On 21 April 2014 Sian Matthews and I found this species south of Crowhurst in arable farmland, a few plants beside the public footpath at a farm vehicle turning point. Tiny, easy to overlook, we could have missed it if we hadn’t decided to picnic there!
The following year I returned with Judy Clark to the same spot, but the tiny plants had disappeared. The footpath forms a loop, and we followed it round. At a corresponding spot opposite the first but about 200m across an arable field, again at a vehicle turning point, we found perhaps 40 tiny tails – it was 16 May and we were too late for the flowers.
This year on 21 April a group of us returned to the same footpath, but could not find the Myosurus in either of the previous locations. However a few metres off the footpath was a sparsely vegetated area, roughly a bulging equilateral triangle, the sides approximately 22m long, with a manure heap along one edge. The ground was cracking, showing that it had been damp but was drying out in the long spell without rain. A little searching produced one rosette, then another, then more and more, and finally larger patches of what amounted to hundreds of flowers.
It’s very little recorded in East Sussex. Matthew kindly looked for the most recent records, and found nothing certain since Ronald Boniface’s records at Herstmonceux in 1933 and Brighton in 1937. Wolley-Dod describes it as ‘rather rare’, the SPA as ‘very rare’. The Rare Plant Register states that it ‘has now gone from East Sussex’, and there is no record apart from ours since 2000. As Matthew comments, it’s difficult to believe it isn’t found elsewhere in the vice-county, but its size and brief flowering period mean it can easily be missed. It is such a delightful little flower, finding it was a great thrill!