BOTANICAL SURVEY by Joshua Styles MCIEEM AMRSB

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.) 
MCIEEM AMRSB
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 name16.02.2002.07.2027.09.2031.05.2106.09.21Ellenberg value (salt)Notable speciesComments
Beard-mossDidymodon sp.R
Common LiverwortMarchantia polymorphaRR0
Fern-leaved Hook-mossCratoneuron filicinumRR0
a DandelionTaraxacum sect. HamataR1
a DandelionTaraxacum sect. NaevosaR1
a DandelionTaraxacum sect. RuderaliaRRRO1
American WillowherbEpilobium ciliatumR
Annual Meadow-grassPoa annuaORROF1
Annual Sea BliteSuaeda maritima RRLF7
Annual Wall-rocketDiplotaxis muralisRR1
Babbington's OracheAtriplex glabriusculaR3
Barren BromeAnisantha sterilisRR0
Broad-leaved DockRumex obtusifoliusRR0
Buck's-horn PlantainPlantago coronopus FLFLFLFO2
BuddlejaBuddleja davidiiR
ButtonweedCotula coronopifoliaLFLFOLF4
Canadian FleabaneErigeron canadensisR
Celery-leaved ButtercupRanunculus sceleratus RRRRO2
CleaversGalium aparineRR0
Cock's-footDactylis glomerataOR0
ColtsfootTussilago farfaraR
Common ChickweedStellaria mediaR
Common Cord-grassSpartina anglicaRRRRR7
Common DaisyBellis perennisR0
Common DuckweedLemna minorRR0
Common GlasswortSalicornia europaeaRR9
Common Field SpeedwellVeronica persicaR
Common GroundselSenecio vulgaris ssp. vulgaris RRRF0
Common KnotgrassPolygonum aviculare agg. RRLF0
Common MallowMalva sylvestrisR
Common Mouse-earCerastium fontanumR0
Common OracheAtriplex patula RRR2
Common PoppyPapaver rhoeasRRRR0
Common RagwortJacobaea vulgarisRR0
Common ReedPhragmites australisRLF2
Common Saltmarsh-grassPuccinellia maritima FAALALA5
Creeping BentAgrostis stoloniferaRO1
Creeping ButtercupRanunculus repensR0
Creeping ThistleCirsium arvenseR
Curled DockRumex crispusOOOF2
Cut-leaved DandelionTaraxacum lacistophyllumRR1
Danish ScurvygrassCochlearia danicaLFLFLFRLF4
English ScurvygrassCochlearia anglicaR6
False Fox-sedgeCarex otrubaeRR2
Fat-henChenopodium albumR1
Field HorsetailEquisetum arvenseR
FlaxLinum usitatissimumR
Fleabane sp.Erigeron sp.R0
Floating Sweet-grassGlyceria fluitansLFOOR0
Fool's WatercressApium nodiflorum RR0
Frog RushJuncus ranariusLFLFLF1YESSpecies of Conservation Importance for NW England, listed within the NW Biodiversity Audit (1999) (SCI)
Frosted OracheAtriplex laciniataRYESSpecies of Conservation Importance for NW England, listed within the NW Biodiversity Audit (1999) (SCI)
Glasswort sp.Salicornia sp.RRRRR9YESBoth Purple and Long-spiked Glassworts are rare on Wirral peninsula
Goat WillowSalix capreaLF
Grass-leaved OracheAtriplex littoralis RRRO4
Great WillowherbEpilobium hirsutumRO0
Greater PlantainPlantago majorR
Greater BulrushTypha latifoliaR
Greater Sea SpurreySpergularia media OOR5
GypsywortLycopus europaeusO
Hairy Bitter-cressCardamine hirsutaRR0
Hard-grassParapholis strigosaLFLFOO5
Hemlock Water-dropwortOenanthe crocata RO1
Hoary MustardHirschfeldia incanaR
Hoary WillowherbEpilobium parviflorumRR0
Hybrid OracheA. x hulmeanaR2
Hybrid OracheAtriplex x gustafssonianaO2
Jointed RushJuncus articulatusRR1
Lesser ChickweedStellaria pallida RRR0YESRare in Cheshire Vice County
Lesser HawkbitLeontodon hispidusR
Lesser Sea-spurreySpergularia marinaO5
Lesser TrefoilTrifolium dubiumR
Long-bracted SedgeCarex extensaRRRR4
Long-headed PoppyPapaver dubiumR0
Long-spiked GlasswortSalicornia dolichostachyaRYESBoth Purple and Long-spiked Glassworts are rare on Wirral peninsula
Long-stalked OracheAtriplex longipesR4YESNew to both Wirral and the Vice County. Very rare in the region and nationally scarce.
Lyme-grassLeymus arenariusRRLF3
MarramAmmophila arenariaRRR3
Marsh ArrowgrassTriglochin palustre LFLFFLA2YESNear-Threatened in England
Marsh FoxtailAlopecurus geniculatusRR1
Narrow-fruited WatercressNasturtium cf. microphyllumO0
Nodding Bur-marigoldBidens cernuaR
Night-scented StockMatthiola longipetalaRR1
OsierSalix viminalisR
Pellitory-of-the-wallParietaria judaica RRRRO1
Perennial Rye-grassLolium perenneOOOLF0
Perennial Sow-thistleSonchus arvensisR
PineappleweedMatricaria discoideaRRRO0
Prickly SaltwortSalsola kaliR3YESRed-list Vulnerable in Great Britain, rare in Cheshire Vice County, SCI
Prickly Sow-thistleSonchus asperRRRR0
Procumbent PearlwortSagina procumbens RRRRR1
Purple ToadflaxLinaria purpureaR
Purple GlasswortSalicornia ramosissimaRR9YESBoth Purple and Long-spiked Glassworts are rare on Wirral peninsula
Ray's KnotgrassPolygonum oxyspermum ssp. raiiRRRF3YESNationally Scarce
RedshankPersicaria maculosaR
Red BartsiaOdontites vernusR3
Red GoosefootChenopodium rubrumRYESSpecies of Conservation Importance for NW England, listed within the NW Biodiversity Audit (1999) (SCI)
Red FescueFestuca rubra RRRO2
Red ValerianCentranthus ruberRR1
Reed Canary-grassPhalaris arundinaceaRRR1
Reflexed Saltmarsh-grassPuccinellia distansOOOF4YESSpecies of Conservation Importance for NW England, listed within the NW Biodiversity Audit (1999) (SCI)
Rock SamphireCrithmum maritimumRR5YESSpecies of Conservation Importance for NW England, listed within the NW Biodiversity Audit (1999) (SCI)
Rough Meadow-grassPoa trivialisRO0
Saltmarsh RushJuncus gerrardiiR
Sand CouchElymus junceiformisRRROO0
Sea / Lesser Mouse-earCerastium diffusum / semidecandrum RRRR1
Sea ArrowgrassTriglochin maritima FFFF4
Sea AsterAster tripolium LFLFLFOO5
Sea BeetBeta vulgaris subsp. maritimaRRRRO3
Sea ClubrushBolboschoenus maritimus OOOF4
Sea CouchElymus athericusRRRO4
Sea Fern-grassCatapodium marinumRR1
Sea MayweedTripleurospermum maritimum OOOF1
Sea MilkwortLysimachia maritimaLFLFOO4
Sea PearlwortSagina maritimaRRR4
Sea PlantainPlantago maritima OOOOR3
Sea PurslaneAtriplex portulacoidesRRR6
Sea RaddishRaphanus raphanistrum ssp. maritimusRRRR0YESSpecies of Conservation Importance for NW England. Listed within the NW Biodiversity Audit (1999) (SCI)
Sea RocketCakile maritima RRRO3
Sea RushJuncus maritimusR5
Sea SpurgeEuphorbia paraliasRYESSpecies of Conservation Importance for NW England. Listed within the NW Biodiversity Audit (1999) (SCI)
Seaside DaisyErigeron glaucusR
Sedge sp.Carex sp.R
SelfhealPrunella vulgarisR
Shepherd's PurseCapsella bursa-pastorisRR0
Smooth Hawk's-beardCrepis capillarisR0
Smooth Sow-thistleSonchus oleraceus RRROO0
Soft BromeBromus hordeaceusR0
Spear-leaved OracheAtriplex prostrataRROF2
Spreading Meadow-grassPoa humilisR2
Sticky Mouse-earCerastium glomeratumRR0
SunflowerHelianthus annuusRR0
Sweet AlisonLobularia maritimaR
Tall Ramping-fumitoryFumaria bastardiiRYESSpecies of Conservation Importance for NW England. Listed within the NW Biodiversity Audit (1999) (SCI)
ThriftArmeria maritimaRR3YESRare at Vice County level -
Toad RushJuncus bufonius OOOF1
TomatoSolanum lycopersicumR
Trifid Bur-marigoldBidens tripartitaRLF0
Tufted Forget-me-notMyosotis cf. laxaR0
Wall BarleyHordeum murinum RRRR0
Water BentPolypogon viridis RRRO
Water Forget-me-notMyosotis scorpioidesR
Water PepperPersicaria hydropiperR
Watercress agg.Nasturtium officinale agg. ORROR0
White WillowSalix albaR
White StonecropSedum albumR0
Whorl-grassCatabrosa aquatica subsp. minor FFFF1YESRed-list Vulnerable in England. Rare in Cheshire Vice County SCI. 2nd record for Wirral. Last recorded for Hoylake in 1895. Second English extant site.
Wild Turnip/RapeBrassica sp.R
Willow sp.Salix sp.R
Willowherb sp.Epilobium sp.RRRRR0
YarrowAchillea millefoliumR
Yellow GlasswortSalicornia fragilisR9YESNationally scarce. Last recorded for Hoylake pre-2000
Yellow IrisIris pseudacorusR