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Treading carefully: experts walk miles for new plant books

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Click the pic to find out how to order the new St Helena field guides
Click the pic to find out how to order the new St Helena field guides

Three new books are to be published on St Helena’s unique plant life – including some “celebrated evolutionary curiosities”.

They are the result of four years of work and several hundred miles of walking by members of the St Helena Nature Conservation Group, scouring 157 individual grid squares covering the entire island.

The new field guides cover a number of species that have only recently been described to science. They feature more than 2,000 colour photographs.

Thirty-three of the island’s flowering plants occur nowhere else in the world, along with a dozen ferns, 27 bryophytes (mosses, hornworts and liverworts), and nine types of lichen.

Phil Lambdon, one of the authors, says: “A complete field guide to the island has never been published before and many of the introduced species were not catalogued.

“It was clear that a new guide was much needed, both to help local Saints to understand and appreciate their environment, and also to publicise St Helena to an international audience. With an airport due to arrive in 2016, the ecotourism industry needs a boost.”

The books, edited by Phil Lambdon and Andrew Darlow, also warn of threats to the island’s native species.

Writer Martin Wigginton says grasses infest open ground that would once have been filled with cushions of moss, vine-like weeds such as small fuschia displace native species on trunks and branches, and an invasive moss has “spread rampantly along paths and clearings in the cloud forest”.

The three books together cost £49.95 and will be published in July 2013. Click here for more details.

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