In search of rare and threatened wild plants of the Burren, 2022

My  ongoing work  surveying the rare and threatened plants of the Burren and the Aran Islands has brought me in touch with beautiful wild plants this year. Many of these plants have a very limited distribution not only in the Burren and the Aran Islands but also on a National and International scale.   Some of these wild plants I came upon by accident others through prior planning.  At present I am concentrating on surveying a number of rare/ threatened and scarce plants which were previously surveyed in Co Clare in 2006 by Roden et al.

One of the most fascinating finds for me so far this season is  that of the rare arctic-alpine plant  Arctic sandwort (Arenaria norvegica spp. norvegica).  This plant was thought to be extinct in Ireland until it was rediscovered in the Burren in 2008,  47 years  following on from its original discovery in the Burren in 1961.   As I  had not seen this plant before it took me a number of attempts to relocate it and to my delight I eventually found it, albeit not in the original location.  However, to my  disappointment I could see that due to a combination of human and animal trampling this plant has significantly declined.

As an ecologist who worked for over 20 years surveying SAC’s (Special Areas of Conservation)   including those in the  Burren it is  disappointing to see the negative effects these types of  pressures are having on some areas of the Burren and in  particular  its plant life.

The Arctic sandwort is confined to the Burren in Ireland.