Plants

A new report published by the JNCC, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and Plantlife International reviews Plant Diversity Challenge, the UK's response to the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation. This progress report celebrates some of the conservation success stories and highlights the challenges that lie ahead for the plant conservation community. The report is available on the Plantlife website.
 

What is a plant?

 
Carpobrotus edulis, The Lizard © Chris Cheffings/JNCCPlants form a distinctive Kingdom of organisms containing chlorophyll.  Within the Kingdom there are vascular plants (flowering plants, conifers, ferns, horsetails and clubmosses), bryophytes (mosses, liverworts and hornworts) and green algae.  The Kingdom does NOT include the fungi and lichens.
 
Vascular plants are divided into native species (which arrived in the UK without intervention by man), archaeophytes (which became naturalised in the UK prior to AD 1500), neophytes (which became naturalised since AD 1500), and casuals (which are non-native and not naturalised).  The numbers of species in these groups vary according to whether microspecies are included; the numbers given in the New Atlas of the British & Irish Flora (2002) are:
           
Natives
1407
Archaeophytes
  149
Neophytes
1155
Casuals
  240
Total
2951
 
In addition, there are approximately 354 native Hieracium microspecies, 137 native Taraxacum microspecies, more than 400 Rubus microspecies, and an unknown number of microspecies within the Ranunculus auricomus complex.
 
The checklist of vascular plants is maintained by the Botanical Society of the British Isles, who also makes it available to the National Biodiversity Network Species Dictionary.
 
There are approximately 1034 native species of bryophyte present in the UK:
 
Mosses
  746
Liverworts
  284
Hornworts
       4
Total
1034
 
The checklist is maintained by the British Bryological Society, who also makes it available to the National Biodiversity Network Species Dictionary .
 
There are over 2000 green algae in the UK, including 30 charophytes.  A Coded List of Freshwater Algae of the British Isles has been produced which includes all of these, additionally, the Botanical Society of the British Isles maintains a checklist of charophytes.
 
The inter-agency group with responsibility for plant conservation advice is the Plant Conservation Working Group.  A sub-group of this group is the Plant Conservation Genetics Working Group.  In addition, JNCC and the Country Agencies play an active role in Plant Link.  This group is administered by Plantlife, and they should be contacted for further information.