Setting the records straight

Shropshire Botanical Society Newsletter - Spring 1999 - page 8


New recording projects always provide opportunities for racing round the county clocking up new sites and species, but there should also be an opportunity for reflection and consideration of previous records. The Atlas project is now in its final year of recording and we have already submitted all of our Shropshire records to the Biological Records Centre at Monkswood, so this autumn is the final chance for adding new finds and revising old queries.

Two species that always made me raise an eyebrow in the '85 Flora were Orange Foxtail Alopecurus aequalis and Great Burdock Arctium lappa. Orange foxtail was recorded at several sites during the Flora, but unfortunately it was considered common enough to be a 'B' species so there are no site details, only tetrad (2x2km) records. Now, I've only ever seen this species in Shropshire at Brown Moss, where it is abundant, but in other counties it is generally regarded as an uncommon plant. It is similar in stature to marsh foxtail Alopecurus geniculatus and indeed the stamens turn a vivid orange colour, as do the stamens of geniculatus - perhaps this could be the cause of so many records in the past? I would like to clear this one up, so there's a prize up for anyone who can record a new site for aequalis this year, in Shrsophire. I will need proof in the form of a voucher specimen, (nicely presented, please!) plus details of the site and associated species. To give you a head start, here are the identification differences, plus a distribution map.

My second recording bugbear is great burdock. Now, this is a plant I know well from river banks in the southern Midlands and if you look at the distribution map from the Perring and Walters Atlas below, you will see that we are very much on the edge of its range here. Now have a look at our map for this species in Shropshire. I've only ever seen this right in the south of Shropshire along the Teme, and I have a hunch that most of the Flora and post-Flora records are just big lesser burdock plants. So, in a fit of absurd generosity I am willing to offer another prize for confirmed records of this species in Shropshire, anywhere but around Ludlow and along the Teme. A photograph of an entire flowering plant is required, please. Again, to give you a head start, here are the diagnostic features. Happy hunting.

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