Planting for the Purple Emperor


Can we create a home for the Purple Emperor Butterfly at Jordan’s Farm?

Three things to know.

  • At a small ‘ish’ scale of 21 acres to enable rewilding I am going to have to actively manage this site, albeit with a light touch I hope.  I do not have scale for herds of  Exmore ponies (damm!).  And at 21 acres this site needs to be part of a wider network of wilder areas across this region.
  • The results of the 2021 Butterfly and Moth count in the UK were worse than ever. Big Butterfly Count 2021 sees lowest ever number of butterflies recorded (
  • The Purple Emperor Butterfly is endangered but does have some secure habits in Essex. This place could be a stepping stone even if I struggle to make it permanent habitat.

So what I have I just done? Well I have planted some special trees. Two varieties of Willow,  Grey (Salix cinerea) and Goat (Salix caprea).  Grey Willow is its food source and the butterfly lays its eggs on the Goat Willow. There are no Grey or Goat Willows nearby and I have been planted in what I have judged to be a reasonably wet area of the field, so I hope that I have chosen the right location.  I only have 5 of each,  not many I know. I need to know if they will thrive and if they do they are supposed to be pretty effective at establishing themselves. Markshall Estate, about 7kM SW, is the closest known habitat that I know of. First, I want to see these whips through the winter and then growing next year.  Then, given time, fingers crossed!