rattle could actually reduce grass growth.
Plantlife’s botanical expert Dr Trevor Dines, explained: ‘It’s a win-win situation. Yellow rattle acts like nature’s lawn mower. With grass growth reduced naturally, less mowing is needed (with savings for the council budget) and more flowers grow, bringing colour back to verges and providing essential nectar for pollinators and food and shelter for a wealth of other wildlife.’
Dorset, Anglesey and Gwynedd councils are currently trialling the use of yellow rattle on road verges to see the impact it can have on grass maintenance.