Nature (journal)/Volume 43/Number 1114/The Flora of Warwickshire

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The Flora of Warwickshire by John Gilbert Baker
Nature, Volume 43 (1891)
No. 1114, 1891, March 5, pp. 413-314

The Flora of Warwickshire.

The Flora of Warwickshire. "The Flowering Plants. Ferns, Mosses, and Lichens," by James E. Bagnall, Associate of the Linnean Society." "The Fungi," by W. B. Grove, M.A., and J. E. Bagnall. 518 + 34 pages, with a Map. (London: Gurney and Jackson. Birmingham; Cornish Brothers, 1890.)

The interest to outsiders in the plants of Warwickshire lies in the fact that we have here a typical English Midland county, the botany of which is not in any way affected by proximity to the sea or high mountains. Although it is the central county of England, and forms the watershed of the Severn. Trent, and Thames, no portion of its surface rises above 885 feet. Its area is 885 square miles, or 566,458 acres, and it contains 4 hundreds, 2 cities, 1 county town, 10 market towns, and 209 parishes. In 1888 the crops of corn, beans, and peas occupied 106,000 acres; green crops, 38,602 acres; permanent pasture land, 312,000 acres; fallow, 8161 acres; and woodland, 16,650 acres. The soils are fertile, but varied, comprising nearly all kinds but these containing chalk and flints. All the southern and south-eastern part of the county is occupied by a strong clay resting on limestone. A soil of similar kind occupies the north-west. Over a large portion of the county, extending from Warwick to its western boundary, are strong clay loams resting on marl and limestone. Westward and south-westward of Warwick there is a strong clay over limestone. About Rugby and in the valleys of the Blythe and Tame are light sandy soils mixed with gravel. The remaining extensive portions of the county consist of a red sandy loam and a red clay loam, resting on freestone or limestone, and sometimes on gravel. The extent of uninclosed land is very inconsiderable, the only extensive commons being those of Sutton Coldfield and Yaningale. The subjacent sedimentary rocks begin with the Cambrian and end with the Inferior Oolite, with a little volcanic tuff with intrusions of diabase and quartz porphyry in the north-east, near Atherstone.

The author of this book. Mr. James Bagnall, is one of the most meritorious and best-known of our working-men naturalists. He lives in Birmingham, and has devoted himself specially for the last twenty years to the study of the botany of his native county, and in the present work the result of his long and diligent labours is carefully summarized. He has taken rank as one of our best critical British botanists, and has been selected by the Linnean Society as one of its fifty Associates, and has been awarded the Darwin Medal given by the Midland Union of Natural History Societies for the encouragement of original research. His fellow-townsmen are justly proud of him, and when the present work was planned, a number of local gentlemen, with Mr. Joseph Chamberlain at their head, undertook to guarantee him against pecuniary loss. There was, however, no need to call upon them, as 430 out of the 500 copies printed were subscribed for before the book was issued.

The work consists of an introduction of thirty-one pages, which contains the needful explanations of the plan followed in the enumeration of plants and their distribution, together with a sketch of the physical geography, meteorology, and geology of the county, the latter contributed by Mr A. Bernard Badger. The great body of the work—328 pages—is taken up by the enumeration of the flowering plants and vascular Cryptogamia that grow in the county, and an account of their distribution and the special stations of the rarities. The county is divided into ten districts founded on the river drainage, and each of these has been worked separately. The last edition of the "London Catalogue" has been followed as a standard of nomenclature and species limitation. The county is specially rich in Rubi, and in studying them Mr. Bagnall had the advantage in starting of the oversight in the field of the Rev. A. Bloxam, who was, one of the best practical authorities in this difficult genus that we have had in this country. The flowering plants of the county have been worked so thoroughly that it is not likely that any material additions will be made. Then follows the enumeration of the mosses, of which 236 species are known in the county. The Hepaticæ and lichens have not been worked so carefully, and in these orders there is ample scope for further research. The enumeration of the fungi is confined to the Ilymenomycetes and Gasteromycetes. The enumeration of the lower Cryptogamia occupies 130 pages. Then follows a table showing the distribution of the plants through the ten drainage districts of the neighbouring counties of Leicester, Northampton, and Oxford. The book concludes with a sketch of the progress of botanical investigation in the county; the principal botanists who have worked within its limits being Withering, Stokes, Perry, Purton, Bree, and Bloxam.

The flowering plants and vascular Cryptogamia of the county summarize as follows:—Out of 532 plants generally diffused throughout Britain, Warwickshire has 501. Out of 409 species concentrated towards the south of Britain. Warwickshire has  285. Out of 127 plants concentrated in the eastern counties. Warwickshire has 31. Out of 70 plants concentrated in the western counties. Warwickshire has only 8. Out of 37 plants concentrated in the centre of Britain. Warwickshire gets 7. Out of 208 plants which represent the boreal element in the British flora. Warwickshire has only 19.

The book is not too large to be conveniently carried, which is a great advantage in a county flora. From every point of view it is thoroughly satisfactory, and will be a lasting memorial of the ability and diligence of its author.

J.G Baker.

This work was published before January 1, 1928, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.

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