Brimstones and Buckthorn Campaign

The Blackwater Estuary is a key Living Landscape area within Essex. Through this Living Landscape and in partnership with Maldon District Council and Butterfly Conservation, Essex Wildlife Trust is taking forwards the Brimstones and Buckthorn Campaign.  This aims to create “corridors” through strategic planting of Buckthorn plants, to allow existing Brimstone populations to expand into the District’s gardens, parks, and allotments.  Buckthorn shrubs are the sole food plant of the Brimstone butterfly.

In 2013 the partnership launched Phase I of the Campaign, planting 200 shrubs throughout Maldon District, mainly on community owned land.  A more extensive Phase II was planned for winter 2014/15, which involved making free Buckthorn plants available to interested private householders and landowners in the Maldon area.  For more information about the project please contact Emma Ormond, Living Landscapes Coordinator.  

5 Fascinating Facts about Brimstones and Buckthorn:

  1. Brimstones are probably the longest lived of all the British butterflies since adults can survive over a year.
  2. It is one of the earliest butterflies to be seen each year. The newly hatched summer adult will feed, then hibernate in dense Ivy, Bramble or other dense cover, and often emerge in February or March.
  3. The caterpillars are remarkably well camouflaged among buckthorn leaves - adaptation to their environment.
  4. Possibly where the word butterfly originated from, “butter-coloured fly”, due to its yellow colouration.
  5. Buckthorn was once used to make fine charcoal for gunpowder.

Have you seen a Brimstone this Spring? Report it here! (Registration required)

Brimstone butterfly. Photo: Jim Higham