Record number of wild flowers in bloom at midwinter: did Covid-19 play a part? - Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland (BSBI)

The results are in for BSBI’s tenth New Year Plant Hunt, when plant-lovers across Britain and Ireland head out to see what is flowering in their local patch. 1,811 people took part this year – more than ever before – but restrictions around Covid-19 had surprising impacts on the wild flowers they spotted in bloom. They hunted for up to three hours over the New Year period and recorded more species in bloom than ever before. Here’s what they found:

Ellen Goddard of BSBI’s Events & Communications Committee has analysed this year’s results and compared them with those from previous years. She said “2021 has been a record-breaking year, with more species recorded in bloom and more lists submitted than ever before, but we are still seeing the same split of native vs non-native plants. We have also seen a change in the way people took part in the Hunt this year: with organised group hunts cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions, people have been going out on their own or in small family groups and support bubbles. This has led to a small increase (c5%) in the number of participants but a marked increase (45-50%) in total lists and records submitted. This is likely to have played a large part in the higher number of species recorded this year, but there was also a higher temperature anomaly than we saw in 2020. So, the Covid-19 restrictions may have influenced how people took part in the Hunt but the warmer weather in the period leading up to the Hunt could also have influenced the total number of species and the number of records we received.”

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Posted On: 25/01/2021

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