New Book: “Discovering Dorset’s Wild Flowers” by Peter Cramb.

John Mansel-Pleydell DCM © 2013

John Mansel-Pleydell DCM © 2013

Dorset is a special county for wild flowers. Its natural features provide many different plant habitats which in turn support a rich variety of beautiful, interesting and sometimes rare wild flowers. These flowers have been recorded by many generations of botanists and used by Dorset people as medicines, food, dyes, decorations and garden plants. As importantly, they have over the ages been a source of inspiration, joy and spiritual refreshment to countless individuals.

This book traces the history of the botanical exploration of Dorset from the early pioneers such as William Turner (c.1510-1568) and John Ray (1627-1705) to the first Dorset resident botanist, Richard Pulteney (1730-1801) and John Mansel-Pleydell, one of the founder members of the Dorset County Museum in 1845. The latter published the first full flora of Dorset in 1874, listing all the wild flowers then known in the county and was the first President of the Dorset Field Club – forerunner to the Dorset Natural History & Archaeological Society we know today. Subsequent floras were published in 1948 by Ronald Good (1896-1992), President of the Society from 1961-65, and in 2000 by Humphry Bowen (1929-2001).

The book also describes twenty of Dorset’s most interesting wild flowers, giving details of when, where and by whom they were first recorded in the county, their current distribution both in Dorset and Britain as a whole and their importance to people. These include Tree-mallow, first recorded by John Ray at Chiswell, Portland, in 1670, and the beautiful and rare Early Spider-orchid, first recorded by John Mansel-Pleydell near Worth Matravers in 1874. Both these and many of the other flowers described can still be found where they were first discovered, enabling the reader to follow in the footsteps of the pioneering botanists.

Discovering Dorset's Flowers by Peter Cramb

Discovering Dorset’s Flowers by Peter Cramb

Illustrated with the author’s photographs of the flowers and their habitats and line drawings by Margaret Cramb, Discovering Dorset’s Wild Flowers will appeal to members interested in the county’s wild flowers and also make an attractively priced gift for family and friends.

The author and publishers are generously donating all sale proceeds from this book
to the Dorset Natural History & Archaeological Society. It is on sale now in the Museum Shop.

  • Published by P. & M. Cramb (2013). 64pp. ISBN 978-0-9537746-4-7. Price £5.95.