Monday, 25 March 2019

Sweet vernal-grass: in meadows and in Byron's Gin

Image courtesy of
John Crellin/ Floral Images

Sweet vernal-grass Anthoxanthum odoratum is one of the earliest-flowering of our grasses (vernal means spring). 

As BSBI Handbook no.13, Grasses of the British Isles by Tom Cope & Alan Gray, makes clear "the appearance of the familiar yellowish-green inflorescences of sweet vernal-grass heralds for many the beginning of summer (and for some the hay-fever season!)" 

The grass contains coumarin which imparts a scent of new-mown hay. In fact one of the ways that many botanists (me included) learned to ID this grass as children was to nibble the stems while on country walks. There is a distinct taste of vanilla. ["Daddy, please may I have an ice-cream?" "We're miles from any shop, just be a good girl and chew that grass over there..."] 

The closely-related bison grass or holy grass Anthoxanthum nitens (formerly known as Hierochloe odorata) also contains coumarins and is used to flavour the delicious bison grass vodka, produced in Poland. Although A. nitens does occur in Britain it is rare and it would not be advisable for anybody with conservation in mind to consider foraging it. 

Image courtesy of
John Crellin/ Floral Images

A. odoratum is, however, much more common and can be sustainably collected for use as a botanical in the Melancholy Thistle expression of Byron's Gin. That's the 'official' gin of the BSBI because for every bottle sold, a contribution is made to BSBI's Training programme which allows us to offer training grants to budding botanists

If you are still learning to ID sweet vernal-grass (and bearing in mind that you should never nibble a plant if you don't know exactly what it is) one good tip is to look at the flag leaf - the highest leaf on the stem. Compared to most other grasses, that flag leaf is very short and wide. It's also very green - check out the photo on the left. 

If there is lots of it and you have the landowner's permission - in other words, if you can meet the criteria laid down in the BSBI Code of Conduct - another way to ID this plant is to pull it out of the ground and sniff the underground part which smell strongly of Germolene. Or you could examine the ligule and you should find a fringe of hairs. Check out this ID sheet to see what that looks like. 

Flora Celtica tells us that on the Hebridean island of Colonsay in the C19th, sweet vernal-grass was a welcome addition to the hay used to feed to sheep, because it gave their mutton a delicious flavour. So, a grass with many uses: as fodder, as a flavouring in Byron's Gin, or to quieten little girls who demand an ice-cream!     

Friday, 22 March 2019

Lots on offer for botanists in Ireland

Tour of the Glasnevin glasshouse
during  Irish BSBI Conference 2018
Image: C. Heardman
Botanists in Ireland are getting ready for their big spring conference on Saturday 30th March. 

It takes place in Dublin at the Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin and there's a fabulous programme, with talks ranging from 'The State of Ireland's Environment' to a study of Festuca ovina agg. to the continuing adventures of the fabulous Rough Crew; there are workshops on IDing water-starworts and dead-nettles; tours of the gardens and glass-houses; and there are seven flash talks but if you want to know more about them, you'll have to head over to the Irish BSBI Conference page and open the programme! 

The deadline for booking a place at the conference is this Monday 25th March so better get your skates on.

And once the conference is over? There's a mouth-watering programme of field meetings across Ireland this year! Irish Officer Maria Long has collated them all into a handy A4 flyer which you can download from the BSBI Ireland webpage. Maria says "Visitors from Britain are particularly welcome to any and all outings this year in Ireland to help with the last push for Atlas 2020. So what are you waiting for?... book that trip!" 

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

County Floras, old and new: tracking them down has never been easier!

A County Flora is a wonderful thing. At its most straightforward, it's a book listing all the plants found in a particular county with some info, or maybe some maps, to help you find out whereabouts the plants can be found. 

But some Floras are so much more than that. They might describe the habitats and geology of a county, and they usually give you a insight into how plant populations and distributions are changing: what's rare and what's common, which species are declining, which are recent arrivals, what (if any) conservation measures are being carried out... 

There's usually a bibliography listing not only current books about the county and its plants  but also any previous Floras. There's often a gazetteer to help you find your way around the county and its best sites for plants. You may find a short history of botanical recording in the county. 

And of course there are often photos of the most interesting plants and habitats the county has to offer.

A Flora is usually the result of decades of work by one or more people - often the County Recorder(s) - and it's their way of downloading everything they know about the plants in their local area into one handy volume that you can dip into, whether you live in the county or you're just visiting, and whether you're an ecologist, researcher, historian, consultant or just somebody who wants to know where the interesting plants occur now, or where they were recorded in the past. 

But with more than 100 counties across Britain and Ireland, some of which have had various Floras published over the years, tracking down exactly what you want can be tricky or at the very least, time-consuming. 

Google is all very well but if you don't know the exact title, or the author's name, putting the county name plus the word 'Flora' into a search engine may not yield up the info you want. If only there was a way you could search by county, or by VC number, or by year of publication... 

Well, now there is! Check out our lovely new County Floras webpage, put together by BSBI's David Pearman (thank you David!). It lists more than 500 County Floras and it features a handy search facility. We have plans, when time permits, to expand the 'Available on the web' column so it links straight through to any County Floras available online. It would also be nice if you could click on the county name and land on the county webpage, rather than having to look it up on our Local Botany page

So the County Floras webpage is currently a work in progress, but we like it so far and hope that you will too. If you spot any omissions, please let us know at this address: 

Thursday, 14 March 2019

A host of golden daffodils

The commonly-planted Narcissus 'Ice Follies'
- Prof Crawley reckons you'll find this in
"at least one front garden on every street"
- do you agree?
Image: M. Crawley
It's that time of year when daffodils, one of our iconic spring plants, can be seen bursting into glorious bloom. But are those ranks of yellow daffs on road verges and in municipal planting schemes the same kinds of plants that inspired Wordsworth to write his famous poem? To what extent are they "ours", i.e. native British wildflowers? Well, most of them aren't!

Pete Stroh, BSBI's Scientific Officer for England, explains: "There are over 300 Daffodil varieties recorded in the wild across Britain and Ireland, but only one is our native plant - Narcissus pseudonarcissus subsp. pseudonarcissus. And even this native has been planted extensively. But with one of its core areas of distribution in the Lake District, it is fair to say that Wordsworth's 'golden daffodils' were very much the wild and native type".

So, if we're looking at a daffodil, how do we know if it's our native daff or one of the hundreds of other varieties, hybrids and cultivars which have reached us thanks to the horticultural industry and which often become naturalised in woodlands and near gardens?

Any idea which daff this is?
Prof  Crawley's Key should help you ID it!
Image: M.  Crawley
The native daffodil is smaller than the garden varieties and has single (not double) flowers with pale petals and the 'trumpet' in the middle is golden yellow. If your daffodil doesn't look like that and you want to have a go at identifying exactly what it is, check out The Daffodil Website by national expert Prof Mick Crawley. It's also worth looking at his Twitter feed - in recent weeks he's been posting wall-to-wall daff pix with helpful ID tips.

But even if you're sure you do have a native daffodil, how do you know if you're seeing a true wild flower or a native daff that came from a garden centre? I'm afraid the answer is... you probably can't be sure.

Maybe best to just do a Wordsworth - admire these beautiful flowers, write a poem if you feel so moved, and feel glad that spring is coming!

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Are you a speedwell fan? We're sending you on a quest!

Veronica hederifolia subsp. hederifolia
 (on left) and subsp. lucorum (on right)
Image: M. Wilcox
Mike Wilcox has been in touch - he's been thinking about subspecies of Ivy-leaved speedwell Veronica hederifolia. He tells me that separating the two subspecies of this fairly common plant can be really difficult - now there's a challenge for News & Views readers! Mike is keen to find good ways to separate these two subspecies and you can help him.

Over to Mike: "In Britain and Ireland there are two subspecies of Veronica hederifolia (Ivy-leaved Speedwell), subsp. hederifolia and subsp. lucorum. While both are relatively distinct in their flower characters (flower/anther size and colour, and pollen size c.40 & 30 microns resp., see Plant Crib Veronica section; though I have found that some of these are variable), when not in flower they pose problems, as other characters are variable and seem to overlap. It may then require anatomical aspects such as the size of the stomata to be looked at. I would like to investigate known characters and look for possible new ones. 

"As a last push towards Atlas2020, please collect vouchers especially if in flower. Preferably samples should be fresh in a small plastic bag as flowers will drop off easily. I will refund the postage in stamps if required".

Send your specimens to M. Wilcox: 43 Roundwood Glen, Greengates, Bradford, BD10 0HW or email Mike:

To help you in your quest, Michael has sent the photo (above) of both subspecies side by side and I've taken a photo (below) of the relevant section in Clive Stace's New Flora of the British Isles ed. 4. That's for anyone who hasn't yet bought a copy of the Botanists' Bible.

Good luck! 

Monday, 11 March 2019

BSBI prize-winner #2

Mangerton Mt, Killarney
Image courtesy of C. Mhic Daeid
In January we brought you news of Terry, the first winner in a prize draw to thank people who opted to pay their BSBI membership subscription by Direct Debit.  

The prize draw was set up by BSBI's  Finance Manager Julie who has been encouraging members to pay their annual BSBI subscription via Direct Debit mandate - you may have seen a notice in the September issue of BSBI News? Direct Debit is a great way to pay your sub - quicker and easier for you and more cost-effective for BSBI. Everyone who completed a Direct Debit mandate was automatically entered into a competition and two names were selected at random to win a prize.

New Year Plant Hunt 2018 in Kerry:
Rory is 3rd from right, Jessica 2nd from right
Our second prize-winner also happens to be one of our County Recorders! Dr Caroline Mhic Daeid is one of two County Recorders for Co. Kerry, a very dynamic and important county in botanical terms.

As well as boasting some fabulous locations, such as the beautiful Killarney National Park, and some amazing plants including representatives of the Lusitanian flora, there are some notable botanists too: Rory Hodd of Rough Crew fame is Caroline's co-Recorder and Jessica Hamilton is at the helm of the hugely successful #BSBIKerry group. It's a tribute to Caroline that she has supported and enabled these next generation botanists.  

Fruits of the Strawberry-tree, a member of the
Lusitanian flora, photographed in Kerry
Image: J. Hamilton
Caroline sent us the image above right and said "This is one of my favourite places - near the summit of Mangerton Mtn. (840m), Killarney. Montane blanket bog on the plateau, with lakes, interesting cliff ledges and several rare plants in the deep corrie on the right. Many happy days spent botanising and scrambling in this area! My childhood home is near the woodland in the middle distance on the right.

"I have been interested in plants since I was a child growing up in Kerry, browsing the roadside banks for specimens, which I learned to press from a Girl Guide book. My first botany book was “The Observer’s Book of British Wild Flowers” - a tenth birthday present from my Dad! 

Botanising in the west of Ireland
Image: C. Heardman
"The Head Gardener at Killarney National Park used to help me with plant names and explained the necessity for scientific nomenclature - my first formal plant name was Bellis perennis - Daisy in English, Noinin in Irish, Mariette in French, but the scientific name the same in all languages...

"I studied botany formally for the first time in college and later earned a doctorate for a study of the peatland vegetation of Killarney. I became a BSBI County Recorder in the mid-70s, when the late Prof. David Webb proposed me as his successor in South Kerry (H1). Much later, I also inherited North Kerry (H2) from Mike and Peter Wyse Jackson. More recently, I proposed Rory Hodd as joint County Recorder, as I knew of his interest (and he has a permanent base in Kerry).

"I hope to continue recording into the foreseeable future, though I no longer climb mountains alone!"

We wish Caroline all the best in all her botanical activities in the beautiful Kingdom of Kerry and hope she enjoys her prize of book tokens from Summerfield Books. We also encourage you all to consider paying your BSBI membership subscription by Direct Debit! 

Thursday, 28 February 2019

Lots on offer for botanists in Wales

Mountains of Meirionnydd
Image: S. Stille
If you're a botanist based in Wales, there are some great events coming up for you this year.

If you're not based in Wales, you'll be delighted to hear that these events (training days, field meetings, residential recording weeks and the Welsh AGM) are open to all botanists from across Britain and Ireland:

The Welsh AGM takes place in Carmarthenshire from 21st to 23rd May and features talks by Pete Stroh on Atlas 2020 progress and by Richard Pryce on recent advances towards the Carmarthenshire Flora; there are excursions out to local sites of botanical interest, from limestone grasslands to brownfield sites to coastal sites in the Burry Port area; there are exhibits, ID help, botany books for sale... it should be a great few days! More info and bookings here.

For the more specialist botanist hoping to improve their ID skills with aquatic plants, there's a chance to learn from the master: Richard Lansdown, author of BSBI Handbook no.11 on Callitriche spp. (water-starworts) and acknowledged national aquatics expert, is running a workshop on 22nd June in Brecknockshire. Info and booking here.

In Carmarthenshire in July there's the Glynhir Recording Week (spaces still available - more info and bookings here) and the Caerdeon weekend in Meirionnydd which - sorry! - is now fully booked, although you can put your name on the reserve list in case of cancellations.  There's also a field meeting in Radnorshire in June so lots of opportunities for botanising in Wales.

The Radnor Lily
Image: B. Brown
Last November BSBI welcomed a new Welsh Officer, Barbara Brown. Since then she's been working hard to support botany in Wales. As well as attending outreach events such as the recent Sewbrec recorders' forum for SE Wales and the BSBI Exhibition Meeting, going to committee meetings such as BSBI's Training & Education meeting and tweeting about plants she's spotted in Wales for #wildflowerhour, she's also been helping County Recorders with webpage updates. 

County pages for Brecknockshire, Meirionnydd, Monmouthshire and Pembrokeshire have all been updated with photos and details of forthcoming events. Barbara will be at other Welsh recorders' events such as the BIS event in Brecon and the WWBIC recorders' forum so if you'll be there too, do go up and say hello to her. Meanwhile, Barbara has also started posting on the BSBI Cymru blog so if you're not already following that, we suggest you head over there now and read about Barbara's visit to see the rare and beautiful Radnor Lily Gagea bohemica.

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

New BSBI Handbooks in the pipeline

Mark Lynes working on Alchemilla specimens:
 "What big teeth you have grandma..."
Image: M. Lynes
BSBI's series of Handbooks for difficult plants are among the society's most popular publications

Following a revamp of the BSBI website, they now have a page all of their own

The rumour is that insiders are now placing bets on which will be the next Handbook to go to press. 

Will it be the Alchemilla (lady's-mantles) Handbook, whose author Mark Lynes regularly tweets tantalising photos of specimens he's working on? Mark has recently submitted an Alchemilla manuscript to British & Irish Botany - exciting!

Tim Rich talking about Gentians at the
2018 Recorders' Conference
Image: S. Whild
Or will it be Mike Shaw's forthcoming Handbook on southern hawkweeds? 

At a recent meeting of BSBI's Publications Committee, Chair John Poland reported that work is going well and Mike hopes to publish very soon.

We also heard at the 2018 Recorders' Conference that ace botanist Tim Rich of Plant Crib fame is planning, with fellow top botanist Andy McVeigh, to publish a handbook on Gentians (see slide 2 of Tim's fabulous Gentian PPT here).

Irina working on willow specimens
Image courtesy of SLBI
And now here's a wild card: Roy Vickery has sent me a photo (below right) of willow expert Irina Belyaeva working on herbarium specimens of willows Salix spp. at the South London Botanical Institute with a note saying "Irina is working on SLBI's willow specimens for the BSBI's new Willow Handbook which she hopes to complete by the end of the year".

So place your bets now - which will be BSBI Handbook #19: lady's-mantles, as expected? Or Mike Shaw's southern hawkweeds? Will Tim Rich come up on the inside lane and reach the finishing line first? Or will Irina's new Willow Handbook pip all other contenders to the post? Or maybe it will be a dead heat! 

One thing's certain - you'll need to clear some space on your bookshelves to make way for all these forthcoming BSBI Handbooks!

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Oxfordshire Flora Group: conference

David Morris, County Recorder for Oxfordshire, has been in touch to tell us about a forthcoming conference in his neck of the woods. 

Over to David:

"On Saturday 9th March the Oxfordshire Flora Group (OFG) are hosting a day conference at CEH Wallingford. The conference, which the group puts on every couple of years, is a social occasion for local botanists to come together to discuss local botanical issues. This year we’ll be hearing talks on and discussing ‘The Dynamics of the Oxfordshire Flora’.

"The conference follows on from the publication last year of the county’s Rare Plant Register, called Oxfordshire’s Threatened Plants. Authored by OFG members Susan Erskine, John Killick (former recorder for VC23) and Camilla Lambrick and Thames Valley Environmental Records Centre data officer Ellen Lee, the book illustrates the ups and downs (mostly downs) of our flora. 

Marsh mallow: nationally 
scarce but recorded 
in 2018 in Oxfordshire
Image: D. Morris
"Camilla and Susan will be giving a talk about some of the dynamics illustrated by their book and which they have seen first hand over many years studying our local flora. 

"We are also fortunate to have Andy Byfield and Keith Kirby to share their extensive experience of studying and conserving plants in our area.

"I will also be giving a talk, which once I’ve found the time to write it will have the title ‘A future for the flora of Oxfordshire?’ As the hard work of the OFG has shown, the future of our plants is bound up with botanists, but are they as threatened as some of our local rarities? Given the long history of botanical recording in Oxfordshire, I will therefore be asking, are we doing enough to keep the tradition alive? How could I also resist but to allude to life after Atlas 2020.

"So, much to look forward to. If you think so too, then the OFG would be delighted if you could join us. 

"Here's the conference flyer with details of how to book".

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

News from BSBI's Training Team (supported by Byron's Gin)

T&E: John Warren (Chair) behind his laptop
Image: L. Marsh
BSBI's Training & Education Committee (T&E) met earlier this month for their twice-yearly meeting and it was time to ring the changes.

First of all, we welcomed a new Chair: John Warren, interviewed on these pages just two days ago, when he talked about some of his ideas around how BSBI can help support the next generation of botanists - from plant-based activity packs for Watch Group leaders and those in the Scouting Movement, to looking at training resources linked to every level of the Skills Pyramid

John has some exciting ideas and we look forward to hearing more about them on these pages. 

Byron's Gin: labels on the
back of the bottles bear
the BSBI logo!
John is going to be building on the excellent work carried out by T&E with Sarah Whild and Sue Townsend at the helm - for example the BSBI's Field Identification Skills Certificates (FISCs) which Sarah and Sue pioneered. FISCs have now become accepted as the industry standard for determining an individual's level of botanical skills in the field and in the lab. This year, alongside the two regular FISC centres in Kent and Shropshire, FISCs are on offer in Devon, Somerset, Norfolk, Lincolnshire and Yorkshire. It's great to be rolling FISCs out across England and it's hoped they will soon be available in Scotland, Ireland and Wales. 

Identiplant, the online plant ID course, is also fully booked up for the year ahead, with students and tutors from the Channel Isles to Ireland to Shetland ready to get started with their online tuition.

Applications came flooding in throughout January for BSBI training grants, whether for Identiplant or for some of the short botanical training courses on offer across Britain and Ireland. Applications have now closed and the successful applicants will be notified soon. 

John Warren (centre) chairing T&E, flanked by
botanical trainer Mark Duffell (left)
and T&E Secretary Alex Prendergast (right)
Image: L Marsh
Following the recent revamp of the BSBI website, there are new pages for training courses, grants, and resources for trainers. They are all accessible via the old training page which has a much more streamlined look. 

One other bit of news: the Training Team has started to plan its next Training the Trainers meeting, pencilled in for this autumn - watch this space for updates!

Two things that haven't changed about BSBI's training programme: we are still committed to supporting the next generation of botanists; and we are still grateful for the continued support we enjoy from Byron's Gin - for every bottle sold, BSBI receives a contribution to help fund our training programme and support those next generation botanists. Cheers!

Sunday, 17 February 2019

Botanical University Challenge: another starter for ten

John teaching at Aberystwyth University
Image courtesy of J. Warren
The second Botanical University Challenge (BUC) is taking place at the University of Reading on 20th February and I caught up with its founder, John Warren, to find out more. News & Views readers will recognise John’s name as one of the authors of this article in Times Higher Education about the decline in the teaching of field biology skills.

LM: So John, I gather BUC was originally your idea! Before you tell us the story behind it, could you just remind us what exactly it is?

JW: A nice easy starter for ten question. It’s a botanical quiz competition for university and college students, based on the long-established BBC TV University Challenge format. Except all the questions are botanical in nature.

LM: So now take us right back to the beginning – how did you come up with the BUC idea and why?

The Edge Hill team from BUC 2016
featuring ace botanist Josh Styles!
JW: The idea originated when I was Director of Education in the Biology Department of Aberystwyth University. I was lucky enough to be able to abuse my authority and enjoy the privilege of tutoring all the plant scientists. Every week the botanists met in a pub, where we could talk plants. My first experience of doing this radically changed by thinking and eventually led to BUC...

My new first year botanists were sat together in the pub for the first time. I took a back seat and let them get to know each other. One said, they had never before felt comfortable telling anyone else that they were a botanist and interested in plants. It was like being at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting (I imagine). Sadly, all of them had been ridiculed at school for being interested in plants, even by their teachers.

Lush vegetation on PNG
Image: J. Warren
BUC was then established not just to promote botanical knowledge but also to allow young botanists the opportunity to meet other like-minded individuals. 

LM: So the first BUC took place at RBG Kew in 2016; News & Views readers may remember seeing this report asking for questions to be submitted for a second BUC but that never took place. This was around the time you headed over to Papua New Guinea so I’m wondering if these two things were related? Want to tell us more?

JW: The two things were unconnected. Except working and living in PNG was another great botanical opportunity that came along, so I was quick to grab it. I have visited rainforests in Amazonia, West Africa, the Borneo and the Caribbean, but nothing had prepared me for the botanical diversity of East New Britain Province in PNG. The diversity of orchids and ferns in particular is simply staggering. It’s a small island south of the Wallace line that has never been connected to the rest of PNG or Australia. 

Botanical diversity on PNG
Image: J. Warren
LM: So then you moved back from PNG to UK in August 2018 and now we have another BUC to look forward to! Who is taking part this time?

JW: From the start my old friend Jonathan Mitchley at Reading University has been involved in organising BUC, that’s why he is hosting it this year. He has pulled together a strong local team, including BSBI member GeorgeGarnett. We also have teams from Edge Hill University, Southampton, RBG Kew, Liverpool and Manchester Metropolitan, with all of them in with a shout of lifting the trophy.

LM: So apart from BUC, what are your plans now you’re back in the UK? You’ve just become Chair of BSBI’s Training &Education Committee so I guess you’ll be picking up on some of the ideas you set out in the THE article?

John (centre) chairing the recent T&E meeting,
flanked by botanical trainer Mark Duffell (left)
and T&E Secretary Alex Prendergast (right)
Image: L. Marsh
JW: I am in the fortunate position that I don’t need to look for paid employment, so I can spend more time growing plants. More importantly I am keen on inspiring future generations of botanists. That’s why I was delighted to take on the task of chairing the BSBI’s Training & Education Committee (T&E). I have always felt immensely lucky for the education I received at Newcastle with Prof John Richards [LM: Prof Richards is another eminent BSBI member!]. Unfortunately, opportunities for young botanists are not as easily accessed as they once were, and I feel that we as a society need to be doing more to support young botanists. 
LM: So how can BSBI help support the next generation of botanists?

JW: That’s a good question, and something the T&E are actively working on. We want to be developing training resources across all levels of the skills pyramid. However, we do think there is an urgent need to focus on entry level skills for the very young, and smart phone generation. We are thinking about plant-based activity packs for Watch Group leaders and for those in the Scouting Movement.

LM: Food for thought there! Now you’re back in UK and flying the flag for botanical training, I hope you’ll be a regular contributor to these pages John. Good luck for Wednesday and do report back on the second BUC!

Monday, 11 February 2019

British & Irish Botany: first issue published

Ian Denholm, B&IB Editor-in-Chief
Image: L. Marsh
We are delighted to announce that the first issue of British & Irish Botany (B&IB), our replacement for New Journal of Botany, has now been published.

We hope that with this new online journal we are keeping all the advantages of its predecessor - great papers from some of Britain and Ireland's finest botanists and a helpful team to support prospective authors - while making the new journal even more accessible and user-friendly, for authors, readers and researchers. 

We think we've achieved that and at a much lower cost than with New Journal of Botany, freeing up funds that can be re-directed towards BSBI's core activities, ie our training, research and outreach programmes. 

Check out this presentation by Editor-in-Chief Ian Denholm to see just how much of a financial saving we are making! 

Detail of rare plant found only in Cheddar Gorge
Want to know what it is?
You'll have to read British & Irish Botany!
Image: T. Rich
Ian said "Our ambition behind setting up B&IB was to produce an online journal that would be  entirely free to publish in, entirely free to anyone who wants to read or download articles, and as accessible and user-friendly as possible to all potential authors. It has been a steep learning curve to adapt proprietary software to meet our needs, but now that we are underway please do consider submitting a full research paper, a short report or a topical review article. If in doubt about its suitability, we are here to advise and help." 

So, what's in this first issue? 69 pages covering five papers on subjects ranging from mistletoe growing on oaks to Clive Stace and fellow taxonomists talking about dog-roses; from one rare arctic-alpine plant growing on Ben Lawers to another rare plant growing in Cheddar gorge; and we look at responses of moorland vegetation to 20 years of conservation management in two Cairngorm glens. 

But here's the best thing of all...

Mistletoe growing on oak
Image: J. Box
In the past, whenever I told you about the great papers in a new issue of New Journal of Botany, this was the point at which I'd have to say 'sorry, but you can only see these papers if you are a BSBI member' - no more! British & Irish Botany is open access, free to all - member or non-member, everybody can read or publish in this new journal completely free of charge. 

So please head over to the new British & Irish Botany website, read all About the journal, find out who is on the Editorial Team, and who to contact if you want to discuss a submission, find out how to register as a reader or as an author and check our Privacy Policy to be reassured that we won't be passing on your email address to any third parties... and then head over here to find out about the first issue and start downloading papers. 

Let us know here what you think about our new journal. We hope you will enjoy reading our first issue and will register to receive alerts about subsequent issues.

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

BSBI prize-winner #1

One BSBI member had a pleasant surprise earlier this month! 

BSBI's Finance Manager Julie has been encouraging members to pay their annual BSBI subscription via Direct Debit mandate - you may have seen a notice in the September issue of BSBI News? Direct Debit is a great way to pay your sub - quicker and easier for you and more cost-effective for BSBI. Julie set up a prize draw, whereby everyone who completed a mandate would be automatically entered into a competition and two names selected at random to win a prize.

Our first prize-winner has just received a £100 book token from Summerfield Books and has authorised us to say a few words about him:

Terry has been a plant hunter since he was first armed with an 'I-spy wild flowers' book in the 60s. He was a BSBI member in the '80s and '90s, ticking off the species in 'Clapham Tutin & Warburg' and travelling the world in search of interesting mountain plants. He recently rejoined the BSBI with the intention of getting more involved in recording when he eventually retires from his job as a patent attorney. He’s already been out on recording days in Cheshire and Denbighshire and plans to spend part of his prize on the the new BSBI eyebrights Handbook

The image shows Terry photographing an orchid Gymnadenia sp. in the Bernese Oberland. We wish Terry all the best in his future plant-hunting and hope he enjoys his prize. We also encourage you all to consider paying your BSBI membership subscription by Direct Debit!