Surrey Botanical Society

Surrey Floras

Surrey is fortunate in having a continuity of record keeping which spans a period of almost 160 years. The compilation of a County flora, or indeed a local flora, is a monumental task which needs a dedicated team to be successful.

The first County Flora was published as recently as 1863 by John Drew Salmon of Godalming (1802-1859) who assembled material for the publication of a Flora containing 984 native species, by splitting the County into nine divisions based on soils. He died before his manuscript was completed. In 1861 the Holmesdale Natural History Club bought Salmon's manuscript and his collection of plants native to the County (now in the Society's herbarium) and asked James Alexander Brewer (1818-1886), its first Honorary Secretary, to take over Salmon's work and to prepare the Flora for publication by the Society. Other botanists such as John Stuart Mill and H.C.Watson and some members of the Holmesdale Natural History Club made major contributions. Without the Society there might have been an even longer wait for the first Flora.

The second County Flora was the work of an architect, Charles Edgar Salmon (1872 - 1930), but not published until 1931, a year after his death. This Flora is divided into eight districts based on river drainage. It incorporated the work of William Hadden Beeby who handed over his records and manuscripts to Mr. Salmon. After Mr. Salmon's death the Flora was prepared for publication by Mr. W.H.Pearsall. Records were also contributed by such almost legendary botanists as Lady Davy, Dr. G.C.Druce, The Rev. E.F.Linton, The Rev. E.S.Marshall, H.W.Pugsley, The Rev. H.J.Riddelsdell (Rubus) and Colonel Wolley-Dod (Rosa).

Job Edward ("Ted") Lousley (1907-1976) was the author of the third County Flora published in 1976, and based on records collected by the Surrey Flora Committee 1957-1974 (See The Society). Dr.C.T. Prime and Dr. Petch proof read the typescript and Ted approved the text prior to publication only a few weeks before his death in 1976. Mr Lousley served the Botanical Society of the British Isles as Treasurer, Secretary and President and was associated with the Atlas (1962) and Supplement (1968). It was based on 10km squares and with distribution maps. It was natural that he should use the same bases for the Flora and also the Watsonian Vice-County (VCI7) to define "Surrey" based on boundaries as they were in 1859 - the system used by the BSBI.

Mention should also be made of the 'Supplement and Checklist' by Alan Leslie (1987) providing records supplemental to the 1976 Flora. Almost more valuable than this is the checklist of all species that have ever been recorded in Surrey. Also included is a 10km square distribution list for all species recorded in Surrey from 1950 - 1987. The Supplement and Checklist was updated by the Surrey Flora Committee in 1994. To a field botanist the checklist is the base for all recording and a useful restraining influence when one thinks that one has found something "new"!

In the article by D. E. Allen, Watsonia 24:271-280 (2003), in discussion about the Flora of Surrey by C. E. Salmon published in 1931 he said: "Cases such as these best exemplify the remarkable tenacity that lies behind the compiling of local Floras. For a century and a half now this has been a central activity of field botany in these islands, a way in which the energies of the locally-based - or if not locally-based, at least locally-focused - have been able to be constructively brought to bear on a long-term goal. As a way of imparting a continuity and a sense of direction to the work of a local society (or at any rate of its botanical section) it is an activity that is surely beyond compare. Indeed, without a project of this kind to keep working away at, however distant the ultimate objective, local botanical endeavour would doubtless often have withered or even died away completely."


Title Author Date Area Covered (Extremities) Remarks
The New British Traveller James Dugdale 1819 Vice County 17, Surrey download
History of Epsom, Appendix VIII (Catalogue of Plants) "An Inhabitant" 1825 Epsom download
Flora of Reigate Luxford, G. 1838 Environs of Reigate Published by Van Voorst & Allingham, W.
The Letters of Rusticus Rusticus 1849 Environs of Godalming Newman, E.
Full Text
Salmon, J. D.
New Flora of the Neighbourhood of Reigate Brewer, J. A. 1856 Environs of Reigate download
Flora of Surrey Brewer, J. A. 1863 Vice County 17, Surrey First Surrey Flora
A New London Flora De Crespigny, E. C. 1877 Including Reigate, Guildford, Frensham, etc.
Flora of South-West Surrey Dunn, S. T. 1893 Leatherhead, Dorking, Guildford, Godalming, Farnham & Haslemere
A Flora of Epsom and its Neighbourhood Hart Smith-Pearse, Rev. T. N. 1917 Wallington, Cobham, Gomshall & Redhill
Flora of Surrey Salmon, C. E. 1931 Vice County 17, Surrey
Atlas of the British Flora Perring, F. H. & Walters, S. M. 1962 Whole of British Isles Published by BSBI
A Study of the Flora of the Hog's Back The Farnham Museum Society 1965 Seale, Puttenham & Monkshatch
Flora of Surrey Lousley, J. E. 1976 Vice County 17, Surrey ('old' VC 17)
Boxhill Chapman, G. & Young, B. 1979 Boxhill
The Natural History of Camberley and District Camberley Natural History Society 1979 Camberley, Frimley & Lightwater
Flora of the London Area Burton, R. M. 1983 London, including North Surrey - Chertsey, Leatherhead, Redhill & Limpsfield London Natural History Society
Checklist of the Flora of the Croydon Area Croydon Natural History & Scientific Society 1985 Croydon, Sutton & parts of Tandridge, Bromley, Merton, Epsom & Ewell, Mole Valley, Banstead & Reigate areas Supplements published in 1985, 1989, 1990 & 1992
Flora of Surrey: Supplement & Checklist Leslie, A. C. 1987 Vice County 17, Surrey Supplement to Lousley's 1976 Edition. Updated by SFC - 1994
Flora of East Grinstead Coleman, W. H. Editor - Rich, T. C. G. 1994 East Grinstead area, including Hedgecourt & Lingfield Sussex Botanical Recording Society
New Atlas of the British Flora Preston, C. D., Pearman, D. A. & Dines, T. D. 2002 Whole of British Isles Published by BSBI
Rubus in Surrey Allen, D. E. 2003 Vice County 17, Surrey Surrey Flora Committee
Wild Flowers of Wisley - A Centenary Flora Phillips, B. & Armitage, J. 2010 Wisley RHS Published by RHS

Although not strictly a Flora, The Vice-County Census Catalogue of The Vascular Plants of Great Britain - 2003 published by BSBI, and by the BSBI Maps Scheme - is the most up to date reference available. See