Example identification

1. Suppose you found this plant, and you didn’t know what it was:

A red-flowered herb, growing on dunes in Anglesey

2. When the program starts, there are 3221 possible taxa. The first question asks you to count the stamens.

3. Having answered that the plant has five stamens, there are now only 995 possible taxa, and the next question concerns how the flowers are arranged.

4. After stating that the flowers are solitary, only 201 possible taxa remain, and the program asks for the number of stigmas in each flower.

5. After telling the program that there is only one stigma, limiting the options to 76 taxa, it asks the colour of the flowers.

6. Having learnt that the flowers are red, only 6 taxa from three families remain; the next question concerns the arrangement of the leaves.

7. We reply that the leaves are opposite, and only one taxon remains: our plant is Anagallis arvensis, the scarlet pimpernel.

A Guide to Britain's Rarest Plants by Christopher J. Dixon

A Guide to Britain’s Rarest Plants

Out now!

This guide describes 66 native species of plants that have the most narrowly restricted ranges in Great Britain. These range from continental, warmth-loving species in the south of England to those found only on the highest Scottish mountains. Each species is shown together with its habitat to allow the reader to better understand the ecological context. Other scarce plants in the same area are indicated.

Available direct from Pelagic Publishing and from all good bookshops.

L-R: Orobanche elatior, Carex otrubae, Centaurea nigra, Stachys germanica, Convallaria majalis, Carpinus betulus, Lycopus europaeus, Cypripedium calceolus