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: enquiries@bsbi.org 

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