Ice Age flower is still quite at home in balmy Headington

The Lye Valley Nature Reserve is hosting a rare flower – the Grass of Parnassus – which is in bloom at the moment. The Friends of Lye Valley are thrilled, and some of them are pictured with their chairwoman, front centre, Dr Judy Webb

The Lye Valley Nature Reserve is hosting a rare flower – the Grass of Parnassus – which is in bloom at the moment. The Friends of Lye Valley are thrilled, and some of them are pictured with their chairwoman, front centre, Dr Judy Webb

First published in News

AN 8,000-year-old flower is blossoming in an Oxford meadow.

The fragile and rare Grass of Parnassus thrives in the peat bog of the Lye Valley, Headington, where it has flowered since the last Ice Age.

Experts believe it probably arrived there on the feet of mammoths or other prehistoric animals whose bones have been found in the adjacent Boundary Brook.

The Lye Valley is the most southerly place the grass is found in England.

Dr Judy Webb, chair of the Friends of Lye Valley, said: “The Lye Valley is without doubt the most ancient habitat in all Oxford.

“We are very good at caring for old buildings and inviting new research organisations to establish themselves in Oxford – but the Lye Valley tops them all for age, rarity and uniqueness.

“Grass of Parnassus should be Headington’s icon, for my research has revealed that the first ever records of the plant were made in Oxford in 1570 by a Belgian Botanist, Matthias de L’Obel. It was noted in Headington in this very wetland as long ago as 1640 and it is remarkable that is has survived to this day.”

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