Monday 28 September 2020

BSBI News: September issue published

Well it's been five months since the spring issue of BSBI News was published and for many of us, it has felt like a very long time! As the autumn issue drops into BSBI members' letterboxes this week, it certainly feels good to find out what fellow botanists have been up to during this strangest of summers. 

Considering all the restrictions, it's amazing that this latest issue is just as jam-packed as usual with botanical delights!

BSBI News #145 rises to the challenge of providing lots of articles to interest British and Irish botanists whether they are just starting out looking at wild flowers or they are more experienced and looking for something challenging to sink their teeth into. 

In the former camp, there is a four-page article by Andrew Branson, former editor of BSBI News, considering which field guide to buy. Andrew weighs up the pros and cons of seven books currently in print.  

London-rocket, photographed
in London by Mark Spencer

If you are considering buying a new field guide, either for yourself or as a gift, Andrew's review could help you decide which book is right for you and which would become a costly mistake, destined simply to take up shelf space.

There is also a progress report about the Botanical Society of Scotland's Urban Flora Project and this issue's 'Introducing my vice-county' account is by Mark Spencer who looks at the plants and habitats of Middlesex, including some London specialities

Mark's writing is always great fun to read, as anyone who has picked up a copy of his book 'Murder Most Florid' can confirm. 

His account of his vice-county includes such delights as a rare orchid found growing behind a bus shelter, the plants flourishing on a site which will be familiar to fans of classic Ealing comedies, an insight into which species were growing on Hampstead Heath in the C17th and a recent rare find in the grounds of Buckingham Palace!   

Bee Orchid
Image: John Norton

In the latter camp, the more challenging articles, we have a ten-page feature by national orchid expert Prof Richard Bateman in which he guides us through the impact of 30 years of DNA studies on orchid taxonomy and attempts to bust six persistent myths in molecular systematics. 

It's not exactly light reading but Prof Bateman is not just a lab-based boffin, he's also a field botanist so is ideally placed to bridge these two worlds. Check out the Prof's orchid-hunting adventures on a tandem

Several of the articles in this issue reflect how our plants are responding to a changing environment, whether we're looking at links between the distribution of Betony in Scotland and the impact of climate change, or considering if Chaffweed should be considered a halophyte, one of the suite of plants that turns up on road verges and are linked to "salting" in winter. There's also a report about a large colony of Chickweed-wintergreen, an arctic-alpine species, on a site just a few miles from Sheffield city centre. 

Chickweed-wintergreen near Sheffield
Image: Kenneth Balkow

For the horticulturists among us, there are articles on Autumn Crocuses, on naturalised glasshouse weeds, and there's the latest report about Plant Alert, the citizen science project that aims to get gardeners looking out for signs of invasiveness in ornamental plants before they "jump the garden fence" and become problematic. 

Kimnach Stonecrop naturalised on a wall in Hastings
Image: Jacqueline Rose

I haven't even mentioned the eight book reviews, the seven pages summarising recent interesting plant finds and events across Britain and Ireland, the seven pages giving the latest news about the adventives and alien plants that have turned up on these shores in recent months... oh and what about the flyers tucked inside this latest issue, giving details of how to book for some of our autumn events? They are taking place virtually this year so no travelling involved and they are free to attend and open to everyone. More info about these events later this week: watch this space!

For now, a quick reminder that if you are a BSBI member, your 84-page print copy of BSBI News will be with you any day and you can also view an electronic version online via the password-protected members-only area on our website (email me if you've forgotten your password). 

If you are not yet a BSBI member, don't worry - we have a couple of treats in the pipeline for you, including our autumn special offer which opens on 1st October, so again: watch this space!

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