Ferns, Clubmosses, Quillworts and Horsetails of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly is published by ERCCIS, the Environmental Records Centre for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly which is hosted by Cornwall Wildlife Trust, based in Allet near Truro. The publication is the culmination of many years of study by the authors, the well-known Cornish-based botanists Rosaline Murphy, Dr Christopher Page, Rosemary Parslow and Ian Bennallick.
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Within the British Isles, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have a remarkably rich and varied fern flora, and this book is the culmination of many years of study of these enigmatic plants by the authors. An invaluable guide to over 70 ferns, clubmosses, quillworts and horsetails, this book covers species (both native and introduced), subspecies, varieties and hybrids.
Each account has a short description of the plant where relevant; the distribution in Europe (including the British Isles); and habitats and distribution in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. Maps show distribution by a 2km x 2km square (tetrad) basis in Cornwall, and at a finer resolution (by six-figure grid references) in the Isles of Scilly. Scanned images of actual specimens are given where these help and colour photographs are included throughout. The introduction covers the various habitats in Cornwall, the climate, soils and geology and the effects of such activities as mining and china clay workings, and the special conditions on the Isles of Scilly.
The book's contents include an introduction with habitat notes, acccounts of sites of special fern interest, species distributions of native and on-native species, hybrids and varieties, distribution maps at 2km x 2km level (and 0.25km x 0.25km for the isles of Scilly); a checklist of all ferns, clubmosses, quillworts and horsetails of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, and a full bibliography and references.
Author Ian Bennallick said, “We wanted to produce something colourful, including lots of photos and distribution maps, plus information to interest not only existing fern enthusiasts but beginners too. Due to the mostly mild and moist climate down here in the far south-west, a remarkably rich fern flora has developed in both natural and man-made habitats with rare species and hybrids, and more common ones being particularly abundant. We have written the book to celebrate that.”
Ian added, “The ‘ferny-ness’ of Cornwall it is one of Britain’s natural wonders. The book includes details of both common species, such as Bracken, as well as very rare species such as land quillwort (Isoetes histrix). The only population on the British mainland grows here and it’s very difficult to find. It grows in short turf over serpentine rock on the Lizard Peninsula, the southernmost tip of Cornwall. If you are luck to spot it, you will notice its very unusual appearance – a cross between a shaving brush and a ‘Catherine Wheel’. Other extremely rare species including in the books are; marsh clubmoss (Lycopodiella inundata), found recently on Bodmin Moor on an old China clay mica dam, as well as stag’s-horn clubmoss (Lycopodium clavatum), a species previously considered extinct in the county.” British Pteridological (Fern) Society’s Martin Rickard, a world authority on ferns, said, “There are very few areas in the British Isles that could match Cornwall for ferns. The book looks super, I love it.”
According to Dr Colin French, the Botanical Society of the British Isles recorder for West Cornwall the book “sets a new standard for fern books.” Patrick Acock, another member of the society who studies the world’s horsetails, said, “The book is beautifully designed with superb photographs, is well written and has very pleasing maps and data. A most excellent work.”
Many interesting records have been made in the last few years and are continuing to be made. This includes the very recent 2012 finds on the edge of Bodmin Moor: populations of marsh clubmoss, a species that has always been extremely rare in Cornwall and is now Nationally Scarce and Endangered, together with stag’s-horn clubmoss, a species previously considered extinct in the county. This book will no doubt spark new appreciation and interest in ferns and encourage more people to record this often overlooked group. The book appeals to residents and visitors to Cornwall, some of whom love nothing more than a walk along ferny Cornish lanes in the spring, the hedges luxuriant with fresh green fern fronds, bluebells and pink campions, or exploring cool ferny Cornish woodland in summer. The authors hope that the book will encourage more people to notice and appreciate these overlooked plants.
Ferns, Clubmosses, Quillworts and Horsetails of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly
To purchase: Erccis
or from the ERCCIS office at Five Acres, Allet, Truro, TR4 9DJ.
All photos © by the photographers and courtesy Cornwall Wildlife Trust
Front cover of book by Ian Bennallick
Hart's-tongue fern, Stithians, photo by Chris Page
Inside double spread of a species description Sea Spleenwort by Ian Bennallick
Rustyback fern on wall at Ponsanooth by Chris Page
Cornwall Fern Book authors by Ian Bennallick
Hard-fern, near Bodmin photo by Ken Preston-Mafham
Stag's-horn Clubmoss, Bodmin Moor Ian Bennallick