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Recorder eNewsletter August 2021

Rare Plant Project Ireland

Have you read the guidance and run the Rare Plant Project Ireland (RPPI) analysis yet? If not do it now so there is still time to search for RPPI target species this summer.

Robert Northridge reports that many New 2000 Atlas records were entered from combined hectad sheets and so have no site name and only a 2-figure grid reference. He recommends changing the date in the search from 1970 to 1870 which will bring up more historical records, though the grid references will not be accurate, as they were not used until the 1960s in Ireland. He goes on “Having changed the date to 1870, I find the same set of species turn up in many hectads: Centunculus minimus, Coeloglossum viride, Glebionis segetum, Gnapthalium sylvaticum, Pseudorchis albida, Sparganium natans and Scirpus sylvaticus for instance. Half of these are "weeds" of disturbed ground. Many S. natans records probably refer to floating leaves of young S. erectum, while the decline in Scirpus sylvaticus is mysterious. The two orchids have almost certainly declined but are well worth searching for, especially Frog Orchid in the next month.”

He reports that while botanising generally, he made new hectad records for Centunculus minimus and Ophrys apifera, and completed the detailed recording cards for these notable species. We think this is an excellent idea and would recommend it generally.

Jim McIntosh, Paul Green & Robert Northridge

Scottish HectAd Rare Plant Project

I’ve been trialling the Scottish HectAd Rare Plant Project (SHARPP) in the NN95 hectad in Mid-Perthshire - with mixed results. I refound Carex vaginata, Corallorhiza trifida and Carex capillaris, all last seen 25 years ago. The first two were exactly at pre-GPS manual 6 figure grid references; the third was some distance away but tracked down using the excellent BGS iGeology app to locate a wonderful outcrop of Loch Tay limestone covered with Helianthemum nummularium and Carex capillaris. But disappointingly I failed to refind an old record of Lycopodium annotinum and two separate populations of Carex diandra despite having good locational information.

Even where I didn’t refind target species (and still completed the form of course - because it is important to record why), I did find some lovely habitat and recorded several species not recorded for the Atlas. So far, I’ve made four completely new hectad records and seven records of species not seen during the Atlas years - including the three SHARPP species. Unfortunately, they won’t count towards Atlas 2020, but it is good to know that they are still there and they will be easier to refind next time!

Full details are available on the Scottish HectAd Rare Plant Project page including a list of Frequently Asked Questions. As with the Rare Plant Project in Ireland, it would be great if recorders would like to get involved, but they should speak to their County Recorders first.

Jim McIntosh, BSBI Senior Country Officer

Aquatic Plant Project of Ireland 2021

Recordings of the two excellent Aquatic Plant Project of Ireland training webinars that Nick Stewart presented in July on Water-starworts and on Water-crowfoots are now available on the BSBI YouTube channel; click the links or view on the project page. We hope to be able to announce more online training events in the programme very shortly so keep an eye on the project page.

Meanwhile Nick Stewart has just confirmed his Irish Aquatic Plant Project itinerary in August. He is leading field training days on Saturday 21st, Sunday 22nd and Monday 23rd in Cork and on Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th in Waterford. To book one or more days or get further details please contact me.

Paul Green, BSBI Ireland Officer

Irish Grassland Project 2021

The Irish Grassland Project webinar on Hawkbits, Hawk's-beards, Mouse-ear-hawkweed and Cat’s-ear that I gave last month is now available as a recording. We are delighted to announce that Dr Fionnuala O’Neill will deliver the second training webinar in the series - on Meadow-grass & Bent identification on Saturday 21st August. It is aimed at those with a good basic knowledge of grass ID but who have yet to get to grips fully with these tricky grass genera. Click the link for further details and to book. Please let anyone who might be at the right level and interested know. Everyone is very welcome to participate in these online events – whether based in Ireland or Britain.

We hope to be able to announce more online training events in the programme very shortly so keep an eye on the Irish Grassland Project page.

Paul Green, BSBI Ireland Officer

Saving Searches BSBI Database (DDb)

Most DDb users will be aware that searches can be saved by simply clicking “Save query” to the right of “display results” and “download results” and can be retrieved by going to “Search history” then the “Stored queries” tab. This is really useful for queries involving multiple taxa or grid references that you want to return to often. But an even quicker and easier method is just to save the page with your query as a favourite in your browser. Then if you have saved it as a favourite on your browser’s Bookmarks Bar, you can return to the query with a single click.

Jim McIntosh, BSBI Scottish Officer

BSBI Field Meetings

It was with great excitement that the field meetings programme restarted in May, when a group of beginners met at Trumpington Meadows. A short report is available and a full account of the meeting will appear in the 2022 Yearbook, as will accounts of the other meetings that managed to go ahead. By the time you read this, the main meetings programme will be over, but local meetings may well still be taking place. Do take part in one if you can, as they always produce records of interest as well as introducing people to their local flora. If there isn’t a local group in your area, consider setting one up in conjunction with your local County Recorder.

Hopefully those meetings that weren’t able to take place this year will happen in 2022 and your country field meetings secretary would welcome offers of meetings for the future. Meetings can be half day to week long events and cover anything from an elementary introduction for beginners to detailed workshops on a single genus. Locations can be anywhere from remote countryside to urban areas. Do get in touch if you would like help in organising a meeting or have a look through the guidance for leaders on the BSBI field meetings and indoor events page.

Jonathan Shanklin, Hon. Field Meetings Secretary

British & Irish Botany

The latest issue of British & Irish Botany has been published and it’s our biggest yet, featuring twelve papers in total. Issue 3.2 kicks off with a detailed account by Andy Amphlett on the identification and taxonomy of birches Betula spp. Chris Preston looks at the history of Slender Speedwell Veronica filiformis since the 19th century, David Welch describes a new microspecies of bramble Rubus longiflorus and Julian Shaw investigates Dutch Iris Iris x hollandica. Terry Swainbank reports on a long-term study of the dynamics of Narrow-lipped and Broad-leaved Helleborines; Michael Braithwaite and Luke Gaskell investigate the composition of arable weed communities of the Scottish Borders; and Phil Smith presents data on habitat, floristic and vegetation change on pioneer sand-dunes and dune-slacks on the Sefton Coast. The distribution, ecology and conservation status of Dune Gentian Gentianella amarella subsp. occidentalis and English Centaury Centaurium tenuiflorum subsp. anglicum are considered and Tim Rich et al. continue the series of updates on the distribution and status of rare hawkweeds.

You can view or download any of these open access papers and if you are thinking of contributing a paper, here are the submission guidelines.

Ian Denholm & Louise Marsh, British & Irish Botany

Check a Sweet Chestnut

Colleagues at the Royal Horticultural Society have been in touch to tell us about a new citizen science project to monitor the health of Britain’s Sweet Chestnut trees. They are particularly concerned about the spread of Oriental Chestnut Gall Wasp. To find out more about the project and to get involved, please visit the Check a Sweet Chestnut page.

Louise Marsh, BSBI Communications Officer