Monday 30 April 2018

Irish BSBI Spring Conference 2018: a huge success!

Maria opens the day's proceedings
Image: S. Brien
The Irish BSBI Conference 2018 was held last month and reports filtering through via social media suggest that it was a resounding success and yet another feather in organiser Maria Long's cap! 

So I asked Jessica Hamilton, who gave a talk at the conference about the BSBI Kerry group (Jessica is the guiding force behind the group) to send us a short report and to include any comments she'd heard from fellow delegates. 

Over to Jessica: 
Mike Porter's talk on violas
Image: J Hamilton
"The best one yet!" / "Lovely mix, well done" / "Getting people together".

"One month ago now, (how fast is time flying this year?!), the Irish BSBI Conference was held at the National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin, in Dublin on the 24th March. Once people had gathered and received their programme for the day, the day’s events kicked off with a warm welcome from the ever enthusiastic Maria (BSBI Irish Officer)

"Throughout the day people used the hashtag #IrishBSBIconference to tweet the ongoings of the day on social media and give the conference a presence online.

Mike (in blue fleece) leads the viola workshop
Image: J. Hamilton
"The talks kicked off with Mike Porter (author of the BSBI Handbook on Violas). He gave an elated and comprehensive talk on violas. 

"I think many people appreciate these spring beauties, but Mike spoke about them with such infectious passion that after ten years of preparing the handbook he had the same love of this group of plants that I’m sure he had on the first day he clasped eyes them.

"Mike’s talk on violas was definitely a highlight for me, as was his workshop which he carried out later on that day (more on that later) and others agreed with me:

Clare Heardman talks about Ellen Hutchins
Image: J. Hamilton
“Viola talk- very funny and informative”.

"Next up was Clare Heardman, County Recorder for West Cork, who gave a heartfelt and fantastic talk on Ellen Hutchins (Ireland’s first female botanist). It was fascinating- yet moving - to learn about how, despite her struggles and tragedies that she experienced, she was still able to pour herself into her love of botany and accomplished so much as she did. 

"As Clare pointed out, botany definitely appeared to be a safe place for her from which to escape from all of life’s woes and troubles. This is something I - and I’m sure others - can relate to.

Jessica talks about the BSBI Kerry group
Image: M Long
"Next I was up to give my talk on some of my BSBI experience and a rundown of what the BSBI Kerry local group has been up to so far. Around this time last year was when I attended my first ever BSBI conference so to have been asked to speak this year was such an honour. 

"After I wrapped up my talk I was followed by Aoife Delaney whose talk 'Environmental drivers of biological communities in dune slacks' was received with great interest.

"As Edwina Cole, County Recorder for East Cork, said “Aoife’s presentation was particularly interesting- a much needed reminder of the complexities of ecosystems and how one group alone cannot predict its wealth” Very well said. 

Colm talks about the BSBI Dublin group
Image: J Hamilton
"After a lunch break, there were a series of flash talks by six enthusiastic speakers - Robert Northridge OBE who spoke about Trichophorum - identifying the various species and their hybrids. His enthusiasm and drive are particularly admirable -  anyone who has been out recording in the field with him will instantly pick up on this seemingly endless energy and passion.

"Elaine Moore Mackey of the Irish Society of Botanical Artists told us all about the work of the society and promoted their upcoming exhibition Éireannach’ – which opens on the 5th May and looks to be absolutely delightful and coincides with the launch of their book, also called Èireannach, which will contain a collection of paintings of plants that are native to Ireland. [Ed.: the book also has a 2-page feature about BSBI, written by Irish Officer Maria Long.] 

Rory talks about the Killarney Fern
Image: J. Hamilton
"Colm from the Dublin BSBI local group gave a roundup of the local group he leads in Dublin. Local groups such as this are important ways of getting people involved in recording and looking at all the wonderful botanical delights one can find.

"Maria also gave a quick talk on lycopod surveys and Rory Hodd (of Rough Crew fame) spoke about the benefits of peering into dark crevices in search of the Trichomanes speciosum (Killarney Fern) gametophyte. I have only seen the gametophyte a handful of times and both times were as a result of Rory diving into a dark crevice, so keep up the good work Rory :D 

Horsetail specimens in the Herbarium
Image: J. Hamilton
"We were also lucky to have a talk by Pauline Campbell who gave us the lowdown on the National Plant Monitoring Scheme in Northern Ireland.

"All six flash talks were all equally as interesting and captivating. 

"The five minute limit may seem quite short- and it flies by, but in those five minutes what was great to see was that all speakers in that short period, as well as giving informative talks, were able to portray their enthusiasm for their particular area they were speaking of.

Mike's viola workshop in the herbarium
Image: J. Hamilton
"While the County Recorders had a computer workshop, for the rest of us, John Conaghan gave a fantastic talk on horsetails which also featured herbarium specimens that were absolutely beautiful and look like hand painted works of art, I definitely looked at horsetails in a different way seeing them like that. 

"Towards the end half of the day there was a very successful and popular viola workshop with Mike Porter which was one of my many highlights and it was great to get hands-on practice looking at specimens both live and from the herbarium. 

In the Palm House at NBG Glasnevin
Image M. Long
"One of the herbarium specimens which was particularly interesting was Viola rupestris (Teesdale violet), which Ireland has no records of, but Mike wants us Irish folk to keep our eyes peeled for this miniscule beauty.

"A group of us also enjoyed a fantastic talk in the getting a tour of the palm house led by the director of the gardens Dr. Matthew Jebb. 

"We first started in the main gardens where he produced a small matchbox, which he revealed that inside it contained a seed of all of our c840 native flowering plant species. Amazing! 

Into the top of the palm house we went and watch a breath taking place it was, both from the views that encompassed us, and the humidity that hit us. 

"While we were in the palm house others got to have a session and updates for Atlas 2020, giving updates no how it’s going so far and throwing ideas around of what to focus on post atlas. "Post Atlas 2020 planning a good idea".

Matthew Jebb's matchbox containing seeds of
every flowering plant species in Ireland!
Image: C. Heardman
"Also throughout day for people to view and was a fantastic Information and identification station which people availed of to ID any mystery plants they had and view some of the live specimens that were also on display such as my favourite, the Rue-leaved saxifrage. 

[Ed: Note that there are also posters on display about Atlas 2020 and about Wild Flower Hour!]

"The day was concluded with final words by our host Maria. I asked Maria to give some feedback on how she felt the day went:

Posters about Atlas 2020 and Wild Flower Hour
Image: J. Hamilton
“Each year we try hard to put on a varied programme, and to keep costs low, but I'm still always nervous that it won't go well, or that people won't come, or that they won't enjoy the day if they do. 

"Thankfully, all the work and worry was worth it, and we've just had another really successful conference. 

"It was a busy, fast-paced day, but there was plenty time too for attendees to chat and catch up over coffee and lunch breaks. 

"Great thanks are due to all contributors, with almost every one of them being mentioned as a highlight by someone in the feedback!”   

Maria's talk about lycopods
Image: J. Hamilton
"To finish up, if you didn’t get a chance to attend the conference you’ll now hopefully have a nice idea of what went on. 

"I on behalf of all attendees want to extend my thanks and gratitude to Maria for organising such a jam-packed fun day that had something for everyone and I look forward with anticipation to next year’s conference. 

"I think it’s safe to say everyone who attended thoroughly enjoyed their day. Feedback is important for events likes this and feedback received was all very positive, so let’s conclude with two quotes from attendees - Kate and Conor:

Plant ID table, posters & leaflets about BSBI
Image: J. Hamilton
“Thanks Maria for putting on such a great conference last weekend - it was really enjoyable, and great catching up with people” - Kate-Marie O’Connor.

“Thanks again for the conference. It was excellent!” -Conor Owens

Hear Hear! JH".

Ed.: Many thanks to Jessica for this report and to Maria for organising another great day! 

You may be interested to know that you can now download presentations from the conference - just head over to the Irish Conferences page.

Thursday 26 April 2018

Oak and Ash and Thorn

Front cover of the book
A new book about trees was published earlier this month by Oneworld Publications and it has already attracted some great reviews. The Observer said of Oak and Ash and Thorn by Peter Fiennes, "It feels set to become a classic of the genre" and the Sunday Express paid tribute to the author as an "eloquent, elegiac chronicler of copses, coppicing and the wildwood". The book even gets a mention in the 'Book Notes' section of the latest issue of BSBI News!

Oneworld Publications have very kindly made several copies of Oak and Ash and Thorn available to any News & Views readers who can answer correctly five questions set by the author. Scroll down to see the questions but first, here is a short extract from the book:

Extract (from Chapter Two)
"Midwinter is the holly’s time, when the leaves of other trees fall and it seems to emerge from the woods. It is, as it says in Gawain and the Green Knight, ‘greenest when groves are gaunt and bare.’ At the winter solstice, holly is the ‘holy’ tree, the Holly King, ruling the sleeping world, only giving up the crown reluctantly to the Oak King, who reigns supreme through the summer. Or so I’m told.

Illustration from Oak and Ash and Thorn
"And I also know that if you throw holly leaves (or maybe the branches) at a wild beast it will kneel at your feet. Pliny the Elder tells us that. And you should cut your holly staff or wand with care and only after offering the appropriate thanks and libations: the holly is sacred and does not like to be taken for granted. But if you get it right, the holly provides a powerful witch’s wand, potent with spiky male energy. In fact, men looking to attract a female partner should carry a few holly leaves with them. Holly, as incense or a tincture, can re-energize the stalest marriage bed.

"It’s also worth strewing a few holly leaves under your pillow at night if you want to get a glimpse of your future, but do not do this lightly. Holly can lead you to the Underworld. Nor should you, on any account, leave any holly inside the home after Twelfth Night: you will attract evil spirits. In Ireland it is bad luck to plant a holly tree too close to your home; in England the opposite is true – it will protect you from lightning and malicious faeries. It is bad luck to chop the tree down in either country. Instead, drink a cup of holly tea and you will find your jealousy and agitation subsiding. Do not, though, drink or consume the berries, they are poisonous to children and deeply upsetting to adults, even though John Evelyn, the magisterial seventeenth century author of Sylva: or A Discourse of Forest-Trees and the Propagation of Timber In His Majesties Dominions, suggests swallowing ‘a dozen of the mature berries… to purge phlegm without danger.’ I think we’re on safer ground following his advice on how to plant a holly hedge.

Holly flowers
Image courtesy of John Crellin/ Floral Images
"Evelyn is also extremely and unsettlingly detailed about how to make ‘Birdlime’ out of the bark of the holly, a clagging substance which was smeared on the branches of trees in order to trap songbirds. One final word of advice: if you have just been married, then bring some holly leaves over the threshold of your new home. Men should bring the spiky leaves, women the smooth ones. Whoever does that will rule the roost for the rest of the marriage (although if you both bring leaves, it’s not entirely clear what will happen – perhaps you’ll be divorced within a week).

"Holly, then, is king of the winter woods. Its top leaves are generally without spikes (brides-to-be have some climbing to do), but the lower leaves have evolved to grow strong and spiny in order to repel cattle. (But not deer, which munch through the things enthusiastically and must have tongues like hobnailed boots; perhaps the fact that they can do this with impunity should make us doubt the theory – or possibly what has happened is that the deer’s tongues have evolved faster than the holly’s leaves.) Its berries are really fruit (with four stones), and they’re digested and spread far and wide by the hungry winter birds. It’s not really the only sign of green life in a British wood at Christmastime (there’s juniper, yew, box, Scots Pine and ivy), but the holly bears the crown.

Holly flowers (close-up)
Image courtesy of John Crellin/ Floral Images
"The wood of the holly grows slowly and produces a heavy, white timber, which is often used for chess pieces or the handles of the whips of coachmen. Like the wood of the box tree, holly sinks in water. Indeed, if you’re travelling after nightfall, always take your holly-handled whip with you to ward off evil spirits. 

"According to H.L. Edlin in British Woodland Trees (1944), ‘holly is of no importance as a timber tree, but is useful for hedges and ornamental planting. It will not thrive in smoky towns, where all evergreens tend to become ‘nevergreens.’’ This may be his only recorded joke, but the holly is a somewhat hysterical tree. Perhaps someone should make Mr Edlin a nice mug of hot holly tea".

Thanks Peter! Now here are those questions: 
  1. Can you name the five native British evergreen trees? 
  2. Who wrote the words ‘hearts of oak’ in his poem ‘The Foresters’? 
  3. Where can you find ‘The Major Oak’ (reputedly the oldest oak in Britain)? 
  4. Which trees’ branches were used by witches for their broomsticks (and, as William Turner put it in 1551, ‘the betynge of stubborn boys’)? 
  5. Which tree produces fruits called ‘checkers’, sometimes used to make a destabilisingly strong alcoholic punch?
Please send your answers to the address below to arrive before the deadline of 20th May and you may win a copy of Oak and Ash and Thorn - good luck!

FAO Aimee Oliver
BSBI/Oak and Ash and Thorn Competition
Oneworld Publications
10 Bloomsbury Street

Wednesday 25 April 2018

BSBI News: latest issue has been mailed out

Bob Gibbons' image of
Anemone nemorosa features on the
front cover of the latest issue
It's always a red-letter day when the Editor of BSBI News emails to say that the latest issue has gone to press! 

This is the second issue with Andrew Branson at the helm. Andrew has been a BSBI member for around 30 years and is currently Chair of the Dorset Flora Group. After a long career in publishing, including founding and running British Wildlife for almost 25 years, he is now semi-retired and tells me he is "thoroughly enjoying using his publishing skills to bring a new look to BSBI News".

The April issue is winging its way to you as we speak and once again we can give you a sneak peek of what you have to look forward to this time:

A featured article by Pete Stroh and Kevin Walker (aka the BSBI Science Team) about progress towards Atlas 2020: five pages on changes since the 2002 Atlas and a heads-up on what Atlas 2020 will look like.  

Interrupted Club-moss features in Pete & Kevin's
article about changes in the British & Irish flora
 since the last atlas
Image: John Hawell 
Peter Marren offers an excerpt from his latest book Chasing the Ghost, which chronicles Peter's attempts to find all the wild plants of Britain.

An article about the 2018 New Year Plant Hunt.

Simon Harrap looks at the mythical Diapensia lapponica - few have seen it - Peter Llewellyn is one person who has (and told News & Views readers about it several years ago in this serialised story

Gosh, is it possible that this blog scooped the mighty BSBI News? Sshhh let's not tell Andrew and Simon!) 

Moving swiftly on...

Creeping Marshwort in Oxfordshire
Image: Judy Webb
Creeping Marshwort in England - is it on the brink of extinction? Pete Stroh and Fred Rumsey (Natural History Museum) tell us more.

There's a new Dandelion for the British Isles - Simon Leach and John Richards have the inside story.

In this issue's Beginners Corner, John Poland talks about bud burst in trees and shrubs - what it looks like, what causes it and when it happens! 

There's news about British & Irish Botany, the 'replacement' for New Journal of Botany which ceased publication at the end of 2017.

There are also reports of some rather unusual plant finds in Bradford, on Brownsea Island and in Surrey... and lots more full articles and short notes than we have room for here! 

Tucked inside the latest issue are flyers with details of pre-publication offers on John Poland's forthcoming Twig Key and on Chris Metherell's forthcoming Handbook Eyebrights of Britain and Ireland

Diapensia lapponica
Image: Peter Llewellyn
There is a flyer for the forthcoming 2nd edition Wild Flowers of the Isle of Purbeck, Brownsea & Sandbanks (which also has a pre-publication offer for BSBI members).

There's also a flyer allowing you to book onto the BSBI Recorders' Conference, to be held this October in Shrewsbury. 

A reminder that if you are not yet a BSBI member, you won't have the pleasure of a print copy of BSBI News dropping through your letter-box this week.

Neither will you be able to benefit from pre-publication offers and discounted prices on titles such as Eyebrights of Britain and Ireland, or Wild Flowers of the Isle of Purbeck, Brownsea & Sandbanks, or enjoy early-bird booking on the Recorders' Conference. 

But as soon as you join BSBI we can send you a chunky membership welcome pack which includes the most recent issue of BSBI News and lots more! Head over to this page to find out more about what's on offer for you.  

Tuesday 24 April 2018

In Ruskin’s Footsteps – Linking people to plants through botanical art

Click on the image to enlarge it and
find out more about the Exhibition
Good to hear from Sarah Morrish of the Association of British Botanical Artists, whose stand at last year's BSBI Exhibition Meeting proved so popular. Sarah is looking forward to the  Botanical Art Worldwide Exhibition, taking place this year at the Peter Scott Gallery, Lancaster University. 

The Exhibition is called 'In Ruskin’s Footsteps – Linking people to plants through botanical art' and runs from Friday 18th May – Friday 8th June, weekdays only 12-5pm, with Special Event Open Days on Saturday 19th May and Saturday 9th June 10am-4pm

Over to Sarah to tell us a bit more about the Exhibition:

"Our native flora has been depicted using a variety of methods over the centuries, but the one that has been used the longest, is that of art and illustration. Botanical art and illustration is a marriage of art and science and has seen a resurgence in recent years.

Botanical artist Claire Ward in her studio
Image courtesy of C. Ward
"Many botanical artists spend a great deal of time in the field studying our native flora before even putting pencil and brush to paper, indeed some have worked and continue to in the areas of science and conservation.

"One such artist is Claire Ward who illustrates many of this country’s native orchids and other wild plants, lichens and mosses, near to her home in Wales. 

"The main subject in her painting for this exhibition is the Marsh helleborine Epipactis palustris, a plant of damp grassland, which also occurs at several sites in Lancashire. The stems of this orchid are often covered in up to 20 flowers in July and August.

Marsh Helleborine Epipactis palustris
© Claire Ward 2018
"The field notes and illustrations that artists produce are often used to document those plant species that are rare and declining. The depiction of plants and their habitats within this genre can really help to raise awareness of the fragility of the plant kingdom and the habitats that support it.

"To raise this awareness further, the Association of British Botanical Artists (ABBA), are delighted to bring a new major exhibition to the Ruskin Library at Lancaster University from Friday 18th May to Friday 8th June.

"The exhibition itself is part of a worldwide initiative which incorporates the Worldwide Day of Botanical Art on May 18th, a day on which 23 countries will be promoting and exhibiting botanical art focused on the native plant species from each of those countries.

Click on the image to enlarge it
and find out more about the
special event open days
"As well as 40 paintings from some of this country’s top botanical artists at the Ruskin Library, there will also be the opportunity on May 18th, to view a slideshow which will showcase the paintings of native plants from the other countries taking part.

"ABBA and the artists are very honoured that the exhibition will take place at the Peter Scott Gallery in association with the Ruskin Library, where there will also be examples of Ruskin’s work on display alongside the botanical paintings.

"For more information about the exhibition, opening times, artists and paintings please visit the ABBA website or Facebook page."

Many thanks to Sarah for telling us about this exhibition and the Worldwide Day of Botanical Art. We hope to bring you more on this subject in the coming weeks.

Monday 23 April 2018

Bird Cherry: in folklore and in Byron's Gin
Image courtesy of J. Crellin/ Floral Images
Bird Cherry Prunus padus has a long history as a flavouring for spirits in Scotland, according to Milliken & Bridgewater's Flora Celtica: Plants and People in Scotland. So it's no great surprise that one of the two gins in the Byron's Gin range, launched earlier this year by Speyside Distillery, is called Bird Cherry. 

The tree is one of seven botanicals selected by Andy (BSBI County Recorder for Banffshire) and Sandy (master blender at Speyside Distillery) as key ingredients in this delicious new gin, along with Juniper of course. 

Flora Celtica also tells us that Bird Cherry was venerated in Wester Ross for its "ability to dispel evil" and that walking-sticks made from Bird Cherry were believed to prevent people from getting lost in the mist. But we don't have any evidence for this so if you are heading out on the hills, we'd recommend the map and compass approach rather than trusting to a magic walking-stick! 

One thing we are fairly sure about is that Bird Cherry is attractive to wildlife - bees and flies are attracted to the flowers, while birds seem to be quite partial to the berries. 

Bird Cherry is just coming into leaf at the moment but we'll have to wait another month or so for the distinctive clusters of white flowers and even longer for the shiny black fruits. Worth noting here that the fruits are quite bitter - definitely better as an ingredient in gin than in a fruit pie! 

This BSBI distribution map shows where you will be able to find Bird Cherry across Britain and Ireland, while this entry in the New Atlas gives more information about the tree's habitat requirements.

Thursday 19 April 2018

Bookings open for ID workshops

Chara virgata fruit
Image courtesy of Chris Carter 
Bookings have just opened for some fabulous ID workshops running in Ireland and Scotland next month:

For the more advanced botanist, BSBI Irish Officer Maria Long has organised two 2-day charophyte ID workshops to be held in Co. Westmeath. 

Charophytes are often overlooked - they are small and have a reputation for being difficult - but these ID workshops offer a chance to learn with two of BSBI's acknowledged experts, Nick Stewart and Cilian Roden.

Head over to the new Charophyte page on the BSBI website to find out more and to book.

And for the beginner botanist, BSBI Scottish Officer Jim McIntosh and tutor Dr Faith Anstey are hosting two of their extremely popular workshops on 'Identifying Plant Families' - one in Aberdeen and one in Dumfries. 

Head over to the BSBI Scotland page to find out more and to book. Or check out the poster on the left (click on the image to enlarge it).

Do hurry if you are interested in any of these workshops - they are likely to fill up very quickly. 

Check out the BSBI Training page for more suggestions of short courses to improve your botanical skills. 

And keep an eye on the BSBI News page to keep up with all the latest news (and to get the heads-up on forthcoming courses, conferences and special offers!)

Monday 16 April 2018

A new stamp issue: the comeback kids

Some exciting news from Ian Denholm, Chair of BSBI’s Board of Trustees, joint County Recorder for Hertfordshire, one of our expert plant referees and past President of BSBI

Not many people know this but Ian is also a keen philatelist which makes his report below even more fitting!  

Over to Ian:

“Thursday April 19th sees the release of a new set of six GB stamps on the theme of species that have been reintroduced into Britain following extinction or near-extinction in the wild.

“The one concession to botany in this set is Stinking Hawk’s-beard, Crepis foetida, a plant formerly restricted to a few coastal sites in south-east England that reportedly became extinct in its sole remaining locality at Dungeness, Kent, in 1980. 

"A re-introduction programme using indigenous seed from Cambridge Botanic Garden has focused primarily on coastal shingle at Dungeness and at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve in Sussex. 

[LM: There's a bit more info about the re-introduction here on the Sussex Wildlife Trust's website]. 

Back to Ian:

“I was consulted by Royal Mail on the design of this stamp, and hope that it is anatomically accurate! 

"Characters that help to differentiate C. foetida from other British species of Crepis, and which can be compared with photographs I took of plants in situ in Kent (on right), are the drooping flower bud and the narrow compressed pappus, fancifully resembling the tip of an artist’s paintbrush (see above). 

"Another notable character that cannot be incorporated into a stamp is the smell, likened by some to that of bitter almonds.

“The other five stamps in the set depict osprey, large blue butterfly, Eurasian beaver, pool frog and sand lizard”.

Many thanks to Ian for telling us about the new stamp and the story behind it, and for providing the images shown on this page.  

Thursday 12 April 2018

Is it ok to pick wild flowers and if so, when?

Sometimes it's best to take a photo
 of that plant and share it on social media!
Image: Mags Crittenden
Last November BSBI launched its revised Code of Conduct to help people understand when it's ok to pick wild flowers, when it definitely isn't, and what to do about all the grey areas in between! The Code, written for us by Dr Sarah Whild, botanist and lecturer in plant ecology, and Dr Fred Rumsey, Senior Curator at the Natural History Museum, has since become one of BSBI's most popular downloads. It is used by plant-lovers, whether ecological consultants or beginner botanists, keen to examine wild flowers more closely. Sometimes picking a flower is the best option!

Today our colleagues at Plantlife, with whom we run the National Plant Monitoring Scheme, launch this year's Great British Wildflower Hunt. To help wildflower-hunters, they have produced a short Code of Conduct based on BSBI's fuller version. The Plantlife Code also recommends the Rule of One in Twenty as promoted by Sarah and Fred - if you can't see more than 20 of a particular plant then definitely don't pick it!

Luronium natans - don't pick
this one, it's mega-rare!
Image: Sarah Whild
The Great British Wildflower Hunt joins the New Year Plant Hunt, Wild Flower Hour and Herbology Hunt as another way to get out and start spotting and identifying wildflowers. All these initiatives offer support in the way of spotter sheets or online help or ID tips and advice delivered via social media. You can find out more about how to get started with wildflower ID here on BSBI's Get Involved page which also has suggestions of useful Facebook groups, where to find a handlens (essential to see tiny flower characters) and a review of ID books in print.

But today is all about the launch of the Great British Wildflower Hunt and Plantlife President Rachel de Thame tells us more: "I knew my cowslip from my cow parsley and yes, I used to love picking little posies. So much of our wildlife is untouchable but common wild flowers and plants are different. I’ve gone on to teach my children and to nurture this relationship with our native flora that is fascinating, joyful and yes, important. The Great British Wildflower Hunt, with it’s helpful ID tips, can give us all confidence to identify flowers and also provides Plantlife with much needed information about how well they are doing.

Ambroise gets in there with his trusty hand-lens!
Image courtesy of Ambroise Baker  
"What we know and love we are more likely to conserve. It’s about children starting a relationship with wild flowers. It’s in a child’s instinct to collect, but today that means collecting stickers, toys or those must-have gadgets. Yet it wasn’t so long ago that children were just as keen to collect wild flowers, whether it was to take a posy home, press them, or make petal perfume, they were part of children’s everyday life. We need to ensure that this next generation is just as engaged and passionate so they will understand why wild flowers need to be cherished and protected for not only the beauty they bring to our lives but for their vital role as life support to all our wildlife." 

So please head over to the Great British Wildflower Hunt webpage to find out more. And if you are a more advanced botanist already working flat out recording for Atlas 2020, please consider recommending the Great British Wildflower Hunt to any beginner botanists you know - it's a great way to get involved with botany!