Boscregan Farm near St Just is home to some rare and beautiful arable weeds, one being the visually striking Purple Viper’s Bugloss.

During late June and July the fields are a dense colour of purple and yellow, seen from the coast path, but this wasn’t always the case.

The Purple Viper’s Bugloss is native to southern and western Europe, North Africa, the Azores, the Canaries, the Cape Verde Islands and the Caucasus but it is rare to the UK with the fields at Boscregan farm being one of the few locations to have this purple flower growing naturally. It is arguably native in West Cornwall being first recorded in 1873 by the botanist Dr. Ralfs but like many other once common arable weeds it suffered a dramatic decline due to the changes in agricultural practices over the decades, being outcompeted by an intensification of arable crop.

Boscregan Farm was acquired by the National Trust in 1983 and subsequent botanical surveys in 1995 revealed the presence of Purple Viper’s Bugloss, but the number of plants in each field were so few that they could be counted individually. The National Trust recognised the need to look after the Purple Viper’s Bugloss and drew up a conservation management plan, working with the tenant farmer to ensure its survival and increase its presence along with many other arable weeds. Over the years, numbers of Purple Viper’s Bugloss have increased and they are now so numerous that it is impossible to count individual plants. You can see the spectacular results yourself; during the summer months great swathes of Purple Viper’s Bugloss and yellow Corn Marigold fill the fields.

Simon Hocking, Area Ranger in West Cornwall said: "Although the Purple Viper’s Bugloss and Corn Marigold may dominate the visual impact for miles around, on closer inspection there are many more beautiful small arable weeds present on the site such as the beautiful but less obvious Weasel’s-snout."

Not only do these fields look good, they are also doing wonders for nature. The fields are thriving with pollinators; bees and butterflies busy going from flower to flower, field to field collecting nectar and pollen. Small mammals and birds will also use the fields for food and shelter throughout the year.

If you would like to see the arable weeds for yourself, the easiest way to visit the fields is by parking at Cot Valley and walking along the south west coast path, towards Sennen, for about 1 mile and you will see the bright coloured fields from the coast path.