Thursday 18 May 2023

Getting started with wild flower families

Attendees at one of Faith Anstey's
wildflower ID workshops
When you are starting out with wildflower identification, knowing which family your plant belongs to can save you a huge amount of time. Working through an ID book from the very beginning can be both time-consuming and daunting - so many new botanical terms to learn! 

Life is much easier if you can go straight to the right family and start keying out from there. But how can you be sure that you've identified the right family?

To solve this problem, BSBI has teamed up with Plantlife Scotland to provide two 'Identifying Wild Flower Families' workshops this summer, the first in Edinburgh in June and a second in Strathspey in July. Each workshop costs only £20 for BSBI members and full-time students (£40 for non-students and non-members) and included in the price are two essential pieces of kit: a handlens to help you see those essential plant characters; and a copy of Faith Anstey's Pocket Guide to Wildflower Families.   

Faith has a proven track record in running very popular wild flower family workshops for BSBI. As she says: "Identifying wild flowers is as easy as FFF – Finding the Family First. In our workshops, expert tutors give you hands-on ID experience in small groups. Learn what points to look for, conquer your fear of keys and follow a flowchart to 50 wildflower families – as many as 500 different species will soon be at your fingertips".

To book for one of these workshops, please visit the BSBI Ticket Tailor page - there are still some spaces left but hurry to be sure of a place, and learn to identify wild flower families with confidence!

Monday 15 May 2023

Invasives Week: Plants of Concern

American Skunk-cabbage:
this invasive non-native is on the increase
Image: K. Walker
Every year, organisations across Britain and Ireland come together to raise awareness of the impacts of invasive non-native species, and the simple things we can all do to help protect the environment. 

This year's Invasive Species Week runs from 15th to 21st May, and here are three ways that you can get involved.

1. Book for this talk by Dr Oli Pescott from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, about some of the non-native plants recorded for the recently-published BSBI Plant Atlas. Did you know that of the 3,495 species recorded, only 1,692 were native to Britain & Ireland? So for the first time, we have more non-native than native species on these islands! If you want to check if a plant is native or not, just look it up on our Plant Atlas website, where you will also be able to find out if the plant is on the increase or in decline (and the reasons why). Also check out the Atlas summaries (free to download by following the links on this page) to read about how our flora is changing and which species are very much on the increase.

Floating pennywort:
clogs up waterways; a huge amount of money
is spent trying to eradicate this invasive non-native
Image: Crown copyright 2009 

2. While some non-native species are invasive, the majority are benign and many of those non-natives are actually important for pollinators and other wildlife; some of our native species can also prove invasive - there isn't a clear-cut message of 'native good, alien bad'. That's why resources like Plant Atlas 2020 are so important, helping us all to drill down and find out more. 

But for next Sunday's Wild Flower Hour on social media, the focus is very much on those non-natives that are proving problematic. Why not join us at 8pm on Sunday 21st May, to see images of those problem plants? And keep an eye on the #INNSweek hashtag for more info.

3. Check out this 'What Can I Do' page for lots of helpful info about invasive non-native species: what they are, how they are spread, and what action is being taken to reduce their impacts. You'll also find lots of tips on how we can all make sure that we don't inadvertently contribute to the spread of invasive plants. By following the 'Five Simple Things I Can Do', we can all make sure that we are part of the solution rather than part of the problem!