2020 County Report for West Kent

Geoffrey Kitchener

Kent (v.c.c. 15 & 16).


Kent’s field meetings were discontinued after our February winter twigs session (John Poland), and subsequent botanising was largely on an individual basis, and very successful.  Highlights included the discovery of Serapias vomeracea (Long-lipped Tongue-orchid) in East Kent, the first wild find in the British Isles.  Rediscovery of ‘probably extinct’ taxa accounted for:

  • Fallopia dumetorum (Copse-bindweed), last seen in the 1970s. It was recorded, not only in its 1970s location, but also, extraordinarily, in other sites where last seen in 1948 and 1875.  We believe we also have Fallopia × convolvuloides.
  • Persicaria mitis (Tasteless Water-pepper), last seen 1955.
  • Spartina maritima (Small Cord-grass) at a classic location by the Swale where last seen in 1990.

Seventeen taxa were noted as new to vc15 and ten new to vc16.


Kent Botany 2019 was issued in January and a newsletter in October.  The latter featured historic field meetings accounts from 1632 to 1861.  Also issued were further species accounts bringing the rare plant register (RPR) to halfway through Part S, and a superbly illustrated Salicornia cribsheet from Lliam Rooney.


The county recording group was appointed champion for new Kent Biodiversity Strategy species Orchis purpurea (Lady Orchid or Fair Maid of Kent), Polygala amarella (Dwarf or Kentish Milkwort) and Carex vulpina (True Fox-sedge).  We have begun their monitoring and study as a special subset of RPR species, where new counts enabled recognition in 2020 of the second largest Kent populations of Himantoglossum hircinum (Lizard Orchid) and Ophrys sphegodes (Early Spider-orchid).


Sites studied included a remarkable brownfield site on colliery shale at Betteshanger with Lythrum hyssopifolia (Grass-poly), Mentha pulegium (Pennyroyal) and numerous other RPR species, as well as the first Kent record of Apera interrupta (Dense Silky-bent).  This is threatened by a current planning application.


We have also reviewed some distributions which appeared under-recorded for Atlas 2020 including Agrostis vinealis (Brown Bent) and Polygala calcarea (Chalk Milkwort).  All 2020 developments are reviewed in Kent Botany 2020, https://bsbi.org/kent.