Thursday 23 December 2021

Winter scenes in Shropshire


Winter solstice has just passed, so the days are already a few seconds longer.  Shropshire Botanical Society would like to wish you all a very happy and healthy winter holiday.  We leave you with a few wintry scenes from Shropshire from years gone by:

Townbrook Hollow, Long Mynd Feb 2021, home of Hymenophyllum wilsonii Wilson's Filmy Fern

Juncus effusus Soft Rush on the Long Mynd, 2018

Caer Caradoc, Shropshire Hills, 2017

Centaurea nigra Black Knapweed, Shropshire Hills, 2017

Shropshire Hills, 2014

Friday 3 December 2021

Autumn has arrived and so has the Newsletter Autumn 2021

A bit later than usual, ahem apologies.... but....we are delighted to say that the Autumn Newsletter 2021 is finally published and has been emailed as a pdf to members, featuring the delightful Succisa pratensis Devil'-bit Scabious as the cover plant:  

Succisa pratensis Devil's-bit Scabious photo by Peter and Jane Horsham

Thank you to editor Andy and designer Gordon, and of course all the contributors, for a great read with site updates, field visit reports, more on mires of the Mynd, Polystichum fern id, surveying Shanklins and an obituary to botanist and educator Philip Oswald who passed this year.  We hope you enjoy it and do please send feedback or if it gives you ideas for a contribution of your own, please get in touch by emailing:

Note to non-members - all the back copies of the newsletters are available, see Newsletters page and the Autumn 2021 edition will join these after a respectful period of time!

Saturday 16 October 2021

"What Tree Where - planting trees for the future", a talk by Ted Green

We're delighted to announce that the Severn Tree Trust have invited Shropshire Botanical Society to the following talk:

"What Tree Where - planting trees for the future", by Ted Green

Tue, 26 Oct. 2021, 19:30 – 21:30hrs, 

at Shrewsbury School, Ashton Road, Shrewsbury, SY3 7BA.

Tickets £5.80, booking:

In case you are not familiar with Ted Green MBE and his work:

Ted's career in trees for over 50 years has included forestry, conservation and a huge input in attempting to save this country's ancient trees. He has been a consultant in arboriculture for the Crown Estate at Windsor and in 1993, founded the Ancient Tree Forum. He was awarded the MBE for this and his conservation work and is now recognised as the country's foremost authority on ancient trees.  In his talk he will be challenging the headlong push for planting trees in plantations and suggesting that creating oak wood pastures would be far more beneficial to the environment.

Ted is a popular speaker, not afraid to raise contentious issues and always posing interesting questions related to trees. This talk will not be lacking in these.

Ted has visited Shropshire to give talks on a number of occasions, always attracting a large audience. On this occasion, he will be looking into the Government's wish to promote the planting of millions of trees. However, do not expect a traditional answer to this. What you will hear will have arisen from his years of experience with trees, his wisdom and, of course, his usual wit.

It is sure to be a good talk, maybe see some of you there.

Thursday 15 July 2021

Secret Hills Discovery Centre, Sun. 18th July

Hot on the heels of last weekend's field meeting we are out again next Sun.18th, for a morning botanical mooch around the grounds of the Secret Hills Discovery Centre, Craven Arms.

There are 30 acres of meadows alongside the gorgeous River Onny, with flowery hay meadows, pond, riverside damp woodland, hedgerows and mature trees. You are welcome to stay on (or slip away!) for an ice cream as the centre itself has great facilities with a cafe, shop, information area and a mammoth!

We're meeting at 10am in the centre car park and joining up with a group of the centre volunteers who want to know more about the botany of the land they help care for. We'll be staying outside and the forecast is warm and sunny, so be sun and bitey insect aware, as well the other thing that has become part of our lives! For booking email: Mags Cousins

Here's a snippet from a few weeks ago:

Pond with good weeds, including Ranunculus peltatus

Meadow Saxifrage, Saxifraga granulata

Flower rich meadow

Pink Purslane Claytonia perfoliata

Sunday 4 July 2021

Next meeting Sat. 10th July. All Saint's churchyard, Clive, then up Grinshill (optional)

We'll be meeting at 10:00am at All Saint's church, Clive at SJ51462408.  

There are only a few parking places alongside Drawwell Street, just north of the Church. Otherwise the access will be very easy into the churchyard for the first part of the field meeting.  The churchyard is a great setting under the spire of All Saints’ church.  The church dates back to the 12th century, and was fully restored in 1887, with the spire added in 1894. The church also has a refurbished peal of six bells – the heaviest in the county, which are regularly rung.  We will be exploring the botany of the churchyard and the outing will be a mix of recording and training.  

After the churchyard the going gets moderately hilly up Grinshill. The hill is Triassic Sandstone which was quarried for building.

Photo courtesy of

Attending for just an hour or two in the churchyard is fine. For further information about the meeting please contact Andrew Perry,

Saturday 19 June 2021

Smiling Tree Farm, next Sun 27th June

It has been all smiles so far for our field meetings programme which is going very well, and our next outing is a recording visit to Smiling Tree Farm, no less!.  The aim is to record as much as we can on the farm as the owners are really interested to know what they have there.  All we know so far is:

Smiling Tree Farm is in South Shropshire between New Invention and Bucknell, at SO31627582 and is a pastoral enterprise, so there will be fields and hedgerows, cows and sheep and beautiful views of rolling countryside!  Booking is necessary, email: Mags Cousins, so you can be given access instructions, as it is quite rural with limited parking.


Hope to see some smiling faces at Smiling Tree Farm!

best wishes

Mags Cousins

Thursday 3 June 2021

Next field meeting Muxton Marsh Sun 6th June

The first field visit of the season, last Saturday, to Brook Vessons delivered on all promises; plants, weather, company, views and there is a lovely photo album on Dan's Facebook page

Next one is Sun. 6th June to Muxton Marsh SSSI and Shropshire Wildlife Trust nature reserve at Granville Country Park, north east of Telford.  It combines industrial heritage with fabulous species rich habitats, with damp meadows, sedge fen, alder carr and some ancient woodland. 

Muxton Marsh SSSI citation says "The site is part of a complex of habitats which have developed in an area of north-east Telford left semi-derelict by past coal-mining. Impeded drainage caused by spoil dumping has contributed to the formation of wetland habitats here...  and this site is the best remaining example of unimproved grassland, fen and carr. 

Shropshire Wildlife Trust reserve description is slightly more poetic; "An abundance of bird’s-foot trefoil now feeds generations of caterpillars of Telford’s speciality butterflies, the dingy skipper and green hairstreak. Orchids, ox-eye daisy, cowslips and yellow rattle, rarely seen now in agricultural fields, have miraculously appeared in what was, in the not-so-distant past, a grim and uninviting landscape."

Penny knows it well and is leading this one, m
eeting at 11:00 am in Woodbine Close. This is a cul-de-sac off Marshbrook Way, Muxton at SJ7146 1351. Park between drive ways as discreetly as possible.  For further information about the meeting please contact Penny Wysome, 01952 242617,

Saturday 22 May 2021

Our second field meeting of the year is coming up next weekend, we are going to the lovely Brook Vessons Farm and Paulith Bank below the Stiperstones, on Sat. 29th May.  There will be lots to enjoy with varied habitats and a beautiful landscape:

The many delights of Brook Vessons Farm and Paulith Bank

Everyone is welcome but do check arrangements first with the leader Dan Wrench, Mob 07718391794, 

Meet at 10:00 am in the farm yard at SJ395012. Parking spaces are limited.

Be prepared for all weathers with plenty of layers, strong boots, food and drink. 

Thursday 22 April 2021

Coming soon, a talk on the North West Rare Plants Initiative by Joshua Styles

Spring Meeting, 2-3.30pm, Sat. 24th April, by Zoom

“3 years into the North West Rare Plant Initiative”, a talk by Josh Styles 

This weekend Joshua Styles is giving an online talk to Shropshire Botanical Society on the North West Rare Plants Initiative (NWRPI).  Josh set the initiative up in 2017 aiming to re-establish rare plants into the wild in the NW region where they had become locally extinct.  He has done some brilliant propagation from wild plant propagules (all under appropriate licence) growing them at home in the garden.  He has a list of 45 priority species which includes Drosera anglica Great Sundew:

Drosera anglica Great Sundew (Scotland) photo Mags Cousins

There are historic records for Great Sundew in Shropshire, such as at Wem Moss and perhaps with recent bog restoration undertaken by Shropshire Wildlife Trust there is a chance we can see this plant again in the county.  We are more familiar with Drosera rotundifolia Round-leaved Sundew, which  although more widespread is still under pressure due to habitat degradation:

Drosera rotundifolia Round-leaved Sundew
photo Mags Cousins

Everyone is welcome to join the talk, just message us for a Zoom link if you haven't received a link already:

Monday 29 March 2021

Yellow Star-of-Bethlehem, Gagea lutea

We are lucky in Shropshire to have a few populations of the delightful Yellow Star-of-Bethlehem Gagea lutea.  It is described by the BSBI as a "bulbous perennial herb of moist, base-rich, shady habitats including woods, hedgerows, limestone pavements, pastures, riverbanks and stream banks; sometimes washed down on alluvium in riverine woodland subject to seasonal flooding, mainly lowland."  Populations are mostly small and widely scattered in the UK and the species is on the Vascular Plant Red List for Great Britain as Least Concern.  

Gagea lutea is a rare plant in Shropshire restricted to a handful of sites in base rich open woodland, W8 Fraxinus excelsior Ash woodland, including on the limestone of north west Shropshire and streamsides south west of Bridgnorth.

Yellow Star-of-Bethlehem Gagea lutea

It flowers in March, so now is the time to look for it.  It can be a shy flowerer, and if not flowering can be easily overlooked as the leaves are strap shaped and very similar to Bluebell Hyacinthoides non-scripta with which it often grows.  The two species can be told apart by the 3-5 ridges on the back of the leaf of Gagea, which is a brighter green and narrower: 

Underside of Bluebell leaf bottom and Yellow Star-of-Bethlehem, top

Bluebell, Yellow Star-of-Bethlehem and Wood Anemone Anemone nemorosa

The photo below, shows the precarious site on a mobile sandy river bank on which there was a population south west of Bridgnorth in 2017, hopefully it is still there:

Wooded river bank habitat of Gagea lutea, south Shropshire

Gagea lutea in open calcareous woodland, north Shropshire near Llanymynech

Ruth went to check on the populations local to her, this March in north Shropshire and was pleased to find it flowering well:

Yellow Star-of-Bethlehem Gagea lutea, 27th March 2021, photo Ruth Dawes

If you do manage to see this lovely plant, please send in your records plus a photograph, an accurate 8 figure grid reference and an assessment of population size, to the v.c.40 recorder: Dr Sarah Whild

Saturday 27 February 2021

Shropshire spring

 After a few days of proper warm spring sunshine suddenly everything seems to be bursting into life and the long hard freeze already seems a distant memory.  Beware the hard ground frosts at night though!  This stunning Small-leaved lime Tilia cordata coppice was spotted near Bridgnorth this week.  The stools are showing some fantastic regrowth and just how amenable this species is to coppicing.  The wood is multipurpose, ideal for poles, firewood, furniture and carving.  It is soft when green and dries pale and hard, good for beginners to try carving spoons, an activity for the remainder of lockdown?  Lime trees are estimated to have about 31 associated insects and 83 lichens and is a fabulous source of pollen and nectar.  The natural distribution of Small-leaved lime is limited by cool summers as it needs warmth to regenerate from seed.

Small-leaved Lime, Tilia cordata coppice near Bridgnorth

Also putting on a show were the native wild Daffodil, Narcissus pseudonarcissus:

What is bursting into life near you?

Sunday 31 January 2021

January 2021 goes out with another blast of cold air

It is already two weeks since we were reflecting on our wintry New Year Plant Hunt walks with an online slideshow of finds for the zoom social.  Shropshire botanists did well this year with a good spread of lists made across the county, some by members who had never taken part before.  The aim is to find blooming plants, with visible reproductive parts on show, during a 3 hour walk.  The BSBI have already started analysing the data.  An amazing 1,811 people took part and recorded an extraordinary 710 species in bloom.

New Year Plant Hunts in Shropshire, 2021

The warming effect of Shrewsbury town centre, plus garden escapes produced the longest lists for Shropshire.  Sarah and Gordon found the most species flowering with 65 species in Castlefields, which put this into the top 20 longest lists in the country.  Sarah spotted this pristine looking Black Horehound Ballota nigra:

Black Horehound Ballota nigra


Annual Meadow-grass Poa annua
There were plenty of the usual suspects from Shropshire including the top four most frequent for the whole country; Daisy Bellis perennis, Groundsel Senecio vulgaris, Dandelion Taraxacum agg. and Annual Meadow-grass Poa annua.  The latter was just about flowering on the Long Mynd:

Nice finds from other members included Sweet violet Viola odorata, a harbinger of spring, by John Martin in Shrewsbury:

Sweet violet Viola odorata

Sandra Spence recorded Butcher’s Broom Ruscus aculeatus, which is always a nice find whatever time of year:

Butcher’s Broom Ruscus aculeatus

Dan Wrench recorded Bilbao’s Fleabane Erigeron floribundus, which is distinguished from the somewhat similar Canadian Fleabane by being more densely hairy, 5 lobed disc flowers and scarcely developed ligules not overtopping the phyllaries.  It was first found in 1977 and most records are currently southern but it is likely to be often overlooked:

Bilbao’s Fleabane Erigeron floribundus

Another species that is likely to be under-recorded, but spotted by Dan was Giant Bramble Rubus armeniacus, an invasive beast of a bramble, very robust with whitish underleaves:

Giant Bramble Rubus armeniacus

In contrast, Small Toadflax Chaenorhinum minus, a small plant of well drained open habitats, such as railway lines and banks, walls and arable margins was recorded by Dan on his walk in Belle Vue and Sutton, Shrewsbury with his daughter:

Small Toadflax Chaenorhinum minus

Climbing Corydalis Ceratocapnos claviculata was flowering merrily in the South Shropshire hills which it seems to do all year round.  Whilst it looks and feels delicate it seems to be very hardy and interestingly is not touched by my Soay sheep:

Climbing Corydalis Ceratocapnos claviculata

A few folks found fumitories in flower and Dan's turned out to be Tall Ramping Fumitory Fumaria bastardii, take a look at those large, frilly sepals:

There were some more harbingers of spring, pushing through with Dog’s Mercury Mercurialis perennis and Lesser Celandine Ficaria verna in All Stretton, a welcome reminder that longer days and warmer weather are on the way, even as January exits with a blast of cold air:

Dog’s Mercury Mercurialis perennis

Lesser Celandine Ficaria verna

Thank you to everyone who joined in the winter social by Zoom, including those from east coast USA, it was fun to catch up, see some plants and be challenged by the quiz questions from Martin and Penny and the cryptic crossword by Sue.  Ruth won the prize for the crossword challenge with all of the correct answers, well done Ruth!  We don't yet know when we shall be able to meet up for field meetings, but in the meantime stay warm, healthy and hopeful and look forward to new beginnings, or failing that the next Bot Soc meeting which is 2-4pm Sat. 24th April.  This will be another Zoom with the inspirational botanist Josh Styles, speaking about his achievements with plant reintroductions with the North West Rare Plants Initiative.

Monday 11 January 2021

Winter Social Meeting - by Zoom coming soon!

Our winter social meeting is fast approaching, next Saturday, Jan 16th, 2021 2-4pm. Yes, ok it will be a Zoom social and you will be responsible for your cake and tipple of choice, but it will still be a lighthearted get together.

There will be quiz with Martin the Quizzmaster; a New Year Plant Hunt (NYPH) Round Up with photos of finds and experiences from members, and answers to the Christmas Challenge Crossword competition.

Please email your Crossword answers and NYPH photos of top finds to:

Members will have received a Zoom link already, but anyone is welcome, just message us if you would like to join in.

Sweet Violet, Viola odorata blooming in Shrewsbury

Friday 1 January 2021

New Year Plant Hunt

Happy New Year Shropshire botanists and wildflower enthusiasts!

We are not doing an organised group New Year Plant Hunt but you can still take part, following your local COVID guidelines, of course. Shropshire is never top of the leader board for plants in bloom at this time of the year, even in towns as we still get a recognisable winter. But that doesn't matter, all records are of interest to the BSBI in reviewing the flowering trends in our flora.

Ulex europaeus in bloom, Shropshire Hills

The New Year Plant Hunt is easy to do and a good excuse for a nice long walk.

Check the BSBI website for full details:

Basically it involves 3 hrs (per hunt - you can do several) of recording plants in bloom, until Mon. 4th Jan. Have fun, stay safe, take photos!