Moon Carrot at Seaford Head

, 23 August 2021
Moon Carrot at Seaford Head
Moon Carrot survey © Sarah Quantrill

By Sarah Quantrill

Site Ranger, Seaford Head Nature Reserve

Members of Seaford Natural History Society carried out the annual Moon Carrot survey last week. 

Moon Carrot is a relative of (and not dissimilar to) Wild Carrot. It is a rare plant, and in the UK occurs only in six locations, one of them being Seaford Head.  

It’s said to glow in the moonlight, hence its name.

Moon Carrot©Graeme LyonsSussex Wildlife Trust

Moon Carrot © Graeme Lyons 

None of us had seen so many plants on the slope by Hope Gap and numbers reflected this. We counted over 7000 plants. The survey was not done last year, but in 2019 we counted 3884 in this area with numbers increasing since the first survey in 2013 with 902. There is also a smaller population to the east of Hope Gap.

Moon carrot survey seaford head sarah quantrill

We have continued to control scrub on this slope and it seems to be having a positive effect. Other plants such as Betony and Devils Bit Scabious are also doing well.

Many thanks to Seaford Natural History Society (SNHS) for carrying out the survey and producing the data. 

Leave a comment


  • Julia Desch:

    How wonderful: b ut please can you give a proper identification of this plant as there are so many similar members of the same family. Showing close ups as well as description would be great help.

    ANSWER: Here is a link to more detailed images of the Moon Carrot flower which I hope you find useful

    02 Sep 2021 10:39:00

  • Well done SWT! The spread of tor grass though must be controlled, it having spread alarmingly on the site during the past 30 years.

    02 Sep 2021 11:23:00

  • Julie R:

    Does it actually glow in moonlight?

    02 Sep 2021 12:07:00

  • Ron McLaren:

    The report of moon carrots is fascinating. Clear we don’t want people dashing to Seaford Head to dig some up. I wonder if there is some non-destructive way of helping people to propagate or grow from seed some of these Downland species (especially those endangered). I would like to have some in our wild patch. Regards, Ron

    02 Sep 2021 15:08:00

  • Tricia Forsythe:

    Thank you for solving a mystery. I had a moon carrot plant grow in a flower bed this summer and only removed it this week as it was so attractive. I wonder how it arrived!

    I also had a garden tiger moth which I had never seen before. When I looked it up the book said that it was abundant! Is it?

    03 Sep 2021 05:42:00

  • Alison morris:

    Good to hear. Wonder if it might also be growing on castle hill in Newhaven.

    03 Sep 2021 07:09:00

  • Katie W:

    I think we may also have this in Brighton at the Ladies Mile nature reserve. I believe it’s a council-run area rather than SWT, but thought it might be of interest, as it’s been teeming with wild flowers and insects since June.

    03 Sep 2021 11:18:00