In a bizarre scenario evoking the sci-fi films of the 1950s, the fungus performs a sex-change operation on female catchfly
plants, causing them to abort their ovaries and develop stamens -- male sex organs that normally produce pollen.
VANISHING SPECIES: The curlew, above, and, clockwise from far left, the corn bunting, golden plover, lapwing and small-flowered catchfly
are all heading rapidly towards extinction in Wales
PLANTS n Small-flowered catchfly
has been lost from 93% of sites n Chamomile has been lost from 37 sites n Shepherd's-needle is now found at just two sites
One notable plant is the small-flowered catchfly, which grows on the harbour walls.
Catchfly seeds can survive for a long time until the conditions are suitable for plant growth.
Some varieties of catchfly plants grow only in poor or broken soil, where they are less likely to be edged out by more vigorous rivals.
Small-flowered catchfly was first recorded in Carmarthenshire in 1836, at Llanelli docks.
In the few remaining square meters of prairie vegetation extant along the Wabash a few rare species persist, including royal catchfly (Silene regia--ST), prairie wild hyacinth (Camassia angusta (Engel.
Today along the Wabash River only scattered individual prairie plants have survived, and of the listed rare species, only very old records of royal catchfly (Silene regia) are known from the prairie in this area.
The Nottingham catchfly
is a very unusual plant, for example.
Before the widespread use of pesticides, arable fields supported many wildflowers that are now rare, including cornflower, shepherd's needle and small-flowered catchfly
grass; August; low, wet woods; infrequent; USIH 1046.