Chasing The Ghost


Some people decided to go skydiving when they turn 50, others travel to a long dreamed of place, such as Antarctica or the Galapagos. However, to mark his signifcant birthday, Peter Marren decided on an entirely different sort of mid-life challenge: to track down the last 50 British wild plants he’d yet to see. Having ticked the first 1,400 over a half-century well-spent rummaging in hedges, slipping down gullies and peering into peat bogs, this journey would take him the length and the breadth of the British Isles, searching for our most elusive plants. He would travel from Skye to the Scilly Isles, from mountain to forest floor – but would he manage to find them all?

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ISBN: 9781784703370 Category:



Join renowned naturalist Peter Marren on an exciting quest to see every species of wild plant native to Britain.

The mysterious Ghost Orchid blooms in near darkness among rotting leaves on the forest floor. It blends into the background to the point of invisibility, yet glows, pale and ghostly. The ultimate grail of flower hunters, it has been spotted only once in the past twenty-five years. Its few flowers have a deathly pallor and are said to smell of over-ripe bananas.

Peter Marren has been a devoted flower finder all his life. While the Ghost Orchid offers the toughest challenge of any wild plant, there were fifty more British species Peter had yet to see, having ticked off the first 1,400 rummaging in hedges, slipping down gullies and peering in peat bogs. But he set himself the goal of finding the remaining fifty in a single summer. As it turned out, the wettest summer in years.

This expert and emotional journey takes Peter the length and the breadth of the British Isles, from the dripping ancient woods of the New Forest to the storm-lashed cliffs of Sutherland. He paddles in lakes, clambers up cliffs in mist and rain, and walks several hundred miles, but does he manage to find them all?

Partly about plants, partly autobiography, Chasing the Ghost is also a reminder that to engage with wild flowers, all we need to do is look around us and enjoy what we see.

Praise for Chasing the Ghost:

‘Peter Marren is the unsung hero of Britain’s nature writers’ Stephen Moss, author of Dynasties

‘Jolly, quixotic and ends with real poignancy’ Guardian

‘A poignant reminder to us all to engage with the wild flowers that grow around us’ i Newspaper

Additional information

Weight 0.258 kg
Dimensions 19.8 × 12.9 × 2 cm










582.130941 (edition:23)


General – Trade / Code: K