The hemlock water fennel, which is threatened with extinction and only occurs in the northernmost part of the Elbe, is to be preserved with great effort.
In recent years, more than 7,000 specimens of the rare swamp plant have been planted in the Elbe mud in Hamburg, Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein, as Gerwin Obst from the Elbe Habitat Foundation told the German Press Agency in Hamburg. The biologist oversees foundation projects related to this botanical rarity, including ten new locations along the Elbe.
The biennial plant only grows in the northern German tidal Elbe and nowhere else in the world. And even here there are only a few thousand copies. The tidal Elbe is an area of the river from the south-east of Hamburg to the North Sea, in which there is - atypical for a river - ebb and flow. The hemlock water fennel grows exclusively in the floodplain areas of the Elbe that are regularly flooded.
Annually counted how many copies there are
The plant became famous in 2017 in the course of the legal dispute over the Elbe deepening in Hamburg. Because the plant is so extremely rare, the planners had to improve the deepening of the fairway, and additional locations for the hemlock water fennel should also be created.
The port authority HPA has therefore invested more than 15.5 million euros in the water fennel since then. In addition, until at least 2037, the number of copies will be counted annually. In an initial monitoring, the stock of almost 700 plants remained constant. According to the Elbe Habitat Foundation, there are probably between 1,000 and 5,000 specimens in the entire north on both sides of the Elbe, depending on the year they were counted.
Information from the Elbe Habitat Foundation on hemlock water fennel Information from BUND on hemlock water fennel