Rare Plants Register

Oxfordshire Flora Group

Rare Plants Register

Agrostemma githago, Corncockle. Photo by Frances Watkins
Papaver argemone, Prickly Poppy. Photo by Frances Watkins
Papaver hybridum, Rough Poppy. Photo by Frances Watkins

PUBLICATION IMMINENT

Publication of the Rare Plants Register is expected in Spring 2018 under the title of

Oxfordshire’s Threatened Plants

Go to Pisces Publications to order a pre-publication copy at a reduced price.

Encouraged by the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland (BSBI) the Oxfordshire Flora Group (the erstwhile Rare Plants Group) has been working for some years to compile a list of the rare and scarce plants of Oxfordshire.

Initially much fieldwork took place by members of the Flora Group and others. That field work largely finished in 2011 though some records were received in 2012. Since then a small group, Camilla Lambrick, John Killick and Susan Erskine, have been working on the publication of the register, aided by Ellen Lee of TVERC (Thames Valley Environmental Records Centre). This work included checks on the data that was used and discussions on the best way to present this data: tables, maps and written accounts will be used in the book to give the clearest possible picture of the state of Oxfordshire’s Flora.

The book is now with the publisher, but you can already see some of the results online in the lists below:

Some information about the projected book

Clearly account has had to be taken of costs. A photo and site map for every species covered might seem ideal, but for those species with only one, two or three sites a map does not add much information to the written account and table. Where decline has been dramatic, then a map will be included if it shows clearly the areas from where such a species has been lost. Similarly photos will be included where they either aid identification and/or are so stunningly beautiful they will enhance the appearance of the book.

You can see here a preview of how the book will look: Some sample species accounts

Much thought has been given to the introductory chapters. The introduction clarifies many points, for example:

  • the reasons for the choice of species to be included (interestingly a small proportion (about 5%) have been shown to be too numerous)
  • problems arising because there were relatively few new records from the north of the county, giving rise to a false impression that decline has been more serious in the north
  • the inclusion of the Vale of the White Horse, which includes the Corallian Ridge. This gave us the problem that some species were rare or scarce in vc 23 but the number of sites in vc22 would have taken the species out of the scarce category
  • a decision was made to include all species in the UK Red Data book, regardless of their scarcity in Oxfordshire

We also thought it worth analysing which habitats have suffered the most. How many of our species only survive in areas that are protected? This gave rise to a new category of species: flowers which depended on agriculture for survival have suffered greatly and some cling on in arable situations. Others have become ‘Arable Refugees’ and are now seldom found in arable conditions, but thrive in quarries, waste ground etc.

Utricularia vulgaris, Greater Bladderwort. Photo by Frances Watkins
Juniperus communis – Juniper. Photo by Frances Watkins
Althaea hirsuta, Rough Marsh-mallow. Photo by Frances Watkins

This work is supported by Natural England, the Thames Valley Environmental Records Centre and the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland.