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

NB This survey has been conducted on a voluntary basis.

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

Why this is important

By monitoring these two values together (DAFOR; relative species abundance and ELLENBERG; species salt tolerance), 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 (as is happening at Hoylake) or erosion.

It is also an indicator at Hoylake of a shift from dominance of waterborne silt deposition to a dominance of windblown sand deposition.

English nameScientific name16.02.2002.07.2027.09.2031.05.21Ellenberg value (salt)Notable speciesComments
Common LiverwortMarchantia polymorphaR0
Fern-leaved Hook-mossCratoneuron filicinumR0
a DandelionTaraxacum sect. RuderaliaRRR1
Annual Meadow-grassPoa annuaORRO1
Annual Sea BliteSuaeda maritima RR7
Annual Wall-rocketDiplotaxis muralisR1
Babbington's OracheAtriplex glabriusculaR3
Barren BromeAnisantha sterilisR0
Broad-leaved DockRumex obtusifoliusR0
Buck's-horn PlantainPlantago coronopus FLFLFLF2
ButtonweedCotula coronopifoliaLFLFO4
Celery-leaved ButtercupRanunculus sceleratus RRRR2
CleaversGalium aparineR0
Cock's-footDactylis glomerataO0
Common Cord-grassSpartina anglicaRRRR7
Common DaisyBellis perennisR0
Common DuckweedLemna minorRR0
Common GlasswortSalicornia europaeaR9
Common GroundselSenecio vulgaris ssp. vulgaris RRR0
Common KnotgrassPolygonum aviculare agg. RR0
Common Mouse-earCerastium fontanumR0
Common OracheAtriplex patula RR2
Common PoppyPapaver rhoeasRRR0
Common RagwortJacobaea vulgarisR0
Common ReedPhragmites australisR2
Common Saltmarsh-grassPuccinellia maritima FAALA5
Creeping BentAgrostis stoloniferaR1
Creeping ButtercupRanunculus repensR0
Curled DockRumex crispusOOO2
Cut-leaved DandelionTaraxacum lacistophyllumR1
Danish ScurvygrassCochlearia danicaLFLFLFR4
English ScurvygrassCochlearia anglicaR6
False Fox-sedgeCarex otrubaeR2
Fat-henChenopodium albumR1
Fleabane sp.Erigeron sp.R0
Floating Sweet-grassGlyceria fluitansLFOOR0
Fool's WatercressApium nodiflorum R0
Frog RushJuncus ranariusLFLF1YESSpecies of Conservation Importance for NW England, listed within the NW Biodiversity Audit (1999) (SCI)
Glasswort sp.Salicornia sp.RRRR9YESBoth Purple and Long-spiked Glassworts are rare on Wirral peninsula
Grass-leaved OracheAtriplex littoralis RRR4
Great WillowherbEpilobium hirsutumR0
Greater Sea SpurreySpergularia media OOR5
Hairy Bitter-cressCardamine hirsutaR0
Hard-grassParapholis strigosaLFLFO5
Hemlock Water-dropwortOenanthe crocata RO1
Hoary WillowherbEpilobium parviflorumR0
Hybrid OracheA. x hulmeanaR2
Hybrid OracheAtriplex x gustafssonianaO2
Jointed RushJuncus articulatusRR1
Lesser ChickweedStellaria pallida RR0YESRare in Cheshire Vice County
Lesser Sea-spurreySpergularia marinaO5
Long-bracted SedgeCarex extensaRRR4
Long-headed PoppyPapaver dubiumR0
Long-stalked OracheAtriplex longipesR4YESNew to both Wirral and the Vice County. Very rare in the region and nationally scarce.
Lyme-grassLeymus arenariusRR3
MarramAmmophila arenariaRR3
Marsh ArrowgrassTriglochin palustre LFLFF2YESNear-Threatened in England
Marsh FoxtailAlopecurus geniculatusR1
Narrow-fruited WatercressNasturtium cf. microphyllumO0
Night-scented StockMatthiola longipetalaR1
Pellitory-of-the-wallParietaria judaica RRRR1
Perennial Rye-grassLolium perenneOOO0
PineappleweedMatricaria discoideaRRR0
Prickly SaltwortSalsola kaliR3YESRed-list Vulnerable in Great Britain, rare in Cheshire Vice County, SCI
Prickly Sow-thistleSonchus asperRRR0
Procumbent PearlwortSagina procumbens RRRR1
Purple GlasswortSalicornia ramosissimaR9YESBoth Purple and Long-spiked Glassworts are rare on Wirral peninsula
Ray's KnotgrassPolygonum oxyspermum ssp. raiiRRR3YESNationally Scarce
Red BartsiaOdontites vernusR3
Red FescueFestuca rubra RRR2
Red ValerianCentranthus ruberR1
Reed Canary-grassPhalaris arundinaceaRRR1
Reflexed Saltmarsh-grassPuccinellia distansOOO4
Rock SamphireCrithmum maritimumR5
Rough Meadow-grassPoa trivialisR0
Sand CouchElymus junceiformisRRRO0
Sea / Lesser Mouse-earCerastium diffusum / semidecandrum RRRR1
Sea ArrowgrassTriglochin maritima FFF4
Sea AsterAster tripolium LFLFLFO5
Sea BeetBeta vulgaris subsp. maritimaRRRR3
Sea ClubrushBolboschoenus maritimus OOO4
Sea CouchElymus athericusRRR4
Sea Fern-grassCatapodium marinumR1
Sea MayweedTripleurospermum maritimum OOO1
Sea MilkwortLysimachia maritimaLFLFO4
Sea PearlwortSagina maritimaRR4
Sea PlantainPlantago maritima OOOO3
Sea PurslaneAtriplex portulacoidesRR6
Sea RaddishRaphanus raphanistrum ssp. maritimusRRR0YESSpecies of Conservation Importance for NW England. Listed within the NW Biodiversity Audit (1999) (SCI)
Sea RocketCakile maritima RRR3
Sea RushJuncus maritimusR5
Shepherd's PurseCapsella bursa-pastorisR0
Smooth Hawk's-beardCrepis capillarisR0
Smooth Sow-thistleSonchus oleraceus RRRO0
Soft BromeBromus hordeaceusR0
Spear-leaved OracheAtriplex prostrataRRO2
Spreading Meadow-grassPoa humilisR2
Sticky Mouse-earCerastium glomeratumR0
SunflowerHelianthus annuusR0
ThriftArmeria maritimaR3YESRare at Vice County level -
Toad RushJuncus bufonius OOO1
Trifid Bur-marigoldBidens tripartitaR0
Tufted Forget-me-notMyosotis cf. laxaR0
Wall BarleyHordeum murinum RRR0
Water BentPolypogon viridis RRR
Watercress agg.Nasturtium officinale agg. ORRO0
White StonecropSedum albumR0
Whorl-grassCatabrosa aquatica subsp. minor FFF1YESRed-list Vulnerable in England. Rare in Cheshire Vice County SCI. 2nd record for Wirral. Last recorded for Hoylake in 1895. Second English extant site.
Willowherb sp.Epilobium sp.RRRR0
Yellow GlasswortSalicornia fragilisR9YESNationally scarce. Last recorded for Hoylake pre-2000