Saturday, 24 August 2013

A new site for a rare species

Yesterday, the family and I took a boat trip to the tiny island of Burhou, off the coast of Alderney in the Channel Islands. Burhou is a reserve for puffins (Fratercula arctica) and storm petrels (Hydrobates pelagicus). However, there weren't many birds to see as the puffins have already finished breeding and the storm petrels only return to their nests at night. Nevertheless, this gave me plenty of opportunity to look for plants, without disturbing nesting birds.

Fewer than 50 species of plant have ever been recorded from Burhou and nothing rare, so it it came as a surprise to me to not only find a new species for the island, but one of the rarest British species, Rumex rupestris (shore dock). Britain is the world stronghold for Rumex rupestris, but even here the total population is estimated to be less than 650 plants (see a full description of its status at the JNCC website). The last record of this species nearby was in 1958 on Alderney.

Below is a picture of Rumex rupestris showing its large smooth tubercules and Rumex crispus like leaves.

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This work by Quentin Groom is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

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