Friday, 18 December 2015

Happy Christmas

And the very best of seasonal good wishes for the New Year too. I thought I'd bring some highlights of Welsh botany and hopefully inspire a little winter activity.

I received a nomination for the BSBI Recorder of the Year (Wales), for Martyn Stead. Martyn has been a dedicated recorder for several years, active in several of the North Wales counties. This year he has been working a lot in Denbighshire and has accumulated over 13,000 records, of which over 8,000 are new tetrad records  and over 500 are new hectad records since the year 2000. Delyth Williams, vice-county recorder for Denbighshire, says that Martin's records are accurate and dependable, and he is also conscientious about following protocols (for example providing voucher specimens or photographs for uncommon species). This is a new award (sorry Martyn, there's no prize) but I'd be very keen to receive nominations for the 2016 award in due course. 

It has been a busy year for Welsh botanists, with over 60,000 records from 2015 already on the DDb. As well as making new records, there has clearly been a lot of work on computers, as an additional 250,000 records from before 2015 have been uploaded to the DDb. This is brilliant, as it lets us see where the gaps are for Atlas 2020, our major recording focus (for more on the Atlas see 

I thought I'd show you some maps of seasonal species. The coloured dots represent different date classes - blue and pink are those since 2000. Ideally we'd like to re-find all records that are older than 2000. These are both good species to record in the winter - Norway Spruce and other conifers can be quickly recorded on a bracing walk through the forest while you walk off your Christmas excesses, and Mistletoe can be spotted while the trees are bare. I wonder how many of the red dots could be filled in over the Christmas holidays (don't forget to send records to your vice-county recorder - contact me if you don't know who they are). For more maps, visit the BSBI's database at

Distribution map for Norway spruce,
Picea abies (also known as Christmas tree).

Distribution map for mistletoe,
Viscum album.
I'm also planning to join in the BSBI New Year Plant Hunt, which has been growing in recent years. For more information, see I'd be interested to hear about as many Welsh plant hunts as possible. 

Friday, 28 August 2015

Golden dock in Montgomery

Yesterday I joined the Montgomeryshire Flora Group on one of their regular meetings. We saw several scarce species including golden dock Rumex maritimus (not usually a maritime species despite the name), green figwort Scrophularia umbrosa and great yellow-cress Rorippa amphibia. R. maritimus and S. umbrosa are rare plants in Montgomeryshire and indeed in Wales, although they are not scarce in Britain. In fact all these species have their main distribution in England, and so are interesting finds to those of us used to Wales. This sort of day highlights the differences between regions and therefore the value of the county rare plant registers. Thanks to Kate Thorne and the rest of the group for an interesting day out.

Golden dock Rumex maritimus

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Return to work

I am returning to work this week after my maternity leave with Robin. If anyone wishes to contact me I am now back at my desk and responding (hopefully) to emails and phone calls. I am now working three days a week (Wednesday - Friday).

I'd just like to say a big thank-you to Paul Green who did so much good work while I was away (and while I was back part-time in 2013-14).

Hopefully there will be some botanical matters to write about soon.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Brecknockshire Botany Group enjoying cake at Vicarage Meadows NR

 Cake made by Hannah Shaw as a leaving celebration for me (Paul), BSBI Welsh Officer. Only two days left in the job.
Below - group enjoying cake.
Photos below taken by John Crellin

Monday, 1 June 2015

Imperatoria ostruthium (Masterwort) re-found for Wales

 I was driving along and thought I have just seen Masterwort, as I hadn't seen it in Wales before I turned around to make sure my ID was correct! It was! Looking up on the BSBI DDb database I was surprised to see there haven't been any records for Masterwort in Wales for over 70 years. This patch was on the roadside between Bala and Trawsfyndd, VC48 Merioneth. It should be in flower in about a week.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

BSBI Fumaria meeting at Cwm in Flintshire

Fumaria bastardii (Tall Ramping-fumitory)

Fumaria capreolata subsp. babingtonii (White Ramping-fumitory)

F. bastardii (left) F. muralis subsp. boraei (Common Ramping-fumitory) (right)

Fumaria officinalis (Common Fumitory)

Fumaria purpurea (Purple Ramping-fumitory)

F. purpurea

Saturday, 16 May 2015

BSBI meeting at Dolphin, Flintshire

 Group at start of walk
 Minuartia verna (Spring Sandwort)
 Symphytum tuberosum (Tuberous Comfrey)
 Stellaria neglecta (Greater Chickweed)
Fumaria purpurea (Purple Ramping-fumitory)

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Looking at Trifolium suffocatum (Suffocated Clover) in N. Wales

 Had a cold but unexpected dry day out with Wendy & Martyn today looking for Suffocated Clover to start the day off. This the only site in N. Wales. Otherwise only known from Glamorgan in Wales. Spent the rest of the day helping Wendy and Martyn learn Fumaria.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Out with the Denbighshire Botany Group today

 The wood we walked around was covered in Early Purple Orchids. Two had white flowers.

The group enjoying themselves on this lovely day.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Paris quadrifolia (Herb-paris) from woods at Michaelston-le-Pit

 I was out with the Glamorgan Botany Group today. Had some great plants including Herb-paris, picture here. Also Greater Butterfly Orchid and Bird's-nest Orchid in bud and a few Common Twayblades flowering.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Ranunculus parviflorus (Small-flowered Buttercup) refound in Flintshire

 Emily Meilleur sent me these picture of Small-flowered Buttercup that she found by the River Clwyd near Rhyl yesterday. This is the first record in Flintshire for over 60 years.

Trifolium suffocatum (Suffocated Clover) 2nd native site in Galmorgan

I was out with Julian Woodman today looking for Poa infirma (no luck there) at Ogmore-by-sea and I found Suffocated Clover, only the 2nd record for Glamorgan as a native. There were 100s of plants. In the centre of the picture you can see the tiny flowers, most had already finished flowering.  

Monday, 20 April 2015

Viola canina on dunes NW of Cardigan

Heath Dog-violet on dunes NW of Cardigan on the west coast of Wales, taken on a BSBI field meeting. This was one of the 300+ plus species we saw over the two days. Note the very yellow spur.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Petasites japonicus on the River Wye at Builth Wells, Breconshire

 Today when I stopped in Builth Wells, on the bank of the River Wye was a patch of Giant Butterbur. I always think they look like cauliflowers!

Monday, 30 March 2015

Arum italicum subsp italicum x A. maculatum a new hybrid for Wales

 At the weekend I found what I take to be the hybrid between a none native species Arum italicum subsp. italicum and a native species Arum maculatum. As far as I can tell this is a new hybrid for Wales. Growing on a road verge with both parents north of East Aberthaw, Glamorgan. In the picture above is the leaf of the hybrid. Below can be seen both parents and the hybrid. The hybrid has yellowish veins and some of the leaves have black spots. Arum italicum has white veins on the leaves and no black spots. Have posted some leaves of the hybrid to Wisley where they will do DNA test on my specimens. Now I have to wait to see if science agrees with my field observation!

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Symphytum grandiflorum at St Hilary, Glamorgan

 Came across a large patch of Creeping Comfrey on a road verge near St Hilary today. An uncommon garden escape in Wales. The buds are red and as they come out they turn a very pale pink.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Viola odorata var. dumetorum

 This is the commonest white form of sweet violet in Glamorgan. Has a dark purple spur and a beard on the lateral petals. Flowering on many of the road banks to the west of Cardiff.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Chrysosplenium alternifolium (Alternate-leaved Golden-saxifrage) on bank of River Ely, Glamorgan

 Had a very successful BSBI walk along a stretch of the River Ely to look for Chrysosplenium alternifolium (Alternate-leaved Golden-saxifrage), which was re-found for the county last year. The Chrysosplenium was found in three monads. There was eight of us on the walk, we recorded 168 species, very good going for this time of year.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Viola odorata var. subcarnea

 I have started looking at the colour varieties of Sweet Violets as they are now starting to flower. Came across a large stand of this pinkish-purple form today called Viola odorata var. subcarnea. The purple and white forms are the common colour I normally see in Glamorgan. These two pictures were taken at Llancarfan in the churchyard.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Senecio vulgaris var. hibernicus

Thought it was time I uploaded some more picture to Welsh Officer's blog. The two above photos are of the rayed variety of Groundsel. These were taken in Cardiff this week. It is the first time I have seen Groundsel in Wales with petals.