Thursday, 9 January 2014

New Year's Plant Hunt: the results. 

We asked botanists to spend up to three hours listing any wild flowers and garden escapes in flower over New Year, but not species planted in gardens. Around 70 BSBI members responded to the call, and members of the public also contributed records via Facebook or on Twitter at BSBIPlantHunt.  We received 48 lists of plants in flower from 32 counties across Britain and Ireland: from Cornwall to Orkney and from Suffolk to Anglesey and Wexford in Ireland. The records covered a wide range of plants and most botanists were surprised at how many species they found in flower. 
Delairea odorata German-ivy flowering in Cornwall
Image: Elise O'Donnell

Plant Hunt Co-ordinator Tim Rich has now finished collating all our records, so here are our results:

·         221 species in flower, of which:
·         164 species are native to Britain and Ireland (about 10% of our native wild flowers), and
·         57 species are non-native or escaped from gardens.

The most commonly recorded species were Groundsel (40 out of 48 records = 83%), Daisy (81%) and Dandelion (69%) which are well known to flower during the winter. Other species recorded in over half of the lists were Smooth Sowthistle, Annual Meadow Grass, Chickweed, Shepherd’s Purse, Dwarf Spurge, Common Field-speedwell and Red Deadnettle. Gorse, well known to flower all year, was recorded in 44% of the lists.  In contrast, another 104 species were only recorded once; these are the more unusual occurrences of plants flowering out of season. 


Erodium cicutarium Musk Stork's-bill in Lincs.
Image: Sarah Lambert
The most species found flowering during any one survey were jointly in Cardiff and Leicester (66 in flower). 15 lists had more than 30 species recorded flowering whilst 14 had fewer than 10 species. 

In general, more species were recorded in the south compared to the north, and more species were recorded in towns and cities, where there are more weeds and the temperatures are slightly warmer.  The least number flowering (2 species) were recorded in the Outer Hebrides and Central Wales.  Amongst the interesting records were a first record of Round-leaved Crane’s-bill in Leicester, and a second record of Musk Stork’s-bill in Lincolnshire.