Cornish Biodiversity Network  -  Supporting Wildlife Recording


New Flora of Cornwall

In 2007 the Botanical Cornwall Group, led by Ian Bennallick and Colin French, (the BSBI Vice County Recorders), decided to re-survey the whole of Cornwall in order to publish a new Flora of Cornwall. This time every 1km square would be surveyed (3962 squares), attempting to survey as many habitats as possible in each of the seasons.

Although the systematic surveying began in earnest in 2007, this Flora will use all the vascular plant records made since the last Flora of Cornwall was published in 1999.

As of January 1st 2017, 26 1km squares (47 in 2015) have yet to be visited, 162 (267 in 2015) have fewer than 101 species, and 897 (1062 in 2015) fewer than 151 species (all bar 13 are in East Cornwall). West Cornwall is in a state worthy of publication with few significantly under-recorded squares left, all of which have considerable access problems such as three at St Mawgan airfield.

We have decided to complete two more surveying seasons, focusing on East Cornwall as much as possible. Bodmin Moor and much of the interior of North Cornwall is genuinely species poor, so for large parts of East Cornwall the number of species will remain below that seen in West Cornwall.

A remarkable milestone will be reached in the next few weeks - the number of vascular plant records will exceed 2 million.

The Flowering Plant and Fern records are stored in the ERICA database which holds 3.6 million biological records covering 27,000 different plants and animals.

The progress made so far, in terms of the number of species recorded since 1999, is displayed below:


2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016

Interesting Finds

Since 1999 there have been many exciting discoveries, including:

  • The re-discovery of plants that were thought to be extinct, such as Perennial Centaury Centaurium scilloides.
  • Several hundred species new to Cornwall have been discovered, such as the Sea Daffodil Pancratium maritimum.
  • Several plants have been found that are new to Science, such as the orchid Gymnadenia borealis x Dactylorhiza praetermissa.
  • Dozens of plants, new to Britain, have been found. These are mostly alien plants but a few are native species that were not previously known, such as Diaphanous Bladder-fern Cystopteris diaphana.
  • Hundreds of new sites have been discovered for rare and threatened plants.
  • The flora of Cornwall has both a high percentage of alien species living in the wild and a high percentage of rare and threatened species. The pie chart below was prepared in 2014. Archaeophytes are alien plants that are ancient introductions (pre-1500). Neophytes are alien plants that have arrived since 1500, the vast majority of which have appeared in the last 200 years.


    Perennial Centaury Centaurium scilloides

    Photo: Colin Wild

    As can be seen from the graph below, the number of flowering plant and fern records has dramatically risen in recent decades.

    In 2016 101,000 flowering plant and fern records were added to the ERICA database and 20 flowers were added to the Cornish list including Honey Garlic Nectaroscordum siculum, Dalmatian Crane's-bill Geranium dalmaticum and the hybrid orchid Gymnadenia borealis x Dactylorhiza praetermissa, which was new to Science. The map below shows where flowering plant and fern records were made in 2016.

    To gain an insight into the changes that have taken place in Cornwall look at the species maps available here: Flora of Cornwall 1999


    The Cornish Biodiversity Network is pleased to acknowledge support from: