2023 County Report for Anglesey

Ian Bonner and Nigel Brown

Approximately 3000 records were received in 2023 of 727 taxa including 17 new VCRs and 47 new hectads. Only one of the new VCRs is thought to be native – Allium oleraceum (Field Garlic) found by visiting botanist Lucy Watts, in rough coastal grassland at Newborough Forest. The new alien VCRs include a first for Wales, Gypsophila repens noted on the sea-wall at Beaumaris by Richard Birch.

Of the twelve formal field trips held by the Anglesey Flora Group (AFG) the average attendance was eleven with a maximum of 21 and a minimum of six. A total of 45 members of the AFG attended at least one field trip. Several members of the AFG adopted monads and submitted comprehensive lists. Others completed species-focussed surveys including Trevor Dines who assessed the numbers and distribution of Gentianella campestris (Field Gentian) at five sites on the island and sadly found a significant decline since the last comprehensive survey in 2019/20 at all sites except one, despite the habitat appearing to be in good condition at most of the localities.

Species which fared well in 2023 and appear to be expanding in range and numbers include Trifolium subterraneum (Burrowing Clover), Crassula tillaea (Mossy Stonecrop), Lathyrus nissolia (Grass Vetchling), Parentucellia viscosa (Yellow Bartsia), Raphanus raphanistrum ssp maritimus (Sea Radish) and the orchids Ophrys apifera (Bee Orchid), Platanthera chlorantha (Greater Butterfly Orchid), Epipactis palustris (Marsh Helleborine) and Dactylorhiza praetermissa (Southern Marsh Orchid). A large new colony of Ophioglossum vulgatum (Adder's-tongue Fern) was discovered by ornithologists in the north of the island while assessing habitat for Britain's rarest corvid, the Chough. Thelypteris palustris (Marsh Fern) is responding well to targeted fen management at Wylfa Nuclear Power Station. Gentiana pneumonanthe (Marsh Gentian) is likewise increasing under sympathetic management in the NE of the island.

One of the most enjoyable trips of the year was an evening visit to Beaumaris allotments to look for 'weeds'. In total the 'weed list' from our brief visit included one new vice-county record (Isatis tinctoria - Woad), ten new hectad records and 27 new monad records! Highlights included Polypogon viridis (Water Bent), Lipandra polysperma (Many-seed Goosefoot), Aethusa cynapium subsp. cynapium (Fool's Parsley), Euphorbia lathyris (Caper Spurge), Thlaspi arvense (Field Penny-cress) and Viola arvensis (Heart's-ease Pansy).

AFG member Robbie Blackhall-Miles appeared on BBC's Springwatch explaining his role with Plantlife and the Natur am byth! project highlighting efforts to conserve local rarities such as Sorbus arvonicola (Menai Whitebeam).  James Robertson wrote a thought-provoking article for the Transactions of the Anglesey Antiquarians and Field Club on the links between rare plants on Anglesey and historic human activities. After almost thirty years, James has recently stepped down from compiling his 'Flowering plants-Wales' contribution for British Wildlife magazine.  Nigel Brown was invited to give the annual Bill Condry Lecture in Machynlleth and took the opportunity to explain what Anglesey's flora tells us about the conservation of plants in Wales. Ian Bonner has updated and revised many of the draft species accounts towards a new Flora of Anglesey. AFG members continue to assist Natural Resources Wales in monitoring the flora on SSSIs and NNRs.

double flowered form of Silene flos-cuculi (Ragged Robin) at Tre'r Gof Fen, N Anglesey, 28 June 2023. Richard Glynne Jones ARPS AIPF
Ragged Robin. Silene flos-cuculi and Double flowereddouble flowered form of Silene flos-cuculi (Ragged Robin) at Tre'r Gof Fen, N Anglesey, 28 June 2023. Richard Glynne Jones ARPS AIPF