2021 County Report for County Durham

Keith Robson

The Upper Teesdale Special Flora Recording and Conservation Project have been finding that comparing current surveys for 19 of the special plants, to results from a survey from 1968 to 1975 of the same species in the same areas on Widdybank Fell, all 19 species have declined in extent On average, these species were not found in over half of the areas they grew in 50 years ago. Most of the rare plants are declining in numbers and they are all light-demanding species. In 2021, trials started on different ways of managing the sward to see if they can find the best way of making conditions more suitable for them again.

Though it was a late start in 2021, Michael Wilcox will continue next year in looking at our coastal Ononis repens/spinosa [Common and Spiny Restharrows], which are treated as subspecies in Sell & Murrell. In Co. Durham Ononis repens is common all along the coast and O. spinosa occurs in four quite distinct coastal populations, often with O. repens. The hybrid between the two, Ononis × pseudohircina has also been reported. Michael will look at our populations as these species are not as easy to identify as you may think. See the BSBI crib sheet 

The DWT Botany group runs outing throughout the year, sometimes as often as
twice a week in spring and summer. If you are interested have a look at the Durham Wildlife Trust Botany Group Facebook page or the website https://www.durhambotany.org.uk/

'Moth-ers' finds

Several new populations and some refinds of both Scutellaria species were found in 2021 but not by botanists. The micro moth Prochoreutis myllerana which mines the leaves of Scutellaria were discovered and  represented the only record for the North East of England, though probably as no-one has looked for it and the host plants are uncommon in the north-east. A request for extant and former sites of the host plant by a number of ‘moth-ers’ resulted in the moth being found at several other locations, including on new or presumed extinct populations of the plant.

Among the interesting new finds in 2021, there were first records for the county for Cuscuta campestris [Yellow Dodder] and Cyperus eragrostis [Pale Galingale]