Hackhurst Farm, Lower Dicker

Field meeting reports

Meeting date: 14 July 2007

(Leader: Helen Proctor)

Seventeen members assembled at Hackhurst Farm, where the owner, Clarissa Hallings-Pott, introduced the group to the farm. The route included two woods, one with ponds. The old London coach road, now a wooded bridleway, dissects the farm, and parkland, formerly part of the Chatsworth Estate, provides a particularly pleasing landscape.

Two tetrads, TQ51R and TQ51Q, produced about 125 plant species each. A large bush of Ruscus aculeatus (Butcher’s-broom) was found in Caldicotts Wood. Other good ancient woodland indicator species found here or by the bridleway included Adoxa moschatellina (Moschatel), Euphorbia amygdaloides (Wood Spurge), Melica uniflora (Wood Melick), Moehringia trinervia (Three-nerved Sandwort) and Ranunculus auricomus (Wood Buttercup). Dactylorhiza fuchsii (Common Spotted-orchid) was also recorded.

The parkland field, possibly never ploughed, had a good number of species including Carex ovalis (Oval Sedge), Centaurium erythraea (Common Centaury) and Lotus corniculatus (Common Bird’s-foot-trefoil). Members were able to study the difference between Phleum pratense (Timothy) and P. bertolonii (Smaller Cat’s-tail). The hybrid Stachys x ambigua was late compared with one of its parents S. sylvatica (Hedge Woundwort). The hybrid Rumex crispus x obtusifolius was also noted.

Michael Fish’s forecast showers did not materialise and the meeting was blessed with warm, dry, sunny weather all day.