The Lundy Cabbage and its beetles

We have been on Lundy for a couple of days – this was my second visit – the first about 8 years ago involved travelling there and back for a meeting in the pub!

Lundy is owned by the National Trust and managed by the Landmark Trust. I will do a few blogs about my trip as it is such a wonderful place and there is so much to see. As a starter I will write about the Lundy Cabbage which is only found in the world on Lundy!

Lundy cabbage 1
The Lundy Cabbage (Coincya wrightii) grows on the steep cliffs on Lundy. All the plants that I saw were on the eastern side close to the quay.

Lundy cabbage 3In case you hadn’t spotted it – it is the yellow flowered plant that looks a bit like oil seed rape (to which it is related)

Lundy cabbage 4
All members of the cabbage family have four petals shaped as a cross – thus their botanical name the Crucifers

Lundy cabbage Rhodo

The Lundy Cabbage flourishes on Lundy but in the recent past was threatened by huge tracks of Rhododendron ponticum which were growing on and competing for the same habitat on the cliff slopes. The Landmark Trust, The National Trust, Natural England and various contractors have removed the alien rhododendron and as a result has created new habitat for the cabbage.

This photo shows an area which has been cleared of rhododendron.

Lundy cabbage weevil 1
The Lundy Cabbage – unique to Lundy  also supports a couple of tiny insects which only live on the Lundy Cabbage. It has been described as our version of the Galapogos Islands – evolution in action.

The tiny little beetle above  is the Lundy Cabbage Weevil (Ceutorhynchus insularis) and formerly known as Ceutorhynchus contractus var pallipes – it is only 1.5mm long! Note its ‘elephant like’ snout which it used to feed on the cabbage. This insect is unique (endemic) to Lundy i.e. it is is the only place in the world where you will find it! It is designated as Red Data Book 1 – Endangered.

Lundy cabbage 2
The Lundy Cabbage is also host to a unique flea beetle (Psylliodes luridipennis) which is a giant at 3mm compared to the weevil. The Lundy Cabbage flea beetle is a bronze brown animal – the one photographed above is a closely related blue one. I did manage to find a Lundy Cabbage Flea Beetle but didn’t manage to photograph it. They are called flea beetles as they have enlarged back legs which enable them to leap out of danger – this is exactly what happened as I was about to photograph ‘my’ bronze flea beetle as it sat in the palm of my hand. As a result you will have to make do with a photo of a blue non-endemic flea beetle sat on an endemic Lundy Cabbage flower.

2 thoughts on “The Lundy Cabbage and its beetles

  1. Hi Adrian, lucky you going to Lundy – its on my list of must see places. Regarding the weevil, according to the Coleoptera checklist its name is now Ceutorhynchus insularis (ie it has been raised to full species level and is RDB1 Endangered). Still only found on Lundy according to the NBN, so its an island endemic (is there anywhere else in the UK with so many endemics?) Cheers, Stuart

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