Plants of Holy Island


  • Plants of Holy Island by Chris and Hazel Metherell (Nature Guides, 2023).
  • 234 pages, colour photos and illustrations, graphs and maps. 
  • ISBN: 9781916875449. Hbk, £20.

There is plenty to appreciate about a neatly designed and well-presented book, whatever its contents may be. Both apply to the delightful Plants of Holy Island, which, as its title suggests, is dedicated to the famous island off the north Northumberland coast.

The authors' impressive knowledge of Lindisfarne's flora is apparent throughout. The pages are decorated in lovely images and some wonderful illustrations by the extremely talented Reinhild Reistrick.

The structure and format of the book has been well thought out. The main section details 109 of the key plants found on the island, each attributed a page of detail giving some background to the species, its identification and where it grows, as well as at least one photo. There is also a section on 'supplementary plants', profiling an additional 71 species more fleetingly.

What I felt was a particularly thoughtful inclusion was chapter three, 'Walks'. For any botanist visiting Holy Island, this is invaluable, for it is essentially a walk-through guide to some of the best spots and gives accurate 'gen' on what flora you are likely to see where. Backed up with some excellent and clear maps, it's hard to put a foot wrong – a good thing when it comes to small, delicate and rare plants!

It may be slightly niche in its subject matter, but this is a truly beautiful book.

Additionally, for the birders out there, Nature Guides has announced that a second edition of the popular Birds of Holy Island by Ian Kerr will be published later this year.

Written by: Josh Jones

Josh Jones manages BirdGuides.com and is Editor of Birdwatch magazine. He is an avid birder and keen all-round naturalist. Follow him on Twitter: @jrmjones