2023 County Report for Shropshire

Mags Cousins and John Martin

VC40 Rare plants revisited

We currently have a focus on refinding rare species and so far a total of eight species have been “retrieved” from the list of those presumed extinct since 2005 (Lockton and Whild, 2005):

Saxifraga hypnoides Mossy Saxifrage (last record 1871, in the wild) - was found in 2023 by Lucy Watts at Snailbeach Lead Mine SSSI, near to the village but looking plausibly like natural establishment rather than planted, in suitable habitat at a new location for the species in the county.

Potamogeton gramineus Various-leaved Pondweed (last record 1885) - this species was refound in Shropshire in 2014.

Hippuris vulgaris Mare’s Tail (last record 1897) - recorded in 2013 and 2014, and consistently from 2020 to present day in various locations.

Limosella aquatica Mudwort (last record 1962) - has now been recorded in most years from 2005 to 2023 at Venus Pool, Shropshire Ornithological Society's bird reserve.

Cardamine impatiens Narrow-leaved Bitter-cress (last record 1993) - was rediscovered in 2007 and has been recorded in most years since then to 2019.

Hymenophyllum wilsonii Wilson’s Filmy-fern (last record 1984) - was refound, probably at the exact same location in 2005, and again in 2012, 2014 and 2018.

Gentianella campestris Field Gentian (last record 1986) - a large population was rediscovered at a previously known, privately owned site in 2023.

Potamogeton friesii Flat-stalked Pondweed (last record 2002) – this species was refound in 2014, and in 2018 in Newport Canal SSSI, a Shropshire Wildlife Trust reserve.

Two species have been re-recorded since 2005 but may have disappeared again:

Diphasiastrum alpinum Alpine Clubmoss (last record 1991) - it was recorded again in 2012 and each year until 2019 at Nipstone, however it has been searched for every year since 2020 but not yet been found again.

Baldellia ranunculoides Lesser Water Plantain (last record 1996) - this species was refound in 2005 at Brown Moss SSSI, a Shropshire Council reserve, and has been searched for since in most years but has not yet been re-recorded.

It is entirely possible that following analysis of the records other species may join the rare plant list and even worse the ‘presumed extinct’ list, however these reappearances were a cause for celebration.

Reference: Lockton, A.J. & Whild, S.J. 2005 Rare Plants of Shropshire 3rd Edition, Shropshire Botanical Society.


Lemna valdiviana Phil. (Valdivia Duckweed)

In a first for VC40, Olga Krylova  found the introduced Lemna species (a Duckweed), Lemna valdiviana (Valdivia Duckweed) in a pond at Onslow Park on 8th October 2023 during the England Recorder’s Conference.  Also in 2023 Mark Duffell had it confirmed from buckets in his garden where he keeps introduced aquatics for teaching purposes.  Mark reports that the Duckweed had been there for a number of years “looking decidedly odd”, for good reason it would seem.  The species is characterized by the two pairs of fronds appearing like a butterfly – one large pair, one small pair, circled in the photo.  The photo shows how the species can hide in plain sight, amongst native Lemna species, so do keep a look out and send good close up photos to Richard Lansdown the National Referee for aquatics to: rvlansdown@gmail.com, with all the usual details for a record.