2023 County Report for Co. Armagh

John Faulkner

The main achievement of the year was to complete the post-2000 coverage of tetrads in the vice-county. There is now a record of at least 100 taxa – typically many more – for all tetrads with more than 25% of their land area in Co. Armagh. 2023 was the penultimate year of recording for the planned Flora of Co. Armagh, so what remains is primarily a matter of tidying up and revisiting the sites of important species that appear to have ‘gone missing’. This will be more interesting to other botanists than the tetrad-bashing of the last few years, so I hope to involve others in this final year of recording. In summary, 2023:

· Like 2022, 2023 yielded a few interesting records in an ocean of run-of-the-mill ones.

· The majority of tetrads recorded were dominated by intensively managed grassland, with their botanical interest more or less confined to hedges, road verges, and clusters of trees.

· Records of interest are listed below (unless named otherwise, the recorder was the VCR)..

· The total number of 2023 plant records entered onto the DDb is 7944.

· There was one formal BSBI field meeting in the county during the year, with the purpose of looking at the urban flora of Newry. It had been planned to visit 3-4 spots within the city, but so interesting were the finds (and so cold the wind!) that we had to call it a day after only 2 of these. Among the plants seen were Potamogeton trichoides (Hair-like Pondweed) at one of its two known Irish sites, and an Orobanche sp. (Broomrape) which might be O. hederae but will need to be confirmed in 2024. While it had been billed as a training meeting, those who turned up were all well down the road of being competent botanists.

· In October, I gave a talk to the County Armagh Wildlife Society on Pteridophytes.

Claytonia perfoliata (Spring Beauty)

On the main track of the Belfast-Dublin railway at Portadown Station, in April,  Martin Smith. This plant thrives and spreads spasmodically in my garden, but Martin’s record is the first in the v-c outside a garden.

Hordeum murinum (Wall Barley)

First at Aughlish, near Scarva, in May, then at Portadown (as ssp murinum) in June.  These are the first two records of the species in the v-c.

Rosa caesia s.l. × canina (a hybrid dog rose)

Found in a field hedge beside a very minor road at Mullaghbane, east of Armagh City in July.  This is the first record of this hybrid in VCH37.  Identified by Roger Maskew.

Dactylorhiza viridis (Frog Orchid)

A single mature spike at Drumcarn on the border with Co. Monaghan, September, Ian Rippey.  This is the first record of Frog Orchid in the v-c since 1990, when it was also seen at Drumcarn.

Jacobaea erucifolia (Hoary Ragwort)

One cluster of shoots almost beneath a flyover where the Newry by-pass crosses the Newry River and Canal north of the city in September. First record in the v-c.

Erigeron sumatrensis (Guernsey Fleabane)

Two plants in cracks between pavement slabs, Loughgall, October.  First record in the v-c, ID confirmed by Martin Rand. The photograph shows Erigeron sumatrensis growing between paving slabs, Loughgall.