Corn Spurrey

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What is Corn Spurrey?

Corn spurrey is a member of the Pink family and is a summer annual, flowering between June and August. Its most distinctive feature is its leaves which are arranged whorls around the stem and rounded, looking almost tubular and often curving upwards. Its flowers consist of five small white petals at the end of the stem and which only tend to open in the latter part of the day.

Why is Corn Spurrey important to the Surrey Hills?

Corn Spurrey prefers neutral to acid soils but can be found on some chalky soils. Within the Surrey Hills AONB, the very close proximity of the neutral Wealden clay, the acidic Wealden Greensand and the chalky North Downs might see it more readily inhabit some of the slightly more alkaline soils.

What habitat does Corn Spurrey like?


Arable is currently is one of the most intensively managed land uses and covers a multitude of crops from the most basic commodity products such as wheat, oilseed rape, sugar beet and potatoes to more specialist crops such as linseed and asparagus. Some crops are annual while others, particularly salad crops, can yield two or three crops each year on the same piece of land.

What can be done to benefit Corn Spurrey?

Being an annual, it needs the soil disturbance provided by arable cultivations but is also easily removed by herbicides. Like many annuals, it prefers spring cultivation but some can germinate in the autumn and survive. It’s seed seems to be able to survive well in the soil, with the best places to find it being along the very edges of arable crops and in the corners of crops, particularly the awkward corners not easily reached by very wide crop sprayers.


Creating and managing areas for Corn Spurrey will help deliver the following benefits to communities:
  • Clean water
  • Clean air
  • Protection from and mitigation of environmental hazards
  • Mitigation of and adaptation to climate change
  • Thriving plants and wildlife
  • Beauty, heritage and engagement

These illustrations are by an artist taking part in a programme delivered by Watts Gallery Trust and funded by the Michael Varah Memorial Fund. This series of 30 Surrey Hills Indicator Species were commissioned by Surrey Hills Society and funded by Surrey Hills Trust Fund as part of the Making Space for Nature Exhibition.

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