Dorset Flora Group

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DFG Update

Dorset Flora Group Events 2018

There is no Dorset Heath for 2018 but the BSBI vice-county recorder’s review for 2017 is available here plus we have an interesting article on one of Dorset’s early botanists, Sir Maurice Abbot-Anderson the founder of Flora’s League.

A two-page summary of events is available for you to print out and keep to hand. Just click the link and then view or save and print your own copy.

Dorset Flora Group

Living Record

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.

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 2017 edition

The 2017 edition of The Dorset Heath has been published. It includes a variety of field meeting reports from last year, an article on some interesting finds throughout the county, the VC Recorder’s notes, 2017 field meeting dates for your diary and plenty more.

DFG contacts

For further information please contact:


Andrew Branson (Chairman)


Robin Walls (Vice-county Recorder)


Carolyn Steele (DERC)