Who we are and what we do
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.
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
English Sticky Eyebright
Euphrasia officinalis ssp anglica
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.