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Postcode plants database@ Natural History Museum

Postcode plants database

Our aim is to encourage gardeners and other horticulturalists to plant the native trees, shrubs and flowers that are local to their areas. The Postcode Plants Database generates lists of native plants and wildlife for any specified postal district in the UK.

Simply by typing in the first three or four characters of their postcodes, householders, schools, garden centres and councils can obtain tailor-made lists of local plants, many of which are both hospitable to wildlife and suitable for gardens within their postal districts.

We hope that this database will foster greater understanding and awareness of the local environment, helping people to appreciate local plants and their importance for wildlife. Using the Postcode Plants Database to identify suitable plants, gardeners and householders can contribute directly to native species conservation in Britain.

Try it out here: http://www.nhm.ac.uk/nature-online/life/plants-fungi/postcode-plants/

What is a native plant?

Native plants in Britain are those that were already present before the formation of the English Channel. 'Introduced' species or 'aliens' originate from places other than Britain and have usually been transported here by humans. Botanists are now able to distinguish between naturalized and native flora with greater precision than ever before. However, people are often confused about native plants. For example, the horse chestnut and sycamore are often considered native, although both are introduced. This confusion can be compounded by some of the names given to naturalized plants - 'English' lavender and the 'London' plane tree, for example, both of which originate close to the Mediterranean.

Why grow native plants?

As woods and hedgerows disappear, so too do the familiar creatures of the British landscape. All too often this is purely because their habitats - the plants they depend on for the necessities of life - have been removed.
Native plants could be described as the backbone of local ecology. Insects, birds and other animals cannot survive without the food and shelter they provide. In contrast, introduced plants usually offer little to our native wildlife. This is strikingly illustrated by examining native trees, such as oak or hawthorn, and aliens like horse chestnut and 'London' plane. Few insects or other invertebrates will be found on the foreign species and its leaves will be virtually untouched, whereas by comparison a native tree harbours innumerable invertebrates.
Introduced species can disrupt foodchains by depriving animals of their customary diets. As rural environments come under increasing pressure, the cultivation of native plants in gardens and public places provides valuable oases for wildlife.

The gardener's perspective:
Local plants are adapted to local soils and climate and have low maintenance requirements.
Once established, native plants usually withstand long periods of dry weather.
Many will grow in difficult areas of the garden with little or no fertilizer.
Local plants are the essence of regional identity and preserve the character of the British countryside.
People are concerned with the destruction of natural environment throughout the world. We should take care to conserve our own flora, by bringing native plants into cultivation in private gardens and public places.

How gardeners and the Postcode Plants Database can help

Cultivated plants are essential to human survival. Now too, they are becoming crucial to wildlife. By growing those plants that offer food and shelter to wildlife, gardeners can make a real contribution to conservation in their local areas. Anyone with a garden can help redress the balance of declining birds, butterflies and other species by growing leaves and flowers for insects, berries for birds, and thick foliage to shelter a wide range of animals. In this way a valuable wildlife oasis may be created, even in the heart of the city.

Plantlife article on bumblebees.

By selecting appropriate plants using the Postcode Plants Database, gardeners can be sure that the plants they grow will be suitable for wildlife and for their local environment. Not only will they be making a valuable contribution to the conservation of our native ecology, but their gardens will also become arenas for fascinating and rewarding observations of their local animal life.
PLEASE NOTE: Plants should NEVER be uprooted from the wild. Not only is it damaging to the environment, it is illegal under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981), and is punishable by a fine of up to £1,000.

Disclaimer

Please note that the Postcode Plants Database includes historical as well as current records of species distribution, and that distribution data are available for native species only. This means that introduced species will never appear on a postcode list, and that listed species will not necessarily be found in the same areas today.
Please note that the database is not yet complete. Full details of which data are included, their sources, limitations and treatment, can be found in the Database information section of this site.
Any corrections, comments or criticisms should be sent to:
Flora-for-Fauna Database
Biogeography and Conservation Lab.
The Natural History Museum
Cromwell Road
South Kensington
London SW7 5BD
or email us at fff@nhm.ac.uk