How to submit a record
The BSBI welcomes records of plants growing in the wild in Britain and Ireland. You can use the Record-a-plant form on this page for one-off records but if you want to submit multiple records, we suggest that you send them direct to your BSBI County Recorder. You can use the lists and the map on the Local Botany page to find their contact details. Email your County Recorder to ask in what format they would like to receive your records - some prefer a spreadsheet, some like emails with photos attached etc. If you are in one of the few counties without a Recorder, please contact our Enquiries Desk for further guidance.
Why are botanical records important?
Because these records are vital in helping us to build up a clearer picture of the distribution of species, whether of (native) species occurring naturally in the wild or of species introduced by humans since the last Ice Age for food, forestry or ornament (non-native, alien). By ‘wild’ we mean anywhere outside of private gardens; we can also record naturalised plants, ie any that have escaped from cultivation and are growing in the wild without human intervention. Our Definitions page tells you more about what these terms mean. Not sure if your plant is native or alien? Look it up in our online Atlas.
How to make a record
A record should include the four “W's”: what, where, who and when:
What – the name of the plant. Botanists use scientific names (made up of a genus and a specific name) so Meadow Buttercup is Ranunculus acris (scientific names are always italicised with the first letter of the genus, e.g. Ranunculus, in capitals). Common names are less precise and can lead to confusion if the recorder is not aware that there are many different species of buttercup. Some common names are just downright confusing: Bermuda buttercup doesn't originate from Bermuda and it isn't a buttercup! But if you know your buttercup is a meadow buttercup, the online Atlas will tell you the scientific name.
Where – records should include a site name (usually the nearest named place on a map) and a precise grid-reference. BSBI conducts surveys based around the Ordnance Survey map grid-squares. An OS grid-reference consists of 100 x 100 km square code expressed as two letters (e.g. TL) followed by a pair of co-ordinates (eastings and northings). The number of digits determines the precision of the grid-reference. For plant records you should normally provide at least a four-figure reference (e.g. TL1979), which specifies a 1km square. It can be useful to provide greater precision, particularly for reports of rare or unusual plants that we may want to check. The OS provides a useful web page explaining how to make a grid reference. You could also use a GPS unit or an app on your phone to do all this for you.
Who – that is you the recorder! Or someone else if they have relayed the information to you. The name of the recorder is an important and permanent part of a botanical record.
When – the date on which you made the record. This is a vital piece of information as it allows us to track changes over time.
These are the minimum details we require but you can also add other information which might include the habitat, the number of plants present, whether it was flowering or not and whether you think it is truly wild or maybe it escaped from a nearby garden.
An example of a good record would be:
Creeping buttercup Ranunculus repens, Monks Wood National Nature Reserve, Huntingdonshire. Grid reference TL195794. Recorded by Jane Bloggs on 9th April, 2018. Several plants flowering on the edge of a path through the woods.
How to submit a record
There are a number of ways of submitting a record to us:
- If you're just starting out and/or if you'd like some help to ID your plant, use the Contact Form on this page and attach a photo or two of your mystery plant. Try to get a close-up of the flower but don't forget to photograph the whole plant too - habit and leaf shape also help with ID. The limit for your photo uploads is 14MB in total.
- You can also email us direct at [email protected] if you need a bit more guidance.
- You'll find lots of ID aids across this website. Try our tips for getting started with ID, our Identification pages, the Plant Crib and ID videos.
- Don't forget that if you are a BSBI member you have exclusive access to our network of 100+ expert plant referees to help you ID your plant before you submit your record.
- If you're pretty sure what your plant is and you're already in touch with your County Recorder, use the links on the local botany page to tell them about your find.
- If you're used to biological recording you can submit records using the iRecord website or via the iRecord app.
On our BSBI YouTube channel you'll find a selection of helpful videos about biological recording by BSBI and friends to help you get started. Click on the links to view the videos on YouTube:
Record a plant
Code of Conduct
Don't forget that before you even think of picking a wildflower, you need the landowner's permission and you need to be quite sure that you aren't picking something rare, especially if it's the only one! There are some wildflowers that it's actually against the law to pick, even if there are lots of them and you have the landowner's permission.
The BSBI Code of Conduct tells you all you need to know, whether you are a recorder, photographer, forager or you just like looking at wild flowers. Download your free copy here.