Friday, 13 March 2015

Petal power

The new government-funded National Plant Monitoring Scheme (NPMS) will enable scientists to take an annual stock take of the UK’s wild plants and their habitats for the first time.

They need our help and are hunting for volunteers to carry out surveys of wildflowers, including orchids. Their habitats that will provide evidence of plant species increasing or declining, as well as indicating the changing state of valued grassland and fenland habitats as well as road verges (as pictured).

Volunteers will receive survey guidance and a colour ID guide full of beautiful photos and illustrations of the 408 NPMS species. There will also be the opportunity to attend training workshops up and down the country to get to grips with the methodology and network with fellow volunteers. 

Helpers will be randomly allocated a convenient 1km square to visit. The visit involves recording plant ‘indicator species’ in plots. Within your 1km square you will record around 5 plots in semi-natural habitats.

Anyone interested in nature who can identify plants, or who is keen to learn. Different levels of participation ensure that all who are keen can participate: you do not have to be an experienced botanist. You will only need to identify between 25-30 indicator species per habitat. 

For more information visit

Caption: Wild orchids

Friday, 6 March 2015

Orchid winners and losers

Scientists have discovered that climate change is having an unexpected impact on Britain’s orchids, with ‘Lady orchids’ taking advantage of increasingly warmer temperatures at the expense of so-called ‘man orchids’.

Kew Gardens experts have noted that certain species are spreading north, while others which prefer colder or damper climes are likely to become a rarer sight.

Lizard orchids (Himantoglossum hircinum) and lady orchids (Orchis purpurea) are thriving, while more northern species, such as bog orchid (Hammarbya paludosa), coralroot (Corallorhiza trifid) and the small white orchid (Pseudorchis albida) are struggling.

Worryingly, there has been a sharp decline of the man orchid (Orchis anthropophora), frog orchid (Dactylorhiza viridis) and fly orchid (Ophrys insectifera).

The already critically endangered red helleborine (Cephalanthera rubra) faces extinction, according to the report.

Winner: Lizard orchid
Loser: Bog orchid