Two species re-found in Somerset after many years

Diligent searching in the south and west of the county (VC5) has led to the rediscovery of two plants previously thought to be lost (just mislaid as it turns out). Simon Leach (Joint VCR for VC5) found a single plant of Early Gentian (Gentianella amarella subsp. anglica) at Thurlbear Wood, the first VC5 sighting since 2006, which he was delighted to be able to show members of Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society during their recent field meeting. Despite a thorough search during the meeting, only the one tiny plant was found, but it may be worth looking again at this time of year. Meanwhile, Ian Green, co-author of The Atlas Flora of Somerset, rediscovered Mountain Pansy (Viola lutea) on Exmoor, not seen since 1999. A photo of this species adorns the cover of the flora so it is brilliant news that it is not lost after all.  The Rare Plant Register has been updated accordingly.

Another handful of species accounts

This month we have five new species accounts in the Rare Plant Register. These are all plants that are near threatened across England but are fortunately not defined as rare or scarce in Somerset. They are: Marsh Pennywort (Hydrocotyle vulgaris), Marsh St John’s-wort (Hypericum elodes), Ragged-robin (Silene flos-cuculi), Heath Speedwell (Veronica officinalis), and Marsh Speedwell (Veronica scutellata).

New Species Accounts for RPR

New species accounts for Crambe maritima (Sea-kale), Hieracium nemophilum (Grassland Hawkweed), Potamogeton coloratus (Fen Pondweed), and Potamogeton nodosus (Loddon Pondweed) are now available in the Somerset Rare Plant Register. The accounts for Equisetum variegatum (Variegated Horsetail), Hieracium subamplifolium (Balloon-leaved Hawkweed), and Limosella aquatica (Mudwort) have been updated.

Website updates

There has been some re-arrangement of the menus which hopefully will make things easier to find. The newsletters can now be accessed from the top-level menu. We are working on an index to the newsletters which will help with searching for useful information. The former Publications section is now “Somerset Botany” and includes a Help with ID section (containing the old Articles and Presentations). We hope to add a History (of Somerset botany) section here in due course. There is a new section on the work of our Dandelion enthusiasts under Activities > Projects.

National and local effects of climate change

Phenology – or the study of the timing of natural phenomena – has been in the news this week with The Guardian reporting “Flowers arriving a month early in UK as climate heats up”. This is based on the dataset created by the Nature’s Calendar project run by the Woodland Trust and the Centre for Hydrology and Ecology. The underlying paper published by the Royal Society is here. The lead author, Prof Ulf Büntgen has also been talking about it on this week’s Inside Science on Radio 4.

Moving from the national to the local picture, Simon has kindly put together a report on last year’s First Flowering project. You can find a link to it at the end of the First Flowering page.