Record a plant

Submit a record

The BSBI welcomes records of plants growing in the wild in Britain and Ireland. Why? Because these records are vital in helping us to build up a clearer picture of the distribution of species, both species occurring naturally in the wild (native) or 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. 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 grow in 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 or 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. You can also email us at enquiries@bsbi.org if you'd like to attach a photo.
  • 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.

Making specimens

Sometimes your County Recorder will ask you to take a specimen of your plant and press it, in order to check the identification or to store it in a herbarium. Guidelines for collecting and preparing herbarium specimens are available for downloading here: Collecting and pressing specimens.

Record a plant

Your name may be stored in the BSBI's database and could be made public as part of this botanical record.

Your email address will not be passed on to any third parties or retained as part of this record - Privacy & Data Protection Policy


  

It can help with identification if you are able to include some clear photos of the plant. It may help to include close-up photos of the flowers and leaves.


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.