Star Copse, Harting

Field meeting reports

Meeting date: 16 April 2006

(Leader: Dawn Nelson)

Six inches of snow on the county border near Tunbridge Wells a few days previously exemplified the tardiness of the season.   Easter also late – so late that neither the leader nor the field convenor had realised that this first meeting fell on Easter Sunday.  Having hastily postponed her family Easter egg hunt, Dawn led a party of fifteen into the woods to discover what seasonal plants had put their heads above the parapet.  Forestry tracks tested the skills of vegetative diagnosis, for example Carex strigosa unmasked by Frances through the ‘tram-lines’ along the leaf blades.  And so into Star Copse to wander over carpets of Adoxa moschatellina (Moschatel), Anemone nemorosa (Wood Anemone) and Allium ursinum (Ramsons).  Much Viola reichenbachiana (Early Dog-violet), but scarcely any V riviniana  (Common Dog-violet) yet.  Lathraea squamaria (Toothwort) proved to be the most appreciated plant here, and there were many spikes peering pale-pinkly above the mats of spring green.  The scent of the flowers could be described as ‘sweet vanilla with fungal overtones’, although I may be recalling a modest bottle of Egyptian Riesling.