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THE BOTANICAL SOCIETY OF THE BRITISH ISLES MONITORING SCHEME IN SUFFOLK, 1987-8 E . M . HYDE

No naturalist can fail to be aware of the changes that have occurred in t h e flora of t h e British Isles in t h e last q u a r t e r of a Century. In 1962 the Atlas of the British Flora (Perring & W a l t e r s , 1962) was published, followed in 1976 and 1982 by n e w editions with revised m a p s for s o m e 320 rare species of plants. The distribution m a p s of t h e Atlas are now largely out-of-date. A w a r e that a new survey was n e e d e d , the Botanical Society of the British Isles ( B S B I ) i n a u g u r a t e d a two-year pilot scheme for 1987-88. Based, as was the Atlas, on the 10km s q u a r e s of the O r d n a n c e Survey National G r i d , it would not only establish a regulär m o n i t o r i n g system for the f u t u r e , but would constitute the first steps t o w a r d s the production of a new Atlas. This pilot s c h e m e was financed by t h e N a t u r e C o n s e r v a n c y Council. T h e n e w survey b e c a m e known as the BSBI Monitoring S c h e m e . Following Statistical advice, it was decided that, starting f r o m Square SV91 in t h e Isles of Scilly, every third Square n o r t h and east should b e c o m e a sample area and b e r e c o r d e d . F o r Ireland the starting point was to be the most southwesterly Square of the Irish G r i d . Within each Square three tetrads (2 x 2km squares), n a m e l y A , J and W , were to be surveyed separately and intensively, and details given of r o u t e s followed in each visit so that accurate c o m p a r i s o n s could be m a d e at regulär, possibly 10-year, intervals in t h e f u t u r e . It was t h o u g h t that the 10km squares thus selected would give a r e p r e s e n t a t i v e sample of species and habitats t h r o u g h o u t the country, as well as r e p r e s e n t i n g every vice-county. All flowering plants and ferns, including all native, naturalised and casual taxa w e r e to be r e c o r d e d for each Square, and separately for t e t r a d s A , J and W. R a r e , n o t a b l e and infra-specific taxa, and also hybrids were t o be listed separately, and only r e c o r d s for 1987 and 1988 were to be accepted. New recording cards were d r a w n u p , using the n o m e n c l a t u r e and o r d e r of species of the Excursion Flora ofthe British Isles, (3rd e d . ) 1981, by C l a p h a m , Tutin and W a r b u r g . S e p a r a t e cards were to be used for Visits Over one m o n t h apart. C o m p l e t e d cards f r o m t h e volunteer r e c o r d e r s were to be r e t u r n e d t o Vice-county R e c o r d e r s , w h o would check t h e m , extract new 10km Square records, a n d e n t e r t h e m in the C o u n t y records. Finally, all cards were to be sent to t h e national organiser of t h e s c h e m e , D r . Tim Rieh, at the Biological Records C e n t r e , n e a r H u n t i n g d o n . It was left to t h e Vice-county R e c o r d e r s to organise the recording in their vice-counties. In Suffolk we divided the labour. I did the p a p e r w o r k , while Francis Simpson n a m e d most of t h e speeimens sent to us for identification. F o r t u n a t e l y , recording cards arrived in a steady flow rather than in an e n o r m o u s batch at t h e end of the year. T h e Suffolk squares were as follows, these b e i n g t h e titles of the relevant 1 : 2 5 , 0 0 0 O S maps: TM05, S t o w m a r k e t ; TM35, Wickham Market; TM38, Bungay; TL75, Wickhambrook; TL78, L a k e n h e a t h . Of t h e s e , only T M 0 5 and T M 3 5 are wholly in Suffolk. T h e small

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areas of Norfolk and Cambridgeshire in two of the other three squares were the responsibility of neighbouring Vice-county Recorders, but the whole of TM38 was dealt with by Suffolk recorders. As far as Suffolk was concerned the survey was a considerable success. The very large number of completed cards showed that almost every part of the sample squares had been visited, and in all cases tetrads A, J and W had been thoroughly surveyed. Many of the most interesting records have already been, or will be published in Suffolk Natural History, vols. 24 and 25, but in a major effort such as this it is perhaps permissible to repeat some of them here. TM05 Stowmarket Mr. & Mrs. Sheppy did a very thorough job in tetrad J. They found Betony, Stachys officinalis, in Northfield Wood, and Marsh Arrowgrass, Triglochin palustris, in a marshy meadow with an abundance of Southern Marsh Orchids, Dactylorhiza praetermissa, as well as the Marsh Speedwell, Veronica scutellata, and Wood Clubrush, Scirpus sylvaticus. They also came across uncommon arable weeds, including Shepherd's Needle, Scandix pecten-veneris, and C o m Gromwell, Lithospermum arvense. Mrs. Joyce Harris recorded in a large number of tetrads in TM05, but concentrated mainly on tetrad A. Here she found a new site for Orpine, Sedum telephium, and added C o m Buttercup, Ranunculus arvensis, to the two rare arable weeds mentioned above. She was able to include Man Orchid, Aceras anthropophorum, which happens to be on a Suffolk Wildlife Trust Protected Roadside Verge in that tetrad. With the help of Molly Kershaw, she and I recorded in the Needham Market area on several occasions, re-finding Swamp Stonecrop, Crassula helmsii, and Flowering Rush, Butomus umbellatus. On the higher, chalky ground we found Yellowwort, Blackstonia perfoliata, Ploughman's Spikenard, Inula conyza, and many Bee and Pyramidal Orchids ( O p h r y s apifera and Anacamptis pyramidalis). The River Gipping in this region was disappointing as a source of uncommon plants, but Colin Hawes, recording nearer Stowmarket, discovered the rare Spineless Hornwort, Ceratophyllum submersum. I found Lesser Meadow-rue, Thalictrum minus, and a Prunus hybrid, Wild Plum x Blackthorn, P. domestica x P. spinosa, beside an ancient track near Needham Market. Visits were also made to several of the Barking Woods, especially to Beils Wood, where the owner, Mr. Vane, accompanied us, making sure that no interesting corners were missed. TM35 Wickham Market Martin Sanford ably organised the recording in this Square, himself recording some of the less common saltmarsh and shingle species, such as Sea Hardgrass, Parapholis strigosa, Cord-grass, Spartina anglica, and Borrer's Saltmarsh Grass, Puccinellia fasciculata. Other recorders in this Square included Mr. & Mrs. Stone, who joined Martin Sanford on several occasions, and members of a Botanical Society Field Meeting in June 1988 when Mrs. J. M. Croft and Chris Preston found a hybrid Water Speedwell, Veronica anagallis x V. catenata, and Small Pondweed, Potamogeton berchtoldii. (The hybrid Speedwell was also found shortly afterwards in TM38 by Dr. Edwina Beaumont and George Maybury.) Many of

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MONITORING SCHEME IN SUFFOLK, 1 9 8 7 - 8

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the annual plants of sandy heaths were also found that day. Throughout both summers Peter Lawson visited churchyards in TM35 and TM38, and Martin Sanford visited most of the woods in his Square, finding Wood Speedwell, V. montana, new to the Square. Nearby verges yielded Dyer's Greenweed, Genista tinctoria, and Stone Parsley, Sison anomum, both new records. TM38 Bungay Here, George Maybury drew up a comprehensive Programme of recording in which every tetrad was worked. Among his interest-' ing finds were Upright Chickweed, Moenchia erecta, and Bulbous Meadowgrass, Poa bulbosa, in Bungay. Edwina Beaumont and he discovered the rare Babington's Poppy, Papaver lecoqii, and a hybrid Sweetgrass, Glyceria x pedicellata. With Peter Lawson he also found Hautbois Strawberry, Fragaria moschata, which is rare in Suffolk, and with Mr. & Mrs. Barsted and John Muddeman found Broadleaved Helleborine, Epipactis helleborine, (one of only two records for this species during the survey), Oval Sedge, Carex ovalis, and Heath Woodrush, Luzula multiflora, the last two new to this Square. Many alien plants and escapes appeared in their lists, such as Rock Stonecrop, Sedum forsteranum and Spring Starflower, Ipheion uniflorum. Finally for TM38, Lowestoft Field Club sent records from two field meetings, including Fine-leaved Water Dropwort, Oenanthe aquatica, a decreasing species in Suffolk. TL75 Wickhambrook Tetrad W was covered by Mrs. Eileen Coe. Even though she already knew the area well she discovered Butcher's Broom, Ruscus aculeatus, and Barberry, Berberis vulgaris, where she had not noticed them before. Species such as Field Mouse-ear Chickweed, Cerastium arvense, Dwarf Thistle, Circium acaule, and Meadow Oat, Avenula pratensis, show that there are still good grassland habitats in this area. The Rev. Richard Addington took on tetrads A and J, and also visited all the other tetrads in TL75. Some of his notable finds included Oxlips, Primula elatior, in several places, Greater Burnet Saxifrage, Pimpinella major, Great Yellow Cress, Rorippa amphibia, and Canadian Pondweed, Elodea canadensis, all at new sites. He also came upon rare arable weeds such as Shepherd's Needle, C o m Gromwell and C o m Buttercup. Most interesting, however, were his discoveries of Distant Sedge, Carex distans, which is rare inland, a hybrid sedge, Carex otrubae x remota and a hybrid Polypody, Polypodium interjectum x P. vulgare. Also in TL75 Peter Wanstall recorded Marjoram, Origanum vulgare, and Wall Lettuce, Mycelis inuralis, both new to this Square. Tim Rieh, in a brief but profitable visit, found Almond Willow, Salix triandra, and the hybrid Hawthorn, Crataegus monogyna x C. laevigata. TL78 Lakenheath All the expected Breckland plants, rare and common, appeared on the lists of Marg Rutterford and John Trist. It is encouraging to know that all these plants are still to be found, though not all at sites accessible to the general public. New species were also found, including Crown Vetch, Coronilta varia, Rough Comfrey, Symphytum asperum, Fen Pondweed, Potamogeton coloratus, and Slender Rush, Juncus tenuis.

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Several interesting records came to us from a visitor to the County, Dr. J. W. Partridge. Acknowledgements I thank all the people mentioned above for their thorough, systematic recording. We are fortunate to have so many knowledgeable and helpful recorders in the County. If, despite thorough checking, any name has been omitted from this report, please accept my apologies. Postscript A few weeks ago it was announced that the Nature Conservancy Council was unable to finance the next stage of the new Atlas, and that funds were being sought elsewhere. Under the original plan, Vice-county Recorders would, in 1989-91, check and amend draft lists of records from their counties of all species believed to occur in only 16-100 10km squares in the British Isles. From 1992-5 all squares not included in the present monitoring scheme would be surveyed, which would in due course lead to the publication of a new Atlas. We await developments. References Clapham, A. R., Tutin, T. G. & Warburg, E. F. (1981). Excursion Flora of the British Isles. (3rd ed.) Cambridge University Press. Perring, F. H . , & Walters, S. M. (eds.) (1962). Atlas of the British Flora. London. E. M. Hyde, Parkside, Woolverstone, Ipswich, IP9 1AR

Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 25

The Botanical Society of the British Isles monitoring scheme in Suffolk, 1987-8  

Hyde, E. M.

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