My BSBI New Year Plant Hunt 2022

Preparations for my New Year Plant Hunt: woolly hat, gloves, hand lens, glasses, the Veg Key and other wild flower reference books ready for my return. © Karen Andrews.

Every year the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland (BSBI) runs a plant hunt to investigate which plants are in flower at New Year. This was my third year of participation, although having moved home from Somerset to Wiltshire I had a new, unfamiliar area to explore. Unfortunately, there were no organised walks in Wiltshire so I set out on my own around Melksham. I figured that my best hope was to keep to the warmer microclimate of the town.

Close to Home

I set out in the early afternoon. It had been drizzling rather unhelpfully all morning. It was now cloudy and the rain held off for the full duration of my 3-hour walk, but the sun neglected to put in its appearance all day. I had not even left my own driveway when I spotted an open Dandelion sheltering under a neighbour’s car. A few paces further on, I pounced upon Smooth Sowthistle and Annual Meadow Grass. I glanced around to see any of my new neighbours were watching my weird antics. Evidently, not.

Dandelion, Taraxacum agg., in flower during BSBI New Year Plant Hunt. © Karen Andrews.

Unexpected Find

Next came my most unexpected species of the day: Field Madder. I am accustomed to seeing dinky versions of it in the limestone grassland of the Mendips. This plant was sprawling between the edge of a driveway and the pavement. It was not a fluke as I found another patch later in my walk and reconfirmed the identity with Poland and Clement’s Veg Key the next day.

Field Madder, Sherardia arvensis, was my most unexpected New Year Plant Hunt find. © Karen Andrews.

Common New Year Species

White Dead-nettle, Lamium album. © Karen Andrews.

By the end of my road, I had added a fifth species. A large patch of White Dead-nettle was in flower on a grass verge. This ended up being one of the most commonly seen species on my plant hunt. The sixth species was Groundsel – another species that I saw in flower throughout the town. Daisy is another common species that can be relied upon in January. It didn’t let me down this year either. There were sporadic patches on grass verges and in the local park. I could also trust Ivy-leaved Toadflax to put in its annual appearance on walls near the river.

Botanists’ Pace

As I arrived at the local park, my count had reached an unexpected 19 species. In the weeks prior to my hunt, severe frosts had made me think that I would not find a single flower come New Year. It only goes to show what you can find even in unpromising circumstances if you slow down to botanists’ pace. Uninspiring waste ground generally produced the most flowering species.

Few Early Spring Species

Most of the plants that I found seemed to be species that you can often expect to find all year. I did not really find early spring flowers. They tended to be all-year-round species and a few autumn stragglers. I was therefore delighted that several Hazel trees near the river had open catkins.

Unphotogenic Finds

Few of my finds would win prizes in photo competitions. Both the Lesser Celandine and Creeping Buttercups looked the worse for wear. Still, I was happy with my final count given the pre-Christmas weather. I noted down the locations of wall ferns as well to meet the Wiltshire Botany Group’s targets for poorly recorded species. It was an encouraging start to exploring my new patch.

My full count of 34 species:

·  Taraxacum agg. 

·  Sonchus oleraceus

·  Poa annua

·  Sherardia arvensis

·  Lamium album

·  Senecio vulgaris

·  Bellis perennis

·  Cardamine hirsuta

·  Capsella bursa-pastoris

·  Euphoria peplus

·  Veronica persica

·  Vinca major

·  Hedera helix

·  Lapsana communis

·  Mercurialis annua

·  Cymbalaria muralis

·  Lysimachia (Angallis) arvensis

·  Myosotis arvensis

·  Ficaria verna

·  Lamium purpureum

·  Erigeron canadensis

·  Corylus avellana

·  Sisymbrium officinale

·  Stellaria media

·  Parietaria judaica

·  Campanula poscharskyana

·  Centranthus ruber

·  Viburnum tinus

·  Polygonum aviculare agg.

·  Ranunculus repens

·  Hordeum murinum

·  Erigeron karvinskianus

·  Cirsium arvense

·  Pentaglottis sempervirens

© Karen Andrews

References and Further Reading

  • BSBI (2022): New Year Plant Hunt 2022.
  • Harrap, Simon (2013): Harrap’s Wild Flowers. Bloomsbury
  • Poland, John & Clement, Eric (2009): The Vegetative Key to the British Flora. Botanical Society of the British Isles.
  • Stace, Clive (2010): New Flora of the British Isles. Third Edition.
  • Streeter, David et al. (2016): Collins Wild Flower Guide. 2nd Edition. The Most Complete Guide to the Wild Flowers of Britain and Ireland.


Karen does not seek or receive any commercial interest or advantage from this blog. She is not promoting any business venture. She simply loves to share fascinating facts about plants. These pages illustrate her love of plants, botany, biodiversity, gardens and creative expression. There is always so much to learn about plant diversity. This blog is designed as a showcase for photography, commentary on plants and wildlife, gardens and other places visited, horticulture and related topics. Viewpoints are her own, not those of her employer.

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