Wednesday 27 November 2019

First ever Flora of Bute wins prestigious national award

Every year the Presidents of two of Britain’s leading scientific societies, the Botanical Society of Britain & Ireland and the Wild Flower Society, come together to award a prize to the book or discovery they feel has made the year's most useful contribution to the understanding of the flowering plants or ferns of Britain and Ireland.

In 2019 the Presidents’ Award has gone to Angus Hannah for his Flora of Bute. It isn’t just the first Flora (book documenting all the plants of a particular place) for the island, it’s the first for any part of the Clyde Islands which include the Isle of Arran (a popular tourist destination which is often considered to be “Scotland in miniature”).

Angus is the BSBI County Recorder for the Clyde Islands, so he co-ordinates all the botanical survey work across the islands and organises local events. Angus said “I have lived 40 years on Bute and recorded the plants of the island systematically for two decades, paying particular attention to their landscape context and the communities in which they grow. I tried to distil the results into my book, and am delighted that it has attracted this prestigious award from the Botanical Society of Britain & Ireland and the Wild Flower Society”.

Angus (on left) receives his award
from BSBI President Chris Metherell
The Flora of Bute is 360 pages long, catalogues more than 1000 plant species found on the island, with English as well as scientific names, and uses maps, historic records and location details to provide an essential companion for any botanist or plant-lover visiting the island.

BSBI President Chris Metherell presented Angus with the Presidents’ Award at the 2019 Scottish Botanists’ Conference, held on 2nd November at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh. The Conference attracted an audience of over 200 botanists from across Britain and is thought to be the largest ever gathering of botanists in Scotland.

Juniper-covered rocks, north of
Clachanard, Isle of Bute
Image: A. Hannah
Chris said “"It was a pleasure to present the 2019 Presidents' Award to Angus. Ghillean  Prance and I thought long and hard about which publication, discovery or exhibit best deserved the award. Last year we presented the award to Rosemary Parslow and Ian Bennallick for their New Flora of the Isles of Scilly and this year we are celebrating the first ever Flora to cover an island hundreds of miles away!"  
On 10th May 2020, Angus will be leading a 4-5 mile circular walk on the Isle of Bute, starting and finishing at Rothesay Pier. Botanists will be travelling to the island to find out more about the plants which grow there, including Royal Fern and also the New Zealand Pig-fern: Bute is the only place in Europe where this rare fern can be found growing in the wild. The visiting botanists will be relying on Angus’s in-depth botanical knowledge, and on their copies of the Flora of Bute, to help them understand more about the wild plants found on this beautiful island. 

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