Aquatic Plant Project

In 2019 BSBI Ireland began our 'Aquatic Plant Project' across Ireland to improve aquatic plant identification skills and increase recording. This included a huge campaign of training and recording days, resulting in thousands of new records. We're continuing the project in 2021, with new opportunities for people to learn about aquatic plants and get involved with recording. Webinars will be recorded and the videos posted afterwards to the Aquatic Plant Project playlist on our YouTube channel.

Thanks to funding from the National Parks and Wildlife Service, these events are all free but you will need to register. Everyone interested is welcome, whether based in Ireland, Britain or beyond.

Online Training - summer 2021

The 2021 Aquatic Plant Project training programme is underway.

  • Our first event on Water-starwort Identification, was held online on the 5th July. The webinar covered all Water-starworts (Callitriche spp.) you are likely to encounter in Ireland (and Britain!). Watch the video.
  • On the 10th July we learned how to identify Water-crowfoots. Video coming soon!
  • On 28th July there's an aquatic plant training day in the field with Cilian Roden & John Conaghan. We'll visit a site southwest of Carraroe, Connemara, Co. Galway to look for and survey Najas flexilis (Slender Naiad), and learn how to identify pondweeds (Potamogeton spp.) and other aquatic species - we hope to see Potamogeton alpinus (Red Pondweed). If you would like to book a place please contact Paul Green [email protected]. Numbers will be limited and joining details will be sent out on booking.

Online Training - September 2020

Thanks to funding from NPWS, we are offering a range of online training opportunities to enhance aquatic plant identification skills and hopefully encourage you to get out recording in your local area!

First, were two webinars led by aquatic plant expert Nick Stewart on Aquatic Plant Identification:

  • Introduction to Aquatic Plant Identification. 5 September. This webinar covered the main growth forms of aquatic plants, the key features you need to consider, resources to help with identification, and equipment used for sampling. Watch the recording. View the slides.
  • Stonewort Identification. 12 September. Charophytes, or Stoneworts, are complex aquatic green algae which can be tricky to identify, but Nick will guide us through the process. Watch the recording. View the slides.

We also ran our first ever online workshop Aquatic Plant Identification on 19 September. Nick led a virtual workshop where he went through the process of identifying specimens live using a camera and digital microscope to show key features, and participants were able to ask questions throughout. Some participants even sent specimens to Nick in advance which were used during the session. The workshop was a big success and a great learning opportunity for organisers and attendees alike! We aren't able to share this one online, but are looking to offer more similar opportunities in the future.

Training in Northern Ireland - February 2020

Thanks to funding from CEDaR, Nick Stewart to Northern Ireland for a week of work in the Ulster Museum Herbarium in February, where he worked through their collection of aquatic plant specimens and provided small group mentoring to five experienced botanists and recorders. This was followed by an aquatic plant identification workshop at Lough Neagh Discovery Centre, Oxford Island Co. Armagh. While February might not seem like the ideal time to study aquatic plants, 16 people came along for an interesting and informative day, which provided excellent preparation for a summer of recording!

Aquatic Plant Project 2019

In 2019 BSBI ran a major project to increase aquatic plant recording across Ireland. The Aquatic Plant Project was a huge success, training over 100 people in aquatic plant identification and collecting 6397 aquatic plant records, including 370 new hectad records. In total the project visited 239 sites in 97 hectads across 27 vice-counties. A huge thanks for this success is due to Paul Green for managing the project, Nick Stewart, Chris Preston, Cillian Roden, and Lynda Weekes for running training and recording days, and of course to the National Parks and Wildlife Service (RoI) and the Centre for Environmental Data and Recording (NI) for their generous funding.

You can read a blog post about the first training day here.


Water-starwort Identification

Introduction to Aquatic Plant Identification

Stonewort Identification


Aquatics survey in Antrim 2019, photo by John Faulkner

Contact Details

For more information about the project, contact BSBI Ireland Officer Paul Green. To find out more about botany in Ireland, including news, events, and local groups, check out the BSBI Ireland Webpage.