Thursday 28 December 2023

British & Irish Botany: issue 5.3 published

Ian browsing a copy of 'Stace'
Image: L. Marsh
It's been six months since we published the last issue of British & Irish Botany, the Botanical Society's online, Open Access scientific journal. We are about to press publish on another issue and this one marks a milestone in the journal's history: this will be the final issue under the editorship of Ian Denholm.

Ian took over the editorship of British & Irish Botany's predecessor, New Journal of Botany, in 2015, just weeks after his term as BSBI President ended; he oversaw the setting up of British & Irish Botany and has been at the helm for the last five years. So this really is the end of an era! 

Don't worry about the future of the journal - Ian has overseen the succession plans and we'll be announcing the new Editor-in-Chief very soon - but for now, I'd like to hand over to Ian to tell you about what's in this latest issue of British & Irish Botany:

"Publication of Issue 5(3) of British & Irish Botany (B&IB) completes the fifth year of the Botanical Society of Britain & Ireland's online scientific journal. Over this period there have been 18 issues containing 136 papers covering the taxonomy, history, origins, ecology and conservation of the British and Irish flora. The appearance of each issue has traditionally been accompanied by a blogpost from Louise Marsh summarising the contents and highlighting findings of particular significance. On this occasion, in light of my retirement as editor-in-chief, she has graciously stepped aside and delegated this task to me!

Hieracium elizabethae-reginae
Image: T. Rich
"We commence with a paper from Tim Rich, one of B&IB’s most prolific contributors, who with co-author James Warren adds a new endemic species of hawkweed (Hieracium) to the British flora. The significance of this development is heightened by the taxon being named in honour of our late Queen Elizabeth II. Careful reading of the paper will disclose the connection! Anyone who was an active botanist in the ‘pre-Stace’ era will no doubt retain great affection for the preceding Flora of the British Isles by Clapham, Tutin and Warburg (CTW). A paper by David Wilkinson and Laura Jean Cameron centres on a lunch held to launch the first edition of CTW in 1952. They speculate on the identity of the person caricatured on the cover of the lunch menu, and provide a fascinating image of the menu itself signed by most of the botanical illuminati of the day.

"Ridha El Mokni and Duilio Iamonico explore aspects of nomenclature within the genus Gypsophila which, although not native to Britain and Ireland, contains several species that have been reported as garden escapes or casuals from other sources, and may become more frequent under changing climatic conditions. Frank Horsman investigates in detail the contributions of the 17th century botanist Edward Morgan, to knowledge of the Welsh flora in particular. Morgan emerges from this account as something of an unsung hero whose work and influence on contemporaries deserves much more recognition and respect than it is presently accorded.

Artemisia campestris subsp. maritima
Image: J. Twibell

"The theme of Welsh plants extends through the remaining two papers in the issue. Field Wormwood (Artemisia campestris) is a rare, iconic and native component of the Breckland flora, but also grows as a distinct subspecies (maritima) on the Sefton coast in Lancashire and at Crymlin Burrows in South Wales. Andy Jones and Fred Rumsey review evidence from various sources that collectively tip the balance in favour of maritima plants being recent arrivals on our shores, in direct contrast to their Breckland counterparts. 

"Fred Rumsey (again!) and Chris Thorogood (authors of the BSBI Broomrapes Handbook) detail the history, distribution and ecology of Picris Broomrape, Orobanche picridis. This has proved a challenging taxon due to nomenclatural confusion and morphological similarity to Common Broomrape, Orobanche minor. Most botanists to date (including me) have sought it on chalk in east Kent and on the Isle of Wight. While confirming its continued presence at these locations, the authors also report the discovery of a huge newly-discovered (and presumably previously overlooked) colony on private land in South Wales.

Orobanche picridis
Images: C. Thorogood
& F. Rumsey

"Editing the journal for five years has been a fair commitment of time, but also rewarding in that I have learned a great deal from the contents of papers and have enjoyed stimulating and productive interactions with authors. I thank Louise Marsh for exceptional editorial assistance, Jonathan Shanklin for meticulous proof-reading, and all who have supported the journal by reviewing manuscripts and contributing papers. May British & Irish Botany continue to thrive under new management!"

Huge thanks to Ian for all he has done to establish British & Irish Botany - it has been a delight to assist him! 

I hope he will enjoy having more time for all his other botanical interests, including being BSBI's joint County Recorder for Hertfordshire, BSBI's joint referee for orchids, sitting on BSBI's Science & Data Committee.... he's not so much retiring as re-calibrating! 

So it just remains for me to point you to the latest issue of British & Irish Botany and say "watch this space" for news about Ian's handover to his successor.  

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