The Federation of Old Cornwall Societies’ Holyer

The Federation of Old Cornwall Societies’ Holyer an Gof cup for non-fiction has been awarded to A Flora of Cornwall by Dr. Colin French. This lavishly illustrated book represents the culmination of two decades of surveying every kilometre square of Cornwall (3942 squares) by a small group of dedicated volunteers, during which time 1.4 million individual sightings were logged in the ERICA database. When combined with historic records, this treatise summarises the distribution and present state of 3018 flowering plants and ferns found growing in the wild from the sixteenth century to the present.

Cornwall is the most intensively and most comprehensively surveyed region in Britain and, as a result, many exciting discoveries have been made, including the finding of several plants, new to science. These include a dozen native plants that were not known to be resident; the re-discovery of ten native plants thought to have been extinct in Cornwall; and the locating of several hundred alien species that have now escaped into the wild.

The introductory pages discuss the flora in context with the geology, climate, topography and land use. There is special reference to mining and other extractive industries, which have extensively shaped it. In addition significant gains and losses of species, rare and threatened plants and key areas such as The Lizard, are reviewed.

Cornwall is a special place with a distinctive flora which reflects the way its unique landscape has been managed by Cornish men and women over thousands of years. It is a mainly rural landscape, clothed by a reticulate pattern of Cornish Hedges, together with extensive remaining tracts of open habitat such as moorland, heathland, coastal maritime grassland and former mine sites. Most important of all, Cornwall has a comparative lack of trees, and it is the open, largely treeless, habitats that have the highest nature conservation value, where the majority of the rarest and most threatened plants reside.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic a virtual awards ceremony, organised by Gorsedh Kernow, was held at Kresen Kernow in Redruth.