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North Merseyside Biodiversity Action Plan
Early Sand-grass Mibora minima
1 Current status
This nationally rare annual plant is native on the loose sand of maritime dunes and similar places near the sea in Anglesey, North Merseyside and the Channel Islands, and possibly native in Glamorgan. The Early Sand-grass has become naturalised in a few places on the south and east coasts of England and north to East Lothian. It is a rare casual elsewhere. The New Atlas of the British & Irish Flora (2002) shows it as a native plant in 15 hectads (Channel Isles, Anglesey, Gower, Sefton Coast) Early Sand-grass is listed as a vascular plant of Conservation Importance in A Biodiversity Audit of North West England (1999).
Early Sand-grass is confined to the Sefton Coast in north Merseyside. It was first discovered by D.P. Earl and J. Buckley-Earl in April 1996, growing in a small area of dunes on the west side of Southport Marine Lake. The plant's distribution was mapped by P.H. Smith on 12th April 1999 when it was found to be dominant in many patches over a distance of about 100m, some of the patches being up to 10m in diameter but many much smaller. Most of the population was associated with the south to south-east facing slope of a low (3m-high) dune ridge. Some small patches were also found on a plateau area to the west of the ridge. All patches of Early Sandgrass were in poorly vegetated areas with a high proportion of bare sand, often on the
fringes of sandy, informal footpaths. The most abundant of 16 associated plants were Kidney Vetch, Little Mouse-ear and Common Whitlow-grass. A repeat survey in 2004 showed the plant’s area had increased by 47% to 2158m2. Regular visits from 2005 to 2007 suggest the grass is doing well and continuing to spread.