Rare Plant Register

Cornwall Rare Plant Register UPDATE February 2013 

Since 2005 members of the Botanical Cornwall Group have been involved with making an inventory of rare species of vascular plants in Cornwall, with the intention to publish a Cornwall Rare Plant Register. Though there is no published  register at present (2013) a list of species was compiled in 2005 – species which will be included in the register. It is hoped that the register will be published sometime in 2013. However some detailed information on the rare plants of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has been published during the production of another inventory – in the second edition of the Red Data Book for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly (Bennallick et al., 2009). The accounts are available online at http://www.cisfbr.org.uk/CRDB/StartCRDB.htm.

The Cornwall Rare Plant Register project was initiated in 2005 after the Botanical Society of the British Isles (BSBI) encouraged each recorder for a county or vice-county to compile a rare plant register – see http://bsbi.org.uk/rare_plants.html. The two BSBI vice-county recorders for Cornwall (Ian Bennallick in East Cornwall and Colin French in West Cornwall) both members of the Botanical Cornwall Group, agreed to make a register, and have been updating and compiling records of rare plants for the project since 2005.

The project has three phases.

The first phase entailed finalising a short list of species to include and checking what records we have of them, and that the records are correct. Of course error checking is ongoing through the project and as checking of sites progress, the species included on the register may also. This list is currently under review and will be updated in March 2013.

In the past, rarity status has been based solely on presence in one to a hundred 10km x 10km squares (each 10km x 10km square is a ‘a hectad’), tradionally Nationally Rare species were present in one to fifteen hectads and Nationally Scarce present in sixteen to one hundred hectads. Nationally Scarce species were assessed in Scarce Plants in Britain (Stewart, Pearman & Preston (Eds.), 1994) and Nationally Rare species were assessed in the Red Data Book for Vascular Plants (Wigginton (Ed.), 1999)  – both followed this traditional approach to rarity.

In 2005 a new Red List of Vascular Plants was published (Cheffings & Farrell (Eds.), 2005). This had a new approach of categorising threat to both native species and those considered an archaeophyte (an alien species known or suspected to have been introduced before AD 1500) of Great Britain, using IUCN criteria.

After discussion between members of the Botanical Cornwall Group a more complete rare plant register than required by the BSBI was thought more relevant to field recorders and conservationists, so species assessed in the new ‘Red List’ (Cheffings & Farrell (Eds.), 2005) which are Critically Endangered (CR), Endangered (EN), Vulnerable (V), Near Threatened (NT) and Extinct in the wild (EX) will also be included.

Species on the provisional list of the Cornwall Rare Plant Register are those that have been seen since 1st January 1999 and are;

  • Nationally Rare (species found in 1-15 hectads in Great Britain and Isle of Man)
  • Nationally Scarce (species found in 16-100 hectads in Great Britain, Isle of Man and Channel Islands)
  • Cornwall Rare (species found in 3 sites or less)
  • Cornwall Scarce (species found in 4-10 sites)
  • Cornwall Local (species found in 11-20 sites)
  • species not above which are categorised as ‘threatened’ according to (Cheffings & Farrell (Eds.), 2005).

Following BSBI criteria, native and archaeophyte species are included. Also included are those  non-native species, neophytes and hybrids that are of historical or cultural significance in Cornwall.

The second phase, which has been ongoing since 2005, has been checking sites to see whether the species are still present. Primarily these have been where the species chosen have not been recorded since 1999, but an updated record from any site will make the Register as up to date as possible. Rare Plant Register recording forms are available to recorders so that the records made can be logged accurately and also archived with the BSBI vice-county recorders.


The third phase will be the production of the Register. It is hoped that the register will be published sometime in 2013. The Register will be presented as a list of records (including, at least, location name, full grid ref, recorder details, population size), maps, photographs and brief comments on species where appropriate. Also included will be an appendix of Cornwall Local species, extinct species, an appendix of Cornwall Rare, Scarce or Local species that are common elsewhere in the British Isles and an appendix of Cornwall Rare or Cornwall Scarce species of the critical groups; Hieracium, Rubus, Taraxacum. Also included will be the near threatened or threatened species as outlined above.


You can help by choosing

  • an area, tetrad (2km x 2km) or
  • hectad (10km x 10km) to survey for several species at once at certain times of the year, or
  • one or more species to survey.

You will be provided with records for areas (local area, tetrad or hectad) or species that need to be re-found, and Rare Plant Register site record forms to record details of the site if the species is found.

If you have any existing records for the species on the updated attached list please send them in!

If you would like to help please contact –
Ian Bennallick (Botanical Cornwall Group co-ordinator)

Lower Polmorla, St Wenn, Bodmin, Cornwall, PL30 5PE. For more details email ianbennallick@btinternet.com  or phone 01726890384 or 07714738189.


Bennallick, I., Board, S., French, C., Gainey, P., Neil, C., Parslow, R., Spalding, A. & Tompsett, P. (eds). (2009). Red Data Book for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. 2nd Edition. Croceago Press, Camborne.

Cheffings, C.M. & Farrell, L. (Eds), Dines, T.D., Jones, R.A., Leach, S.J., McKean, D.R., Pearman, D.A., Preston, C.D., Rumsey, F.J., Taylor, I. 2005. The Vascular Plant Red Data List for Great Britain. Species Status 7: 1-116. Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Peterborough.

Stewart, A., Pearman, D.A., & Preston, C.D., (eds.) (1994). Scarce Plants in Britain. JNCC, Peterborough.

Wigginton, M. J. (1999). British Red Data Books 1 Vascular Plants. (3rd ed.) JNCC, Peterborough.