The Flora of Worcestershire – Other Important Updates

Bert Reid

There are many important locally rare, interesting or threatened taxa that did not get included in the Flora of Worcestershire (Maskew 2014), even if earlier records did. I have not yet been able to work out all such taxa so this list is just a quick selection of them, in no special sequence. The receipt of a pre-publication copy of ‘The Vascular Plant Red List for England’ from BSBI has added a major hurdle in the race to complete this article. The mention of any site or grid reference here does not mean public access is permitted.

Fumaria purpurea Pugsley. Purple Ramping-fumitory

This fumitory is shown as VU (vulnerable) in the recent Red List for England. Keith Barnett found several in Back Lane behind Waitrose, Great Malvern, SO776463, in May 2014. He sent specimens to Rose Murphy (BSBI expert) who confirmed the determination.

Cephalanthera damasonium (Mill.) Druce. White Helleborine

The most recent record of this VU (vulnerable) species was by Roger Maskew in 2011. He found about 45 flowering plants at Hipton Hill, SP026478.

Cephalanthera longifolia (L.) Fritsch. Narrow-leaved Helleborine

Wyre Forest has long been known as an important site of this VU (vulnerable) species. For many years, Rosemary Winnall has taken on the responsibility for organising the detailed recording and monitoring of the plant for Plantlife. The most recent results I have details of show 14 sites spread over five monads, SO7474, SO7475, SO7476, SO7574 and SO7575.

Anthemis arvensis L. Corn Chamomile

This endangered (EN) archeophyte has three post 2009 records: in Woodgate Valley, SO994830, John Day: in Astwood Road Cemetery, SO854565, John Day: and on Bredon Hill, SO966391, Roger Maskew. Only the Bredon Hill site is likely to be long standing.

Astragalus danicus Retz. Purple Milk-vetch

A. danicus has always been rare in Worcestershire. The 2014 English red list has it as endangered (EN). Bredon Hill is the last surviving site, except for one or two known translocations, so it is vital that it is regularly monitored. The 2013 monitoring by Bert Reid had the usual problem of finding the plant in heavily grazed limestone grassland, but I eventually found a small non-flowering patch at the top of the bank, SO944393.

Botrychium lunaria (L.) Sw. Moonwort

The vulnerable (VN) Moonwort is well covered in Roger Maskew’s Flora but he seems to have missed the 2011 record by Rosemary Winnall, one plant on Bolton Meadow, SO771508.

Campanula patula L. Spreading Bellflower

The English Red List gives this as Critically Endangered (CR). It is one of the most endangered plants in England so I give more information of the 13 recent finds than The Flora of Worcestershire can. Keith Barnett surveyed two sites in 2010 returning to one in 2013. The first was Bowling Green Common, Clevelode, SO829466, where he found at least six in flower by a ditch in probably our most visited site. The other site he surveyed was Dripshill Wood, SO829457, where there was one in flower at the summit of the wood. I was pleased that the plant was still present in the site I rediscovered in 2009. The other surveys in 2013 were all carried out by Charlotte Long and Laura Jones, both working on Campanula patula for the National Botanical Gardens Wales using site information from John Day and Bert Reid. They only found a single plant on Bowling Green Common and failed to find any at Dripshill Wood but did succeed better elsewhere. On the track from Durbridge Farm onto the bank above the river Leadon, SO734299, they found a single plant half way along an exposed patch of bank. At the Worcester Golf and Country Club, Broughton Park, SO828536, they estimated 15 to 20 plants (some inaccessible) and collected 8 small samples for DNA analysis. In the wood below Morton Hall, SP017595, they found eight plants along a woodland path. On the bank of the Worcester to Stourbridge railway between Hagley and Pedmore, SO903812, they estimated a minimum of five plants seen from behind high metal fencing around the cutting staircase. They managed to access one plant to take a DNA sample.

Eleusine Africana. African Yard-grass

Today (29/7/2014) I received an exciting letter from Tom Cope, BSBI grasses referee at Kew, confirming the identification. Terry Knight sent me a plant that he thought was E. indica subsp africana. I thought Terry was probably right, but I am a bit out of my depth with alien grasses so I collected a better specimen and sent it off to Tom Cope after reading in his Handbook that the plant had been promoted to a full species. My contribution to the record is purely agreeing with Terry’s identification and sending off a better specimen. So the full details of the record are: collected by T.D. Knight from the bottom of the west kerb of Barnards Close, Evesham, SP042429, 12th September 2014 confirmed (as T.africana) by Dr T.A. Cope from a specimen prepared by A.W. Reid.

Verbascum chaixii x thapsus ? a hybrid Verbascum

Keith Barnett and Roger Maskew had a bit less luck with this. Earlier this year, Keith found a strange yellow-flowered Verbascum on his driveway. Roger kept a close eye on it and saw it was a hybrid so it was sent to Vic Johnstone (BSBI Verbascum referee). He informed Roger that, having weighed up all the options, his 'best guess' is Verbascum chaixii x thapsus, most assuredly a new county record. So no definitive determination made.

Carex echinata Murray. Star Sedge

This is a less surprising Red List near threatened plant (NT). It is worth detailing both our post 2009 records. In May 2011 a visit to Great Bog, New Parks, Wyre Forest SO747762 was attended by J.J. Day, B.Westwood, R.A.Winnall, M.W.Poulton, P.L. Reade, J.Bingham and D.Scott. Star Sedge was just one of their good finds. In July 2011, on Berrow Downs, SO764381, K.Barnett found many in a marshy area, in fruit.

Chamaemelum nobile (L.) All. Chamomile

In 2011there were three records from Castlemorton Common of this vulnerable (VU) plant. All were centred around grid SO774385 on different dates recorded by Peter Garner, Keith Barnett, and Roger Maskew.

Erica cinerea L. Bell Heather

This declining near threatened plant (NT) has few recent records. In 2011 the same group who recorded the Star Sedge found Bell Heather by the disused railway at SO744740. The Wyre Forest Study Group (John Day, Rosemary Winnall et al) visited Willow Bank Meadow, SO746733, and found some more. The most recent record, in July 2014, was from Pound Green Common (SO7578 Staffordshire) when Bert Reid et al found both E.cinerea and E.tetrax.

Erica tetralix L. Cross-leaved Heath

As with Bell Heather, this declining near threatened plant (NT) has few recent records. In 2011 John Day monitored the plant on Hartlebury Common and found it in the Bog SO819707-SO820708 and on damp heath SO818705 (locally frequent). The most recent record, in July 2014, was from Pound Green Common (SO7578 Staffordshire) when Bert Reid et al found both E.cinerea and E.tetrax.

Galium parisiense L. Wall Bedstraw

This vulnerable (VU) plant has two post 2009 records. In 2011 Roger Maskew saw it at Kinsham Gravel Pit, SO938367. In the same year, John Day and Adrian Darby found it on the Kemerton Estate grid SO939364 East Gloucestershire. There were about 10 plants scattered over a few sq. metres in open vegetation on sandy soil.

Genista anglica L. Petty Whin

This vulnerable (VU) plant has two 2012 records. Keith Barnett and Roger Maskew found a few scattered plants in flower on Castlemorton Common, SO786390. John Day recorded it on Monkwood Green.

Genista tinctoria L. Dyer’s Greenweed

There are eight records for this vulnerable (VU) plant, all by Keith Barnett or Bert Reid. I have selected the most recent. In 2012 Keith Barnett recorded it at St Wulstans Nature Reserve, Malvern Wells, SO784412, locally abundant in flower and fruit on grassland. In 2013, Bert Reid and Mike Liley found it abundant in Baynhall Meadow, SO981531.

Helianthemum nummularium (L.) Miller. Common Rock-rose

This near threatened (NT) species has eight recent records but is selected as an important locally rare native plant. Our 13 post 2009 records are scattered over six hectads, SO76, SO93, SO94, SO95, SP05 and SP13. ten of the records by Bert Reid, two by John Day and one by Terry Knight.

Hydrocharis morsus-ranae L. Frogbit

All five recent records of this vulnerable (VU) species were from Grimley Brickpits centred on SO840608. With such similar records I will only describe the most recent, by John Day in 2012. He looked at the Southern Pit, grid SO840607 and SO839607, and found the Frogbit abundant.

Hyoscyamus niger L. Henbane

We have five recent records of a vulnerable (VU) species, an archaeophyte in scattered sites. The records are by A W Reid at Nafford SO943417 in 2010, six plants on bare ground at edge of arable: Keith Barnett at Castlemorton Common SO789397 in 2012, about five in farmyard beside common (record duplicated): Roger Maskew at Bredon Hill in VC33 SO984383 in 2010, about 15: A. Darby at Kemerton in vc33 SO940363, 2010.

Herniaria glabra L. Smooth Rupturewort

This species is of least concern but in Worcestershire had only been recorded by Keith Barnett in 1997, as a small and short-lived patch on the verge of the A38 near Earl’s Croome outside a nursery garden, grid SO862426. On the 22nd September 2014, Bert Reid went to look at same site without any real hope of finding the Herniaria. It wasn’t there and in the nursery garden site there were no plants on sale, but there was a lot of wild-bird seed for sale, often in large commercial lots. I crossed the road and soon noticed a few possible ones. Then at SO863426 I saw a large patch on a disturbed footway edge of the road. I had found it! (01)

Hypochaeris glabra L. Smooth Cat’s-ear

This vulnerable (VU) species is very rarely seen in Worcestershire. The only recent record has been by John Day when he hunted for the species for the BSBI Threatened Plant Survey. The only successful site he found was the MOD Oil Pumping Station, Titton, SO822699. In July 2012 he found several flowering plants in mown sandy grassland.

Jasione montana L. Sheep’s-bit

We have three recent records (two sites) for this vulnerable (VU) species. In 2010 Bert Reid found several at Devil’s Spittleful & Rifle Range N.R., SO8074. In 2012 Brett Westwood saw them on Wilden Motorcycle Scramble Field, SO825728. In 2013 these two recorders joined the Worcestershire Recorders field meeting at Devil’s Spittleful, & Rifle Range N.R.

Juncus conpressus Jacq. Round-fruited Rush

This vulnerable (VU) species has 22 post-2009 records, so many because of the BSBI Threatened Plant Survey. There are ten tetrads in seven hectads so I have selected just one site (Worcester and Birmingham Canal) in 2011. These 12 records were shared equally between John Day and Bert Reid, with John Day recording from SO925630 to SO951670 and Bert Reid from SO914588 to SO917593. The two recorders reported the results slightly differently: both described the habitat as short trodden grass on the towpath, but the plant counts were less comparable. John Day reported numbers of plants or colonies such as 100-200, several colonies or frequent while Bert Reid tried to make more or less accurate counts totalling about 400 plants. It appears that there must be more than 700 plants along that stretch of the canal.

Lithospermum arvense L. Field Gromwell

This endangered (EN) species has four recent records. In2010 and 2011 R.Maskew found several scattered on Bredon Hill above Westmancote, SO946380: in 2011 J.J.Day & A.Darby found it on Kemerton Estate in VC 33, SO946380: and in 2012 T.D.Knight discovered a linear colony about 30m long on the grass verge of Shinehill Lane South Littleton SP088461. The two R.Maskew records are attributed to the wrong vice-county (should be VC 33).

Moenchia erecta (L.) Gaertner, Meyer & Scherb. Upright Chickweed

We have four records of this vulnerable (VU) plant between 2011 and 2013. The 2011 and 2012 records are both by K.Barnett from Malvern (Poolbrook) Common SO788445 & SO789445 and report several small patches in flower on short turf. The 2013 records are both by Dr R.Carter, at Broad Down Malvern Hills near Clutters Cave, SO762393 and at British Camp Malvern Hills, SO765395, no extra details available.

Myosurus minimus L. Mousetail

There are three 2011 records for this vulnerable (VU) plant. At Eckington Ham, SO923426, AW.Reid found three plants by the gateway to the meadow. At Cooks Hill (lane) Wick, SO966469, AW.Reid found two plants in field entrance to pasture, just past north end of lane. At Lower Smite Farm, SO891594, J.J.Day counted 100+ plants between gate & Pylon.

Neottia nidus-avis (L.) Rich. Bird’s-nest Orchid

We have two records for this vulnerable (VU) plant. In 2010 A.W.Reid found six small plants in Tiddesley Wood, SO927457. In 2011 R.Havard & J.Grantham found several plants in Park Wood Mathon, SO763442.

Oenanthe fistulosa L. Tubular Water-dropwort

We have six post-2009 records for this vulnerable (VU) plant. They are 2010 A.W.Reid, Eckington Ham, SO923426. 2011 J.J.Day, Bradley Green, SO996604, 100-200 plants in wet meadow Glyceria swamp. 2010, A.W.Reid, Avon Meadows Pershore, SO9546. 2010 A.W.Reid, Meadow by Lench Ditch, SO975467, locally frequent. 2010 A.W.Reid, Pinvin Roughs, SO949494, several in pool and ditch. 2011 A W Reid, Pool west of Phepson Farm, SO936599, one plant in edge of pool,

Orobanche rapum-genistae Thuill. Greater Broomrape

The most recent record for this vulnerable (VU) plant was in June 2011was at Birchfields, Rochford, SO645669, three flowering spikes and 16 dead spikes from 2010 were seen under broom east of the pool. There were many people attending the field meeting: J.Bingham (who I think first spotted the plants), J.J.Day, B.Westwood, D.Scott, A.W.Reid, G.H.Green et al.

Pedicularis sylvatica L. Lousewort

We have five post-2009 records for this vulnerable (VU) plant. The most recent was in July 2012 at Monkwood Green, SP801601, where J.J.Day found a small colony in a slight hollow with three flowering plants.

Pyrola rotundifolia ssp.rotundifolia. Round-leaved Wintergreen

This is a re-find of the 2009 vulnerable (VU) plant record at Top Barn Farm Gravel Pits, SO835616. J.J.Day’s comment is “Still present in willow scrub: some signs of spread since 2009”.

Ranunculus arvensis L. Corn Buttercup

This endangered (EN) species has long been a specialty in SE Worcestershire. Between 2010 and 2013 we have 13 records: seven tetrads in six hectads. The main centre of the distribution is Naunton Beauchamp parish, SO9545 where plant hunters often gather.

Ranunculus flammula L. Lesser Spearwort

Another endangered (EN) Ranunculus! This time we have nine records in six hectads: SO73, SP74, SO86, SO93, SO94 and SO95. The distribution is more west and central and the habitats are much more in woodland and damp heathland than R.arvensis, that prefers arable. I am sure that R. flammula normally occurs in small quantities whereas R. arvensis is sometimes in hundreds.

Scandix pectin-veneris L. Shepherd’s-ineedle

This endangered (EN) plant has been regularly monitored. Between 2010 and 2013 only two sites have produced any plants. The main site is Naunton Beauchamp c.SO9652, and that accounted for all but one of our seven records: counts here varied from one to 15. The other site is Hawthorns Farm, SO7730. This used to regularly produce one or two plants, but the Scandix disappeared until 2013, when a single plant was found.

Scleranthus annuus L. Annual Knawel

This endangered (EN) plant has been recorded seven times between 2010 and 2013. R.Maskew checked the Martley Scar site, SO7459, in 2010 and 2011 and found “few” and “not much”. B.Westwood looked at Palmers Hill Pasture, SO8980 in 2010, and Wilden Motorcycle Scramble field, SO8272 in 2012, without indicating quantities. J.J.Day recorded in Hartlebury Common, SO8170, in 2011 and found the plant “frequent in open heathland parts of Lower Common”. In 2012 P.G. Garner & J.Grantham found “a few” on Hangmans Hill. SO7638. Still on the Malverns (Pinacle Hill), in 2013, Dr R. Carter “over 300”.

Sorbus domestica L. Service-tree

Although listed as critically endangered none of ours are directly native. Our recent checks have been in Broadway, SO1037, Croome Perry Wood, SO9045, and Areley Castle, SO7680.

Spergula arvense L. Corn Spurry

This vulnerable (VU) plant has certainly diminished over recent years, but is still widespread in small quantities. Since 2010, we have17 records in 12 tetrads spread over seven hectads. Almost all the records are from arable, and changes in farming can rapidly make dramatic population changes.

Stellaria palustris Retz. Marsh Stitchwort

Both recent records of this vulnerable (VU) species were from Grimley Brickpits centred on SO840608. The most recent was by John Day in 2012. He looked at the Southern Pit and estimated 100-500 plants in small numbers along the whole length of the marginal reedswamp.

Torilis arvensis (Hudson) Link. Spreading Hedge-parsley

This endangered (EN) arable plant has survived a bit better in Worcestershire than elsewhere. In 2010-2013 we still recorded in seven monads: SO7731, SO7831, SO8241, SO8556, SP9942, SO9051 and SO9254. The number of plants was less than ten in all but one site. The exception was near the Wychavon Way in Netherton Parish, SP9942. Here there were hundreds of plants along the edge of an Oat field, in both 2010 and 2011.

Trifolium fragiferum L. Strawberry Clover

I almost feel I own this vulnerable (VU) plant. Of the 26 recent records, I found 20 of them. The plant’s Ellenberg indicators show that it is normally found in well lit, rather damp, weakly basic, fertile soil, a perfect description of SO94 and SO95, where I and T.fragiferum live and thrive.

Table of locally infrequent near threatened species

Euphorbia exigua L.Dwarf Spurge
Cyperus longus L.Galingale
Cichorium intybus L.Chicory
Anthemis cotula L.Stinking Camomile
Briza media L.Quaking-grass
Calluna vulgalis (L.) Hull Heather
Geranium sanguineum L.Bloody Crane’s-bill
Geranium sylvaticum L.Wood Crane’s-bill
Glebionis segetum (L.). Corn Marigold
Inula helenium .L.Elcampane
Knautia arvensis (L.) Coulter. Field Scabious
Lathyrus linifolius (Reichard) BaesslerBitter-vetch
Lepidium campestre (L.) R.Br. Field Pepperwort
Narduus stricta L.Mat-grass
Nepeta cateria L.Cat-mint
Oenanthe lachenalii C.GmelinParsley Water-dropwort
Onybrychis ciciifolia Scop.Sainfoin
Ononis spinosa L.Spiny Restharrow
Papaver argenome L.Prickly Poppy
Polygala serpyllifoliaHeath Milkwort
Potentilla argentea L.Hoary Cinquefoil
Potentilla fruticosa L.Shrubby Cinquefoil
Salvia verbenaca L.Wild Clary
Silene flos-cuculi (L.) . Ragged Robin
Silene noctiflora L.Night-flowering Catchfly
Solidago virgaurea L.Goldenrod
Succisa pratensis Noebch.Devil’s-bit Scabious
Viola canina LHeath Dog-violet


01. Herniaria glabra. Harry Green

01. Herniaria glabra. Harry Green