2023 County Report for North Wiltshire, South Wiltshire

Richard Aisbitt and Kat Newbert

Recording in 2023

We had a busy year filling in gaps in our monad recording, gaining 41,000 records. We hope to complete our recording in 2024 in preparation for a new Wiltshire plant atlas and flora.

We added data from three historic Wiltshire floras to the BSBI DDb, two floras from the late 1800s and one from the 1950s.

New county records

We had two invaders from a neighbouring county. Beggarticks Bidens frondosa was known in Somerset and has moved into Wiltshire along the Kennet and Avon Canal. First recorded here in 2022, it has now reached as far as Devizes, half way across the county. The second plant is Somerset Skullcap Scutellaria altissima, already present in North Wiltshire VC7, but new to South Wiltshire VC8. Other new finds in 2023 were garden escapes or bird-seed aliens. The most interesting of these was Bladder Ketmia Hibiscus trionum on an unusually productive landfill site.

Visit to Salisbury Plain

On the Whitsun Bank Holiday, eighteen BSBI members accompanied by ‘red card holders’ from the Wiltshire Botanical Society met to explore Sidbury Hill and Silk Hill, prime downland sites on the army training grounds. Species seen: Broad-leaved Cudweed Filago pyramidata, Fine-leaved Sandwort Minuartia hybrida, Flattened Meadow-grass Poa compressa, Mat-grass Fescue Vulpia unilateralis, Little Mouse-ear Cerastium semidecandrum, Chalk Milkwort Polygala calcarea, Purple Milk-vetch Astragalus danicus, Hairy Rock-cress Arabis hirsuta, Field Fleawort Tephroseris integrifolius and Burnt Orchid Neotinea ustulata.

Photo: Eyes down for Filago pyramidata with Sharon Pilkington holding forth.

Filago pyramidata (Broad-leaved Cudweed)

Track on the Cross Country Driving Area, Salisbury Plain – photo Sharon Pilkington

Astragalus danicus (Purple Milk-vetch)

Silk Hill, Salisbury Plain. Photo – Richard Aisbitt

Neotinea ustulata (Burnt Orchid)

Silk Hill, Salisbury Plain. Photo – Richard Aisbitt

Hibiscus trionum (Bladder Ketmia)

Cumberwell Landfill Site. Photo – Dave Green