Tuesday 26 April 2022

BSBI News: April issue published

The latest issue of BSBI News has just been mailed out to our c3,400 members and it's an 88-page corker! But if you haven't yet joined BSBI and you're wondering what all the fuss is about, read on to find out what's in this April issue - and there's a free sampler and a full free article for you to enjoy!

The article we've selected from this issue for everyone, member and non-member alike, to enjoy is called 'Right tree, right place: using botanical heat-maps to inform tree-planting' and it's by BSBI Head of Science Kevin Walker with Becky Trippier and Clare Pinches from Natural England. Many of you will remember the uproar on social media in 2020 when several species-rich sites were due to be planted, quite inappropriately, with trees; habitats supporting orchids and threatened bog plants would have been destroyed if those plans had been implemented. 

In response to this problem, BSBI has been working in partnership with Natural England, the Woodland Trust and the Forestry Commission to develop botanical heat-maps, based on BSBI data, which can be provided, under licence, to a range of land management organisations involved in decision-making around tree-planting: so our data - those millions of botanical records collected by our wonderful BSBI  members - will help to ensure that, in future, new trees and woodlands are planted in the right place. 

Read the article in full here to find out more about the heat-maps and check out free articles from other recent issues on this page.

Rahallan orchids, Co. Fermanagah
Image H. Northridge

Some of the other delights in this latest issue of BSBI News include: plant identification aids, from buckler-ferns to elms to a new dichotomous key to native and alien roses; eight pages of news about adventives and aliens across Britain and Ireland; a report on Alpine Clubmoss, which has been refound in the North York Moors after three decades; Robert Northridge's introduction to the plants of Co. Fermanagh; and President-elect Micheline Sheehy Skeffington considering how Irish place names can be used to locate rare species.

You can find the sampler issue on this page, where you'll have the option to read it on a Screen Reader, or you can view or download it as a pdf. Non-members can also access samplers of every issue of BSBI News since April 2020, when editor John Norton took up the reins. Many thanks to John for preparing the samplers which give a real taste of what's inside each issue of our membership newsletter. 

Vicia villosa (Fodder vetch)
spotted in Aldershot,
reported in BSBI News #150
Image: F. Rumsey

Finally, you'll notice that this new issue is number 150 - and with three issues each year, this means that BSBI News is now celebrating its 50th anniversary. An article in this latest issue called 'Now we are 50', submitted by Clive Lovatt, BSBI County Recorder for West Gloucestershire just a few days before his very sad and sudden death, celebrates this milestone and looks at how BSBI News has changed over the years. It is full of delicious 'Clive-isms' - the red colour used for the title in early issues is described as 'rather arterial'; the stylised bluebell logo is "planted" on the front cover... Clive will be much missed for his way with words, as well as his botanical skills. 

Everyone, whether member or non-member, can enjoy reading electronic back issues of BSBI News, from No. 1 (published in 1972) to No. 136 (September 2017), on our BSBI News archive page. This latest issue and other recent issues are available, to BSBI members only, on the recently revamped password-protected members' area of the BSBI website. Print copies of BSBI News are also posted to any members who prefer that option (a growing number are opting for paperless membership).  

If you are keen on wild plants and you enjoy the samplers and the free articles, do consider joining BSBI: access to the three full issues of BSBI News each year is just one of the many benefits you will enjoy as a member - find out more here.

Thursday 14 April 2022

Alpines and a plant for Easter: April report from BSBI President Lynne Farrell

Last month saw BSBI President Lynne Farrell looking for signs of Spring up in Cumbria, where she is based. 

So, has it warmed up yet? 

Over to Lynne:

"It has been very cold and windy up here recently so I am focusing on plants photographed in the shelter of the garden and at the local Alpine Garden Society Spring show, which displayed plants of different colour, shape and form. 

"I know these are not native British species, but it might give you ideas on how to grow alpines in various pots. Most people will be able to find a brick and so could create their own miniature garden, and these examples (on the right and at the foot of the page) show you what can be achieved when you become more adept at construction and putting the right plant in the right pot.

"As it is Eastertime, I’ve also included a Pasque Flower, Pulsatilla rubra, from my garden (on left). In the next few weeks our native P. vulgaris will be in full bloom on the chalk in SE England or oolite in Gloucestershire, with one site on magnesian limestone in the north. 

"Take a look at this BSBI distribution map which shows where the plant has been recorded by our volunteer members over the years. 

P. vulgaris at Knocking Hoe
Image: K. Walker 
"One of the best places to see P. vulgaris is at Therfield Heath/Castle Hill on the Cambs/Herts border, where you can walk along the Icknield Way before heading up the steep slope to see the purple flowerheads and finely divided, silky-hairy leaves. 

"Its stronghold is in France, but I’ve never been early enough to see it in bloom there.

"A detailed account of this and other grassland species features in Grassland plants of the British and Irish lowlands (BSBI 2019) co-authored by the BSBI Science Team Kevin Walker and Pete Stroh, together with several BSBI members who have studied grasslands for many years. This book is well-illustrated and recommended. 

"There are alpine Pulsatilla species too, which can be seen growing in species-rich meadows on the continent".