2022 County Report for North Somerset

Helena Crouch

2022 was truly an annus horribilis in VC6 with the deaths of Clive Lovatt and Liz McDonnell.  They leave a huge hole in the botanical community of Somerset.

Nevertheless, over 54,000 records were made in VC6, by many different recorders; all now input and sent to the DDb.

Somerset Rare Plants Group welcomed several new members and the programme included 7 field meetings in VC6, with 21 participants on one.  For reports of SRPG meetings, see: http://www.somersetrareplantsgroup.org.uk/meeting-reports/

Somerset Botany Group met weekly, mostly doing monitoring on reserves for Somerset Wildlife Trust.  SBG also undertook churchyard surveys: I did three, wrote reports, and gave a talk on “Beautiful Burial Grounds for Biodiversity” to a local environmental group.

I gave three other talks to local groups, on the flora of the Cam & Wellow valleys, and flora of the Mendip Hills, and I spoke at the BSBI B&IB Conference on Botanical Treasures of Somerset.

Mendip Flora Group also met weekly, led by Andrew Robinson, who contributed >10,000 records, made personally or with the group.

I led 20 botanical walks for Cam Valley Wildlife Group and one for Bristol Naturalists’ Society.  For Bath Nats I co-led two fungal forays and led two botanical meetings, including one with 24 attendees, see: http://www.bathnats.org.uk/friary-in-the-footsteps-of-monks-wednesday-23-february-2022/ I led a follow-up meeting at Friary for local residents, walks for Avon Wildlife Trust and Somerset Wildlife Trust, and botanical walks for residents in Shepton Mallet and Norton St Philip.

I also led my first BSBI field meeting, with 24 botanists attending over two days, visiting Crook Peak and Sand Point.

The Rare Plant Register remains an ongoing project, with the list kept updated and species accounts added gradually, see  http://www.somersetrareplantsgroup.org.uk/

Dryopteris kerryensis (Irish Male-fern) and Dryopteris pseudodisjuncta

Both these ferns within the Dryopteris affinis complex were found in VC6, new to Somerset, during a visit by Alison Evans and Roger Golding [See BSBI News 152]

Nepeta cataria (Cat-mint)

A single plant of this Vulnerable species was found at Charlton Mackrell by John Poingdestre, where last recorded in 1997.  This is the first post-2000 Somerset record for this declining species

Valerianella eriocarpa (Hairy-fruited Cornsalad)

This Nationally Rare species was re-found at Charlton Mackrell by Fred Rumsey, where last recorded by SRPG in 2000.  Hundreds of plants were seen in flower

Euphrasia pseudokerneri forma elongata (Chalk Eyebright)

Found by Fred Rumsey at Appledoor Quarry, which is a disused lime quarry with an interesting area of fen vegetation supporting Epipactis palustris (Marsh Helleborine).  This is only the second know site for E. pseudokerneri in VC6 and Somerset and the first for this form.

Datura ferox (Angel’s-trumpets)

Several plants of this impressive alien were found by Helena Crouch and Fred Rumsey on a disturbed road verge at Congresbury, the first record for Somerset.

Sedum praealtum (Greater Mexican Stone-crop)

Found amongst the boulders of the sea defences at Portishead Dock by Clive Lovatt and Helena Crouch & Bristol Nats members, new to Somerset.

Erigeron annuus (Tall Fleabane)

Found by Rob Randall on a traffic island by the A46 at Upper Swainswick, Bath, the first record for VC6 since 1942.  This is a more widespread alien on the continent and may become more common in Britain and Ireland.