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Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

This rare plant is either a biennial or short-lived perennial (2), and shows a strong fidelity for certain areas (4); it has persisted around Witney in Oxfordshire since at least 1632 (2). The species requires a level of soil disturbance so that the heavy seeds may germinate during the temporary reprise from more aggressive competitors (4), and it has benefited from scrub clearance, 2-3 year rotovating, verge cutting and even a stubble fire (2). It flowers from July onwards, sometimes into the autumn (2). Tall, multi-stemmed plants produce most flowers, and the amount of seed set is highest where bumblebees are numerous and most active (2). The seeds are able to remain dormant for a long period, and the plant can return to areas from which it has been absent for some time after hedges are cut back or the ground is disturbed (4).
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Description

This upright herb is densely covered in long, white silky hairs, which give the plant a silvery greyish-green appearance (hence the common name) (2). The flowers occur in a series of whorls up the stem, are pink or pinkish-purple in colour and are about 12-16 mm long, with an upper and lower lip (2). The silky leaves were once used for dressing wounds, and the plant was also thought to relieve stomach pains and menstruation problems (2). The first record of this plant in Britain appeared in Gerard's Herball of 1633, at this time the plant was known as 'Wilde Stingking Horehound' (2).
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Distribution

National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

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Range

In Britain, downy woundwort has been recorded from several counties scattered through southern England, but is now confined to just a few sites on oolite limestone in west Oxfordshire (2). This species is at the northern-most extreme of its range in the UK (4). It is widespread in western, central and southern Europe, and also occurs in North Africa and the Orient (2).
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Physical Description

Type Information

Possible isotype for Stachys bithynica Boiss.
Catalog Number: US 2532215
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Original publication and alleged type specimen examined
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): P. E. Boissier
Year Collected: 1842
Locality: Olympus, Bithynus., Turkey, Asia-Temperate
  • Possible isotype: Boissier, P. E. 1844. Diagn. Pl. Orient. ser. 1. 5: 28.
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Ecology

Habitat

Occurs on dry, moderately calcareous, soils in open grassland, hedge bottoms, tracksides, quarries, scrub, ditch-sides and fallow land (2) with plenty of light and warmth (4).
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Associations

In Great Britain and/or Ireland:
Foodplant / parasite
Neoerysiphe galeopsidis parasitises live Stachys germanica

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Stachys germanica

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: GNR - Not Yet Ranked

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Status

Fully protected under Schedule 8 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981 (3).
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Threats

The main threat is now lack of disturbance; many old sites have become neglected and overgrown (5). The seedlings of the downy woundwort become crowded out by grasses and shaded out by expanding untidy hedgerows (4). Occasionally, seeds have been stripped from plants by wood mice and bank voles (6).
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Management

Conservation

The downy woundwort is fully protected under Schedule 8 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981. It is therefore illegal to uproot, cut, destroy or sell this plant or any part of it (3).
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