Scots flowers face extinction as global warming hits

Himalayan blue poppy flower. Picture: Contributed
Himalayan blue poppy flower. Picture: Contributed
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Some of Scotland’s best-loved flowers are facing extinction as a result of global warming, scientists have warned.

Research by students at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh predicts species such as clematis could be “noticeably worse off” in 50 years’ time.

Others, including the rhododendron, could flourish and even presently chilly Shetland could become the preferred habitat of some species.

There is particularly bad news for Edinburgh in the research as the Himalayan Blue Poppy, part of the city’s floral emblem, is predicted to wilt under the newly-fierce Scottish sun. The research – entitled Forward planning for Scottish gardens in the face of climate change – focused on four plants commonly found in backyards across Scotland.

Researchers Chris Smart and Dr Alan Elliott used the “worst-case scenario” climate models for 2070 which predict Scotland will be hotter and drier all year round.

The most alarming outcome was for the future of the Himalayan Blue Poppy, a beautiful flowering plant.

The paper states that the suitable climatic conditions for the poppy are predicted to “reduce significantly”, with only the far north-east and parts of Shetland expected to remain in its climatic comfort zone.

There is already evidence for failure of the poppy during hot, dry summers in Fife, where additional watering has very little effect on the survival of the plants.

Another species expected to suffer in the wake of climate change is the clematis montana – a flowering plant commonly used by gardeners to cover unsightly structures such as sheds and walls.

Despite the current Scottish climate being largely unfavourable, the plant thrives and is known for its widespread use and reliability.

However, the prediction for 2070 is that the clematis could end up “noticeably worse off” as the country becomes increasingly warmer and drier.

The skimmia japonica, a native Japanese plant which boasts shiny red berries, currently flourishes in the east of Scotland. But by 2070 this could dramatically change, as it is predicted the plant will begin to prosper in places including Shetland and Aberdeenshire.

David Knott, curator of living collections at the Botanics, said: “The research confirms what people have been suspecting for some time.

“There is no quick fix for this and it’s always good to have scientific data to back up what we thought might happen.”