Surrey Botanical Society

Information for New Members

| Introduction  | Meetings  | Newsletters  | Recording  | Appendices  |

Members Meeting

The Surrey Botanical Society (SBS), originally known as Surrey Flora Committee, has been in existence since 1957 and aims to represent and unite all those who want to enjoy, study and record Surrey's astonishingly interesting, beautiful and diverse flora. Membership is open to anyone with an interest in the subject.

Watsonian Vice-Counties
For the purposes of botanical recording, Great Britain is divided into 112 approximately equal areas called Vice-counties. Surrey is one of these areas (VC 17, See Appendix 4) and corresponds roughly to the old geographical county of Surrey with the Thames as its northern boundary. The boundaries of the Vice-Counties were laid down by H.C Watson in the mid-nineteenth century and have not been subject to subsequent administrative boundary changes. The Botanical Society of the British Isles (BSBI) appoints one or more Recorders to each Vice-County and it is their role to catalogue and verify records of plants in that county. The BSBI Recorder for VC17 is Ann Sankey, working with a Records Committee.

Current SBS Committee Members

Chairman: Bill Stanworth
Hon. Secretary: Peter Wakeham
Hon. Treasurer: Caroline Bateman
Newsletter Editor: Graham Cotten
Chairman, Records Sub-Committee: Roger Hawkins
Committee Members: George Hounsome, Brian Pitkin

Subscriptions: £5.00 annually but three years @ £15.00 payable in advance is preferable. Subscriptions should be paid at the AGM or sent to the Hon Treasurer by the end of January. <top>

Field Meetings
You are encouraged to attend the extremely enjoyable and very informative field meetings which are held in all parts of the County during the growing season. Don't worry if you are not an expert botanist or even if you are a complete beginner as no previous experience of recording is required. There's no better way to learn than to join in! Not only will you learn a lot from the more experienced members, you will also get to know beautiful parts of Surrey that you didn't even know existed - in convivial company too! Most of the field meetings are held at weekends but evening walks during the week have proved extremely popular and will be included in future programmes.

The programme is published at the beginning of the year but extra meetings will be organised during the course of the season, the details of which will be circulated by e-mail. Most of these meetings will concentrate on surveys of a particular area but some will concentrate on particular plant groups or ecological surveys. All however are good fun and a great opportunity to improve your field botany. If transport is a problem, check the membership list to see who lives near you and whether they can give you a lift or whether someone could pick you up from the nearest station to the site. Most members will be more than willing to help out.

Local Recording Groups
Smaller local recording groups meet on an impromptu basis and arrangements are usually made by e-mail. Again these are a good opportunity to get out and about in the County, to improve your recording skills and to get to know other members of the Society - we usually manage to find a pub in which to round off the meeting. Others are encouraged to form local groups as, apart from providing the stimulus to get out and record, working in a group makes for more accurate recording.

Indoor Meetings
At present, we hold two indoor meetings a year:
• The AGM, which is usually held at Boxhill Village Hall early in the year.
• The Social Evening/Afternoon, which is also usually held Boxhill Village Hall at the end of the recording season.

Newsletters are circulated twice a year, usually in Spring to start off the recording year and in Autumn at the end of the recording season. During the year, information about recording priorities etc. is circulated by e-mail. To see two edited copies of our newsletter click October 2007 or April 2008. <top>

The Society holds a number of botanical reference books, donated by members. These are available for loan from the Hon. Secretary (See Contact Us). A list of these books can be downloaded HERE

The Surrey Rare Plant Register/New Surrey Flora
In common with many other Vice-counties, we are currently working on a Rare Plant Register (SyRPR), a detailed, precise and up-to-date account of the rare and scarce plants found in the County. The SyRPR will be a first step towards a new flora of the County. The last Flora of Surrey was published in 1976 and the Supplement and Checklist in 1987. There has been no published work on the flora of the whole of Surrey since then. With all the changes that have taken place in the County since the 1960s, when many of the records for the 1976 Flora were made, it is important that we update our records to obtain as accurate an account of the flora of the whole County as possible so that updated distribution maps for each species can be produced.

Can I Help?
Yes, you certainly can! We have an enormous amount of work to do checking up on old records and sites, visiting under-recorded areas and entering existing paper records onto the MapMate database. It is vital that we enlist the support of all interested people to help with this task. If you already record plants in Surrey, your records will be of value, provided that they are recent (i.e. post-2000). Site lists are needed for any discrete area such as a wood, pond, lane or urban street. If all of us were to make several in a year, this would really boost our records. What is important is to be certain of the identification. If in doubt, ask! We all do. 'Better no record than a wrong record.' If you're not an expert botanist, or feel diffident about your identification skills, many of the rare plants are not difficult to identify, e.g. Ophrys insectifera (Fly Orchid) or Cephalanthera damasonium (White Helleborine) so you could concentrate on some of these. A copy of the draft list of species for inclusion in the Rare Plant Register is available on the website. Additionally you could join a local recording group to improve your skills until you feel confident enough to produce a site list by yourself.

How Do I Record
Many new members are frequently unsure of what information should be included and how it should be submitted. What follows is intended to encourage even the least experienced to submit what they have recorded. This may be a single record of an interesting species, a simple site list or a more detailed list giving information about the site, the quantity and status of the species recorded

A Single Record
Just four pieces of information are needed: What, Where, When and By Whom.

Ophrys insectifera Reigate, Colley Hill, Chalk Scrub TQ25065178 20/05/2007 Smith, J.

(For notable species, an eight-figure reference from a GPS, if you own one, is very helpful and will provide a reference to the nearest 10m. If you don't have the use of a GPS, notes such as 'on E side of path 100 yds after NT sign', or sketch of the site are useful so that the species can be re-found.)

A Simple Site List
Again, just four pieces of information are needed: What, Where, When and By Whom. For a site list, a grid reference taken at the centre of the site should be provided. And again for notable species, an 8-figure grid reference, sketch map or notes to re-find the species would be helpful.

Reigate, Colley Hill, Chalk Scrub TQ250517 5th June 20078 J. Smith

Fagus sylvatica
Buxus sempervirens
Acer campestre
Acer pseudoplatanus
Cephalanthera damasonium
Quercus ilex
Viola odorata
Ophrys insectifera (TQ 25066178)

It's as simple as that! Don't sit on your knowledge of your local area - we need your records!

More Detailed Lists/MapMate
SBS records are entered on MapMate, which is a software package designed to record, map, analyse and share records. Ideally, more detailed lists will contain information about the site, quantity and status of the species as this will provide valuable ecological data both about the species found and its environment.

The fields of the MapMate Data Entry are shown below:

Quantity: Stage:
Date: Status:
Recorder: Determiner:

• Taxon: The scientific name of the species. Names have changed quite a lot over recent years but if you use one of the following floras, you are likely to get the most current:

Streeter (2016) Collins Wild Flower Guide: The Most Complete Guide to the Wild Flowers of Britain and Ireland
Stace, (2010) New Flora of the British Isles
Poland & Clement (2009) The Vegetative Key to the British Flora
Rose and O'Reilly (2006) The Wild Flower Key
Fitter and Fitter (2003) Wild Flowers of Britain & Ireland

• Quantity: This can be a number, e.g. when counting spikes of Orchis insectifera (Fly Orchid) or a note on relative abundance using the DAFOR scheme:

D - Dominant (75% or more)
A - Abundant (51-75%)
F - Frequent (26-50%
O - Occasional (11-25%)
R - Rare (1-10%)

There are additional categories of LD, LA and LF, where L = locally

So, if there are only one or two plants of Bellis perennis (Daisy) present, even though the Daisy is a very common plant, it should be recorded as rare (R) for this site. If a part of your site is covered exclusively with Pteridium aquilinum (Bracken), you could record it as locally dominant (LD). The important thing to do is to consider the quantity of the species within the site. There may be several spikes of Anacamptis pyramidalis (Pyramidial Orchid) dotted over the site, but in proportion to the rest of the vegetation present, it may still only be occasional (O). Please note too that it is not usually possible to assign an abundance category until you have finished recording the site, as you won't know how many plants there are in the site until you have finished going round it! Take a few moments before you move on to jot this down.

• Stage: This refers to the growth stage of the plant e.g. Flowering; Flowering/fruiting; Vegetative; Seedling; Sapling. A rare plant that is fruiting well is more than likely to survive than one that is not. A sapling or a mature tree will have a very different impact on the habitat, so noting the stage provides more useful information. Plus, in these times of climate change, recording of flowering times might provide useful information for the future.

• The Site: Please use a six-figure grid reference with a two-letter prefix (which will provide a reference to the nearest 100m) and a name taken from a 1:25,000 Ordnance Survey map. This can be followed by more local names; e.g. TQ 253518 Reigate Hill, Yew Tree Lane. For notable species, an eight-figure reference from a GPS, notes or a sketch of the site are useful so that the species can be re-found. For a site list, such as a wood, meadow, lane or pond, you should take a central six-figure grid reference. In addition a note of the habitat gives useful information. Use terms such as chalk grassland, chalk scrub, pond margin, field margin, woodland etc. If you know the substrate this is even more helpful.

[See Appendices 1 and 2 for simplified maps of the Geology of Surrey. Please note that these maps refer to the administrative county and not the Vice County and are reproduced by kind permission of Surrey County Council. Appendix 3 gives information about the DINTY system of recording tetrads, Appendix 4 shows the extent of the Vice County].

• The date: Please give this in full, i.e. day, month, year.

• The status: The status refers to the status (native or otherwise) at the site in question. The alternatives are:-

Native: This is a species that has arrived in the study area without man's intervention.

Alien or introduced species: these are species that have been brought into the study area by man, intentionally or unintentionally, even if native in the source area. For example, Taxus baccata (Yew) is a frequent native on the chalk down land of Surrey but if found in a churchyard, even on the chalk, it is likely to be planted. Alien species should be further categorised as:

Established: a species that has been present in the wild for at least five years and is spreading vegetatively or reproducing by seed

Planted: a species that has been deliberately planted in a wild situation but is not established i.e. is not spreading.

Casual: a species that is present briefly or intermittently

Unknown: this category should be used if, after deliberation, the status of a species at a site cannot be determined

• Recorder: The name of the person who made the record. Our preferred format for names is surname, comma, initials e.g. Smith, J.A.

• Determiner: This is this is usually the same name as the Recorder but if the identification was confirmed by an expert, their name should be provided.

• Method and Reference: Unless you are entering your own records on to MapMate, this may be left blank.

• Comments: This can include any other details you think are relevant or interesting. e.g. more details on the size or extent of the population; any unusual or puzzling features of the plant; any problems with determining the status; any threat to the species.

All this sounds rather complicated!
Not once you get used to it. After a short while, it becomes second nature to jot down this information and it is not at all onerous. If you are not using a recording sheet (which can be awkward without a clipboard and which is then a pain to carry around), draw five rough columns in your pocket notebook and enter the relevant data as you go (see suggestion below).

Reigate, Colley Hill, Chalk Scrub  TQ250517  5 June 2007


Fagus sylvatica
Buxus semppervirens
Acer pseudoplatanus
Cephalanthera damasonium

Quercus ilex
Common Rock-rose







12 spikes

If you are not sure of the scientific names, you can "translate into Latin" and sort out any awkward status issues when you get home or when you transfer your records to a recording sheet. Copies of the SBS recording sheets can be obtained by clicking here.

Where Should I send My Records
To Ann Sankey - see Contact Us

Whom can I ask if I have any problems?
Please contact us via the Secretary - see Contact Us


Appendix 1

Appendix 1

Appendix 2

Appendix 2
Appendices 1 and 2 are reproduced by kind permission of Surrey County Council for use within the Surrey Botanical Society only and must not be reproduced for any other purpose. Please note that these maps refer to the current administrative county of Surrey and do not cover the entire Vice County.

Appendix 3

DINTY Tetrads
Although most recording is now done by discrete area, e.g. a pond, lake, field, wood, urban street etc., some surveys still use tetrads. This form of grid reference involves the use of 2km squares and so divides one 10km square into 25 equal parts. To label each 2km tetrad square, all letters of the alphabet are used with the exception of "O" (to avoid confusion) as shown below:


Appendix 3

The labelling starts in the bottom left-hand corner and follows the alphabet, moving up the left hand side and moving one column to the right once the top of the square is reached. (The reason this system is called the DINTY Tetrad system is because the word DINTY is spelled out reading across the second row down.) The name of any individual tetrad is the name of the 10km square it resides in followed by the single letter shown above.

So, the highlighted tetrad above has a grid reference of TQ25G. The 10km is TQ25, with all west-east (eastings) numbers beginning with 2, and all south-north (northings) numbers beginning with 5.

Appendix 4


Appendix 4

Note: Shaded regions denote area not now in the administrative County of Surrey. <top>