Rackham & the Wild Brooks

Field meeting reports

Meeting date: 9 September 2000

(Leader: Mary Briggs, Frances Abraham)

To close the season’s vascular plant meetings we returned to grasses. Arriving at the rendezvous we became entangled with the preparations for the Rackham village fete, but even the promised ox-roast could not deflect the dedicated party of 24 from their task which centred on Leersia oryzoides (Rice Grass). Mary and Frances, our joint guides, showed us the vegetative characters from material gathered from ditches, the angle of the topmost leaf above the slightly inflated sheath being unmistakable. Such had been the Summer that very few of the panicles of the grass had become even slightly exserted and thus we really needed this help. There were other specialities to be found, however, for example Stellaria glauca (Marsh Stitchwort) and Potamogeton acutifolius (Sharp-leaved Pondweed).

Lunch was taken by Greatham Bridge after which we dispersed for an hour to search the river banks and ditches in the hope of confirming the report of Leersia a few years ago. Although we were not successful here we moved on to Stopham Bridge and found clumps both to the north of the main road and south of it between the old bridge and Pulborough. Once again we had to rely almost exclusively upon the vegetative jizz since only in one or two cases had the inflorescence begun to show. In the latter area we were also rewarded with Persicaria minor (Small Water-pepper) to complete a very convivial day of fieldwork.