2020 County Report for West Cornwall

Colin Neil French

Becalmed by cornavirus, I was able to finish writing the new Flora of Cornwall during the first lockdown and get it printed as restrictions eased. Sales were brisk when the restrictions eased. It has been well received by those that have purchased a copy to judge by the many emailed comments. The number of plant records added to the ERICA database during 2020 was about half the long-term average (only 48,683 records) with the database now holding 2,310,792 flowering plant and fern records for Cornwall. Interesting finds for VC1 and VC2 include:

Lysimachia thyrsiflora Tufted Loosestrife was found along the margins of a lake in East Cornwall. Lavandula angustifolia  Garden Lavender was reported in Saltash. Sedum pallidum Turkish Stonecrop was noted in a cemetery in East Cornwall. Salvia hispanica Chia appeared in rough ground in Falmouth.


Betula × aurata  Betula pendula × pubescens has been confirmed for Cornwall and it may be the case that the majority of Betula pendula records for Cornwall are actually mistakes for the hybrid.


A garden centre owner in East Cornwall, who purchased the Flora of Cornwall, then reported the presence of Jubaea chilensis Chilean Wine Palm which is spreading in the vicinity of his home in East Cornwall, Crataegus laevigata Midland Hawthorn on a Cornish Hedge nearby and Musa basjoo  Hardy Banana which does not appear to have been planted.


Another person who purchased the book then reported Erodium manescavii  Garden Stork's-bill growing on a road verge and the appearance of Bidens pilosa Black-jack in her garden, not having been planted.


Tradescantia fluminensis Wandering-jew and Dittrichia viscosa  Woody Fleabane were discovered in 2020 on the Isles of Scilly. Also on Scilly a 2005 record for the endemic hybrid Catapodium rigidum × marinum came to light, as did a 2014 record for Apium graveolens var. dulce  Celery and an 2018 sighting of Linum perenne Perennial Flax.


Records of Orobanche  plants parasitising Brachyglottis × jubar New Zealand Hedge Senecio have been assigned to the newly described Orobanche minor var. heliophila and similarly those parasitising Eryngium maritimum has been assigned to Orobanche minor var. pseudoamethystea.


Two plants which have long been rejected for Cornwall have also proven to be genuine natives. A single Cryptogramma crispa Parsley Fern appeared on a tor on Bodmin Moor, albeit briefly, as it appears to have been grazed off since. Secondly herbarium material in the British Museum collection has been determined as Phelipanche purpurea  Yarrow Broomrape. It was collected in Penzance by N. Tyacke pre-1867.