2023 County Report for Hertfordshire

Ian Denholm, Alla Mashanova and Astrid Biddle

We held six field meetings of the Hertfordshire Flora Group at botanically diverse sites, and in addition hosted a three-day BSBI field meeting led by Rob Randall with a primary focus on brambles. The latter included 10 locations and recorded ca. 40 Rubus taxa, some of which were welcome rediscoveries of ones recorded by batologists in the past. A one-day grass identification workshop was held at Rothamsted Research in Harpenden for 12 attendees comprising both volunteers and professional ecologists. Survey work led by Astrid Biddle for the local Wildlife Trust centred on riverine habitats and provided valuable records for aquatic plants including the much confused species of Ranunculus subgenus Batrachium (Water-crowfoots).

The Bayfordbury campus of the University of Hertfordshire is a potential hub for FISC testing. We held a ‘mock’ FISC test there in July incorporating a field survey at Panshanger Park near Hertford. Some of our erstwhile volunteers offered themselves as guinea pigs for the day and enjoyed the experience, now being keen to undertake an official FISC test in due course!

In September the local Natural History Society convened a one-day conference to commemorate the life and achievements of Trevor James, an outstanding Herts naturalist and VCR for vc20 from 1983 to 2017. The event drew a large audience despite being held on the hottest day of the year. Ian Denholm gave a talk on Hertfordshire botany and BSBI atlas projects, alongside presentations on biological recording butterflies and birds (Trevor’s other passions).


Poa infirma (Early Meadow-grass)

  • First confirmed record in vc20 for Poa infirma (Early Meadow-grass) on the site of a car-boot sale near Welwyn Garden City and in the company of the locally very rare bryophyte Sphaerocarpus michelii (Micheli’s Balloonwort).

Lotus tenuis (Narrow-leaved Bird’s-foot-trefoil)

  • Lotus tenuis (Narrow-leaved Bird’s-foot-trefoil) (surprisingly scarce in vc20) at Waterford Marsh near Hertford.

Himantoglossum hircinum (Lizard Orchid)

  • Himantoglossum hircinum (Lizard Orchid) flowered at six locations (mostly as singletons). Two of these were newly discovered in 2023. The photograph shows a spectacular plant at the side of a busy road in an industrial estate in Letchworth.

Hieracium virgultorum (a hawkweed)

  • A hawkweed (Hieracium virgultorum) at Thunderdell Wood, Ashridge. First vc20 record since 1955.

• Eleocharis acicularis (Needle Spike-rush

  • Eleocharis acicularis (Needle Spike-rush), considered extinct in vc20 since 1975, reappeared in abundance at Hilfield Park reservoir following habitat restoration work.