2020 County Report for Shetland

Paul Harvey

The Covid pandemic put paid to most attempts to organise systematic botanical surveys or botanical training events in Shetland, although a number of members of the public did engage with efforts to promote recording flowers in their gardens or alongside roadside verges during their daily exercise. Some limited work focused on designated sites and rare species.

Efforts to survey some arable areas in the sandy South Mainland were rewarded with the second vice-county record of Silene gallica (Small-flowered Catchfly), the first being found in sown grass near Scalloway in 1991.  The first records of Viola arvensis (Wall Speedwell) since 1998, and refreshingly large numbers of Arctium nemorosum (Wood Burdock), Euphorbia helioscopia (Sun Spurge) and Papaver dubium (Long-headed Poppy) were found, all three declining markedly in the islands in recent years.

Dactylorhiza traunsteinerioides (Narrow-leaved Marsh-orchid) was first found in Shetland in 2018 and further searches of Schoenus flushes revealed two more sites in 2020, one on Unst and the other close to the initial station in the North Mainland. The island's only known Crambe maritima (Sea-kale), near Lerwick, gave rise to a further 10 plants nearby, which will hopefully secure its position in the islands for at least a few years. A small clump of flowering Campanula rotundifolia (Harebell) was found on a heathy roadside verge between Lerwick and Scalloway representing the first record here since 1991, its origins though are unclear.