Norvic Philatelics - GB New Stamps and Special Postmarks

Action for Species 3: Endangered Plants
250th Anniversary of Royal Botanic Gardens Kew - 19 May 2009

The third in Royal Mail's new nature series, 'Action for Species' depicts endangered plants. The accompanying miniature sheet marks the 250th anniversary of the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, a World Heritage Site.

Often overlooked, plants are at the base of the food chain and without them no other life forms could exist. However agricultural practices, urbanisation, and pollution have taken their toll, and now almost two in every five wild plants in the UK are of conservation concern.   Despite their threatened status, the ten plants selected for inclusion in this stamp series represent a degree of recent conservation success.

The Plants stamp issue celebrates the vital part flora plays in our planet’s bio-diversity and is the third in Royal Mail’s Action for Species series, which looks at the UK’s endangered flora and fauna. The first in the series, Birds, was issued in September 2007, the second, Insects, was issued in April 2008.

To celebrate the 250th anniversary of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew a Miniature Sheet of four stamps will be issued on the same date. Kew has a lead role in conserving biodiversity through its scientific and conservation work.


All images are copyright Royal Mail 2009.  Wildlife Trusts and others wishing to use images on websites or in magazines should contact Royal Mail's Intellectual Property Department.

set of 10 plant stamps.

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1. Round-headed leek ((Allium sphaerocephalon)

2. Floating Water-plantain (Luronium natans)

3. Lady's Slipper Orchid (Cypripedium calceolus)

4. Dwarf Milkwort (Polygala amarelle)

5. Marsh Saxifrage (Saxifraga hirculus)

6. Downy Woundwart (Stachys germanica)

7. Upright Spurge (Euphorbia serrulata)

8. Plymouth Pear (Pyrus cordata)

9. Sea Knotgrass (Polygonum maritimum)

10. Deptford Pink (Dianthus armeria)


Miniature sheet marking the 250th Anniv of Kew Gardens. 1st class: Palm House, Kew Gardens & Millennium Seed Bank, Wakehurst Place.
90p: Pagoda & Sackler Corssing, Kew Gardens.

Stamps are 90p for new postage rates, not 81p as shown.

The plants in detail

Round-Headed Leek (Allium sphaerocephalon) was first discovered in 1847, in the Avon Gorgenear Bristol. It has since been introduced in a very few, scattered locations. 

Floating Water-Plantain (Luronium natans) spread eastwards from its core natural habitats in the lakes of Snowdonia and mid Wales in the 19th century, taking advantage of the canal network. In recent decades, however, pollution and recreational boating have led to its disappearance from many lowland waterways. 

Lady's Slipper Orchid (Cypripedium calceolus) has the misfortune to qualify as one of Britain’s rarest plant, having been reduced in the wild to a single specimen in West Yorkshire. Over-grazing, and centuries of over-collecting by gardeners and botanists are to blame for its virtual extinction in Britain. 

Dwarf Milkwort (Polygala amarella), long known from the chalk grasslands of the North Downs in Kent and the limestone grasslands of Yorkshire, has declined in recent years, particularly in Kent. 

Marsh Saxifrage (Saxifraga hirculus), a rare wild flower of wet moorland and mountain bogs, is now reduced to a few localities, chiefly in the northern Pennines and north-east Scotland, with recent losses attributed to land drainage, over-grazing or afforestation.

Downy woundwort (Stachys germanica) may once have been more widespread, but declined markedly in the 19th century, and is now confined to a small area of Oxfordshire, where it grows mostly along the verges of ancient green lanes and wood borders overlying oolitic limestone.

Upright Spurge (Euphorbia serrulata) is found mostly in a few woodlands in Gloucestershire and Monmouthshire. Cessation of tree cutting and coppicing, which traditionally created well-lit clearings, is probably to blame for its decline.

Plymouth Pear (Pyrus cordata) is a British wild pear that was discovered in 1865 in hedge-banks outside the city of Plymouth. Today, only a few hundred trees exist, in just seven locations.

Sea Knotgrass (Polygonum maritimum) grows just above the high-tide level in a few places along the southern coast of England and Ireland. A Mediterranean species on the edge of its range in southern Britain, it is vulnerable to exceptional tides.

Deptford Pink (Dianthus armeria) was once widespread, but over the past 60 years it has suffered one of the most rapid declines of any species in the British flora, as the dry pastures, field borders and hedgerows it needs have steadily disappeared. It is now restricted to about two dozen sites in England and Wales.

Miniature sheet:
1st Class – Palm House Built 1844-48 by Richard Turner to Decimus Burton's designs, the Palm House is Kew's most recognisable building, having gained iconic status as the world's most important surviving Victorian glass and iron structure. The site was deliberately chosen to make this great building the focal point of Nesfield's great vistas- and Burton's Broad Walk.

1st Class – Millennium Seedbank The Millennium Seed Bank Project (MSBP) is the largest ex situ conservation project ever conceived. Its partners will have banked seed from 10% of the world's wild plant species by the end of the decade. These will not be just any plants, but will include the rarest, most threatened and most useful species known to man.

90p – Pagoda The Pagoda was completed in 1762 The ten-storey octagonal structure is 163 ft (nearly 50 m) high and was, at that time, the tallest reconstruction of a Chinese building in Europe.

90p – Sackler Crossing Opened in May 2006, this elegant walkway spanning the Lake is the work of London-based architect John Pawson. Its graceful design complements the natural forms of its setting and continues the English landscape tradition espoused in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew for nearly 250 years.

Technical details: The 35mm square stamps are designed by Studio Dempsey using photography from the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew and the Natural History Museum. In sheets of 30/60 they are printed in lithography, with a phosphor background screen, by Cartor Security Printing, perf 14˝.   The miniature sheet was designed by Kate Stephens, using photography of Pagoda in Kew Gardens © Barry Lewis/Corbis; The Palm House at Kew Gardens in Winter © Richard Bryant/Arcaid/Corbis; Millennium Seed Bank, Wakehurst Place © Robert Bird/Alamy; Sackler Crossing, Kew Gardens © 2009 The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; palm leaf border image © Anna Feruglio Dal Dan.  The 115 x 89mm sheet contains stamps 37x35mm and is printed in litho by Cartor SP, perforated 14 x 14˝.
The stamp and postmark images are Copyright 2009 by Royal Mail.

Special Postmarks
Postmarks available for the day of issue are shown here these may not be to scale. These postmarks cannot be obtained after 19 May.

postmark illustrated with a flower. postmark illustrated with Palm House Key Botanic Gardens. Kew, Richmond, non-illustrated postmark.  Postmark with text as shown below. Postmark with cartoon stamp hiding in long grass.
Ref FD913
Official Philatelic Bureau FDI.
Ref FD914
Official Kew, Richmond FDI postmark.
Ref FD914NP
Official Kew, Richmond  non- pictorial FDI postmark
Ref L1632  
250th Ann Kew Royal Botanic Gardens, Richmond, Surrey
Ref L11361 Kew Gardens 250th Anniv. Richmond
postmark illustrated with a plant. postmark illustrated with the Palm House at Kew Gardens. postmark illustrated the Pagoda in Kew Gardens. Postmark illustrated with text as below. Postmark illustrated with flower.
Ref L11358   Plants, Bletchley Park Post Office, Milton Keynes Ref L11355
250th Anniv Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey
Ref L11356
250th Anniv Kew, Richmond, Surrey
Ref L11359
Kew Green, Richmond, Surrey
Ref L11360
Endangered Plants, Wortwell, Harleston
postmark illustrated with a butterfly. postmark illustrated with flowers. postmark illustrated with flowers and a bee. postmark illustrated with irises. postmark illustrated with text as below.
Ref L11363
Kent Wildlife Trust, Maidstone, Kent
Ref N11371
Britain's Endangered Plants, Action for Species, Liverpool
Ref W11363
Britain's Endangered Plants, Action for Species, Bodelva, Cornwall.
Ref M11369
Botany Walk, Birmingham
Ref L11365
250th Ann of Kew, Kew Gardens 250, Kew, Richmond, Surrey

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This page updated 3 May 2009

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