Nature of Somerset’s Coast

We’ve published our winter meeting programme (click for further details) which includes our contribution to BSBI’s New Year Plant Hunt, our AGM and review of the year, an outdoor meeting to improve our winter identification of trees and shrubs, and a vegetative plant identification day. A highlight this winter will be the talk by Nigel Phillips on the nature of Somerset’s coast as part of our online AGM.

Nigel worked for the Wildlife Trusts as a nature reserve manager and ecologist for more than thirty years. In 2013 he became the Somerset Wildlife Trust’s Coast Ambassador and chair of their Marine Awareness Campaign, which has run a programme of coastal and marine events over several years. In 2016 he was awarded the ‘Marsh Volunteer Award for Marine Conservation in recognition of his outstanding contribution to marine conservation work being carried out by the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts’.

Nigel’s talk will be based on his latest book ‘The Nature Of Somerset’s Coast’. The 103km of Somerset’s coast presents a wide variety of habitats, including cliffs, sand dunes, shingle and saltmarsh, which are home to a great diversity of plants, including many of our rarer species.

Photos: White Rock-rose (Helianthemum apenninum)
at Brean Down and Sea-milkwort (Lysimachia maritima) © Helena Crouch

Wetland Meetings

The meeting reports are coming in regularly now, with two more from Steve and Helena describing visits to the Bridgwater and Taunton Canal and Clevedon Moor, and both featuring the lovely Fringed Water-lily (Nymphoides peltata). Photo © Helena Crouch.

This is a relative of Bogbean (Menyanthes trifoliata) which has even more extravagantly fringed petals. Photo © Christine Loudon.

Two Contrasting Meetings

Reports of two meetings in August are now available. The first meeting was held at Middle Hope, the limestone ridge at the north end of Sand Bay, which as you can see was showing the effects of the hot and dry weather. Targets that were re-found included Henbane (Hyoscyamus niger) and Cheddar Pink (Dianthus gratianopolitanus). The second meeting started at Backwell Lake, and continued via the railway station along the Nailsea Round footpath. Copse Bindweed (Fallopia dumetorum) was found at its only known site in Somerset.

Middle Hope

Photo © Karen Andrews

Backwell Lake

Photo © Helena Crouch

Exmoor Meeting

You can now read about the recent meeting based at Simonsbath led by Graham Lavender. There are many fine plant photographs by him and Fred Rumsey including Somerset rarities such as Cranberry, Oak Fern, Stag’s-horn Clubmoss, Fir Clubmoss, and several rare aquatics from Pinkery Pond. All the meeting reports can be found here. All photos below © Fred Rumsey.

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.