292 different plant species were identified on Churchill College’s campus during a year-long audit by Jonathan Shanklin, the Botanical Society of Britain & Ireland Recorder for Cambridgeshire, showing the impact of our Grounds & Gardens team in supporting biodiversity on site.

Churchill College’s near 50 acre site spans a variety of habitats including sports pitches, meadows, garden beds, copses, former private gardens in Storey’s Way, a winterbourne (weather-dependent stream) and isolated trees and lawns. Biodiversity is a prime consideration on our site, so as well as beautifully tended borders, we also make space for wilder areas, to allow many kinds of wildlife and plant life to thrive.

During 12 months from Autumn 2021 to Autumn 2022, Jonathan visited the site roughly quarterly to audit the plants in the grounds. He took a general look over the whole area, so there may still be some undiscovered gems, but the audit provides a good overview of the types of flora on site.

While almost 300 different plant species were identified, 15 were noted as species on the county Register of Plants of Conservation Concern. A further 34 were “axiophytes” which means they indicate a good or interesting habitat. The 292 species excludes all the planted trees and borders.

Jonathan noted that some of the axiophytes and RPCC species were introduced as part of the biodiversity improvement work undertaken by the Grounds & Gardens team. Some of these plants are becoming established, while others have either been present in the College grounds for a long time or have been able to arrive and persist thanks to the development of “nature friendly policies”. Notably not using total weedkillers and not spraying the lawns has encouraged more biodiversity.

When thinking about actively targeting areas for biodiversity improvement by introducing species, the Grounds & Gardens team have planted in order to add diversity as well as improve habitats. A large spring flowering bulbs project took place last year, and wildflower plugs and seed have been sown which are suitable for our site’s conditions. Other plants, like yellow-rattle were introduced to naturally slow the growth of the more vigorous grasses allowing the wildflowers to flourish.  Yellow-rattle is a hemiparasitic plant that grows on the roots of grasses.

Mistletoe is another hemiparasitic plant, which has both male and female forms. Mistletoe takes water and nutrients from the tree but it has green leaves which photosynthesise.  Mistletoe can weaken trees but rarely kills them so it’s allowed to flourish on site.

In the last year, the College has also invested in “green roofs”, using the covered walkways, bike sheds and garages to grow sedum. This has a twofold benefit, in that the plants help absorb some of the water and slows down the rest that goes into the drainage, and also creates more green space to support insect and other plant life.

As well as the proactive approach to planting, the Churchill College site has benefited from “natural” arrivals. These include the pyramidal and bee orchid, whose seeds only germinate if it finds the right fungal partner, subject to suitable habitat being provided. Hawkweed oxtongue and cotton-thistle are also new arrivals.

John Moore, Head of Grounds & Gardens, said “Churchill College is favoured with a wide variety of habitats across its acreage, and the Grounds & Gardens team work hard to make sure that biodiversity is supported and integrated across it. It’s been fascinating working with Jonathan, and it’s very rewarding to see efforts paying off with the wide variety of both established and new plants that the grounds support.”

Flora of Churchill College – 2021-2022

Botanical nomenclature follows Stace III.

Status: Ax = axiophyte. RPCC = Register of Plants of Conservation Concern.

Acer campestreField Maple 
Acer platanoidesNorway Maple 
Acer pseudoplatanusSycamore 
Achillea millefoliumYarrow 
Aesculus carneaRed Horse-chestnut 
Aesculus hippocastanumHorse-chestnut 
Aethusa cynapiumFool’s Parsley 
Agrimonia eupatoriaAgrimony 
Agrostis capillarisCommon Bent 
Agrostis giganteaBlack BentAx
Agrostis stoloniferaCreeping Bent 
Ailanthus altissimaTree-of-heaven 
Alliaria petiolataGarlic Mustard 
Allium paradoxumFew-flowered Garlic 
Allium vinealeWild Onion 
Alnus cordataItalian Alder 
Alopecurus myosuroidesBlack-grass 
Alopecurus pratensisMeadow Foxtail 
Anacamptis pyramidalisPyramidal OrchidAx
Anagallis arvensisScarlet Pimpernel 
Anemanthele lessonianaNew Zealand Wind-grass 
Anisantha sterilisBarren Brome 
Anthoxanthum odoratumSweet Vernal-grassAx
Anthriscus sylvestrisCow Parsley 
Anthyllis vulnerariaKidney VetchAx
Aquilegia vulgarisColumbine 
Arabidopsis thalianaThale CressAx
Arctium lappaGreater Burdock 
Arrhenatherum elatiusFalse Oat-Grass 
Artemisia vulgarisMugwort 
Arum maculatumLords-and-Ladies 
Aster x versicolorLate Michaelmas Daisy (A. laevis x novi-belgii) 
Atriplex patulaCommon Orache 
Atriplex prostrataSpear-leaved Orache 
Ballota nigraBlack Horehound 
Bellis perennisDaisy 
Borago officinalisBorageAx
Brachypodium sylvaticumFalse-brome 
Bromus hordeaceusSoft-brome 
Brunnera macrophyllaGreat Forget-me-not 
Bryonia dioicaWhite Bryony 
Buddleja davidiiButterfly-bush 
Calystegia silvaticaLarge Bindweed 
Campanula persicifoliaPeach-leaved Bellflower 
Capsella bursa-pastorisShepherd’s-purse 
Cardamine hirsutaHairy Bitter-cress 
Cardamine pratensisCuckooflower 
Carduus crispusWelted Thistle 
Carex hirtaHairy Sedge 
Carex pendulaPendulous Sedge 
Carpinus betulusHornbeam 
Centaurea nigraCommon Knapweed 
Centaurea scabiosaGreater Knapweed 
Centranthus ruberRed Valerian 
Cerastium fontanumCommon Mouse-ear 
Cerastium glomeratumSticky Mouse-ear 
Cerastium semidecandrumLittle Mouse-earAx
Chamaecyparis lawsonianaLawson’s Cypress 
Chenopodium albumFat-hen 
Chenopodium ficifoliumFig-leaved Goosefoot 
Chenopodium polyspermumMany-seeded Goosefoot 
Cirsium arvenseCreeping Thistle 
Cirsium vulgareSpear Thistle 
Clematis vitalbaTraveller’s-joy 
Conium maculatumHemlock 
Convolvulus arvensisField Bindweed 
Conyza sumatrensisGuernsey Fleabane 
Corylus avellanaHazel 
Cotoneaster lacteusLate Cotoneaster 
Crataegus monogynaHawthorn 
Crepis capillarisSmooth Hawk’s-beard 
Crepis vesicariaBeaked Hawk’s-beard 
Crocus tommasinianusEarly Crocus 
Cyclamen hederifoliumSowbread 
Cynara scolymusGlobe Artichoke 
Cynosurus cristatusCrested Dog’s-tail 
Dactylis glomerataCock’s-foot 
Daphne laureolaSpurge-laurelAx
Daucus carotaCarrot 
Echinops bannaticusBlue Globe-thistle 
Echium vulgareViper’s-buglossAx
Elytrigia repensCommon Couch 
Epilobium ciliatumAmerican Willowherb 
Epilobium hirsutumGreat Willowherb 
Epilobium parviflorumHoary Willowherb 
Epilobium tetragonumSquare-stalked Willowherb 
Equisetum arvenseField Horsetail 
Eranthis hyemalisWinter Aconite 
Erodium cicutarium agg.Common Stork’s-billAx
Erophila vernaCommon Whitlowgrass 
Eschscholzia californicaCalifornian Poppy 
Euonymus europaeusSpindle 
Euphorbia helioscopiaSun Spurge 
Euphorbia peplusPetty Spurge 
Fagus sylvaticaBeech 
Fallopia convolvulusBlack-bindweed 
Festuca ovina agg.Sheep’s-fescueAx
Festuca rubra agg.Red Fescue 
Ficaria vernaLesser Celandine 
Ficaria verna subsp. fertilisLesser Celandine 
Ficaria verna subsp. vernaLesser Celandine 
Filago vulgarisCommon CudweedRPCC, Ax, Near Threatened,
Fragaria vescaWild StrawberryRPCC, Ax
Fraxinus excelsiorAsh 
Fritillaria meleagrisFritillaryRPCC Vulnerable
Frullania dilatataDilated Scalewort 
Fumaria officinalisCommon Fumitory 
Galanthus elwesiiGreater Snowdrop 
Galanthus nivalisSnowdrop 
Galanthus plicatusPleated Snowdrop 
Galanthus woronowiiGreen Snowdrop 
Galium albumHedge Bedstraw 
Galium aparineCleavers 
Galium verumLady’s Bedstraw 
Galium x pomeranicumG. verum x album 
Geranium dissectumCut-leaved Crane’s-bill 
Geranium molleDove’s-foot Crane’s-bill 
Geranium pratenseMeadow Crane’s-billAx
Geranium pusillumSmall-flowered Crane’s-bill 
Geranium pyrenaicumHedgerow Crane’s-bill 
Geranium robertianumHerb-Robert 
Geranium rotundifoliumRound-leaved Crane’s-billAx
Geum urbanumWood Avens 
Glechoma hederaceaGround-ivy 
Hedera helixCommon Ivy 
Helleborus foetidusStinking HelleboreNationally Scarce RPCC, Ax
Helminthotheca echioidesBristly Oxtongue 
Holcus lanatusYorkshire-fog 
Hordeum murinumWall Barley 
Hyacinthoides non-scriptaBluebellAx
Hyacinthoides x massartianaHybrid Bluebell (H. non-scripta x hispanica) 
Hypochaeris radicataCat’s-ear 
Ilex aquifoliumHolly 
Iris foetidissimaStinking Iris 
Juglans regiaWalnut 
Knautia macedonicaMacedonian scabious 
Lactuca serriolaPrickly Lettuce 
Lamium albumWhite Dead-nettle 
Lamium amplexicauleHenbit Dead-nettle 
Lamium hybridumCut-leaved Dead-nettle 
Lamium purpureumRed Dead-nettle 
Lapsana communisNipplewort 
Lepidium campestreField PepperwortRPCC, Ax
Lepidium didymumLesser Swine-cress 
Lepidium drabaHoary Cress 
Leucanthemum vulgareOxeye Daisy 
Ligustrum vulgareWild Privet 
Lolium perennePerennial Rye-grass 
Lonicera x purpusiiL. fragrantissima x standishii 
Lophocolea bidentataBifid Crestwort 
Lotus corniculatus var. sativus  
Luzula campestrisField Wood-rushAx
Lythrum salicariaPurple-loosestrife 
Mahonia aquifoliumOregon-grape 
Malva moschataMusk-mallowAx
Malva neglectaDwarf Mallow 
Malva sylvestrisCommon Mallow 
Marchantia polymorpha subsp. ruderalisCommon Liverwort 
Matricaria chamomillaScented Mayweed 
Matricaria discoideaPineappleweed 
Medicago arabicaSpotted Medick 
Medicago lupulinaBlack Medick 
Medicago sativa subsp. sativaLucerne 
Melilotus officinalisRibbed Melilot 
Melissa officinalisBalm 
Mentha spicataSpear MintRPCC, Ax
Mercurialis perennisDog’s Mercury 
Myosotis arvensisField Forget-me-not 
Myosotis sylvaticaWood Forget-me-not 
Narcissus agg.Cultivated Daffodil 
Nigella damascenaLove-in-a-mist 
Nuphar luteaYellow Water-lily 
Nymphaea albaWhite Water-lilyRPCC, Ax
Onopordum acanthiumCotton Thistle 
Ophrys apiferaBee Orchid 
Ornithogalum umbellatum subsp. campestreStar-of-BethlehemAx
Ornithogalum umbellatum subsp. umbellatumGarden Star-of-Bethlehem 
Papaver atlanticumAtlas Poppy 
Papaver lecoqiiYellow-juiced Poppy 
Papaver somniferumOpium Poppy 
Pastinaca sativaParsnip 
Paulownia tomentosaFoxglove-tree 
Pentaglottis sempervirensGreen Alkanet 
Persicaria amphibiaAmphibious Bistort 
Phleum bertoloniiSmaller Cat’s-tail 
Picea abiesNorway Spruce 
Picris hieracioidesHawkweed OxtongueAx
Pinus sylvestrisScots PineNationally Scarce – Planted
Plantago coronopusBuck’s-horn Plantain 
Plantago lanceolataRibwort Plantain 
Plantago majorGreater Plantain 
Plantago mediaHoary PlantainRPCC
Platanus x hispanicaLondon Plane (P. occidentalis x orientalis) 
Poa annuaAnnual Meadow-grass 
Poa nemoralisWood Meadow-grass 
Poa pratensisSmooth Meadow-grass 
Poa trivialisRough Meadow-grass 
Polygonum aviculareKnotgrass 
Polygonum aviculare agg.Knotgrass 
Populus x jackiiP. balsamifera x deltoides 
Potentilla reptansCreeping Cinquefoil 
Poterium sanguisorba subsp. balearicumFodder Burnet 
Primula verisCowslip 
Primula vulgarisPrimrose 
Primula x polyanthaFalse Oxlip (P. veris x vulgaris) 
Prunella vulgarisSelfheal 
Prunus aviumWild Cherry 
Prunus cerasiferaCherry Plum 
Prunus laurocerasusCherry Laurel 
Quercus ilexEvergreen Oak 
Quercus roburPedunculate Oak 
Ranunculus acrisMeadow Buttercup 
Ranunculus bulbosusBulbous Buttercup 
Ranunculus repensCreeping Buttercup 
Reseda luteolaWeld 
Rhinanthus minorYellow-rattleAx
Rosa canina agg.Dog-rose 
Rubus armeniacus  
Rubus ulmifoliusElm-leaved Bramble 
Rubus vestitus Ax
Rumex acetosaCommon SorrelAx
Rumex crispusCurled Dock 
Rumex obtusifoliusBroad-leaved Dock 
Rumex sanguineusWood Dock 
Sagina filicaulisUpright Pearlwort 
Sagina procumbensProcumbent Pearlwort 
Salix albaWhite Willow 
Salix capreaGoat Willow 
Sambucus nigraElder 
Schedonorus arundinaceusTall Fescue 
Scilla forbesiiGlory-of-the-snow 
Scorzoneroides autumnalisAutumn Hawkbit 
Sedum albumWhite Stonecrop 
Senecio erucifoliusHoary Ragwort 
Senecio jacobaeaCommon Ragwort 
Senecio viscosusSticky GroundselAx
Senecio vulgarisGroundsel 
Sherardia arvensisField Madder 
Silene dioicaRed Campion 
Silene flos-cuculiRagged-RobinRPCC, Ax
Silene latifoliaWhite Campion 
Silene vulgarisBladder Campion 
Silene x hampeanaPink Campion (S. dioica x latifolia) 
Sinapis arvensisCharlock 
Sisymbrium officinaleHedge Mustard 
Solanum nigrumBlack Nightshade 
Sonchus arvensisPerennial Sow-thistle 
Sonchus asperPrickly Sow-thistle 
Sonchus oleraceusSmooth Sow-thistle 
Sorbus aucupariaRowan 
Stellaria mediaCommon Chickweed 
Stellaria pallidaLesser ChickweedRPCC, Ax
Symphoricarpos albusSnowberry 
Symphytum orientaleWhite Comfrey 
Syringa vulgarisLilac 
Tanacetum partheniumFeverfew 
Taraxacum agg.Dandelion 
Taxus baccataYew 
Thlaspi arvenseField Penny-cress 
Tilia x euchloraCaucasian Lime (T.cordata x dasystyla) 
Torilis nodosaKnotted Hedge-parsleyRPCC
Tragopogon pratensisGoat’s-beard 
Trifolium dubiumLesser Trefoil 
Trifolium pratenseRed Clover 
Trifolium repensWhite Clover 
Tripleurospermum inodorumScentless Mayweed 
Trisetum flavescensYellow Oat-grass 
Tulipa gesnerianaGarden Tulip 
Ulmus x vegetaHuntington Elm (U. glabra x minor) 
Urtica dioicaCommon Nettle 
Valerianella carinataKeeled-fruited CornsaladRPCC
Verbascum phlomoidesOrange Mullein 
Veronica agrestisGreen Field-speedwell 
Veronica arvensisWall Speedwell 
Veronica beccabungaBrooklimeRPCC
Veronica chamaedrysGermander Speedwell 
Veronica filiformisSlender Speedwell 
Veronica hederifolia subsp. lucorumIvy-leaved Speedwell 
Veronica persicaCommon Field-speedwell 
Veronica serpyllifoliaThyme-leaved Speedwell 
Vicia craccaTufted Vetch 
Vicia hirsutaHairy TareAx
Vicia parvifloraSlender TareRPCC, Ax, Vulnerable
Vicia sativa subsp. segetalisCommon Vetch 
Viola odorata var. imberbisSweet VioletRPCC
Viola odorata var. odorataSweet Violet 
Viscum albumMistletoeAx
Vulpia myurosRat’s-tail Fescue