Staplecross area

Field meeting reports

Meeting date: 19 May 2012

(Leaders: Jacqueline Rose and Judy Clark)

Seven stalwart members and Owen Johnson met in Brede High Wood car park, hoping to record early species in TQ72R, 72V and 72W, and TQ82A and 82B.  We spent the morning together in TQ82A as Patrick Roper had to leave at lunchtime and Brede High Wood is his home territory.

Eighteen new records were added to the tetrad list, starting with naturalised Tellima grandiflora growing by the car park entrance. The ever eagle-eyed Jacqueline spotted that a sedge growing in profusion beside the path was Carex strigosa (Thin-spiked Wood-sedge) and not the more common C. sylvatica (Wood-sedge). Another find was the beautiful Euphorbia amygdaloides (Wood Spurge), just a couple of plants, their bracts gleaming palely in the undergrowth. This was a surprise to Patrick as, despite his great familiarity with Brede High Wood, he had never before seen it there. Another interesting species was Frangula alnus (Alder Buckthorn), occasional in the woods, about which Patrick had a tale to tell. Its wood provides the best quality charcoal for gunpowder, especially time fuses, and so for centuries it was of great military importance. When supplies could not be obtained from abroad the wood had to be harvested from trees growing in Britain and obviously it was crucial that plants were correctly identified. During the Second World War locating supplies and supervising the cutting was entrusted entirely to women, regarded as more dependable when it came to carefully recognizing this not so common shrub.

During the afternoon we split up to make better use of the expertise within the group. Helen, Peter and Owen had much the best time of it in TQ82B, adding 25 new records. These included Cardamine amara (Large Bittercress), Orchis mascula (Early Purple-orchid), Sedum telephium (Orpine) and not one but two Mespilis germanica (Medlar), a missing scarce species for the tetrad.

Meanwhile the remaining contingent, now reduced to Judy, Jacqueline and Rita tramped rather unfruitfully around TQ72V, adding a meagre four records, or perhaps that should be three and a half: Polypodium vulgare agg. (Polypody) had already been recorded and we just added the species. Greater success might have been forthcoming in TQ72R or 72W but, out of time, these two had to await another day.