2020 County Report for Co. Armagh

John Faulkner

2020 was the most productive recording year I have had in 30 years of being a VCR. Ironic, in view of the Covid restrictions?  Let me explain. First, I am talking quantity, not quality. Secondly, in contrast to recent years, I have concentrated on my home county: previously, I had focussed on others that were in greater need of recording for Atlas 2020.

Early in the year, I realised that there were many, many tetrads in the vice-county that had few or no post-2000 records.  A sample search on GoogleEarth showed that the great majority (as I thought ) consisted almost entirely of agricultural land, and all were traversed by public roads. So, starting close to home, I proceeded to embark on botanical walks along the road - and where it exists the path - network as soon as this seemed permissible.  The outcome is a much improved, less uneven coverage, but there remain many more under-recorded tetrads to go before I will be satisfied.

The year has gone by without my seeing many of the more interesting species and habitats at all. Others proved to be road verge denizens and have cropped up much more often than I expected. Thus more than a third of all post-2000 records of Lady’s bedstraw, and almost half of all records of Italian ryegrass, date from 2020. The DDb informs me that there were 27 taxa recorded for the first time in 2020. After dismissing the “technicalities”, eg planted taxa and subdivisions previously disregarded, 8 "firsts" remain, of which three are listed below along with two other "specials".


Epipactis phyllanthes (Green-flowered Helleborine).

Conf. A J Richards. In Loughgall Country Park where may have previously thought to be E. helleborine, but realised as “different” by Martin Smith.  First record.

Polypogon viridis (Water Bent).

Single plant near White’s Mills, Tandragee, seen by Nathan McIlwrath. First record.

Bromus racemosus (Smooth Brome).

In a small meadow on peaty soil near Birches. First record.

Viscum album (Mistletoe)

Two clusters high up on poplar at Clonmain, and many clusters on rowans at street level in Portadown. In the second case, it looks as though the mistletoe may have come with the trees from a nursery –  where? Thanks to Martin Smith for drawing my attention to both of these rare occurrences in the county.

Hymenophyllum tunbrigense (Tunbridge Filmy-fern)

One patch in a steep gully south of Newry.  Only known site in the VC, and apparently not actually recorded there since 1892.  Thanks to Robert & Hannah Northridge for accompanying me to this rather precipitous site.