Dorset Flora Group

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DFG Update

In the footsteps of Arthur Graveson - West Dorset’s Reticent Botanist

10th anniversary cake

Dorset Flora Group’s 10th anniversary cake

Carolyn Steele

The DFG AGM was held at Dorset Wildlife Trust on Saturday 24th November. During the AGM the group supported a minor amendment to the constitution to say ’The primary aim of the group is the study of the flora of Dorset. The group shall be neutral in campaigns of a political nature or relating to planning issues.’

The group thanked Andrew Branson for his work as Chairman for DFG since 2015. Jon Crewe has kindly agreed to take on the role of Chairman ably supported by the committee.

The AGM was followed with a cake to celebrate DFG’s first 10 years plus a number of talks on DFG events, why Epilobium’s and AI keys don’t mix and ’Chasing the Ghost’ by Peter Marren. The Dorset Heath 2018 is now available to download from here.

Dorset Flora Group

Who we are and what we do

Hedgerow Ash

Hedgerow Ash

John Newbould

Founded in 2007, the Dorset Flora Group works with members of Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society (DNHAS), Wessex Bryology, Dorset Environmental Records Centre (DERC) and Dorset Wildlife Trust (DWT) to continually update the record of Dorset’s wild flowers, mosses, seaweeds, lichens and fungi (which are not strictly plants). We also aim to help the Botanical Society of the British Isles (BSBI) and other national societies concerned with conservation such as the National Trust in Dorset.

We aim to:

  • survey sites throughout Dorset to maintain an up to date records of wild plants, in partnership with DERC;
  • provide a focal point for botanists recording within the County;
  • encourage the study of Dorset’s flora and help people to improve their skills;
  • support the vice-county recorders, particularly with rare and scarce species, especially those requiring specialist determination;
  • hold field meetings and study days to record the Dorset flora;
  • assist the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group by recording arable weeds; and
  • publish the Dorset Heath as a record of our activities.

We help charities, including the National Trust, Dorset Wildlife Trust and the Royal Society for Protection of Birds manage their nature reserves, by recording the habitats and plants found there. We are partners in the National Trust’s Cyril Diver project on the National Nature Reserve at Studland where our major project at present is recording the flora by compartment. By 2015 we aim to have repeated the work of Diver and his team in the period 1930-40. As part of this project, we have been offering monthly beginner’s workshops on the identification of mosses and liverworts.

Dorset has an undulating countryside with areas of unimproved grassland on slopes too steep or too wet to be suitable for agriculture. The clean, chalk rivers are scarce in a European context and many contain stream water crowfoot (Ranunculus penicillatus ssp. pseudofluitans). In Purbeck, there are extensive areas of lowland heathland with plants such as marsh gentian, Dorset heath and all the UK sundews, whilst in west Dorset there are species rich wet meadows. Wild places to explore range from the Neolithic hill forts, often with excellent grassland habitats, to the Beech Avenue at Kingston Lacey where rare orchids such as white helleborine and bird’s-nest orchid may be found by the diligent searcher. Despite many woodlands being replanted with conifers scarce wild flowers such as bastard balm and wild liquorice survive within more open areas of the plantations. Many of the hedgerows contain ancient trees and coppice, especially in West Dorset with a special insect fauna.

If you would like to join the Dorset Flora Group, please complete and return a Recorders Register Opt-in Form, ticking the Dorset Flora Group box. You may also like to sign up to receive other information from DERC.

You can also get updates on events and articles by following us on the Dorset Flora Group Facebook page.

Thank you to Peter and Margaret Cramb for their article on another of Dorset’s early botanists, Arthur Graveson - West Dorset’s Reticent Botanist which has some fascinating insights of our changing flora.

Living Record

English Sticky Eyebright

English Sticky Eyebright
Euphrasia officinalis ssp anglica

Bryan Edwards

Robin’s vice-county recorder notes give plenty of ways in which botanists can hone their botanical skills on difficult species. But for those of you who are not so confident, still learning, or a bit rusty on your plant identification, the plans to assist with the BSBI tetrad atlas for 2020 could provide the first challenge. For this we will need records of common species as well as the more exceptional, and regular recording is the best way to improve.

At the 2011 DFG AGM I presented Living Record as a way to keep your own botanical data and provide data to DERC. It is an online system that allows you to enter records after each field trip. The county recorder (Robin for plants) can review the records and contact you if there are any queries. If we can get a lot of the DFG involved in recording in this way it will be easier to monitor recording across Dorset during each field season, but we will be producing annual maps including data from all sources.

Living Record can be found on our Living Record page. You will need to register and you will then be emailed a user name and password. You can join the Dorset Flora Group and start adding data. With Living Record you will also be able to record other subjects like dragonflies and butterflies. There are plenty of guidance notes (look for the (?) sign) but do contact me if you have any queries.

Carolyn Steele

The Dorset Heath 2018 edition

The 2018 edition of The Dorset Heath has been published. It includes a variety of field meeting reports from 2017, Wildflower Week reports from the same year, the VC Recorder’s notes, some interesting articles, including one on Sir Maurice Abbot Anderson and plenty more.

DFG contacts

For further information please contact:


Jon Crewe (Chairman)


Robin Walls (Vice-county Recorder)


Carolyn Steele (DERC)

Or you can follow us on the Dorset Flora Group Facebook page.