Members, particularly new members, are encouraged to keep a Wild Flower Diary each calendar year, and submit it to their Branch Secretary by 31st January of the following year. Each diary entry should list the name, date, location and habitat. New members submit annual records. After a minimum of two years, the Branch Secretary may permit cumulative recording, ie only the new species found are submitted.
A record book containing the most recognisable thousand species is available from the Membership Secretary, or is available as a free Excel download.
The Excel diary was updated in 2019 to be compatible with Stace 4, with updated names for some species.
Regulations for completion of the Field Botanist’s Record Book
Every plant entered in the record book must be wild, i.e. unplanted and uncultivated, and must have been seen growing in the British Isles (including the Channel islands) by the member on the date shown in the record book. It is appreciated that it may not always be easy to tell whether an individual plant has been planted or not! Branch Secretaries should be able to offer advice.
A plant may only be entered if it appears as a numbered or lettered plant in the latest edition of Clive Stace’s New Flora of the British Isles (currently the 3rd ed., 2010) or be listed in D.H. Kent’s List of vascular plants of the British Isles (1992) with its supplements, published by the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland.
When first using the record book members should record only plants in flower i.e. plants must have at least one flower or floret fully developed on the date when seen and entered in the record book. Exceptions to this rule are clubmosses, quillworts, horsetails, ferns, hornworts, elms, poplars, willows, German Ivy, Chinese Mugwort and duckweeds, all of which may be counted in leaf, Drooping Saxifrage and alliums with bulbils only, and docks, rushes, sedges and grasses in fruit.
The regulations define a plant in flower as having at least one fully developed flower or floret – ie with sepals and petals (if the species has them) and reproductive parts ie stamens and/or stigma visible.
Where possible the identification of difficult species, especially any additional ones written in on the blank pages, should be confirmed by a more competent botanist whose name should be recorded. The Introduction to the record book contains further advice about using the book.
Some plants are listed in the record book as “agg.” (an aggregate or group of similar plants). An aggregate may not be recorded if an individual taxon (species, sub-species, microspecies or hybrid) within that aggregate is recorded. Similarly a species may not be recorded if one or more of its sub-species is recorded.
Record books should be sent to Branch Secretaries by 31 January. When sending in your record book, please
• count the number of taxa (species, subspecies, microspecies or hybrids) that you have recorded;
• enclose a covering letter reporting highlights of your botanical year;
• enclose a stamped addressed envelope for return of your record book. Alternatively you may send a list of your records electronically by arrangement with your Branch Secretary.
In their second year of using the record book members start again making a new list recording all the plants they see, as above.
Valhalla status is accorded to members who have a good knowledge of the commoner plants of their home area. To qualify for Valhalla status members must have submitted at least two annual record books (or equivalent lists) and have demonstrated their knowledge to their Branch Secretary.
(Formerly Valhalla was a separate branch with several divisions but now members remain in their regional branch.)
On commencement of Valhalla recording, members may
• start cumulative recording, adding only newly recorded plants each year;
• carry forward all accepted earlier records;
• record plants not in flower
Those members maintaining a cumulative list of plants they have seen need only send a list of additions each year. This may be submitted as an e-mail attachment.
With the agreement of their Branch Secretary, members who are competent botanists and who don’t have time to do two annual record books or achieve large totals, might be able to record plants in flower cumulatively from the outset, with the option of seeking approval for moving on to Valhalla later. Exceptionally competent botanists may be allowed to record plants not in flower from the outset.
Recording in Parnassus
On recording 2000 taxa (species, sub-species or hybrids) members may join Parnassus where they need not confine their records to those detailed in Stace’s New Flora or Kent’s List but may count any taxon (species, sub-species, hybrid, named variety, cultivated variety or forma) found wild in the British Isles. Members in regional branches may note such taxa for retrospective counting upon entry to Parnassus. Records of taxa not in Stace or Kent should be submitted with a literature reference, and any which are difficult to identify should be confirmed by a competent expert botanist.
Members not in Parnassus finding plants wild in the British Isles which are not in Stace’s New Flora or Kent’s List may report them to the Exotics Secretary who will also report them in the Magazine.
Recording by junior members
Junior members may keep either an annual Beginner’s diary or a Field botanist’s’s record book (or equivalent electronic list). These should be submitted by 31 January. After one or more years, at their Branch Secretary’s discretion, juniors may keep a cumulative record book. The Dent Prize, a sum of money or book token to be spent on a book or books on flowers, is awarded if merited at the end of the calendar year to the most promising junior member aged between 12 and 18 inclusive on 31 August of that year. This may be awarded based on a Field Botanist’s Record Book or other botanical project. Other small prizes may be given in this branch.