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Recorder eNewsletter September 2021

Aquatic Plant Project - Training Day this Monday

We’ve organised an extra training day at short notice, looking at Pondweeds and other plants that grow in water, in Co. Kilkenny on Monday 30th August starting at 10am. The workshop will be led by Nick Stewart and will be based in the Inistioge – Thomastown area.

We hope to find Potamogeton friesii (Flat-stalked Pondweed) in the River Nore, at its only know site in the county. We will also visit a disused limestone quarry to look at, identify and record the Stoneworts there - in a county where none have been recorded since 1994. If you would like to attend, and for further details, please contact me. This event is funded by the National Parks & Wildlife Services (NPWS) and all are welcome.

Paul Green, BSBI Ireland Officer

Irish Grassland Project 2021

There are two short free online workshops coming up in the Irish Grasslands Project series on Cinquefoils (Potentilla) by Brenda Harold:

Click the links for further details and to book. Please let anyone who might be interested know. Everyone is very welcome to participate in these online events – whether based in Ireland or Britain.

The webinar that Dr Fionnuala O’Neill gave on Meadow-grass & Bent identification last week is now available to view as two separate short videos – one on Meadow-grasses and the other on Bents. Both are available via the BSBI YouTube channel or on the Irish Grasslands Project page. Thanks again to NPWS for their support for these webinars.

Jim McIntosh, BSBI Senior Country Officer

BSBI Irish Autumn Meeting & AGM

We have got a great line-up of talks for the online Irish Autumn Meeting on Saturday 25th September, including Richard Bateman on how and why Fragrant-orchids were split into three species; Kevin Whelan on the cultural significance of plants in Irish Life; and Rory Finnegan on the wildlife of Castletown Demesne, as well as shorter pieces by me and my colleagues. Everyone, including all BSBI members and interested non-members - whether in Ireland or not - is very welcome. Click Irish Autumn Meeting for more information and to book.

The AGM will be held immediately before the Autumn Meeting from 09.30 to 10.15 on the same day. It will be in Zoom meeting mode, where participants will be able to see each other. An invitation with a separate link for the AGM will be emailed to all Irish members.

Paul Green, BSBI Ireland Officer

Scottish Botanists’ Conference 2021

This year’s Scottish Botanists’ Conference will take place on Saturday 6th November and will be online only. We are currently putting the programme together but can announce that instead of one main talk this year we will have two! The draft programme includes talks on the plants of two of the most important and iconic National Nature Reserves in Scotland - on Beinn Eighe - the UK’s first National Nature Reserve currently celebrating its 70th anniversary - by Ian Sargent, NatureScot Nature Reserves Manager; and on 40 years of rare plant monitoring on Ben Lawers, by Sarah Watts, Conservation Manager at Corrour Estate.

There will also be a repeat of last year’s virtual exhibition format which was very successful. So, it would be great if you would start thinking about a possible exhibit or poster about your exciting botanical findings in 2021. It is very easy to create the virtual exhibit and we can help.

Everyone is welcome, whether member or not. Registration is essential and the booking page will go live in September.

Jim McIntosh, BSBI Senior Country Officer

BSBI Annual Exhibition Meeting and AGM

This year’s Annual Exhibition Meeting will be held via Zoom on Saturday 20th November, with the AGM and some talks to whet your appetite the evening before, 19th November. We are still finalising the programme and will post it, along with the booking link, in the next few weeks here and on the Exhibition Meeting website, but for now please save the date and think about offering an exhibit. As Jim says above, it’s easy to create a virtual exhibit, we can help if you’re new to this sort of thing and with online meetings there are no restrictions on space and no printing costs to worry about!

Everyone is welcome at the Exhibition Meeting, whether or not you are a BSBI member, or an experienced botanist, and wherever you are based – hope to see you on the 19th & 20th November!

Louise Marsh, BSBI Communications Officer

BSBI Photographic Competition

Another great feature of the autumn conferences is the BSBI Photographic Competition. We plan to display the entries and ask participants to vote for their favourites. So far, we don’t have too many entries but there is still plenty time to get out there snapping! For full details of the BSBI Photographic Competition.... but to recap briefly; the 2021 competition has two categories: simply 1) Native and 2) Alien. Photographs should be taken in Britain or Ireland, but don't have to be taken during 2021. You can see all previous year's entries - and they look absolutely great on screen - on the BSBI flickr account

Jim McIntosh, BSBI Senior Country Officer

Ireland Officer

We are pleased to announce that Sarah Pierce will return after maternity leave on the 13 September, initially just working one day a week, and that Paul Green, who has been covering, will continue until the end of the month, to allow a handover and ensure that the Irish Autumn Meeting goes smoothly. As Project Manager for the Irish Grasslands and the Aquatic Plant Projects, Paul will continue working part-time to wrap up both those projects in October.

Jim McIntosh, BSBI Senior Country Officer

BSBI Database searches for herbarium specimens

Here is a great example of the power of the BSBI Database (DDb): Herbaria are making frustratingly slow progress digitising their collections. But you can use the BSBI DDb to see many records in herbaria. For example, there are thought to be 250,000 British or Irish herbarium specimens in RBGE (E) and this DDb query lists those records that are reported as being from, or lodged in, that herbarium – some 22,000 in total, mostly from Scotland of course. You might like to check how many of them are in your Vice-county. You can run similar queries for other herbaria and you may be interested to see those in your ‘local’ herbarium. (To see a complete list of herbaria, see this excellent summary table).

Alternatively, here are ALL the DDb records that have been attributed to herbaria, grouped by institution - click the ‘freq’ header a couple times to rank them (PVT means private herbarium). The query is very easy to modify to search for records in any particular Vice-County.

Jim McIntosh, BSBI Senior Country Officer

Rare Plant Project Ireland

Summer is almost over but much can still be done in September. So, if you haven’t got to grips with guidance for the Rare Plant Project Ireland (RPPI) yet – it is still not too late to do so – and get out and have some fun trying to refind some late summer target species.

Jim McIntosh, BSBI Senior Country Officer

Scottish HectAd Rare Plant Project

The Scottish HectAd Rare Plant Project is very similar to the RPPI project and I just want to say the same thing really – though summer is almost over, much can still be done! Indeed, many species are best identified quite late in the season - like Juncus alpinoarticulatus (Alpine Rush). And in any case, these are both three-year projects so you can always do trial surveys now and plan a more concerted effort next year.

Jim McIntosh, BSBI Senior Country Officer

250th Anniversary of first recorded ascent of Ben Nevis

To mark the 250th Anniversary of the very first recorded ascent of Ben Nevis by botanist James Robertson, I climbed the Ben with a group of fellow botanists, including the Regius Keeper & Director of Science from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and representatives from NatureScot, the John Muir Trust and the Sanger Institute. Read more about the day – and see the photos - in this blogpost for BSBI News & Views.

Jim McIntosh, BSBI Senior Country Officer

Restharrow (Ononis)

Mike Wilcox writes “Recently, I’ve noticed that plants seen of Ononis do not fit the description in Stace (2019) for O. repens and not fully for O. spinosa even if using Sell & Murrell. Whether these are hybrids or not is debatable. So, I would be very grateful if you might collect and send me fresh material of these species (or possible hybrids) to examine. It may be a bit late in season to start this but I will pick it up again next year.” More info here.

Mike Wilcox