J J Day

This article based on a paper presented at the WBRC Annual Meeting March 2003.

Botanical records are being extracted from the literature and entered onto the RECORDER database in chronological order. The period 1600 - 1875 is largely, complete. This article presents some facts and figures derived from these historical records.

Botanical Literature
Several bibliographical indexes are available for Worcestershire.
Principal Indexes / Bibliographies on Worcestershire Botany

William Mathews, History of the County Botany of Worcester, Midland Naturalist, 1887-1893. This is not a strict bibliography but reviews literature and selects records. These include all first county records and most first district records.

John Humphreys, Bibliography of Worcestershire. Part III. Works Relating To The Botany of Worcestershire, Worcestershire Historical Society, 1907
Simpson, N.D., Index of the Bibliography of the British Flora, 1960

post-1960 Botanical Society of British Isles (BSBI) Abstracts

These cover the majority of known and available sources but are not exhaustive. Novel sources and overlooked references continue to be unearthed. For instance, a MS copy of Edwin Lees' hand written journal from the 1820s and Richard Towndrow's MS List of Malvern Plants c1903, were recently discovered, both in Worcester Library.

Worcestershire's Earliest Botanical References
The record starts with a reference to Worcestershire in Leland's Itinery of 1549. However the site, for Juniper, is in Gloucestershire, at Tetbury Castle, in Twyning. The first genuine Worcestershire records are How's from 1650. The early publications contains some excellent records, including several firsts for Britain, but there are very few in number before 1750.

Worcestershire's Earliest Botanical References 1600 - 1750
* = First British Record

1650  Consolida ajacis  Pershore Parish   How  W.
1650  Ranunculus ficaria   Worcestershire   How  W.  [reference is to a large flowered specimen - hints at ssp. ficariiformis]
1666  Bellis perennis  Worcestershire   Morgan  Mr
1666  Gentianella amarella  Church Lench   Merrett  C.
1666  Lactuca saligna  Church Lench   Merrett  C.
1666  Rosa pimpinellifolia  Church Lench   Merrett  C.
1666  Rosa pimpinellifolia  Worcester   Brown  Mr
1666  Rosa rubiginosa agg.  Worcestershire   Brown  Mr
*1670  Cynoglossum germanicum   Worcester   Pitt  Mr E
*1677  Sorbus domestica  Wyre Forest  Pitt  Mr E.
1695  Colchicum autumnale   Worcestershire  Ray  J.
1695   Triticum aestivum   Worcestershire  Ray  J.
1724  Colchicum autumnale   Mathon Parish  Manningham  Mr
*1726  Campanula patula  Elbury Hill  Brewer  Mr

The botanical description of Worcestershire starts to get underway towards the end of the eighteenth century. This is heralded by the publication of a first county list by Nash in 1781 and the second edition of Withering's Arrangement of British Plants, edited by Stokes. Doctors of Medicine figure prominently in the early work. Withering himself was a doctor based in Birmingham and his editor, Johnathan Stokes, a Kidderminster doctor. Nash produced a supplement in 1799. It appears the compiler was Dr.J.Seward of Great Comberton and later of Sapey, a doctor at Worcester Infirmary. He added Hypericum maculatum to the British list, from Sapey, where it still occurs.

Records of Dr.Seward in Nash published 1781, 1799

Map above shows tetrad distribution of Dr.Seward’s records:

An impression of the trends and level of botanical activity can be gleaned from the rate of production of botanical publications. The trends in botanical publication reflect fashions within botanical recording and also broader sociological changes within Britain. The situation in Worcestershire presents a microcosm for trends in British botanical recording. For an overview see David Allen's Naturalists in Britain.

Number of Botanical Publications 1500 - 1950
1500-1950 Publications per half century

1500-1599   1  [First botanic reference 1549 Leland's Itinery but record in Gloucs.]
1600-1649  2
1650-1699  6
1700-1750  4
1750-1799  22
1800-1849  106
1850-1899  255
1900-1950  81

1750-1930 Publications per decade

1750-1759   1
1760-1769   2
1770-1779  5   Nash (First County List); Withering
1780-1789  6
1790-1799  8
1800-1809  5
1810-1819  Purton's Regional Flora of Midlands; Pitt Agriculture of Worcestershire
1820-1829  17  Lees' first publication 1828
1830-1839  31   Scott's local flora of Stourbridge area
1840-1849  46  Lees district flora of Malvern Hills; Worcs.Nat.Club (formation); New's local flora of Evesham area
1850-1859  65   Lees district flora of Malvern Hills; Baxter's local flora of Worcester area.
1860-1869  36  Lees Flora of Worcestershire; Lees district flora of Malvern Hills; Mathews local flora of Clent area; Jorden's local flora of Bewdley / Wyre Forest
1870-1879  33
1880-1889  70  Mathews' local flora of Clent and Lickey; Mathews History of Worcestershire Botany
1890-1899  51  Towndrow flora of Malvern district
1900-1909  49  Amphlett full county list,  Amphlett & Rea Flora of Worcestershire
1910-1919  17  Humphreys Flora of East Worcestershire
1920-1929  9   Rea's Appendix to Flora of Worcestershire

Quantity of Records generated from Literature
Novel Literature Records Cumulative Total

1400 -1699  16
1400 -1750  18
1400 -1799  300
1400 -1825  824
1400 -1850  4374
1400 -1875  12755
there are many repetitions in the literature (each major publication reviews its predecessors)
individual records can have up to eight separate literature references. These are counted only once.
the totals include site / species repetitions, when date or recorder is novel. For instance, Lepidium draba, Hoary Pennycress has 10 separate references by Lees from the roadside by Powick Bridge
it is estimated that throughout literature 1400-1875 there is a likely maximum of 5000 un-extracted records, the majority of these will give new date classes only

The number of records is surprisingly small. Especially so when set against the amount of field work undertaken. The early workers were pioneers of discovery, Lees spent much of his life plant hunting. They were highly selective in the record they left, with an emphasis on the rare and unusual. The quality of the record is high. Textual help at the time was sparse, no Plant Crib or Stace, so there was both a necessity for and a reliance on specimen based recording. The vast majority of old records (outside the critical groups) are reliable.

Distribution of Records / Geographical Coverage of the County

The patterns of accumulation of records are interesting.
There is a strong correlation between home-base and density of dots. Where the pattern is fragmented it should not be presumed there was no recording. In moving between dots, before motorised transport, botanists covered vastly more ground than they left records for. The tetrad maps are useful in identifying the range of botanical activities. The clustering on the monad maps indicate well worked areas, often around a favoured locality or home-base.

Map above shows All Records 1400-1750 (tetrads)


Map above shows All Records 1400-1799 (tetrads)

Map above shows All Records 1400-1825 (tetrads)

Map above shows All Records 1400-1850 (tetrads)


Map above shows all Records 1400-1875 (tetrads)


Map above shows all Records 1400-1875 (monads).

The gaps in distribution highlight areas of least activity. These can be deceptive. For instance, the Teme and Kyre Brook valleys indicate little recording. They were undoubtedly not as thoroughly covered as elsewhere but the records include several very rare species, Fly Orchid and Mezereum. To hunt these down, quite a lot of fieldwork would have been necessary. Most records come from incumbent priests. We can presume a good deal of fieldwork was undertaken but only a trace of this remains in the botanical record. The gap immediately around Redditch is largely filled with records from the Bagnall's Flora of Warwickshire, 1891. The gap in the Wythall / Beoley area remains largely unfilled until the 1970s. It would seem that it was, in part, entirely unvisited. The major surprises are the lack of records from the triangle between Bromsgrove, Droitwich and Kidderminster and in the east beyond Upton Snodsbury and around Inkberrow. Were these areas worked and nothing found or were they neglected? Interestingly, these areas have been proved some of the least diverse during recording for Worcestershire Flora Project (WFP Newsletters).

The Early Records 1780-1830
This was a period of considerable change in the English countryside. It was the time of agricultural "improvements" and widespread enclosures. The botanical records allow a glimpse of the pre-improvement landscape. There is frequent reference to lost and diminishing sites. Once entered onto the database, the records can be viewed and grouped in a variety of ways to aid interpretation. During the period, each new major publication, seemed to generate a series of local correspondents :-
The Stokes / Withering partnership received records from Mr.Ballard, a surgeon of Hanley Castle, who provided records from the pre-enclosed Malvern Chase. His lists give a bog component to the flora. This had been lost by the time Lees worked the district in the 1820s-1830s.

Mr.Ballard : Records Malvern Chase 1780s / 90s
Total 61 records

Acorus calamus   Sweet-flag
Anthyllis vulneraria   Kidney Vetch
Apium inundatum   Lesser Marshwort
Aquilegia vulgaris   Columbine
Blackstonia perfoliata   Yellow-wort
Butomus umbellatus   Flowering Rush
Carex disticha   Brown Sedge
Carex pulicaris   Flea Sedge
Ceratocapnos claviculata   Climbing Corydalis
Chrysosplenium alternifolium   Alternate-leaved Golden-saxifrage
Cirsium dissectum   Meadow Thistle
Cirsium eriophorum   Woolly Thistle
Colchicum autumnale   Meadow Saffron
Dipsacus pilosus   Small Teasel
Drosera rotundifolia   Round-leaved Sundew
Epipactis palustris   Marsh Helleborine
Erica tetralix   Cross-leaved Heath
Filipendula vulgaris   Dropwort
Helleborus viridis   Green Hellebore
Lathyrus latifolius   Broad-leaved Everlasting-pea
Luzula sylvatica   Great Wood-rush
Lysimachia vulgaris   Yellow Loosestrife
Mentha pulegium   Pennyroyal
Minuartia hybrida   Fine-leaved Sandwort
Misopates orontium   Weasel's-snout
Myosurus minimus   Mousetail
Myrrhis odorata   Sweet Cicely
Nardus stricta   Mat-grass
Oenanthe aquatica   Fine-leaved Water-dropwort
Orobanche rapum-genistae   Greater Broomrape
Paris quadrifolia   Herb Paris
Persicaria bistorta   Common Bistort
Petrorhagia prolifera   Proliferous Pink
Pimpinella major   Greater Burnet-saxifrage
Pinguicula vulgaris   Common Butterwort
Potentilla argentea   Hoary Cinquefoil
Ranunculus lingua   Greater Spearwort
Ranunculus parviflorus   Small-flowered Buttercup
Rumex hydrolapathum   Water Dock
Rumex maritimus   Golden Dock
Sambucus ebulus   Dwarf Elder
Samolus valerandi   Brookweed
Sedum rupestre   Reflexed Stonecrop
Sedum telephium   Orpine
Umbilicus rupestris   Navelwort
Vaccinium myrtillus   Bilberry
Viburnum lantana   Wayfaring-tree

Thomas Purton
was a doctor of medicine who lived at Alcester. He produced the first full regional flora of the Midlands in 1817 (only the rarer species are localised). Purton's own records show he had extensive knowledge of Worcestershire.

It is well known that it is only through Purton' s records that the botanical riches and lost fen communities of Feckenham Bog are known (the site had been destroyed when Lees visited 20-30 years later). But his records also indicate a little known acidic heath and bog community at Astwood Bank.

Map above shows Purton's records (tetrads)

Thomas Purton : Site Lists for Hectad SP06, records published 1817-1821

Astwood Bank   Carlina vulgaris
Astwood Bank   Linum usitatissimum
Astwood Bank   Salix aurita
Astwood Bank   Salix purpurea
Astwood Bank   Veronica officinalis
Astwood Common   Agrostis capillaris
Astwood Common   Erica tetralix
Astwood Common   Hydrocotyle vulgaris
Astwood Common   Radiola linoides
Astwood Common   Senecio sylvaticus
Astwood Common   Trifolium micranthum
Astwood Common   Ulex gallii
Astwood Common   Vulpia bromoides
Cookhill Parish   Galanthus nivalis
Evesham Road Headless Cross  Plantago coronopus
Feckenham Bog   Anagallis tenella
Feckenham Bog   Baldellia ranunculoides
Feckenham Bog   Carex distans
Feckenham Bog   Carex pulicaris
Feckenham Bog   Chara tomentosa
Feckenham Bog   Cirsium dissectum
Feckenham Bog   Cladium mariscus
Feckenham Bog   Epilobium palustre
Feckenham Bog   Equisetum palustre
Feckenham Bog   Galium uliginosum
Feckenham Bog   Hydrocotyle vulgaris
Feckenham Bog   Lemna trisulca
Feckenham Bog   Parnassia palustris
Feckenham Bog   Pinguicula vulgaris
Feckenham Bog   Schoenus nigricans
Feckenham Bog   Triglochin palustre
Feckenham Bog   Zannichellia palustris
Ipsley Parish   Carpinus betulus
River Arrow in VC38  Campanula latifolia
River Arrow in VC38   Oenothera biennis
Washford   Mycelis muralis
Washford   Sparganium emersum

One of his early correspondents was the Rev.W.S.Rufford of Badsey. His records provide a wealth of detail on the species and communities in the Vale of Evesham. The list is in many respects stunning. There would be no inkling of this assemblage, particularily the halophytes and arable weed spectrum, without Rufford's work. W.Cheshire visted the Badsey area in the 1850's, in an attempt to relocate rarities, but reported little of interest amidst an improved landscape and deeply dug drains.
Rev.W.S.Rufford : Records published 1871-1821 mainly, S.E.Worcs, especially, Badsey and Littleton area

Total 30 records

Acorus calamus   Sweet-flag
Asperula cynanchica   Squinancywort
Bolboschoenus maritimus  Sea Club-rush
Carex dioica   Dioecious Sedge
Cerastium arvense   Field Mouse-ear
Ceterach officinarum   Rustyback
Chaenorhinum minus   Small Toadflax
Chamaemelum nobile   Chamomile
Erigeron acer   Blue Fleabane
Festuca pratensis x Lolium perenne 
Geranium phaeum   Dusky Crane's-bill
Helictotrichon pratense   Meadow Oat-grass
Koeleria macrantha   Crested Hair-grass
Limosella aquatica   Mudwort
Linaria vulgaris   Common Toadflax
Lythrum hyssopifolia   Grass-poly
Myosotis discolor   Changing Forget-me-not
Oenanthe aquatica   Fine-leaved Water-dropwort
Ophrys apifera   Bee Orchid
Pseudofumaria lutea  Yellow Corydalis
Pyrola minor   Common Wintergreen
Rorippa sylvestris   Creeping Yellow-cress
Sagina nodosa   Knotted Pearlwort
Sedum dasyphyllum   Thick-leaved Stonecrop
Senecio viscosus   Sticky Groundsel
Spergularia marina   Lesser Sea-spurrey
Verbascum virgatum   Twiggy Mullein
Vicia sylvatica   Wood Vetch

Purton's Midland Flora was a success. It generated so many new records that an Appendix was issued in 1821. Two of the contributors of Worcestershire records were a Mrs.Gardener and a Mr.Hickman, who both produced records from the Abberley area. Mr.Hickman was a Ludlow man but little is currently, known of Mrs.Gardener. Botany was by and large a male preserve in the nineteenth century (the Naturalists' Clubs were generally all male affairs). So Mrs.Gardener is not only the first woman to make a contribution to the botanical record, but one of less than half a dozen female names to appear in the whole of the nineteenth century. Her 19 records indicate a good botanical eye, a serious knowledge of plants and tell of considerable time spent in the field. It can be presumed that Purton vouched their records, in most cases with specimens. It is highly probable their lists were much longer and that Purton cherry-picked the records.

Mr.Hickman : Records published 1821 Stourport / Abberley area
Total 17 records

Aquilegia vulgaris  Columbine
Brassica napus  Rape
Campanula latifolia  Giant Bellflower
Campanula patula  Spreading Bellflower
Cardamine amara  Large Bitter-cress
Convallaria majalis  Lily of the Valley
Corydalis solida  Bird-in-a-bush
Galanthus nivalis  Snowdrop
Geum rivale  Water Avens
Helleborus foetidus  Stinking Hellebore
Lathyrus aphaca  Yellow Vetchling
Menyanthes trifoliata  Bogbean
Scutellaria minor  Lesser Skullcap
Stellaria palustris  Marsh Stitchwort
Thlaspi arvense  Field Penny-cress

Mrs.Gardener : Records published 1821 Shrawley / Abberley area

Total 19 records

Butomus umbellatus  Flowering Rush
Campanula latifolia  Giant Bellflower
Campanula patula  Spreading Bellflower
Cardamine amara  Large Bitter-cress
Cardamine impatiens  Narrow-leaved Bitter-cress
Cephalanthera longifolia  Narrow-leaved Helleborine
Dianthus deltoides  Maiden Pink
Gentianella amarella  Autumn Gentian
Helleborus foetidus  Stinking Hellebore
Helleborus viridis  Green Hellebore
Lathraea squamaria  Toothwort
Lathyrus nissolia  Grass Vetchling
Lysimachia vulgaris  Yellow Loosestrife
Misopates orontium  Weasel's-snout
Monotropa hypopitys  Yellow Bird's-nest
Ophrys apifera  Bee Orchid
Orchis ustulata  Burnt Orchid
Potentilla palustris  Marsh Cinquefoil
Silene gallica  Small-flowered Catchfly

Habitat Lists

The first community list for Worcestershire was a surprise find. Tucked away in Pitt's General Survey of the Agriculture of Worcestershire, 1813, is a plant list (mainly grasses), by W.Marshall, agricultural advisor, concerning the flood plain meadows of the Severn and Avon vales, from 1805. This contains first county records and has been overlooked by previous researchers. If Lees specific references from this habitat are added, a very creditable community description is provided.

Ham Meadows of the Severn and Avon Valleys
William Marshall, 1805, in W.Pitt's General Survey of the Agriculture of Worcestershire :-

Agrostis capillaris
Agrostis stolonifera
Alopecurus geniculatus
Alopecurus pratensis
Anthoxanthum odoratum
Briza media
Bromus hordeaceus
Carex sp.
Cynosurus cristatus
Dactylis glomerata
Festuca arundinacea
Glyceria fluitans
Holcus lanatus
Hordeum secalinum
Lathyrus pratensis
Lolium perenne
Lotus corniculatus
Phleum pratense sens.lat
Poa sp.
Ranunculus repens
Sanguisorba officinalis
Trifolium dubium
Trifolium pratense
Trifolium repens

Edwin Lees 1867 Botany of Worcestershire :-
Cardamine pratensis
Colchicum autumnale
Oenanthe pimpinelloides
Oenanthe silaifolia
Phleum pratense sens.str.
Ranunculus acris
Taraxacum sp.

Other Avenues of Exploration
Sources beyond the botanical literature

These remain to be extracted in detail. They include :-

Primary sources - in Herbaria
Nineteenth century botany was based on specimens - originally there must have existed several hundred thousand herbaria specimens for Worcestershire. Most of this is now lost but the herbaria of the most prominent Worcestershire botanists are often still extant, although scattered through the nation's museums. Worcester Museum still houses an exceptionally important but not easily utilisable collection . It is likely that the surviving herbarium element will surpass the literature records by five or even ten times. This source is as yet largely untapped. It may be impractical to incorporate until national and local collections are fully catalogued and made available through databases. This source produces a wealth of novel, often site-based records, wherever a new collection is explored.

Horticultural Sources
Archeological Sources
, this is in part firm and datable, specimen-based evidence
Other Scientific Disciplines
, e.g. quaternary studies


botanists own books

Paintings and drawings - landscapes, plants (Miss Moseley, the second woman to contribute records in Worcestershire, produced paintings of British plants, which are now housed in the British Museum)

Historical Records from other written sources.
These have generally, been poorly exploited by botanists yet they offer a potentially rich vein of records. For certain types of information this may be the best or indeed only source. This is the case with some species and for those who are interested in landscape ecology. Care is necessary with regard to taxonomy but this should not be viewed as an impediment, it is surmountable. There has been no systematic attempt to extract this data yet. A few examples are given.

The written record, apparently, begins for Worcestershire with Roman Sources. For instance, the River Severn is referred to by Tacitus c115 AD.

The natural history literature begins in earnest with the Anglo-Saxons. For Worcestershire, the primary colonisation appears to have been around 570-590. The two principal sources, for local detail come from Anglo-Saxon Charters and place-name evidence.
The Anglo-Saxon Charters are in effect land deeds. Their value to the natural historian lies in their detailed description of the bounds of land. These are precisely located and hold a wealth of biological detail.
Areas of interest to the natural historian include details on :

habitats / communities
land use / management

Worcestershire has many charters. This is, primarily, due to the careful stewardship of the Bishopric exercised by St.Wulstan, the last Anglo-Saxon Bishop in England, in the eleventh century. This wealth of material has attracted Anglo-Saxon scholars throughout the modern historical period. Worcestershire is fortunate as most Charters have been solved and have a modern translation (see for instance Finberg, Sawyer, Hooke, Jones). The work of Della Hooke is highly recommended.
To illustrate the detail, information is presented from a single parish, Wichenford.

Wichenford : Species Data from the Anglo-Saxon Charters (extracted from Hooke, D. 1990)

The numeric references are the suggested date of the original charters. Monad locations are given, although six-figure grid references could be given in many cases.
Sedge - Carex sp. 757; 786; SO7756
Thorn - Crataegus sp. 757; 786; SO7556
{Ship Oak - Quercus sp.{notable veteran tree} 757; SO7960
{Rough Barked Oak - Quercus sp. {probably the Ship Oak of 757}816; SO7960
Great Aspen - Populus tremula {notable veteran tree}757; SO7960
Woad Land - Isatis tinctoria {Landuse; Great Aspen gone, boundary marked by cultivated field of woad} 816; SO7960; [Change 757-816]
Reed - likely Phalaris arundinacea (possible Phragmites australis) 757; SO7960
{Five Oaks - Quercus sp. {notable grove of veteran trees}757; 969 [Stability]; SO7862
{the bent-down oak - Quercus sp. {notable veteran tree at Five Oaks}1042; SO7862 [Change 969 -1042]
Three Oaks - Quercus sp. {notable group, likely veteran trees}816; SO7857
Bealda's Ash-tree - Fraxinus excelsior{notable, likely, veteran tree}816; SO8058
Fern pasture - Pteridium aquilinum {landuse - common - likely wood pasture} 855; SO7961
Fern hedge - Pteridium aquilinum 969; SO7961

hart bourne = Stag - Red Deer Brook 962
hawk ridge ?Buteo / Accipiter 962
king's swine 855
baerbroc = Baer Brook [Feeding ground for swine in woodland] = Ockeridge 962
Cat's Piece = Wild Cat Wood 816
Foxbatch = Fox Brook 786
Laughern = poss. Celtic name for Fox 757
wolf-pit = Canis lupus 786 [Pit for capture and slaughter of wolves]
The following notes are taken from the Anglo-Saxon Charters; these extend over a c300 year period. They relate to a 1.5km. length close-by the bounds of Ockeridge Wood and illustrate the wealth of detail available.
851 to sihtferd [tributary of Grimley Brook now Grimley Brook]
962 to (the) sihtford [tributary of Grimley Brook now Grimley Brook]
969 to (the) sihtford [tributary of Grimley Brook now Grimley Brook]
1017 to (the) sihtfyrp [tributary of Grimley Brook now Grimley Brook]
1042 to (the) sihtfyrd [tributary of Grimley Brook now Grimley Brook]
962 to (the) baerbroc {name of tributary broc = brook, baer may = baer pature esp. in woodland, a feeding ground for swine}
851 and thence from the old stud-fold by (the) Bentley people's boundary {ley ending denotes cleared woodland}
855 right to exclusion of king's pigs
969 from (the) sihtford to (the) fern hedge
962 to the old dyke
1017 to the old ?linear clearing
1042 to the old ?linear clearing
757 to the way which is called five oaks
969 from (the) fern hedge to (the) Yard Way
851 to King's Old Enclosure - so thus along the king's old enclosure northwards
851 to the old stud-fold {?within the King's enclosure}
757 straight on to the same five oaks
969 from (the) Yard Way to (the) five oak trees
851 to King's Old Enclosure - so thus along the king's old enclosure northwards
851 by the boundary of the people of Moseley over Sihtferd {Grimley Brook}
962 along dyke to hart bourne {hiort = hart ie deer brook} - deer in landscape
962 along below hart bourne to hawk ridge {= Ockeridge}
1042 along the ?linear clearing to the bent-down oak
1042 from the bent-down oak again to the old ?linear clearing
1042 along the ?linear clearing to (the) three boundaries
757 to the three boundaries
969 from (the) five oak trees to (the) three boundaries
1017 along the ?linear clearing to (the) three boundaries
975 From (the) three boundaries due west to the dyke
1017 from the three boundaries to the old dyke
757 from that place by a straight westerly way to that dyke
1042 from (the) three boundaries to the doferic [Shrawley Brook]
[1086 DB Hay -enclosure for capturing wild deer]

Worcestershire Anglo-Saxon Charters other Botanical References
Principal reference. Hooke, D. 1990 Worcestershire Anglo-Saxon Charter Bounds

rush Juncus sp.
apple Malus sp.
willow Salix ?fragilis / alba
withy Salix ?viminalis / purpurea / cinerea / caprea
alder Alnus glutinosa
barley Hordeum sp.
birch Betula sp.
broom Cytisus scoparius
water-cress Rorippa nasturtium-aquaticum agg.
yew Taxus baccata
hazel Corylus avellena
heather Calluna / Erica
heathy Vaccinium / Calluna / Erica
coarse grass ?Deschampsia cespitosa
nut-tree ?Juglans regia
holly Ilex aquilifolium
wheat Triticum sp.
hop Humulus lupulus
ivy Hedera helix
flax Linum usitatissimum
spindle Euonymus europaeus
maple Acer campestre
moss / bog Sphagnum sp.
plum Prunus sp.
pease Vicia sp [Pisum sp.]
rye Secale cerale
thistle Cirsium sp.
service Sorbus torminalis [sole English refn. Stoke Prior (Rackham,O.)]
Place name evidence
Refn. ; Mawer, A. & Stenton, F.M. Place Names of Worestershire,1927

Other species occur solely in place names
bent Agrostis capillaris (Bentley in Holt)
lime Tilia sp. (locally frequent e.g. Lineholt, Lincomb)

Medieval Sources - Doomsday Book
The Doomsday Book 1086 provides a wealth of detail on land use, population and the rural economy. It is a very rich source for landscape historians but is poor in species information. Faunal references are very scarce. Fisheries and eels get several mentions. There is reference to a Hay - an enclosure for catching Wild (Red) Deer at Bentley, Holt. Floral references are even rarer. There is a sole enigmatic entry, considered unique, within the whole of the Doomsday Survey (VCH) - "at Lawern there are 12 oaks".
[This grouping of twelve, 11th.C, oaks are 4km. from the group of three, 9th.C oaks and 7km. from the group of five, 8th-10th.C oaks (see above). A pattern begins to emerge. The Anglo-Saxons called this district, in 816, Weogorena-leage, the wood pasture lands of the Vigorna. The Vigorna were the tribe that gave their name to the county of Worcestershire.]

Other Information available within Historical Record
Veteran Trees

The botanical literature is reasonable. Edwin Lees took a keen interest in veteran trees as individual specimens. He left a record of 150-200, many measured. County topographies, histories and folk-lore mention specimen and venerated trees. These are added to the database as they come to light e.g. Prince Robins Tree, a hawthorn, in Powick Parish and still extant in the nineteenth century, under which Prince Rupert was said to have stood to survey the enemy's disposition, before he attacked at the first Battle of Worcester, in 1642.
The Anglo-Saxon charters are also a rich source (yet to be extracted).
A total of 226 veteran and specimen trees from the period 1600-1899 have been entered:-

Map above shows location of records of veteran trees (monads)

Species Information
Pear, Pyrus communis s.l.

The pear, arguably, encapsulates the local distinctiveness of Worcestershire to a greater degree than any other species. Yet the botanical literature deals poorly with the subject. To capture its influence upon and presence within the county, it is necessary to look outside of the botanical literature.

Old pear trees are a distinctive and regenerating element, within Worcestershire hedgerows. There is the possibility of a locally native Pyrus. However, millennia of selection, tending and planting, will have obscured the original situation. Pear certainly behaves as a native on the county's gravel soils. It regenerates quite freely and is fully able to compete with native species.

The pear was established by the Anglo-Saxon period. This indicates a, likely, stocked landscape in the Romano-British period. Bronze Age exploitation of the pear in Worcestershire is quite likely.

Pears - pirige, pyrige are mentioned as boundary marks in the Anglo-Saxon charters. It's early importance to the county can be gleaned from its adoption by the Anglo-Saxon bishops of Worcester as a symbol for their standard. The medieval Florence of Worcester relates of St.Wulstans pear emblazoned banner. By the seventeenth century there is the testimony of Nathaniel Wharton. He was a Londoner, and a serving NCO in Essex's Army (Parliament). He wrote a letter home, in September 1642 from Worcestershire. The most striking feature of the landscape was :- "every hedge and highway beset with fruit especially pears"

Pitt in his General Survey of the Agriculture of Worcestershire, 1813, highlights the importance of fruit growing in Worcestershire. Its relative value to the agricultural economy can be gauged from the space devoted to it. He gives 38 pages to Gardens and Orchards, this is second in length only to Arable (77 pages) and ahead of Livestock (37 pages) and Grasslands (9 pages).
"the pear loves sloping ground (Withering), in such situations it will flourish in cold clay (Marshall)"
, this quote from Pitt neatly summarises the prevalence of pear in the Worcestershire countryside.

Detailing the situation in the hit year (bumper crop) of 1784, Pitt describes a situation where the pear and perry is a commonplace and locally abundant feature of the county landscape, "for want of casks, .... the liquor was spoilt: in Pershore, the juice is said to have run from the pear-hoards, in currents, into the common sewers".

Pears were widespread and abundant. Most farms, villages and many cottagers had orchards. Further confirmation of their significance can be inferred from Tithe name evidence, c.1830s. For instance, Wichenford Parish has seven references in field names to pear and a single mention of apple (and that, solely, to a special variety "Codling").

According to Pitt, pears were capable of producing twice as much liquor as apples from the same land. It was thus favoured as the common drink. Perry must have been a significant part of the calorific intake of the county's agricultural labourers. Pears have helped fuel the rural economy of the county for probably a millennium and possibly much longer.

A full list of references has not been included with this article due to pressures of time and space. Various sources have been detailed in the text. For further information please contact the author.

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