Botanical Society News

Shropshire Botanical Society Newsletter 5 - Spring 2001 - page 2

Sarah Whild

 

Not so much a spring newsletter as a mid-summer newsletter - but I hope you will forgive us for being so late. It has been an extraordinary spring in more ways than one. This is the first year I have missed seeing Adoxa flowering in situ, although a kind friend brought me a piece in case I forgot what it looked like. Of course foot and mouth has had a dramatic effect not just on farmers but on anyone who needs to set foot in the countryside. The impact of footpath and reserve closures has meant a real hiatus in survey work, with no field meetings and a real scramble to find sites to take students to - resulting in the first thorough survey of the grounds of Rowton Castle hotel, so many thanks to the staff and management there - we even made a new record for a stonewort in the Victorian fishponds.

However, we will have a very much diminished field programme this year so I hope you can make it to Queen's Head and Brown Moss.

Arguably the most botanically exciting event this winter was the rediscovery of Edward Williams's manuscript Flora of Shropshire, which Alex tracked down in the Shrewsbury Records & Research Unit. It is not every day that one can hope to discover a 200-year old Flora! In fact this is not the original document, but the copy that William Leighton made in about 1839, but it appears to be an almost complete transcript. Many of the records in it are undated, but those which do have a date are generally from the late 1790s. Most of the records of the rarer species were given by Leighton in the appendix to his Flora, but the original manuscript also lists all the common species, together with notes on habitat and abundance. We need time to get all the records compiled, but it seems likely that some fascinating comparisons can be made, and we hope to report more fully in future editions of this newsletter. Unlike Leighton, Williams also recorded charophytes, ferns and bryophytes, so there is an additional bonus there.

The AGM this year was again lively. For the first time, we had invited a talk on the work of an organization rather than botany sensu stricto, in the person of Ruth Davis from Plantlife, the Wild Plant conservation charity in London. Ruth is a talented and entertaining speaker, and sparked off some lively debates of a more political nature than we are used to on such occasions. We are very grateful to Ruth for her flying visit, and have made her a member of the society for three years, as is our custom. Thanks also to Sue Townsend for her wonderful hospitality at Preston Montford.

In the meantime, may you find a footpath that is open - happy botanizing!

 

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