Forest Mere

Field meeting reports

Meeting date: 23 August 2003

(Leader: Frances Abraham)

Frances was pessimistic about the day: the long dry spell had shrivelled and blasted anything green, the area was not outstandingly interesting, a couple of specialities would probably not be found. Her ten companions had much more confidence in her as they walked to the smallish portion of SU83A that is in vc13. When the GPS pronounced us on-side we fanned out over a sandy field reclaimed from the heath and, although you might say there was ‘not much to write home about’, Juncus squarrosus (Heath Rush) and Filago minima (Small Cudweed) were notable and there was another goodly sample of Epilobia (Willowherbs).

From our luncheon in woodland out onto the damp edge of a grassy field, where the emphatically white flowers of a Bedstraw proclaimed themselves to be those of Galium uliginosum (Fen Bedstraw). Other damp-loving associates such as Carex nigra (Common Sedge) came to light, and then progress into drier regions yielded new species, with some unexpected Malva neglecta (Dwarf Mallow) within sight of the Forest Mere Health Spa: it would be necessary to return earlier in the season to do the clovers etc.  Frances edged us nervously towards the lake – she felt sure we would not find the specialité de la maison. Waterside species were added to the card – notably Hypericum elodes (Marsh St John’s-wort) – and then, as the bemused and be-robed reclining clients of Forest Mere looked on, we swooped down upon a rash of tiny leaves adhering to the otherwise bare mud of the lakeside; handlenses clutched by doubled-up botanists focused on the six-stamened little beauty and there were polite whoops of joy: Elatine hexandra (Six-stamened Waterwort)!

Two morals are to be drawn from the meeting: firstly, with Frances in charge a memorable day in the field is guaranteed (Ed’s note: take with pinch of salt); secondly, a wise man should never disagree with Arthur over the determination of an alien shrub – the author deserves to be chastised with bundles of stems cut from the Clethra latifolia planted by Folly Pond.