COTONEASTER INTEGERRIMUS A CONSERVATION EXERCISE M. Morris Summary This article describes the author's attempts to save the rare plant Cotoneaster integerrimus from its continuing decline on the Great Orme at Llandudno. After trials and errors the plant has been propagated successfully and seven new plants have been reintroduced on limestone ledges. Today the Great Orme is well known for its interesting and rare plants and has become the Mecca of botanists visiting North Wales. This, however, has not always been the case, for such prominent botanists as John Ray, Edward Llwyd, Dillenius and others who collected plants in the early eighteenth century never included this headland in their itineraries. The town of Llandudno did not then exist and the area consisted of only a few miners' and fishermen's cottages. Perhaps the reason why it was by-passed by these early botanists was its relative isolation at the time. Visitors even today travel to the town of Llandudno rather than through it. It was not until 1783 that Cotoneaster integerrimus was first discovered on the Great Orme by John Wynne Griffith of Gam, and the discovery made public in 1821 by William Wilson, the bryologist from Warrington. A great many botanists must have visited the area since those days and some of them with one specific aim: to see this very rare plant and obtain a specimen for their herbaria. Unfortunately, the vigour of the half dozen or so plants did not match the avidity of these specimen collectors, coupled possibly with the depredations of their young growth by the resident feral goats which roam on the Great Orme throughout the year. In the course of the past twenty years I have noted a gradual deterioration in all but one of the plants and there has been no evidence of natural regeneration, either vegetative or from seed. Although the most robust of the plants does produce a few suckers, any extension of the new growth is restricted by the isolated nature of the habitat. Consequently, I decided that if some form of conservation was not undertaken soon, C. integerrimus would become one more name on the extinct list. In July 1970 three half-ripe cuttings were taken and placed in John Innes rooting compost in a clay pot and covered with a polythene bag. The three failed to root. The following year, three more cuttings were taken and given to a professional horticulturalist to root under mist propagation conditions. These three also failed to root. In 1972 no further attempt was made with cuttings as I felt that taking cuttings which failed to root was doing more harm than good. After considering other methods of propagation, I decided to air-layer a thin twig approximately fifteen inches long that grew on the underside of the strongest of the plants. This was done in August 1973 under very cramped conditions and with the knowledge that I was doing surgery on one of the national rarities. The operation completed, I left the scene dripping with sweat and with a rather troubled conscience. In
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