Ditchling Common

Latest sightings
Picture of Genista tinctoria (Dyer’s Greenweed)
Genista tinctoria (Dyer’s Greenweed)

Near Haywards Heath a week ago I had an hour to kill, so surveyed the OS map for some potentially interesting places to visit and I noticed Ditchling Common. Despite having driven along the road along its edge countless times I had no idea it was even there, so had a quick look at its SSSI citation, and the SBRS field meeting report from 2002, and made my way to the car park.

Picture of Ditchling Common
Ditchling Common

Once through the gate into the open common it didn’t take long to find the Genista tinctoria (Dyer’s Greenweed) which is looking very nice. Several gulleys and ditches run across the common providing some damp spaces where other site specialties occur. One spot was home to Ranunculus flammula (Lesser Spearwort) and about 150 spikes of Dactylorhiza maculata (Heath Spotted-orchid).

Picture of Dactylorhiza maculata (Heath Spotted-orchid)
Dactylorhiza maculata (Heath Spotted-orchid)

In the past the Common was the only East Sussex site for Carex hostiana (Tawny Sedge), though it has now disappeared here and was not recorded when the Society visited 14 years ago. The only sedges I saw were Carex binervis (Green-ribbed Sedge) and a completely unhairy Carex hirta (Hairy Sedge) which confused me. It was while photographing the latter that I was found by Andy Mitchell, who is one of the rangers for the site. He told me about the work they have been doing on the Common over the last four or five years to clear some of the scrub which was encroaching, and it is hoped that conditions may enable Carex hostiana to reappear.

Picture of Carex hirta (Hairy Sedge)
Carex hirta (Hairy Sedge)

Finally, heading back to the car, for a bit of variety Andy directed me to a patch of Aquilegia vulgaris (Columbine) in among the Bracken.

Picture of Aquilegia vulgaris (Columbine)
Aquilegia vulgaris (Columbine)