Monday 31 August 2020

August issue of British & Irish Botany published

Habitat of S. myosuroides in the
Killarney National Park, Co. Kerry
Image: R. Hodd
We've just pressed 'publish' on our biggest issue yet of British & Irish Botany: eight papers and three short notes. It looks as though lockdown restrictions, which kept so many botanists at home, also gave them a chance to write a scientific paper or two! 

So what's in this latest issue? 

First of all there's a paper from Rory Hodd and Fred Rumsey about the newest addition to the European flora - it's a tiny rare fern called Stenogrammitis myosuroides which Rory found in Killarney on the west coast of Ireland. But the jaw-dropping fact is that until Rory's discovery, the closest locations we knew of for this species were in tropical cloud-forests in Jamaica, Cuba and the Dominican Republic, more than 6000km away. 

Could it be that this little fern's spores were carried across the Atlantic in wind currents? That seems to be the most plausible explanation. S. myosuroides doesn't even have a common name yet: suggestions so far include Kerry mousetail fern, transatlantic flying mouse fern, Ferny McFernface... feel free to add your suggestion in the comments below! 

Fred Rumsey is a co-author on several other papers in this issue: there's an account by him and Chris Thorogood of Orobanche minor (Common Broomrape) in the British Isles, illustrated by some fabulous line drawings by Chris (thumbnail on left). Their seven page account reviews the taxonomic status of seven subspecies, forms or varieties, for which they provide an ID key: why not try it out and let us know what you think? 

Fred also co-authored two papers on hybrids. He and aquatics expert Richard Lansdown have published an account of the hybrid between Schoenoplectus lacustris and S. tabernaemontani, for which they propose the binomial S. x flevensis.

Hypericum x cetericae in Cardiganshire
Image: F. Rumsey
Andy Jones and Fred also describe the novel hybrid between Wavy and Perforate St. John's Wort, from Cardiganshire, and they give it the name Hypericum x cetericae.   

Ian Denholm, Editor-in-Chief of British & Irish Botany, says “This issue includes a very interesting and potentially controversial article by Tim Rich on the number of plant species that are endemic to the British Isles (i.e. restricted in their distribution to Britain, Ireland, the Channel Islands or a combination of these localities). It is interesting because I don’t think anyone has taken on this task in recent years and it is important that the relevant conservation authorities in Britain and Ireland are alerted to which species we have special responsibility for protecting. It is controversial because the majority of the species in Tim’s list belong to apomictic groups (dandelions, hawkweeds and brambles especially) that reproduce asexually and therefore persist as clonal lineages, though often with a substantial degree of morphological and ecological distinction. To my mind there is an outstanding and important discussion over whether we accord these endemic apomicts the same importance as the few sexually-outcrossing species that are confined to our shores, or not. Some of them are hugely restricted and endangered.”

Viola reichenbachiana
var. leucantha in Cumbria
Image: B.A. Tregale
Also in this new issue are a paper from Italian botanist Duilio Iamonico on some of the goosefoots referred to in Flora Anglica (1762); from Scotland, Lee Raye sets out to identify and discuss the hundreds of plant species listed in Scotia Illustrata (1684) and Michael Braithwaite considers the history and distribution of the bulbil-bearing subspecies of Ficaria verna (Lesser Celandine). 

There are also short notes naming a white variant of Early Dog-violet; validating the name of a Cotoneaster species; and renaming one of the goldilocks buttercups in honour of Cambridgeshire botanist Alan Leslie

So a bumper issue! Head over here to view and/ or download all the papers and short notes, completely free of charge and Open Access. 

We hope you enjoy this latest issue and might consider publishing in British & Irish Botany? Check out our submission guidelines or email us at to discuss your proposal.

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