Autumn squill

Scientific name: Scilla autumnalis

Status: Nationally scarce

Flowering time: July- September

Description: Dense spikes of pale mauve flowers. Bulbous perennial.

Social history: In 1831, Mrs Glennie (the wife of Brunel’s assistant) warned him that the building work for the Clifton Suspension Bridge would destroy a colony of this rare plant, so Brunel had turfs containing the bulbs dug up and replaced further along the Gorge. It’s the first record of someone moving or translocating a plant for conservation reasons.

Taxonomy: Asparagaceae (or asparagus) family.

Global and national distribution: Restricted to southern England. It is found in southern and western Europe, northwest Africa and Asia to Iran.

Threats: Shading out by taller vegetation. It requires an open sunny site.

Photographs: ©Denice Stout, ©Phil Jearey.