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Spring flowers face extinction after blooming in autumn puts them at risk of frost

Bluebells are blooming too early due to rising temperatures and horticulturists are growing concerned the species could die out altogether

Breaking Earth News
Across the land, the most unlikely little flowers are poking their way up into the grey December light as another year of chaotic weather convinces them that spring has arrived. After seeing primroses in Sussex, daffodils in Devon, crab apples in Nottingham and wild strawberries in Cardiff, gardeners probably suspected that bluebells and snowdrops would not be waiting for February to bloom. They were right. Confused by the warmest April on record, a cold, wet summer and a mild autumn, many plants are flowering early. The Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew, which monitors 100 plant species, said at least three quarters were appearing earlier each year. "This year we have lilacs, which are supposed to flower in May, coming into life in November. Our camellias, another spring flower, have also already bloomed." Unseasonal blooms are extremely vulnerable to the hard frosts. "Last year our horse chestnuts came into life too soon and resulting damage meant the buds didn't grow back, come spring the branches were bare." Many plants could waste their chance to pollinate by blooming out of season. "Bluebells in particular are timed to flower in synch with the arrival of trees leafing overhead and providing shelter. If they start coming in without that shelter, the plants will die without spreading their pollen." Some species could vanish over the next few decades as Britain increasingly takes on a Mediterranean climate. "Plants are becoming confused and disturbed by the warmer autumns and we are seeing it year on year."

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