THE FLORA OF HOWTH 

Ornithopus perpusillus_Bird's-foot, Howth, May '08,  D Hardiman

Ornithopus perpusillus Bird's-foot

The Field Club is currently working on a revised Flora of Howth. While the Flora of County Dublin (1998) covered the whole of the county, the current work in progress is a much more detailed study which follows in the footsteps of H. C. Hart (also author of the Flora of Donegal) who published his monograph in 1887 - a year after the Field Club was founded. For the purpose of this study, Ireland's Eye is also included as part of the Howth Peninsula. Howth has a surprising diversity of species where in a short distance we can move from seaside plants such as Thrift Armeria maritima to heathland containing Autumn Gorse Ulex gallii and Bell Heather Erica cinerea.

In the intervening 130 years, much has changed in the peninsula with only one working farm remaining and the importation of much concrete and asphalt. The north beach at Sutton has virtually disappeared under grass and the remainder of the south beach is under continuing pressure from expansion of housing and gardens and the tread of many feet. The Cosh was once  one of the most interesting botanical areas in the county. Golf courses have digested much of the peninsula and bracken and scrub has spread. A substantial number of indigenous species have disappeared but other opportunists and aliens have established themselves on walls, brownfield sites, cemeteries, cliff slopes and waste ground.

The search is on to find which species have also survived the other pressures such as the reduction of rivulets, marshes and swamps caused by the diversion of water into into storm drains. In addition, nature is surprising us with the resilience and tenacity of some plants and an occasional native plant which has never previously been recorded. Which of the above are attributable to our changing climate? Some microspecies such as brambles and dandelions have never previously been studied in detail and the bryophytes (moss and liverworts) offer new challenges. Perhaps someone will this year discover Goldilocks Ranunculus auricomus or Early-purple Orchid Orchis mascula.

Downloads:     Excel Record File    pdf Field Card (species)    pdf Field Card (cover)

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