Friday 21 June 2024

British & Irish Botany: issue 6.1 published

Dr Stuart Desjardins
We have just published the latest issue of British & Irish Botany, the BSBI's online, Open Access scientific journal. It's been six months since our previous issue, the final one with Ian Denholm at the helm as Editor-in-Chief. Work has been going on behind the scenes in recent months as Ian handed over to his successor, Dr Stuart Desjardins, an Early Career Fellow in Plant Biology at the University of Leicester. Stuart's research interests include plant molecular phylogenetics and taxonomy, as well as evolutionary processes such as speciation and hybridisation.

This new issue of the journal, with Stuart as Editor-in-Chief, features six papers which we are confident will be of interest to botanists across Britain and Ireland. 

First up is a paper by David Green (BSBI County Recorder for North Wiltshire from 1982 to 2003) describing the Wynd Cliff whitebeam; a new species of Aria (formerly Sorbus subg. Aria) endemic to the Wye Valley, Wales. Next is an account by Andy Amphlett, joint BSBI County Recorder for Easterness, of the tree and scrub species of the treeline ecotone in the Cairngorms National Park, Scotland. Andy discusses the 36 species which occur in the Park at >500 m altitude, compares them with the 'birch belt' species found in Norway, and considers the implications for conservation management. If you enjoyed Sarah Watts' recent paper in British & Irish Botany on 'High mountain trees: altitudinal records recently broken for 11 different tree species in Britain' and have been following David Pearman's work on altitudinal data, then this paper is for you. 

Wynd Cliff Whitebeam
Image: D. Green

Next up we have a paper by Dr Tim Rich describing two new hybrid species of scurvygrass Cochlearia; Tim has named one of them Cochlearia x stacei in honour of Prof Clive Stace, "for his authoritative work on the British and Irish floras for the last 50 years". Tim is a frequent contributor to our journal, an Honorary Member of BSBI and earlier this year he became the second recipient of the BSBI Award for Outstanding Contribution to British and Irish botany. 

The fourth contribution is from Jim Bevan, whose detailed account clarifies the occurrence of a lesser-known species of hawkweed Hieracium gothicum in Britain. As you will be able to tell from the paper, H. gothicum has clearly been a much-confused taxon, but Jim’s meticulous work has shed light on this almost forgotten species and adds to the already considerable BSBI resources on hawkweeds.

Salix lapponum at Drumochter Pass
Image: A. Amphlett

One of the roles of British & Irish Botany is to provide an outlet for British botanists to make taxonomic revisions and to update plant nomenclature, and a perfect example of this is included in the current issue: a short, but necessary, validation of three of P.D. Sell’s Hieracium binomials from Sell & Murrell’s Flora of Great Britain and Ireland, prepared by Dr Tim Rich and Jim Crossley.

While British & Irish Botany's main aim is to provide a forum for publishing papers and articles relating to the vascular plants and charophytes of Britain and Ireland, including descriptions of new taxa, we also cover historic botany. So we are delighted to publish a paper by Frank Horsman about the Westminster Physic Garden - which attracted many 17th century botanists such as John Ray, aka the 'father of English natural history', John Tradescant who introduced magnolias and asters to English gardens, and John Evelyn, whose Sylva is widely acknowledged as one of the most influential books on forestry ever published, as well as eminent visitors such as diarist Samuel Pepys - but about whose precise location there has long speculation. Frank's deep dive into historic literature sources has yielded a likely site for the Garden, and follows on from his previous paper for us on the C17th botanists Edward Morgan and Edward Lhwyd.

Many thanks to Stuart and congratulations on his first issue as Editor-in-Chief! We already have seven papers in the pipeline for issue 6.2, coming to you in the autumn, and we are always keen to hear from any botanists interested in submitting a manuscript. Here are the subject areas we cover and here are the submission guidelines, or you can email Stuart if you'd rather have an informal chat before submitting. But for now, grab a cuppa, make sure you're sitting comfortably, and then you can start enjoying this latest issue of British & Irish Botany.

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