Field meeting reports

Meeting date: 17 May 2008

(Leader: Nick Sturt)

An interesting day in the former territory of two Sussex botanists of substance: F. H. Arnold and R. C. Stern.  On the debit side it proved impossible to re-find Catabrosa aquatica (Water Whorl-grass), Geum rivale (Water Avens), Juncus subnodulosus (Blunt-flowered Rush) or Triglochin palustris (Marsh Arrowgrass), but there was much on the credit side, not least the lack of the lavishly forecast rain.  The group set about ransacking Fishbourne Churchyard for aliens before moving on to more natural habitats.  Two Chichester Harbour specialities gave themselves up: Carex divisa (Divided Sedge) in profusion and scattered Cochlearia anglica (English Scurvy-grass).  It was the day of the Umbellifer, however, with the likes of Petroselinum segetum (Con Parsley) and Torilis nodosa (Knotted Bur-parsley) on the Harbour walls, and occasional Apium graveolens (Wild Celery) and Anthriscus caucalis (Bur Chervil), again by the creek.  The patch of Lepidium latifolium (Dittander) growing by the outfall of the Lavant was visited for its connection with Arnold, but there was a more extensive stand found later up the creek (sine remulo, naturally).  Alopecurus bulbosus (Bulbous Foxtail) was plentiful in places as we wended our way back to the freshwater marsh where Carex disticha (Brown Sedge) was well represented, and distinct from its cousin C divisa. The party was also able to compare the Pond Sedge Carex riparia with its slenderer relative C acutiformis, noting the different shape of the male glumes.  The Millpond provided Carex paniculata (Tussock Sedge), Cyperus longus (Galingale) and Hippuris vulgaris (Mare’s-tail), all there in Arnold’s day.  From there along the A259 many more species were ticked off, prize among them the modest Lepidium ruderale (Narrow-leaved Pepperwort) drawn to our attention by Matthew.  Finally the members (25) counted the flowering spikes of Ornithogalum pyrenaicum (Spiked Star-of-Bethlehem or Bath Asparagus) along Apuldram Lane (67) at the suggestion of Rod (80).  Anne de Potier may have abdicated as Queen of Chichester Harbour, but she was able to make a considerable contribution to the success of the meeting. Over 50 species, many of them notable, were added to the 200+ squares SU80H and M.