Field meeting reports
Picture of Viola hirta (Hairy Violet)
Viola hirta (Hairy Violet). Photo: Brad Scott

Meeting date: 30 April 2016

(Leader: Nick Sturt)

Emerging from hibernation, seventeen members enjoyed the sunshine and, at the edge of Patching Pond, the Zizania latifolia (Manchurian Rice-grass), an exotic rediscovered in the 1990s by Michael and Olwen Hollings. Mike and Dawn spotted other good plants, however, with the BSBI vice county recorder casually pointing above heads to two mature specimens of Salix triandra (Almond-leaved Willow) while Dawn determined Poa infirma (Early Meadow-grass) at our feet. There followed some very profitable verge and hedge inspecting within beer-splashing distance of The World’s End and it was surprising to observe how the Linnaean binomials – even the Stace 3 ones – tripped off tongues after the winter recess… perhaps members had already adopted multiple churchyards!

Picture of botanists in West Sussex
Slowly moving along the bank. Photo: Brad Scott

By underpass and across sliproad eventually Clapham Common was reached, where the sun continued to shine as lunch was taken.  By this time some 160 species had been entered on the TQ00X card including a duo perhaps more at home near the sea, Stellaria pallida (Lesser Chickweed) and Cerastium semidecandrum (Little Mouse-ear). And so on to TQ00Y, processing north up to Clapham Church where Andrew spotted the distinctive rosettes of Plantago media (Hoary Plantain). Clapham Woods provided a new set of species, including a quantity of Daphne laureola (Spurge Laurel) and a single plant of Ranunculus auricomus (Goldilocks). One further habitat was attempted, chalk grassland.  Being rather early, some subtle vegetative identification was in evidence, although Mike resorted to the tried and tested method of detecting Cirsium acaule (Stemless Thistle) through the seat of his trousers. It was Sue who delivered the coup de grace here with a single stem of Carex caryophyllea.

Picture of Carex caryophyllea (Spring Sedge)
Carex caryophyllea (Spring Sedge). Photo: Brad Scott

The outing had been billed as a ‘gentle beginning to the season’ but in terms of the intensity of recording and the amount of ground covered it felt more like a serious work-out. It was especially good to welcome back nearly new members Alison and Tom, and two very recent signings, Andrew and Gary; once again we were nobly supported by Surrey, and it was a long time since we had had the great pleasure of Arthur in the field. As a postscript, Dawn later sent in Taraxacum wallonicum, her emailed photographs having been instantly confirmed by Prof. Richards.