September 14, 2016
One of the UK’s rarest wildflowers is thriving in the historic ruins of Hastings Castle.
The plant, known as lesser calamint, is extremely rare and found in only a few sites throughout the country.
It is thought the fact the castle grounds have remained virtually undeveloped for centuries has allowed the flower to survive.
Hastings Castle’s Leanna Lawson said: “A member of our staff decided to find out more about this mysterious flowering shrub which appeared to be growing out of the side of one of the castle’s remaining walls.
“She sent a description and image of it to a local expert who confirmed it was lesser calamint and went on to say the castle was the only known site in the town where it grew.
“The plant is also only found at a few isolated sites across the country and is increasingly threatened by development and building works.
“We’re delighted the castle has been able to protect such a rare species for such a long time and we are doing our best to look after it and to encourage it to grow and spread within the castle grounds,” she added.
As its name suggests, the plant’s leaves smell of a mix of mint and oregano when touched. In Italy the leaves are ground up and used as a culinary spice.
The perennial shrub forms compact mounds of shiny, green oregano-like leaves with lavender pink flowers which attract bees and butterflies.
The plant reaches a height of 18 inches and will self-seed.
With its stunning views across the town and out to sea Hastings Castle is forever linked with the most famous date in English history 1066.
Visitors can walk around the ruins of Hastings Castle and explore the cloistered chapel, the East Gate and the Chapter House.
They can also discover the dungeons carved out of the rock beneath the North Gate and find out all about the fascinating history of Britain’s first Norman castle.