Stench attracts visitors

WAFTING across the shingle at Suffolk's southern-most point is a smell which is definitely not heaven scent.For amid the fluttering butterflies and striking coastal plants, there is a nasty niff that reminds you of rotting fish or meat.

WAFTING across the shingle at Suffolk's southern-most point is a smell which is definitely not heaven scent.

For amid the fluttering butterflies and striking coastal plants, there is a nasty niff that reminds you of rotting fish or meat.

But far from keeping people away, the revolting smell actually attracts them – or at least its source does – and this weekend crowds are expected to sample the whiff as part of an open day at Felixstowe's Landguard Nature Reserve.

The smell comes from the aptly-named stinking goosefoot, said to be able to cure barrenness, and one of Britain's rarest plants.

It only grows at three places in the country and is protected by law. On the windswept Landguard peninsula it is grown in a fenced area to protect it.

Suffolk Wildlife Trust's Landguard ranger Malte Iden said the reserve had around 50 stinking goosefoot plants.

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"It produces a strong smell resembling rotten meat and it is believed the smell attracts flies, which fertilise the flowers, which are like tiny broccoli florets," said Mr Iden.

But while the chance to sniff the stinking goosefoot may prove a big attraction, the open day is also a chance to learn a lot more about Landguard, home to many rare shingle flowers, and habitat for shore birds and migrants.

The 58-acre reserve, a mostly shingle spit next to Felixstowe port, is home to more than 375 different species of plants. One-third of all British grasses grow there, and other rare plants include sea pea and kales and yellowhorned poppy.

"The open day is a fun day out for adults and children alike. The day's events include children's craft activities and games and guided walks," he added.

"There will also be supervised visits to the Landguard Bird Observatory providing a fascinating insight into migrating birds and even close encounters with the birds themselves."

Gift stalls, refreshments and information about wildlife in other parts of Suffolk will be available. The event takes place on Sunday August 10 from noon to 5pm. Parking is available at Landguard car park in Manor Terrace.

WEBLINKS: www.landguard.com

www.wildlifetrust.org.uk/suffolk

www.botanical.com

Factfile:

n Stinking goosefoot – real name chenopodium vulvaria – germinates in May following soil disturbance.

n The plant is less than 10cm tall and its flowers whitish and inconspicuous.

n It grows on the landward edges of shingle beaches and has been cooked and eaten in the past. It is nutritious, but not for people with arthritis, gout, kidney stones or kidney stones.

n For many centuries it has been thought to contain medicinal qualities and its leaves were used in the treatment of hysteria and nervous troubles connected with women's ailments.

n It was also supposed to cure barrenness and in certain cases, the mere smelling of its foetid odour was held to afford relief.

n One ounce of the dried herb in a pint of boiling water, taken three or four times daily in wineglassful doses, was used as a remedy for menstrual obstructions.

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