When walking on the streets of London, many of us may see ‘weeds’ appearing from the cracks of a pavement as a sign of an unkempt neighbourhood.
However, a project inspired by movements across the world is now seeking to educate us on the worth of this wild flora.
‘More Than Weeds’ was set up in 2019 by Dr Sophie Leguil, who wants to encourage the ‘recording of urban flora’.
By inspiring citizens of cities to take notice of these neglected flowers, shrubs, and plants, Dr Leguil hopes that they will be allowed to flourish, thereby increasing the biodiversity of our urban spaces.
One advantage of this is that it can help “alleviate flood risks and reduce atmospheric pollution”.
The campaign is directly influenced by a similar project in France called ‘Sauvages de ma rue’ which has collected over 100,000 records of urban plants and weeds throughout the country.
Many councils spray glyphosate on to pavements to cleanse them of green life. However, as awareness has increased, some have banned the use of the chemical on their streets.
In London, Hammersmith and Fulham Council banned the herbicide in 2016 and Croydon stopped its use in parks and open spaces in 2019. Others such as Hackney and Richmond have implemented partial bans or using alternative treatments.
Dr Leguil was recently granted permission in Hackney to use chalk to mark interesting and forgotten wild plants on our streets (it’s illegal to write on pavements without permission).
She also shares pictures, taken by members of the public, of wild flowers and urban flora on her social media pages.
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Highlights have included violets and a South-American plant from the mustard family called ‘Lesser Swine Cress’.
So next time you are out on your daily walk, why not look out for some hardy urban plants that help to brighten up our concrete jungles!
If you would like to learn more about the project head on over to their website here .