Wednesday 20 October 2021

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness: October report from BSBI President Lynne Farrell

The past month has consisted of many BSBI Zoom meetings- not my preferred activity but essential for keeping in touch with people in Ireland, Wales, Scotland and England, although I would obviously prefer to be able to meet at least some of you.

However, I have had a few visitors including friends and woodland ecologist George and Sue Peterken. George is writing a new book on Woodlands, so we were on Arnside Knott looking at the different forms of Juniper. This year seems to be a good year for berries (image on right). 

They gave me a copy of their book Art Meets Ecology, published in 2020, which aims to connect people who are happy to connect art with science- which certainly fits my interests. During a walk along the shore we found more black berries, this time definitely not edible, of Atropa belladonna, Deadly Nightshade (image below left).

Some trees have good crops of berries, with those on Rowan and Hawthorn being particularly abundant, whereas Oak and Beech have few fruits this year. The next day the bay was shrouded in mist and it took at least an hour to rise, so trying to capture the different phases meant sitting patiently for some time (image at the end of this blogpost).

Our coastline is very varied and always inspires me, and a short trip to St Abbs Head, Scottish Wildlife Trust reserve, and Marine Reserve, provided a stimulating walk, not only due to the stiff breeze but also for the excellent geology trail, fantastic scenery and the occasional rare plant of Crambe maritima. (image below right). 

A field of pumpkins nearby reminded me it’s time to make soup and chutney again!

Tuesday 12th October was Day of the Scientist, so I hope some of you enjoyed listening to the hour-long special edition of Jim Al-Khalili’s ‘ The Life Scientific’ on BBC Radio 4. There have been botanists on his programmes fairly recently.

Finally, I was very impressed with our new 'student membership' video which you can watch here. Congratulations to our volunteer Andrew Rowley who directed and produced the video, which is all about what student membership of the BSBI can do for you.. Excellent work Andrew. 

Monday 4 October 2021

BSBI membership: we've just made it easier than ever to join us!

Small Scabious in Co. Durham
Image: BSBI member Heather Kelly 
In a rapidly changing world, our wild plants have never been more in need of the support, understanding and appreciation that BSBI is uniquely placed to provide. But we are entirely reliant on, and extremely grateful for, the contributions of our amazing volunteer members. If you haven't yet joined our growing ranks, then this is the best time of the year to do so. Read on to find out why...

First of all, it's great value for money! Join us in October for the year ahead and your membership starts at once, so you could enjoy up to 15 months of benefits for the price of 12 months, and no need to renew until January 2023. Our subscription rates are the same as last year, and with our newly-updated online membership form it has never been quicker and easier to become a member. 

Yellow water-lily in Warwickshire
Image: BSBI member Angelika Smith

So what do you get for your money?   

You'll become part of a diverse community of botanists, from national experts and specialists right through to plant-lovers who are just beginning to dip a toe into the world of identifying, recording and monitoring our wild flowers. You'll already have spotted some of the many free resources on our website but as a member, you'll be able to take the next steps to develop your skills. 

Looking for a short plant ID course? We can help you find one and you can apply for one of our grants to help with the cost. You don't have to be a BSBI member to apply for a grant but members are prioritised in the award process. We also have grants if you want to carry out more in-depth study or research. Find out more here.

Plant ID students
Image: BSBI Comms Officer Louise Marsh

Already studying plants? We have a package of support and opportunities tailored for students, and with our heavily-subsidised special student members' rate, you could end up paying as little as £1 per month! More info here

Interested in one of our series of Handbooks for tricky plant groups? We've published three Handbooks already this year and members enjoy some great discounts - 30% off the cost of our latest title, the Field Handbook to British and Irish Dandelions.

You'll be joining a society whose plant distribution data and analysis help policy-makers, conservation agencies, researchers and academics gain a better understanding of the changes happening right now to our wild plants and the urgent need to conserve important plant populations. 

Squinancywort in Co. Kerry
Image: BSBI member Jessica Hamilton 
In a time of biodiversity loss and climate change, the data gathered by BSBI's volunteer members and supporters have never been more important. 

Maybe you've taken part in one of our citizen science recording projects such as the New Year Plant Hunt, Plant Alert or the Garden Wildflower Hunt, or you've been out monitoring plants for the National Plant Monitoring Scheme, or been  recording in your local area

Or maybe you are just happy to know that your subscription is helping us to maintain one of the world's largest botanical databases (50 million records and counting!) and supporting our Science Team as they contribute to internationally important reports such as RBG Kew's State of the World's Plants and Fungi

Whether or not you are an active botanical recorder, by joining our growing ranks as a member you will be directly supporting our work to advance the understanding and appreciation of wild plants and support their conservation in Britain and Ireland. 

You'll be joining a community of people with a passion for plants, who share their knowledge and enthusiasm on social media; at our national conferences, workshops and field meetings; at local events organised by county flora groups; via our expert referee service (only available to members); and in our in-house periodicals such as our membership newsletter BSBI News which you'll receive three times a year. Here's a taster of what's in the latest issue and check out recent articles on wildflower ID books, on plant ID apps (how well do they work?) and how to ID those pesky dandelion lookalikes

Want more tips to get you started with plant ID? Check out these helpful hints

Keeled Garlic in Musselburgh
Image: BSBI member Chris Jeffree
To find out more about what our fabulous BSBI members - all 3,340 of them, a 7% increase compared to last October - achieved in the past year, why not take a look at our latest Annual Review

If you are already one of our members, we'd like to say a huge thank you to each and every one of you. If you haven't joined us yet, why not head over here and become member no. 3,341? 

With our new online membership form, it has never been quicker and easier to join BSBI and we can't wait to send you your bumper welcome pack! So if you share our vision of a world where wild plants thrive and are valued, right now is the time to join us.