Maples becoming an endangered species

Garden and greenhouse lovers who have maple trees growing in their garden could unwittingly be doing more for conservation than they realise.

A recent Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) and Flora & Fauna International red list shows that around a third of wild maple species are endangered, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) reported.

The Acer griseum – commonly grown in UK gardens – is facing the potential of extinction in its native China due to agriculture and development expansion.

BGCI secretary-general Sara Oldfield said: "The good news is that while many species are threatened in the wild, some of these species are common in cultivation."

However, plans to build a dam in Chinas Sichuan province threaten the limited number – thought to be less than 200 – of Acer pentaphyllums that are left growing wild in the area.

Intensive conservation efforts are also underway to save the Acer yagbiense, of which only four are known to remain.

Meanwhile, the RHS also revealed that a tiny Scottish primrose called Primula scotica is in decline due to changed grazing patterns.