This survey of the North Wirral Foreshore at Hoylake started in February 2020. Further seasonal surveys will be undertaken each year. 

The survey will record species that occur across the full extent of Hoylake beach and will compare and contrast year-on-year species diversity and the number of notable species and should help inform future management and conservation designations for the site.

Some rare species recorded at Hoylake this year, such as Yellow Glasswort (Salicornia fragilis), have not been seen for many years.

Indeed, not only is Whorl-grass (Catabrosa aquatica) Red-list Vulnerable in England, it was last seen on Hoylake beach in 1895, over 120 years ago!

As the beach continues to change, ongoing surveillance could reveal a recovery in these and many other rare species’ populations.

As a further observation, many of the plant species now growing on the Hoylake beach are intolerant of brackish conditions. Marsh Arrowgrass (Triglochin palustre) and Whorl-grass (Catabrosa aquatica) are very intolerant of saline conditions, indicated by very low Ellenberg values for salinity (S=2 and S=1, respectively).

This is in complete contradiction to the existing SSSI citation as it stands, and is a clear indicator of dune development following significant accretion.

Joshua Styles BSc (Hons.) 
NWRPI Project Coordinator and Ecologist

North Wirral Foreshore [Hoylake] Botanical Survey

The DAFOR scale represents the relative abundance of each species found:
D = Dominant; A = Abundant, LF = Locally Frequent, F = Frequent, O = Occasional, R = Rare

ELLENBERG salt values are an indicator of whether or not grasses favour fresh, brackish or saltwater environments:
9 = Very salt tolerant; 0 = Salt intolerant

By monitoring these two values together we can calculate relative changes in overall salt levels across the site over time; a useful indicator of habitat change as a consequence of sand accretion or erosion.

English nameScientific name16.02.2002.07.2027.09.20Ellenberg value (salt)Notable speciesComments
a DandelionTaraxacum sect. RuderaliaRR1
Annual Meadow-grassPoa annuaORR1
Annual Sea BliteSuaeda maritima RR7
Babbington's OracheAtriplex glabriusculaR
Buck's-horn PlantainPlantago coronopus FLFLF2
ButtonweedCotula coronopifoliaLFLF4
Celery-leaved ButtercupRanunculus sceleratus RRR2
Common Cord-grassSpartina anglicaRRR7
Common DuckweedLemna minorR0
Common GlasswortSalicornia europaeaR9
Common GroundselSenecio vulgaris ssp. vulgaris RR0
Common KnotgrassPolygonum aviculare agg. R
Common OracheAtriplex patula RR2
Common PoppyPapaver rhoeasRR0
Common Saltmarsh-grassPuccinellia maritima FAA5
Curled DockRumex crispusOO2
Danish ScurvygrassCochlearia danicaLFLFLF4
Floating Sweet-grassGlyceria fluitansLFOO0
Fool's WatercressApium nodiflorum R0
Frog RushJuncus ranariusLFYESSpecies of Conservation Importance for NW England. Listed within the NW Biodiversity Audit (1999) (SCI)
Glasswort sp.Salicornia sp.RRR9YESBoth Purple and Long-spiked Glassworts are rare on Wirral peninsula
Grass-leaved OracheAtriplex littoralis RR4
Greater Sea SpurreySpergularia media OO5
Hard-grassParapholis strigosaLFLF5
Hemlock Water-dropwortOenanthe crocata R1
Hybrid OracheA. x hulmeanaR
Hybrid OracheAtriplex x gustafssonianaO
Jointed RushJuncus articulatusR
Lesser ChickweedStellaria pallida R0YESRare in Cheshire Vice County
Long-bracted SedgeCarex extensaRR
Long-stalked OracheAtriplex longipesRYESNew to both Wirral and the Vice County. Very rare in the region and nationally scarce.
Lyme-grassLeymus arenariusR
MarramAmmophila arenariaR
Marsh ArrowgrassTriglochin palustre LFLF2YESNear-Threatened in England
Narrow-fruited WatercressNasturtium cf. microphyllumO0
Pellitory-of-the-wallParietaria judaica RRR1
Perennial Rye-grassLolium perenneOO0
PineappleweedMatricaria discoideaRR0
Prickly SaltwortSalsola kaliRYESRed-list Vulnerable in Great Britain. Rare in Cheshire Vice County (SCI)
Prickly Sow-thistleSonchus asperRRR0
Procumbent PearlwortSagina procumbens RRR1
Purple GlasswortSalicornia ramosissimaRYESBoth Purple and Long-spiked Glassworts are rare on Wirral peninsula
Ray's KnotgrassPolygonum oxyspermum ssp. raiiRR3YESNationally Scarce
Red FescueFestuca rubra RR2
Reed Canary-grassPhalaris arundinaceaRR1
Reflexed Saltmarsh-grassPuccinellia distansOO4
Rock SamphireCrithmum maritimumR
Sand CouchElymus junceiformisRRR0
Sea / Lesser Mouse-earCerastium diffusum / semidecandrum RRR1
Sea ArrowgrassTriglochin maritima FF4
Sea AsterAster tripolium LFLFLF5
Sea BeetBeta vulgaris subsp. maritimaRRR3
Sea ClubrushBolboschoenus maritimus OO4
Sea CouchElymus athericusRR4
Sea Fern-grassCatapodium marinumR
Sea MayweedTripleurospermum maritimum OO1
Sea MilkwortLysimachia maritimaLFLF4
Sea PearlwortSagina maritimaR
Sea PlantainPlantago maritima OOO3
Sea PurslaneAtriplex portulacoidesRR6
Sea RaddishRaphanus raphanistrum ssp. maritimusRR0YESSpecies of Conservation Importance for NW England. Listed within the NW Biodiversity Audit (1999) (SCI)
Sea RocketCakile maritima RR3
Smooth Sow-thistleSonchus oleraceus RRR0
Spear-leaved OracheAtriplex prostrataRR2
Toad RushJuncus bufonius OO1
Tufted Forget-me-notMyosotis cf. laxaR0
Wall BarleyHordeum murinum RR0
Water BentPolypogon viridis RR
Watercress agg.Nasturtium officinale agg. ORR0
Whorl-grassCatabrosa aquatica FF1YESRed-list Vulnerable in England. Rare in Cheshire Vice County SCI. 2nd record for Wirral. Last recorded for Hoylake in 1895.
Willowherb sp.Epilobium sp.RRR0
Yellow GlasswortSalicornia fragilisR9YESNationally scarce. Last recorded for Hoylake pre-2000