Monday, 8 December 2014

New Year Plant Hunt 2015

Hogweed Heracleum sphondylium recorded in flower
New Year 2013/4
Image: C. Ferguson-Smyth
It's getting near that time of year again, building up to the winter's big event ... Dr Tim Rich's announcement of the details of this year's BSBI New Year Plant Hunt! The annual hunt, now in its fourth year, is the brainchild of Tim and Dr Sarah Whild, Chair of BSBI's Training & Education Committee. Over to Tim to tell you all about it:

"For the 4th year running you are cordially invited to join in our BSBI New Year wild flower hunt. The aim is to record as many wild species flowering as you can in up to 3 hours over the New Year period.

"The idea for an annual hunt originated on 1 January 2012 when we discovered an amazing 63 species in flower in Cardiff in the very mild weather. This was a real contrast to 2011 when even the gorse flowers were frozen under snow. New Year 2013 was much less floriferous than 2012, but 52 species were still found in flower in Cardiff (see BSBI News 123:40) and seven other groups joined in.

Musk Stork's-bill Erodium cicutarium flowering
in Lincs, New Year 2013/4
Image: S. Lambert 
"The survey caught on. Last New Year was amazing – we had 48 lists from all over Britain and also from Ireland, with a total of 221 species in flower (164 of which were natives). Cardiff and Leicester both had 66 species recorded in flower contrasting with the Outer Hebrides and Central Wales which had only 2 species. And for the same areas recorded in 2012/13, there were 40% more species in flower last year.

"Although the survey is for fun, it does generate some surprising results. As 2014 is the warmest year on record we are expecting higher totals than ever if the frosts keep away. 

VC55 Team (plus secret weapon Brian Laney!)
ready to start the 2013/4 Plant Hunt
Image: L. Marsh
"The rules are simple to try to keep data comparable between different areas and over different years:
1. Pick one day over the New Year weekend between Thursday 1st and Sunday 4th January 2015, when the weather is decent enough to record in.
2. Record wild and naturalised plants (but not planted or garden species) in flower. Please check plants are actually flowering – that catkins are actually open, grasses have open florets, stigmas or anthers are on show etc.
3. Record for up to 3 hours. 
4. Send us details of what you saw: species recorded, names of the botanists who saw them, time and location. You can email a list to nyplanthunt@bsbi.org and/or post your finds on the BSBI Facebook page and/or tweet them to us at @BSBIbotany. 

German-ivy Delairea odorata flowering
in Cornwall, New Year 2013/4
Image: Elise O'Donnell
"You can contribute as many different lists as you like from different areas (we did 3 last year), and please send us pictures, especially of the more interesting finds." 

Don't worry about swamping us with records - after the success of last year's Plant Hunt, Tim has an assistant this year! Ryan Clark joins the Plant Hunt team as Assistant Co-ordinator, so when you email us at nyplanthunt@bsbi.org you will be contacting Tim, Ryan, Sarah and me. We all look forward to hearing from you on 1st January.