For centuries, botanists have been drawn to the rarest species, sometimes with dire consequences for the species' survival. In A Guide to Britain's Rarest Plants, Great Britain's rarest flowering plants are discussed in turn, including the stories behind their discovery, the reasons for their rarity, and the work being done to save them from dying out. It is hoped that it will help to throw light on some of the species that normally gain little attention, and foster an appreciation of our most threatened plants.
A Guide to Britain's Rarest Plants describes 66 native species of plants that have the most narrowly restricted ranges in Great Britain. These range from continental, warmth-loving species in the south of England to those found only on the highest Scottish mountains. Each species is shown together with its habitat to allow the reader to better understand the ecological context. Other scarce plants in the same area are indicated.
"Our rarest plants have a special fascination. Tracking them down needed the skills of a botanical Sherlock Holmes combined with the eye of a hawk. [...] Today it is easier to find out where plants grow [...] Perhaps this book will encourage more people to search for rarities, but, if so, I suspect that they will struggle. Identifying the likes of sedges, pondweeds and yellow composites requires a reasonable working knowledge of the British flora beyond what a short guide can provide. Many of the pictures were taken abroad and give a false impression of what their British counterparts actually look like. The Welsh Radnor Lily, for example, rarely or never has multiple flowers as shown in the author’s Austrian example. [...] The author’s choice of species is eclectic [...] The accounts seem accurate enough, each containing a short history, and a sketch of the plant’s habitat and attempts to conserve them, but there is not much here that an interested reader could not browse from the internet or the Red Data Books. The remarks on conservation are uncritical; if ‘measures’ are taken, there is an implication that the species will respond accordingly. If only! There are no references or guide to further reading, which is hard luck on this reviewer. A stiff price, too, for a small paperback."
– Peter Marren, British Wildlife 29(1), October 2017
66 Species Accounts
Profoundly disappointing as the plant photographs are mainly from the Continent, the habitat shots are too general to be of much use and the locality details are no more specific than one can obtain from other books so of no great use in locating the plants and I say this as someone who has seen in the UK most of the plants covered by the book.
Christopher J. Dixon has a PhD in botany from the University of Vienna. Having written a comprehensive interactive key to the flora of the British Isles, Chris has studied every species found in the wild, from the most abundant weeds to little-known rarities. Drawing on his years of field experience across Europe and his talent for nature photography, Chris has travelled the length and breadth of the country to visit and record rare plants in their natural habitats.