Rare Plant Register Updates

Four more species accounts are now available: Pale Butterwort (Pinguicula lusitanica), White Beak-sedge (Rhyncospora alba), Least Bur-reed (Sparganium natans), and Lesser Bladderwort (Utricularia minor).

They tell the story of the decline of plants adapted to wet conditions in Somerset whether in open water or on acidic heaths, bogs and mires. This has been most evident on the lowland acid peats of the Somerset Levels but has also affected the uplands of south and west Somerset. Drainage for agriculture, peat extraction, eutrophication, and afforestation have all contributed to this decline.

Pale Butterwort at Yarty Moor. Photo © Fred Rumsey

25th anniversary newsletter now available

The SRPG newsletter for 2022 is here, with many thanks to our newsletter editor Karen Andrews and all the authors for creating such a varied and interesting publication. In this edition we have the usual review of activities last year, reports of all our indoor and field meetings, a summary of interesting plant records, and articles by members.

The first article celebrates the foundation of the group in June 1998 with a fascinating gallery of photographs of our many memorable meetings and remarkable botanists. A conference is being planned for October to further mark this milestone. This edition also contains appreciations of the lives of Liz McDonnell and Clive Lovatt, who will be greatly missed by all who knew them.

The “green maps” showing the recording effort up to the end of last year are also available here.

Updates to the Rare Plant Register

Following all the brilliant recording last year, we have reviewed and updated the RPR.  Many species accounts will need revising so watch this space for news of updates.  Meanwhile a selection of just some of the significant records made in 2022 is included in the SPRG Newsletter, which will be issued shortly.

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.