“More Than Weeds” – a year in pavement flora.

"More than weeds" is aimed at changing our perception of plants growing on walls, pavement and tree pits.  Since its launch in October 2019,  the project has gained momentum in the UK and abroad, with enthusiasts sharing pictures of their pavement finds, artists being inspired by the beauty of spontaneous flora & community groups working on their ID skills. It is hoped that this will encourage the recording of urban flora, and convince local authorities to adopt more respectful practices for the management of urban nature. Inspired by the “Urban Flora of Scotland" initiative, I would like to take the project to the next level, using recording as a way to research the diversity, the evolution and the key functions of urban flora.

Indigenous plants in Nature Strips: Case Study from Melbourne Australia

A case study of the community, working with a local Council in Melbourne Australia, to promote the planting of indigenous species on residential nature strips (also known as 'verges'). Key stakeholders in the project include Beaumaris Conservation Society - a local volunteer organisation dedicated to protecting neighbourhood character and habitat values; the Bayside Community Nursery - one of the first volunteer-run indigenous nurseries in the world; and Bayside City Council - who support the Community Nursery and manage the nature strip permit process.

Discovery of Creeping Marshwort Helosciadium repens at Nuns Bridges, Thetford (VC 26 West Suffolk)

A new population of Creeping Marshwort Helosciaidum repens was discovered at Nuns Bridges, Thetford in 2020 following digging work carried out to create a new wild flower meadow. The site becomes the third extant native population of this rare species in the UK. A quadrat survey in September 2020 produced an estimate of around 18,000 plants on the site; the majority of these were seedlings but many flowering and fruiting plants were also present.

Investigating Irish Heritage Barley responses to waterlogging

Waterlogging is a major constraint to barley production and is expected to become a more significant problem as  the frequency of flooding events is set to increase with climate change. Heritage barley lines have seen a renewed interest as brewers and distilleries search for unique selling points. Those maintaining heritage varieties at the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine (DAFM)  have noted that many have larger root systems than modern counterparts. As waterlogging is a stress primarily associated with roots, a larger root system may provide an advantage. This project aims to characterise the response of Irish Heritage Barley cultivars to waterlogging stress using image-based phenotyping in both field and controlled conditions.

Identiplant – An Update

The performance of the Identiplant on-line plant identification course up to the end of 2020, its 8th year, is described.  No further enrolments can be taken but a future re-launch of the course in a different form is being considered.

Tweets from a Small Hill

Lime Kiln Hill rises to 44m, the first high ground south-east of Cambridge centre. It consists of Chalk, above Totternhoe Stone & West Melbury Marl. It has 3 reserves: Lime Kiln Close, East and West Pits. It is crossed by Lime Kiln Road which meets Worts' Causeway to the south beyond which are the Gog Magog Hills. With one of the country's longest historical botanical records it is subject to creeping urbanisation. While joining BSBI @BSBIbotany & @WildFlowerHour on Twitter I have tried to keep track of its remarkable array of botanical rarities, and of urban encroachment, in photos.


#wildflowerhour is an online community of hundreds of wild flower enthusiasts.  The original concept was devised in 2015 by Isabel Hardman (@issybryonyh), who asked BSBI to help promote the idea.  As #wildflowerhour grew in size and popularity, a small steering group was assembled, all of whom are BSBI members.  Rebecca Wheeler, also a BSBI member, now leads #wildflowerhour and runs the social media accounts.  Read Louise Marsh's interview with her here.

The Adventure Canada Ecotourist 2019 guide to early summer common flowering plants of Scotland, Ireland and Iceland

Outside of our day jobs, we all work as onboard staff with Adventure Canada, a Canadian, family-owned, women-led, second-generation Ecotourism and Alternative Tourism company. Between twenty-five and thirty subject-matter and expedition logistics experts travel with tourists interested in learning about arctic and Atlantic ecology and Inuit culture on small ship expeditions (a maximum of 200 passengers). In addition to an onboard non-fiction reference library comprising over one thousand titles, that covers regional natural history, geology and geomorphology, culture, history and art, politics, anthropology, exploration, and biographies of noteworthy adventurers, we also create customized guides about flora and fauna and ecotourism best practices. In 2019, this included this short (32 page) botany guide. It features many open access and creative commons licensed images, providing both an example of, and guide for, how to create customized, curated and illustrated, local plant lists for non-experts interested in citizen science.

Association of British Botanical Artists

We are a group of artists and enthusiasts for botanical art holding at least two virtual exhibitions a year of members' art on our website, alongside a regular blog on topics of interest. Our membership is open to everyone of any ability or level of knowledge, or you can simply subscribe to be notified of new blog posts. Links in the poster are to our current virtual exhibition and, in the bottom right corner, to our website and social media outlets.

The declining flora of Cornwall.

This exhibit extends the analysis, in the recently published Flora of Cornwall book, of the native and archaeophyte flowering plants and ferns that were more widespread before the year 2000. This is achieved by hotspot mapping the occurrence of declining taxa as a whole, hotspot mapping places where declining plants have not been seen since 1999 and by using Ellenberg values for reaction, moisture and light to assess what groups of plants have been most prone to decline.

Botany for the Visually Impaired

Sensing the Wild - Botany for the Visually Impaired This project was helped by the Tees Valley Wildlife Trust, working with a social enterprise organisation, called Going for Independence, to connect blind and partially sighted people with nature. It was funded by, the Heritage National Lottery Fund. I will discuss how this has inspired me to help others make the natural world, more accessible to the visually impaired, including my activities during the COVID19 lockdown. I will then go on to discuss what we can do as BSBI members, to make, the study of botany and fieldwork more accessible, to those with visual impairment, and other disabilities.  

The Wild Flower Society

We are a national society created specifically for amateur botanists and wild flower lovers in Britain and Ireland.  Our aims are:

  • to promote a greater knowledge of field botany among the general public and in particular among young people;
  • to advance education in matters relating to the conservation of wild flowers and of the countryside;
  • to promote the conservation of the British flora.
Our members enjoy our programme of field meetings, receiving guidance feedback from regional branch leaders, seasonal plant hunts, photographic competitions, and the Wild Flower Magazine. For our younger members, we offer a beginner's diary, with a chance to earn badges by recording plants they find.

Bringing Flowers Back – Floral Recovery in Oxfordshire

Native plants are going extinct from Oxfordshire at a rate of about one a year, with many more species on the brink. Volunteer Flora Guardians co-ordinated by the Oxfordshire Flora Group monitor vulnerable species and manage their habitat. Increasingly seed is collected, plants are propagated, recovery plans written, and experiments and translocations are carried out to study and restore endangered native populations.

Harvesting Historica Data

Species location data from a county flora of 1794 has been transcribed into excel by volunteers of the Oxfordshire Flora Group. This gives a picture of the loss and decline of species from the county. Plans are being developed to scan and transcribe the much larger Flora of Oxfordshire by G C Druce (1927). Help will be needed.

2020 Lockdown Botany

Botany proved a great distraction to alleviate the COVID-19 lockdown boredom this spring. Many of my favourite, Somerset botanising sites were tantalisingly out-of-reach. I resigned myself to making the best of sites within walking distance of home. I tried to gain some variation by setting out in a different direction every day. After some minor zigzagging through the village, I could easily find myself alone in wide open spaces. Unfortunately, the intensive agriculture in my immediate area does not generally make for prime botanising. As the spring progressed, I noticed how Nature thrived in a way I only remembered from my local childhood.  

Phytolith reference collection of coastal plant communities at Farlington Marshes, Portsmouth, Hampshire

Fieldwork has been undertaken this summer, with the support of a BSBI research grant, to start work on establishing a phytolith reference collection for southern coastal plant communities. Phytoliths are silica bodies that are produced within living plants and they can be used to identify plants deposited in archaeological and palaeoecological sediments. This summer’s work has concentrated on sampling the saltmarsh and grazing marsh communities found at Farlington Marshes, Portsmouth. Plants and soils have been collected and work is underway to find out what phytoliths are present in them. Identification criteria for indicator species will be established and new methods will be developed to distinguish plant communities from each other based on differences in mixed phytolith assemblages found in soil samples. These new findings can then be applied to archaeological samples to tell us more about plant use and landscape changes in the past.

Dr Margaret Bradshaw’s Teesdale Special Flora Research & Conservation Trust

The Trust was set up and funded in 2017 by Dr Margaret Bradshaw. The aims of the Trust are: to record the locations of the special plants of Teesdale in detail, to aid their future monitoring and conservation; to identify areas where populations of special plants are threatened and to liaise with Natural England on land management changes to address this; and to establish a 'Friend of' group to continue with similar work in future. This report summarises the first three years of work by the Trust.

The FISC at Natural England

Natural England began providing the FISC (Field Identification Skills Certificate) in 2015 and now run it commercially as well as for staff and partners. We plan to continue to expand our FISC offer. Feedback shows the FISC supports skills development and confidence. To host a NE FISC please contact Andrea.Perkins@naturalengland.org.uk to discuss options. To learn more about FISCs or book a place on a FISC event by NE or other providers visit https://bsbi.org/field-skills

Ancient Grassland on Road Verges

Ancient grassland is an important part of our cultural heritage that is understudied, both academically and amongst knowledgeable amateurs, despite being the most important source of genetic material to create the new areas of diverse climate-resilient species-rich grassland required for the government's 25 Year Environment Plan. Perhaps the most precarious and yet accessible of these plant communities can be found on road verges and the poster gives some ideas of where to look for surviving remnants.

BSBI Field Meetings

A poster describing some of the field meetings that the BSBI organises, together with a list of meetings currently planned for 2021 and contact details for the country field meeting secretaries.

Natural Surroundings

Natural Surroundings is a small business in North Norfolk. With gardens, a small reserve and a plant nursery, our aim is to promote wildlife-friendly gardening and generate interest in wildlife in general and plants in particular. We enjoy a fabulous setting and have worked hard to produce a diversity of plants, both in cultivation and growing wild. We have also produced lots of interpretative material. Despite this, we feel that many visitors, while they enjoy their visit, don't really look at our plants. We would welcome suggestions as to how we could increase their engagement.

Botanical University Challenge

Botanical University Competition is a botanical quiz competition based on the popular TV format, but entirely focused on plant-based questions.  The 4th Botanical University Competition will be held online and organised by John Warren & Jonathan Mitchley of the Training and Education Committee of BSBI and chaired by Colin Clubbe (RBG Kew) on 17th February 2021.

Sorbus pseudomeinichii – Evolution, extinction and an exciting discovery on the Isle of Arran

During a visit to the Isle of Arran to observe it’s endemic Sorbus microspecies the exciting discovery was made of a second extant plant of Sorbus pseudomeinichii, thus doubling the number of wild plants of this sorbus microspecies. This poster discusses, through a photographic phylogeny, the relationships between Sorbus aucuparia, Sorbus rupicola and three endemic sorbus microspecies that are found on Arran. We also give a history timeline of the discovery and description of the Sorbus microspecies on Arran as well as information regarding the discovery of a new tree of Sorbus pseudomeinichii, a internationally Critically Endangered species.  

BSBI periodicals

BSBI periodicals include four country newsletters, our new scientific journal, our monthly e-newsletter for the botanical recording community and our News & Views blog (all available to non-members); our thrice-yearly members' newsletter, Yearbook and our previous scientific journal (members only);and a publications archive.

BSBI New Year Plant Hunt

How many wild or naturalised plants can you find in bloom during a three-hour walk at New Year? Records you send in to our New Year Plant Hunt, now in its tenth year, are helping us build up a clearer picture of how our plants are responding to changes in autumn and winter weather patterns.

BSBI grants

BSBI offers a range of grants to help you learn more about our wild plants: Training Grants to help aspiring/ beginner botanists attend short plant ID courses; Plant Study Grants to support undergrads and post-grads working on botanical projects; and Science & Research Grants to support research that enhances our knowledge of the British & Irish flora.

Plants acting as a host ecosystem – html version

Studying entire ecosystems is expensive, labour intensive and often requires study over long timescales. Sarracenia purpurea (Purple Pitcher Plant) provides a useful model in which to study the community dynamics of micro-ecosystems on a condensed time-scale.