2023 County Report for North Northumberland

James Common, Chris Metherell

It has been a steady year in North Northumberland (VC68) with activity continuing on several fronts. Firstly, there has been a noticeable increase in records with 2,813 supplied. The bulk of these came from iRecord, with further supplied direct or via iNaturalist – issues still exist with the latter route, but it is great to see more people getting involved tin recording our local flora.

New Projects

Building on work carried out via the collaborative ‘Discovering Orchids’ project with the Natural History Society of Northumbria, Chris Metherell has been busy carrying out closer monitoring of some of VC68’s orchid populations. These including monitoring of D. incarnata subsp. pulchella on Ross Links, not done last year, and monitoring of Corallorhiza trifida on Holy Island - including one new site which had been reported last year and was very productive with 11 stems, and another single plant in a completely new site.

This year, Chris also helped to establish a monitoring scheme for Astragalus danicus, working with the Northumberland Coast AONB, which has produced some interesting records and importantly, launched a joint monitoring scheme for Gentianella campestris on Ross with the Species Recovery Trust. This is a huge site with tens of thousands of plants and team members from the SRT reckoned the population is potentially the biggest in the UK.  We'll have to work out a sensible strategy to map the extent next year.

Rare Plant Register

Away from set projects, VCRs have continued work gap filling for VC68’s Rare Plant Register (RPR). Continuing to get a feel for the vice-county, James has visited sites for Asplenium ceterach, Scilla verna, Asplenium marinum, and others. Some highlights here include re-finding Oenanthe lachenalii on Holy Island and a first visit to Hen Hole in the Cheviots where he encountered Myosotis stolonifera and Epilobium anagallidifolium. He was also especially delighted to encounter Asplenium × clermontiae for the first time. At last!

Efforts to nurture a community of local botanists continue, largely in collaboration with NHSN, with several education courses delivered by Chris & James in VC68. Several more are planned for 2024 incorporating visits to many of the vice-county’s notable sites.


Asplenium ruta-muraria × trichomanes = A. × clermontiae

Credit – James Common

Dactylorhiza viridis

Credit – Ho-Yin Wong

Asplenium marinum

Credit – James Common