> > > Dorset Flora Group

Bee Orchid

John Newbould

Founded in 2007, the Dorset Flora Group works with members of Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society (DNHAS), Wessex Bryology, Dorset Environmental Records Centre (DERC) and Dorset Wildlife Trust (DWT) to continually update the record of Dorset’s wild flowers, mosses, seaweeds, lichens and fungi (which are not strictly plants). We also aim to help the Botanical Society of the British Isles (B.S.B.I.) and other national societies concerned with conservation such as the National Trust in Dorset.


We aim to:

• survey sites throughout Dorset to maintain an up to date records of wild plants, in partnership with DERC,

• provide a focal point for  botanists recording within the County.

• Encourage the study of Dorset’s flora and help people to improve their skills.

• Support the vice-county recorders, particularly with rare and scarce species, especially those requiring specialist determination.

• Hold field meetings and study days to record the Dorset flora.

• Assist the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group by recording arable weeds

• Publish the Dorset Heath as a record of our activities.

We help charities, including the National Trust, Dorset Wildlife Trust and the Royal Society for Protection of Birds manage their nature reserves, by recording the habitats and plants found there. We are partners in the National Trust’s Cyril Diver project on the National Nature Reserve at Studland where our major project at present is recording the flora by compartment. By 2015 we aim to have repeated the work of Diver and his team in the period 1930-40. As part of this project, we have been offering monthly beginner’s workshops on the identification of mosses and liverworts.

Dorset has an undulating countryside with areas of unimproved grassland on slopes too steep or too wet to be suitable for agriculture. The clean, chalk rivers are scarce in a European context and many contain stream water crowfoot (Ranunculus penicillatus ssp. pseudofluitans). In Purbeck, there are extensive areas of lowland heathland with plants such as marsh gentian, Dorset heath and all the UK sundews, whilst in west Dorset there are species rich wet meadows. Wild places to explore range from the Neolithic hill forts, often with excellent grassland habitats, to the Beech Avenue at Kingston Lacey where rare orchids such as white helleborine and bird’s-nest orchid may be found by the diligent searcher. Despite many woodlands being replanted with conifers scarce wild flowers such as bastard balm and wild liquorice survive within more open areas of the plantations. Many of the hedgerows contain ancient trees and coppice, especially in West Dorset with a special insect fauna.

Membership is free but you need to registered with Rhiannon Rogers at Dorset Environmental Records Centre preferably by email: r.rogers@dorsetcc.gov.uk or by telephoning 01305 225081 Monday – Thursday.