Saturday 23 December 2023

An invitation to join us for the New Year Plant Hunt


Snowy view from Abdon Burf looking towards Clee Burf.

We hope that this finds you well and as the winter solstice passed yesterday we can look forward to the day length drawing out.

The Shropshire Botanical Society are taking part in the thirteenth annual BSBI New Year Plant Hunt. We will be recording any plants that we find in bloom in Church Stretton and we would love to have your company for a festive field trip.

We are meeting at the car park by the Co-operative supermarket: Church Stretton, SY6 6BX at 10:00 AM on Sunday 31st December. We will walk a route around the town of Church Stretton and record wild and naturalised plants that are currently in flower. We will be no more than a couple of hours and once we are done we will hunt down a comfortable café and see if we can't find space for just one more mince pie.

Wishing you all a Happy Christmas and we hope to see you at the New Year Plant Hunt.


Saturday 14 October 2023

Celebrating National Moss Day Saturday 21st October

 We are joining in the centenary year celebrations of the British Bryological Society on the first National Moss Day taking place on Saturday 21st October on the Long Mynd.

We will be meeting at 11:00 am in the small car park off the Burway at SO 437 942. We are hoping to re-find Grimmia montana Sun Grimmia which is the only moss that was recorded in Shropshire in 1923 - the year the BBS was formed. It just happens  that this is quite a rare species but with relatively good representation in Shropshire. We will also seek out other rarities of the Long Mynd. For further information contact Martin Godfrey:

Photograph of Grimmia montana and G. decipiens on the igneous volcanic rock (trachyte) of Traprain Law by Des Callaghan. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

We look forward to seeing you next Saturday.

Saturday 16 September 2023

Brush up on your Sphagnums at Whixall

 Hello botanical friends,

We are meeting on Saturday 23rd September for a walk at Whixall Moss at 11:00 AM in the car park near the canal lift bridge at SJ493353

Martin Godfrey will be leading a Sphagnum workshop at the most important reserve for this group in the county. There has been lots of work there over the last few years and we should hopefully be able to see some splendid plants.

For further information about the meeting please contact Martin Godfrey,

                                                  A picture of Rhynchospora alba White Beak-sedge. 

Saturday 19 August 2023

A Shropshire Earl

Hello botanical friends,

We are meeting on Saturday 26th August for a walk on Earl's Hill. Meet at 11:00 AM in the car park at SJ409057

Although we visited Earl's Hill just two years ago we are revisiting to record species that are best identified at this time of year. In particular Dryopteris oreades Mountain Male Fern, but also perhaps Colchicum autumnalis Meadow Saffron. The walk will have steep climbs and spectacular views. 

A picture of Dryopteris oreades, Mountain Male Fern.

For further information about the meeting please contact John Handley,

We look forward to seeing you on Saturday.

Sunday 16 July 2023

In the Club at Nipstone

 Hello botanical friends,

We are meeting on Sunday 23rd July for a walk at Nipstone Rock Wildlife Trust Reserve. Meeting at the car park at 11:00 AM. Meet at the car park at SO356970,

There are three clubmosses to search for here, including Lycopodium clavatum Stag's-horn Clubmoss which is scarce in Shropshire. Both Huperzia selago Fir Clubmoss and Diphasiastrum alpinum Alpine Clubmoss have recently been recorded here but only just hanging on. Are they still present? 

For further information about the meeting please contact Mags Cousins,

Huperzia selago (1).jpg
A picture of Huperzia selago Fir Clubmoss. 

We look forward to seeing you on Sunday.

Tuesday 20 June 2023

In a quarry again

Hello botanical friends,

If one limestone quarry is exciting then two in June must be twice as interesting. This field meeting is being held on Saturday 24th at Dolgoch Quarry, a Wildlife Trust Reserve at 11:00 AM. Parking in the layby just west of Llynclys crossroads on A495. Care is needed as it is a busy road, there is limited space so please consider car sharing. Cross the road and follow the track past the houses. Meet at the gate to the wood SY10 8LN, SJ278242

It is an abandoned quarry with a large variety of limestone flowers on the slopes and the floor of the quarry. Wooded areas between the grassland sites is also of interest. Rarities Juncus subnodulosus Blunt-flowered Rush and Epipactis palustris Marsh Helleborine have been recorded in the further quarry which also contains a large pool with a good amphibian population. Terrain is quite demanding through the wooded parts between the main grassland areas but it is not a large site.

For further information about the meeting please contact Penny Wysome, 01952 242617,



A picture of juncus subnodulosus Blunt-flowered Rush 

We look forward to seeing you on Saturday.

Saturday 6 May 2023

Kicking the season off at the Edge

Hello botanical friends,

We have arrived at the first field meeting for 2023. The weather has been a little unpredictable and I haven't been able to leave my coat at home but there has been sunshine along with the rain and everything in the garden is growing - including the weeds!

We are meeting on Saturday 13th May for a walk in Benthall Edge Woods. Meet at the National Trust car park (£3 for  non-members) at 11:00 AM in the car park at SJ657024, We will be walking through the woodland, there are some steeps slopes and it can be slippy underfoot, particularly after rain.

These woods are owned by the National Trust and have been thinned, removing Ash trees that have been affected by ash dieback, Hymenoscyphus fraxineus, ensuring that the woodlands are safe for people to enjoy. This is a wonderful opportunity to see if opening the canopy will have encouraged the ground flora.

As part of the LoRE project we will paying particular attention to the rare plants that have been recorded there previously. Eleven rare plants have been recorded here in the past but only three this century, we may find Hieracium cinderella Long-bracted Hawkweed, Hordelymus europaeus, Wood Barley, Tilia platyphyllos Large-leaved Lime and Epipactis phyllanthes Green-flowered helleborine.

For further information about the meeting please contact John Handley, 07507 054695, Bring along a coat and your lunch for a wonderful day in a Shropshire woodland in mid May. 

A picture of Tilia platyphllos Large-leaved Lime leaves. 

We look forward to seeing you on Saturday.

Wednesday 26 April 2023

Spring Newsletter 2023

Hello botanical friends,

It was wonderful to meet at Preston Montford for the AGM at the weekend and the book sale made a total of £50, and we still have Martin Godfrey's wonderful donation of Volumes 1 and 2 of  "Our Native Ferns" by E. J. Lowe 1874, both volumes with beautiful colour plates. which we are confident will find a worthy home and add to our finances.

It is time to make a pot of tea and sit down with a cuppa and your favourite biscuits: the Spring Newsletter is published!  It is a whopping 35 pages, filled with dates for field outings and articles by brilliant people, including our very own Mark Duffell, on the plants of the Montgomery Canal (see front cover Floating Water-plantain Luronium natans, pic below).  Mark also gave a wonderful talk at the AGM on invasive plants in Shropshire. Thank you Mark and all the other contributors and thank you Andy, our editor, and to Gordon and Sarah for putting the Newsletter together and proof reading. We hope that you enjoy it and we welcome any feedback or inspiration.  

Front Cover: Floating Water-plantain Luronium natans, photo M.Duffell

Members will have been either emailed the Spring newsletter as a pdf or received a paper copy.  Everyone is welcome to have a read online here: Spring Newsletter 2023, or the pdf can be accessed from the Shropshire Botanical Society Dropbox here: Spring Newsletter 2023

Further to the article by John Handley on the "Rare Plants in Shropshire", John has compiled an Excel file that lists the rare plants of Shropshire which is available from Dropbox here:  Rare Plants in Shropshire

Happy summer and we look forward to seeing you at the field meetings this year, see the Field Meetings Programme 2023.

Wednesday 29 March 2023

Wales Annual Meeting in Montgomeryshire

Hello Botanical friends,

Dr Kate Thorne has passed on some details relating to the BSBI Wales Annual Meeting that will be of interest to members of the Society.

This year’s BSBI Wales Annual Meeting has a Wetlands theme and is being held in Montgomeryshire based at Gregynog Hall, near Newtown from 2-4 August. The latest programme is attached. It includes:

  • Field visits to upland pools, blanket bog and mire, flood plain, and the canal. We hope to see Luronium natans (Floating Water-plantain) in two different habitats, Potamogeton compressus (Grass-wrack Pondweed), Limosella aquatica (Mudwort), Elatine hexandra (Six-stamened Waterwort), Sparganium natans (Least Bur-reed), Carex magellanica (Tall Bog-sedge) & Carex limosa, Pilularia globulifera (Pillwort), and Andromeda polifolia (Bog Rosemary). Carex pauciflora (Few-flowered Sedge) may just be identifiable at its southern-most UK site.
  • Talks by Alastair Hotchkiss, Mark Duffell, and Martin Godfrey.
  • The BSBI Wales AGM.
  • Posters prepared by members.

Further information and online booking via the Wales AGM web page 

Booking deadline:  21 April 2023. Any queries to the Organising Secretary

Sunday 19 February 2023

Botanical University Challenge and a canal update

 Hello botanical friends,

Lots of work is currently going on in preparation for the publication of the spring newsletter. The field meetings have been organised for 2023, more on that in the next blog, and articles are being written. But we would like to bring your attention to what has quickly become an important annual event in the botanical calendar: Botanical University Challenge.    

Botanical University Challenge first started in 2016 with 5 teams of botanical students coming together and competing for fun. It was started by Dr John Warren - the guest speaker at our meeting last month, along with Dr Jonathan Mitchley of the University of Reading and Professor Paul Ashton of Edge Hill University. It was won in that year by the University of Reading.

It moved online during lockdown, as we all did, and it has continued to grow. This year there are 111 students in 25 institutions from around Britain and Ireland taking part! It is being held in three rounds, the quarter-final were held online on the 15th February and the semi-final will be online this Wednesday 22nd February hosted by Dr Caroline Lehman and Professor Paul Ashton at 2pm. You can play along and get tickets here.

The grand semi-final and final are being held at the University of Nottingham on the 5th July and being live-streamed on YouTube. More information is available here:

In the last blog we told you that work was about to start on restoring a 4-mile section of the Montgomeryshire Canal from Llanymynech to Arddleen and the creation of three 'off-line' nature reserves. There have been historical attempts to restore parts of the Montgomershire Canal within Shropshire, and they have been disastrous. We have reported on them in previous newsletters:   

Since the last blog that have been several council meetings and there is a greater appreciation of how important this site is. At the moment this increased awareness has led to the decision to consult with ecologists with greater ecological expertise in this area: Dr Richard Lansdown, the current Chair of the IUCN SSC Freshwater Plant Specialist Group, Chair of the Natural England Aquatic Plant Taxon Group and the IUCN Freshwater Conservation Committee. Other ecologists from our own Society are also involved in discussions, Mark Duffell and Dr Kate Thorne - who is also the BSBI Vice County Recorder for Montgomeryshire. The Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust have also been invited to discuss with the Canal and River Trust ecologists, along with Joshua Styles, who was a guest speaker at a previous meeting. We'll keep you updated as things progress...

In the intervening time we hope that you enjoy the spring weather though we'd advise 'not to cast a clout till May is out', is that the month or the blossom?

Monday 23 January 2023

Canal Restoration

Hello botanical friends,

It was wonderful to see so many of you on Saturday. It was a wonderful day (what can go wrong when tea and cakes are involved?) with a fantastic talk from John Warren which I am still absorbing. I am looking forward to the publication of his new book, and fear that he may be right that it is a "gateway drug to botanical complexity".

On a more sober note, we also passed on details of a canal restoration project which could spell disaster for endangered species where they should be protected: 

Montgomery Canal Restoration Project

Work is due to start this month on restoring a 4-mile section of the Montgomery Canal from Llanymynech to Arddleen and creation of three 'off-line' nature reserves. The project is part of a £14 million levelling up fund grant to the Canal and Rivers Trust in partnership with Powys County Council, announced in the autumn 2021 budget, supported by Montgomeryshire's MP. Eventually the intention is to connect the canal with the wider network for navigation to Newtown.

Background and emerging issues

Restoration of the canal has been ongoing for decades. A partnership agreement was made in 2005 for sustainable restoration: The agreement recognised the negative impact of motorised boats on the rare flora and planned to mitigate this by creating large areas of offline reserves and capping the number of boat movements annually. Since then, Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust has left the partnership because of the effect of motorised boats on the flora. The Trust recently released a petition to save the canal's wildlife ( and earlier in the week a group of naturalists sent a letter to Powys County Times arguing for horse-drawn boats ( as a solution.


A more detailed response is being considered in the form of an article for the next newsletter however, in the intervening time you may wish to make your own thoughts known:

1) Powys County Council has an online consultation about the project which you may like to contribute to here:

2) On Friday 27th at 11:30 in Llanymynech there is a meeting organised by Powys County Councillor Adam Kennerley, the Assistant Portfolio Holder for Biodiversity, bringing together the various stakeholders to try to understand all elements of the project. It would be tremendously helpful to include one or two naturalists with a detailed understanding of the canal to share their knowledge about the wildlife, particularly of the aquatic flora. Dr Kate Thorne (BSBI referee for Montgomeryshire) is contributing to discussions but is unavailable for the meeting.

More details to follow.


Monday 16 January 2023

Article from the Archives number two

We are all looking for those first few signs that signal spring is on the way. High winds and lots of rain have made it a little difficult to get out and about, but the day length is inching out and a sunny hour out looking at plants is most welcome.   

It seems appropriate to look back at an article that was originally published in the Society Newsletter in spring 2001. This article was written by Dr Sarah Whild and might hopefully be a useful reminder or prove helpful to new recorders. 

Note: V. riviniana and V. reichenbachiana are virtually impossible to tell apart vegetatively. Mountain Pansy can also be blue and yellow but can always be determined by the large flowers and creeping habit. 

All newsletters are a available and can be found here.

We are looking forward to seeing you at our winter meeting at Preston Montford this Saturday 21st January at 2PM. We have John Warren as a guest speaker coming to discuss his new book "Frustrating Flowers and Puzzling Plants". John will be taking a look at some of these plant groups and discussing different approaches to help identify them. 

Friday 6 January 2023

Articles from the archives

Happy New Year!

It is only a few weeks before we have our winter meeting at Preston Montford on Saturday 21st January at 2PM. We have John Warren as a guest speaker coming to discuss his new book "Frustrating Flowers and Puzzling Plants". John will be taking a look at some of these plant groups and discussing different approaches to help identify them. 

In the intervening time this is the first of a series of posts looking articles that were originally published in the Society Newsletter and might be useful either as a reminder or to help new recorders. This article was written by Dr Sarah Whild, it is a series of small sketches and a brief description of ferns that you might find on walls in Shropshire.

This was originally published in autumn 1998. The taxonomy has changed since it was originally published and both Rustyback Fern Ceterach officinarum and Hart's-tongue Fern are now located in Asplenium, becoming Asplenium ceterach and A. scolopendrium.

All the newsletters are available and can be found here.

We shall look forward to seeing you on the 21st.