News

Scroll down for: new scientific papers; forthcoming workshops and conferences; news about BSBI books and periodicals; field meetings and training opportunities; BSBI in the media; podcasts; what's new on the BSBI website; job vacancies for botanists; requests from BSBI members; and much much more...

British & Irish Botany: in print?

Although British & Irish Botany, our scientific journal, was always intended as an online publication, we have received enquiries from some readers who would be interested in having print copies of the journal. There is an option for individuals or institutions to receive a print version of the four issues which comprise Volume One (2019) of British & Irish Botany, bound and in a cover, for £25 plus P&P but we can only do this if enough people request this option. To express an interest, please email us at bib@bsbi.org

BSBI and Covid-19

For the latest update (15th May) about BSBI's response to Covid-19, please visit this page. We also point you towards a range of botanical activities that can be undertaken without leaving your home.

Welsh Bulletin 2020 is published

The latest issue of the Welsh Bulletin is out now and you can view or download your free copy from the Wales page or from the Welsh Bulletin page where you will also find back copies since 1964. Visit BSBI's periodicals page to find out more about BSBI News, British & Irish Botany, BSBI eNews and our country newsletters.

Apps for plant ID

Read a review of the apps currently available which claim to be able to identify wild plants. The review was published in the April issue of BSBI News. You can also read an interview with reviewer Hamlyn Jones.

May issue of BSBI eNews published

The May issue of BSBI eNews, our monthly electronic newsletter for botanical recorders, has been published. You can access current and all back issues from the BSBI eNews archive. It's a great way to keep up with all the latest news about BSBI activities and projects, new pages on this website, new blogposts and much much more.

BSBI News: April issue published

The April issue of BSBI News, our thrice-yearly membership newsletter, has been published. Print copies have been posted to members, who can also opt to view or download an electronic version from the password-protected members-only area on this website. Contact us if you can't remember your password. Non-members can read about the contents here and can also view or download a sample issue.

Identifying dandelions

Our new Taraxacum page aims to help anyone wishing to identify the c250 species recorded in Britain and Ireland: it includes links to an online 'Introduction to Dandelions' ID course.

Reports from across Britain and Ireland

Annual Reports from BSBI's County Recorders in Scotland, Ireland and Wales have been collated and are now available on the country pages.

Definitions: wild? native? alien?

Our new Definitions webpage aims to demystify terms such as native, alien, neophyte, weed... and explains how these terms are relevant to anyone taking part in the Garden Wildflower Hunt or using our Record-a-Plant form.

Stoneworts in Wales

A Red List of Welsh Stoneworts has been published, using data from BSBI and Natural Resources Wales.

Wildflower Seed Mixtures

This opinion piece, by BSBI Head of Science Dr Kevin Walker, considers the 'wildflower seed' mixtures increasingly favoured by municipal councils, and sets outs the pros and cons of this approach to seed sowing.

Irish Botanical News 2020 is published

The latest issue of Irish Botanical News is out now and you can view or download your free copy from the Ireland page or from the Irish Botanical News archive where you will also find back copies since 1993.

Archaeophytes

There's a new archaeophytes page on this website, with a table listing all the British archaeophytes (non-native plants introduced before AD1500), as recognised by various authorities.

Scottish Newsletter 2020 is published

The latest issue of the Scottish Newsletter is out now and you can view or download your free copy from the Scotland page or from the Scottish Newsletter page where you will also find back copies since 1979.

Garden Wildflower Hunt

BSBI's new initiative aims to to keep botanists entertained during lockdown and to help us find out more about the distribution, ecology and phenology of wild flowers ("weeds?") in our gardens. Find out how to take part in the Garden Wildflower Hunt and then click through to the app and start recording the wild plants in your garden.

Stuck at home and feeling restless?

While we are all at home following the guidance on Covid-19/ Coronavirus, BSBI can offer lots of ideas and activities to keep botanists entertained and connected with the botanical community! As well as the Garden Wildflower Hunt, you will find some more suggestions on our Activities 2020 page.

Ragwort Study Project

Read about the launch of a new study project to look at the involucres of ragworts Senecio and Jacobaea; find out how you can contribute right now from your own back garden.

Illustrations of Alien Plants

Our new Illustrations of Alien Plants page should help you track down illustrations of 2000+ alien plant species by scientific or common name.

Status & ecology of Scots Pine in Ireland

Interesting paper by Jenni Roche in Irish Forestry Journal: 'Recent findings on the native status and vegetation ecology of Scots pine in Ireland and their implications for forestry policy and management'.

BSBI Handbook #20 coming soon

Our latest BSBI Handbook is due out in April 2020. Find out more about Hawkweeds of south-east England and place your order here at a discount price, saving you £9.50 compared to RRP. Offer ends 31st May.

BSBI and Covid-19

18th March: Following guidance from UK and Irish Governments, BSBI's public programmes have been cancelled until the end of May. For more information, please visit this page: https://bsbi.org/covid-19-coronavirus

Roadside vegetation management and plant diversity

This paper has been around since 2018 but it's Open Access and there's some interesting stuff in there: 'How does roadside vegetation management affect the diversity of vascular plants and invertebrates? A systematic review'. On a similar subject but bang up-to-date, this blogpost by Martin Allen reports from the recent conference on 'The importance for wildlife of our roadside verges'.

British & Irish Botany: latest issue published

Volume 2 issue 1 of British & Irish Botany has just been published. Read about the articles and authors featured in this issue here on our News blog, along with comments from Editor-in-Chief Dr Ian Denholm. Or go straight to the B&IB website and start reading the latest issue: https://britishandirishbotany.org/index.php/bib

BSBI mentioned on BBC Countryfile

BSBI and the Wild Flower Hour initiative were name-checked on BBC Countryfile last night. Catch the feature on iPlayer here (starts c8 minutes in) and read an interview here with BSBI member Rebecca Wheeler, the woman behind Wild Flower Hour's recent success.

Wildlife losses and gains

A new paper in Nature Ecology & Evolution by Charlie Outhwaite et al. focuses on wildlife gains and losses; tribute is paid to volunteer biological recorders,  citizen science and recording schemes including BSBI. The paper is behind a paywall but there is a summary here by Damian Carrington in The Guardian.

Gigi Crompton 1923-2020

We are sorry to report the sad news that Gigi Crompton, Cambridgeshire botanist and long-term/ honorary BSBI member, has died. An obituary by Cambridgeshire County Recorder Alan Leslie will be published in a forthcoming issue of BSBI News; an obituary has already appeared in The Guardian.

New Year Plant Hunt in the media

Coverage of this year's Hunt includes a feature by Joe Shute in The Telegraph and an article by Michael Viney in the Irish Times.

New Year Plant Hunt

Our eighth New Year Plant Hunt ran from 1st to 4th January 2020. Click here for an analysis of the results by BSBI Head of Science Dr Kevin Walker and here to read the press release

BSBI County Recorder in New Year’s Honours List

Trevor James, longterm BSBI County Recorder for Hertfordshire, member of BSBI Publications Committee and Receiving Editor for BSBI News 2008-17, has been awarded the British Empire Medal in recognition of his service to nature conservation. Here’s the report in Trevor’s local newspaper. Congratulations to Trevor from everyone at BSBI!

Non-native plants can provide habitats for a variety of British insects

Some interesting new research from the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology: read about it here.

BSBI addresses plant ID skills gap in ecological consultancy

A new paper 'Plants in Practice' argues that the importance of plants is not sufficiently reflected in the professional practice of ecological consultants and looks at how BSBI might help address the plant ID skills gap. Authors are BSBI Head of Science Kevin Walker, BSBI County Recorder for Oxfordshire David Morris, BSBI committee members Jo Parmenter, Jonathan Mitchley and Oli Pescott, and Nicola Hutchinson, Director of Conservation Programmes at Plantlife. View the paper in full here.

The inconstant sex of annual mercury

This post on the Botany One website summarises a fascinating new paper about Mercurialis annua. Subscribe to Botany One's weekly email for a round-up of all the latest botanical news from across the world.

The paper everyone is talking about

Across the media in recent days, people have been talking about this paper: 'World's largest plant survey reveals alarming extinction rate'

Interesting new paper

'Grazing exclusion and vegetation change in an upland grassland with patches of tall herbs' by Sarah H. Watts et al. has been published in Applied Vegetation Science. Find it here.

New paper about Dwarf Birch (Betula nana)

The open access paper 'Genetic diversity maintained among fragmented populations of a tree undergoing range contraction' by J.S. Borrell, N. Wang, R.A. Nichols & R.J.A. Buggs, can be read in full here.

New paper in Nature co-authored by Kevin Walker

A new paper 'Extinction risk from climate change is reduced by microclimatic buffering' has been published in Nature, co-authored by Kevin Walker.

Article in Nature on 'The lost art of looking at plants'

An article published in Nature earlier this year argues that "advances in genomics and imaging are reviving a fading discipline" - read the article here and see if you agree!

BSBI Head of Science co-authors paper on open data

Kevin Walker, BSBI Head of Science, is a co-author on 'Overcoming the challenges of public data archiving for citizen science biodiversity recording and monitoring schemes' published this month in the Journal of Applied Ecology. A bit more info about the paper here.

Paper on potentially invasive garden plants

Published in Biological Invasions: 'Working with gardeners to identify potential invasive ornamental garden plants: testing a citizen science approach' by Katharina Dehnen-Schmutz & Judith Conroy. BSBI botanists participated in the survey and are thanked in the acknowledgements.

Paper on the plants of hay-meadows

Published on 22nd May in Folia Geobotanica: 'Long-term hay meadow management maintains the target community despite local-scale species turnover' by Elizabeth Sullivan, Ian Powell & Paul Ashton (Chair of BSBI's Training Committee). Read the full paper here.

New paper on change in Scottish grasslands

Read 'Decline in atmospheric sulphur deposition and changes in climate are the major drivers of long-term change in grassland plant communities in Scotland' by Ruth Mitchell et al. in full here (no subscription needed).

High impact paper on emerging alien species uses BSBI data

A paper co-authored by BSBI Head of Science Kevin Walker and David Pearman titled 'Global rise in emerging alien species results from increased accessibility of new source pools' is published today 8th February in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA. It uses BSBI data which also appear in David's recent 'first dates' book; access the paper here (subscription required) and there is a note about the paper on the IUCN News website here.

New paper on Seed bank dynamics in restored grassland

Just published: 'Seed bank dynamics in restored grassland following the sowing of high- and low-diversity seed mixtures' by Markus Wagner, Kevin Walker (BSBI Head of Science) & Richard Pywell. More here.

Poster of flowering plants showing relationships between families

This poster is proving very popular on social media and looks like an excellent educational tool.

New paper on Field Fleawort as an indicator species

A paper has just been published on 'Longterm changes in lowland calcareous grassland plots using  Tephroseris integrifolia subsp. integrifolia as an indicator species'. Authored by BSBI Scientific Officer Pete Stroh and BSBI members Oli Pescott and Owen Mountford, you can download the full paper free of charge here.

New paper on alien taxa

BSBI Head of Science Dr Kevin Walker has co-authored a new paper titled 'Risk management to prioritise the eradication of new and emerging invasive non-native species'. Click here to download the paper, published in the August issue of Biological Invasions.

How will climate change affect our wild flowers?

BSBI's Head of Science Dr Kevin Walker is a co-author on a newly published paper in the journal Biological Conservation which assesses the impact of climate change on the distribution of over 3,000 British plants and animals across 17 taxonomic groups. Click here to download the paper in full.

Vegetation monitoring

Click here to download 'Long-term vegetation monitoring in Great Britain - the Countryside Survey 1978-2007 and beyond'.

Garden plants and invasive species

In 2015, BSBI members contributed to a survey aimed at trying to identify garden plants likely to become invasive in future. The authors have now published a paper based on the data collected. You can read 'Integrating invasive species policies across ornamental horticulture supply chains to prevent plant invasions' in full by clicking here.

Are Beech trees native to Scotland?

According to researchers at the University of Stirling - yes they are! More here or go straight to the abstract. The full paper appears in the latest issue of Journal of Biogeography.

New paper on change in Scottish grassland vegetation

Click here to see the abstract of 'Forty years of change in Scottish grassland vegetation: Increased richness, decreased diversity and increased dominance' by Mitchell et al. newly published in Biological Conservation.

New paper in Nature using BSBI data

BSBI Head of Science Kevin Walker is a co-author on a paper published in the latest issue of Nature. Kevin tells us the paper is "based partly on David Pearman's first records database". The paper is titled 'No saturation in the accumulation of alien species worldwide' and you can download it here.

Vegetative Guide to British Orchids

Mike Waller's 'Beginner's vegetative guide to orchids of the British Isles' has now been published and can be downloaded free of charge here.

New paper on food for pollinators

Hicks et al.: Quantifying the Nectar and Pollen Resources of Urban Flower Meadows is available here and it's Open Access.

Interesting new paper by BSBI member

Click here to read 'A systematic florula of a disturbed urban habitat: Pavements of Sheffield, England' by Oli Pescott.

New service launched

CEH has just launched a new service for assessing the risk of the presence of  Japanese Knotweed. This new service is based in large part on data collected by BSBI members. Find out more here.

Interesting paper...

Markus Wagner (CEH) et al.: Cereal density and N-fertiliser effects on the flora and biodiversity value of arable headlands. More here.

J.P. Grime: Scaling up to Communities and Ecosystems

A commentary by J.P. Grime is available here on the Journal of Ecology blog on a set of papers (1965-2007) from the Journal of Ecology reproduced online in December 2013.

Plant species richness is increasing - according to long-term environmental studies

UK Environmental Change Network has published the results of studies carried out over the past twenty years. More here.

Preliminary findings from the Orchid Observers project

Read the results so far: they are here on the Natural History Museum blog.

Arable wild flower App launched

CEH has launched an App to help farmers and landowners identify and record their arable wild flowers. More info here.

New technical handbook on floodplain meadows

Now available to download from the Floodplain Meadows Partnership.

Are agricultural management and climatic change the major drivers of biodiversity change in the UK?

A recent Open Access paper in PLOS ONE titled 'Agricultural Management and Climatic Change Are the Major Drivers of Biodiversity Change in the UK' is available in full here. The paper is co-authored by BSBI Head of Science Kevin Walker and BSBI Scientific Officer Pete Stroh.

Angiosperm Phylogeny Group

An update of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group classification for the orders and families of flowering plants: APG IV was published on 24 March 2016. Early View access has now ended but the paper is available on pay-to-view here.

The Robert Pocock Herbarium Project

Robert Pocock was Gravesend's first local historian, printer, creator of its first public library and botanist. In the early 1800's he began a collection of local plants for his herbarium or dried plant collection. Long after his death, the herbarium was donated to the Natural History Museum in London. The herbarium sheets are still there, amongst many thousands of others, effectively 'lost' to us for 200 years! The aim of the project is to find this unique record of Gravesend's botanical heritage and make images of the plant specimens available to us all. To date we have found over 180 specimen sheets.

Follow our progress at www.pocockherbarium.blogspot.co.uk and on our Facebook pagehttps://www.facebook.com/pages/Robert-Pocock-Herbarium-Project/333265860142783. See images of the plants on Facebook and Flickr (links are on the website, or search for Robert Pocock Herbarium).

Nottingham Catchfly (Silene nutans) photographed by Gus Routledge at St Cyrus NR #wildflowerhour June 2017 Download the Species Account for Silene nutans here.

Heath Speedwell photographed by Jane Rock for #wildflowerhour June 2017

Marsh Helleborine photographed by Dave Steere #wildflowerhour June 2017

Rowan berries and flowers, photographed in Edinburgh, August 2017. Image: Janet Wyllie.

Common Mallow (Malva sylvestris ) - frosted but flowering #wildflowerhour

Image by James Faulconbridge

Harebell (Scottish Bluebell) in bloom at Striding Edge, Lake District, 23/7/2016. Image: Alistair Whyte 

Dwarf Succisa pratensis in two colours, on coastal heath in Mayo. #wildflowerhour 21/8/2016 Image: Rory Hodd 

Sea Campion Photographed on Sidmouth beach 4/12/2016 by Karen Woolley

Pipewort on Skye, August 2016. Image courtesy of Simon Harrap.

Thale cress (Arabidopsis thaliana) in flower. Image: Timothy Body

Carex magellanica in Tyrone, shared via #wildflowerhour 21/8/2016 Image: Rory Hodd. Near Threatened in England.  

Sea Clover (Trifolium squamosum) Portland Dorset 22/6/16. Image: Karen Woolley 

Bog Asphodel in South Wales, 22/6/2016. Image: Dave Steere 

Sow-thistle 'clock' November 2016 #wildflowerhour Image: Mike Robinson 

Hybrid goosefoot Atriplex prostrata x glabriuscula spotted at Arnside by BSBI member Howard Beck, October 2019. New for Cumbria

On the BSBI News & Views blog: April 2020

We published Paul Ashton’s ‘Notes from lockdown’; April’s ‘Wildflower of the Month’ featured snake’s-head fritillary with an account by  Kevin Walker, considering whether or not this species is native in Britain; there were was a report on the first month of the Garden Wildflower Hunt; and we published three blogposts about BSBI News: a peek inside the latest issue; the new sample issue; and an interview with Hamlyn Jones about his review for BSBI News of apps for plant ID.

Bell heather and cowberry cling to a rock face on Iona. Spotted by @mclaverock for #wildflowerhour August 2018

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Pyramidal orchid spotted June 2018 at Godrevy, Cornwall by ecologist David Matheson

Hawthorn photographed by Geraldine Murray, May 2018

Dwarf Spurge photographed at Saltmills, Co. Wexford 12th November 2017 for #wildflowerhour. Previous tetrad record was in 1888. Image: Paula O'Meara

Bristly Ox-tongue photographed for #wildflowerhour in Kent, November 2017. Image: David B. Burbridge

News from the Science Team

*NEW* Kevin Walker co-authored a paper just published in Nature. Click on the link to read it in full: 'Extinction risk from climate change is reduced by microclimatic buffering'.

Kevin Walker and Pete Stroh have been on the Isle of Colonsay recording towards a new Flora of the island Read about their visit here.

Kevin Walker is a co-author on 'Overcoming the challenges of public data archiving for citizen science biodiversity recording and monitoring schemes' published this month in the Journal of Applied Ecology. A bit more info about the paper here.

Kevin Walker is quoted in an article published today (14th May) by Roger Harrabin for BBC Science News, about the impacts of nitrogen deposition and over-zealous cutting on plant assemblages found on roadside verges. There is also an article in The Telegraph which uses the same quote from Kevin.

Kevin Walker co-authored a high impact paper titled 'Global rise in emerging alien species results from increased accessibility of new source pools' published in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA. It uses BSBI data which also appear in David Pearman's recent 'first dates' book; access the paper here (subscription required) and there is a note about the paper on the IUCN News website here.

Kevin Walker also co-authored a paper 'Seed bank dynamics in restored grassland following the sowing of high- and low-diversity seed mixtures'. More here.

Pete Stroh co-authored a paper on Field Fleawort as an indicator species for longterm changes in lowland calcareous grassland plots. You can download the full paper free of charge here.

Kevin Walker co-authored a paper titled 'Risk management to prioritise the eradication of new and emerging invasive non-native species'. Click here to download the paper, published in the August issue of Biological Invasions.

Pete Stroh is writing eight new Species Accounts - he has just completed Orobanche reticulata and is "currently drafting Medicago minima".

Kevin Walker is revising a paper on threatened species on SSSIs for Biological Conservation (assisted by Pete) and "completing a paper on analysis of traits of threatened grassland species".

Pete Stroh has been "editing and formatting completed species accounts for Natural Resources Wales and Natural England for a future Scarce Grasslands book". He also liaised with County Recorders across England over their Annual Reports for 2016.

Kevin Walker says he's been "commenting on BTO papers, one on open data access and one on the risks and benefits of climate change for British wildlife (analysis of 17 groups including vascular plants). The full report is available here and the paper should be published later in 2017 all being well".

Pete Stroh is "editing and formatting completed species accounts for Natural Resources Wales and Natural England for a future book on Scarce Grasslands".

Kevin Walker and Pete Stroh are finalising the Introduction to their book about the Threatened Plants Project, which is "in an advanced stage of preparation".

Kevin Walker starts working on a preliminary analysis of New Year Plant Hunt records on 10th January. 

Pete Stroh's first task in January is liaising with County Recorders in England over Annual Reports for 2016.

Kevin Walker has been researching current distribution of Hydrocotyle ranunculoides as "it seems to be exploding due to a run of mild winters". More here.

Pete Stroh has completed the latest batch of Species Accounts and they can be downloaded here.

Kevin says: "I've been completing assessment of impacts for 14 invasive plants as part of the Non-Native Species Secretariat workshop. I'm also working on introductory analyses and chapters for the Threatened Plants Book".

Kevin Walker tells us what he's working on this month and Pete Stroh talks about surveying for the National Plant Monitoring Scheme and collecting seed for the Millenium Seed Bank.

Kevin & Pete: "Are you interested in the results of the Threatened Plants Project? We have now completed all the accounts and are editing them for publication!"

Pete Stroh says: "I've a small project with CUBG investigating the soil seed longevity of Iberis amara. More here on the BSBI Science page."

Kevin Walker says:" "I'm currently working on a paper outlining the development of the NPMS including how we chose the habitats, species, methods, etc. As part of this I've had to summarise all semi-natural habitats covered in one table. Quite a feat!"

Mudwort photographed for #wildflowerhour in Dorset, September 2017, by Karen Woolley.

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Greater Knapweed photographed for #wildflowerhour in Fife, August 2017 by Heather Kelly

Bearberry (on left) & Alpine Bearberry #wildflowerhour June 2017. Image: Andy Amphlett, County Recorder for Banffshire

Scarlet Pimpernel photographed by Zach Haynes at Nosterfield Nature Reserve in North Yorkshire for  #wildflowerhour 30/4/2017.  Zach is also BBC Wildlife Magazine's Junior Blogger of the Year.

Corn salad (Valerianella sp.) photographed in Cornwall by Kevin Thomas for #wildflowerhour 23/4/2017.

White form of Common stork's-bill blooming in Devon November 2016 #wildflowerhour Image by Karen Woolley

Self-heal close-up November 2016 #wildflowerhour Image: J. Lyon 

Butcher's Broom in flower November 2016 #wildflowerhour Image: Kate Gold 

Cowberry flowering in the Cairngorms, October 2016 #wildflowerhour Image: Karen Woolley

Sporophyte (above) and gametophyte (below) of Killarney Fern, Trichomanes speciosum. Found at a new site (a secret location in West Cork) during the #CorkRecordingEvent. September 2016. Images courtesy of R. Hodd.

Cornish Moneywort flowering in Somerset September 2016 #wildflowerhour Download the Species Account here. Image: Karen Woolley.

Ray's Knotgrass seen 21/8/2016 in Devon. Image: Karen Woolley 

Norwegian Mugwort on Cul Mor, Wester Ross. August 2016  #wildflowerhour Image: Simon Harrap

Mountain avens in fruit, Durness, August 2016 #wildflowerhour Image: Ian Andrews. Download the Species Account here

Basil thyme (Clinopodium acinos) in the Avon Gorge #wildflowerhour 19th June 2016. Download the Species Account here. Image: David Hawkins.

Tory Island, one of the locations for Ireland's first ever Five Island BioBlitz, June 2016.  Image: Oisin Duffy