2023 County Report for East Kent, West Kent

Geoffrey Kitchener and Sue Buckingham

This report covers both East Kent (vice county 15) and West Kent (vice county 16) and is only a brief outline.  For a full report, please refer to Kent Botany 2023.  This should be on the Kent webpage, but unfortunately in recent years BSBI has been slow to refresh the county webpage and as at January 2024 the 2023 issue of Kent Botany had still not been posted, even though available since the beginning  of 2023.  Similarly, sporadic progress has been made with restructuring the Kent webpage, although a milestone was reached with BSBI making available online the full rare plant register.


As at 1 January 2024, some 20,800 Kent records for 2023 were added to the BSBI database, covering 1,315 different taxa in 803 monads.  There were eight plants recorded as new to East Kent and seven new to West Kent.  Nine Kent Botanical Recording Group field meetings took place, ranging from north Greenwich in the west to Thanet in the east, and including joint sessions with Kent Field Club, Surrey Botanical Society, Sussex Botanical Recording Society and the Wild Flower Society.


Monitoring surveys took place for Kent Biodiversity Strategy (KBS) species Orchis purpurea (Lady Orchid) and Polygala amarella (Dwarf or Kentish Milkwort).  We have involvement in the preparation of the county Nature Recovery Strategy which is to replace the KBS.  Further representations were made in relation to development proposals which continue to threaten the Himantoglossum hircinum (Lizard Orchid) colony at Betteshanger, the second largest in the UK.

Carex divulsa subsp. divulsa × C. otrubae (Hybrid Sedge)

Carex divulsa subsp. divulsa × C. otrubae, the very rare hybrid between Grey Sedge and False Fox-sedge, was discovered on a lane-side south of Sevenoaks Weald, a first Kent record; the occasional developed utricle shows the shape of C. divulsa with faint ribbing from C. otrubae.

Erigeron (Fleabane) hybrids

Hybrids of Erigeron acris (Blue Fleabane) with E. floribundus (Bilbao’s Fleabane) and with E. sumatrensis (Guernsey Fleabane) were found in a mixed population on a bank near Gravesend, the first Kent records.

Eurybia divaricata (White Wood-aster)

Eurybia divaricata (Aster divaricatus, White Wood-aster) was found as an escape from cultivation at Woolwich; no other British records have yet been traced.

Populus nigra subsp. betulifolia (Black Poplar)

DNA fingerprinting of Populus nigra (Black-poplar) in Kent has led to the discovery in two places (including Shornemead Fort illustrated here) of plants which do not match any known clones and so may be the result of sexual reproduction, rare for Black-poplars in Britain – most trees are of recognised clones with wide British distribution and so likely to have been planted.

X Dactylodenia wintoni (Gymnadenia conopsea × Dactylorhiza praetermissa)

X Dactylodenia wintoni (the very rare hybrid between Southern Marsh-orchid and Chalk Fragrant-orchid) was confirmed from Bonsai Bank, Denge Wood, east of Canterbury for the first time in Kent.