Prickly Nut Wood

Field meeting reports

Meeting date: 19 July 2003

(Leader: Rod Stern)

Rod was mysterious: the rendezvous in the shady lane, hushed instructions vouched to each driver, the tall, slim and almost naked Marcus…. We – that is 15 members, including the junior Isabel – then set about exploring the chestnut coppice, an activity which began so slowly (recalcitrant Epilobia and a still unidentified Utricularia) that there was one deplorable remark comparing the progress unfavourably with that of a lichenological meeting. The pace never increased much all day, but then that is the sign of a good meeting. Records came in to Frances steadily, with Juncus (Rushes) and Carex (Sedges) well represented, the latter including both C. binervis (Green-ribbed Sedge) and C. laevigata (Smooth-stalked Sedge).  Along the damp rides we saw the hybrid Skullcap (Scutellaria x hybrida), flowering unusually profusely. Although S. galericulata (Common Skullcap) eluded us, we eventually came upon the other parent, S. minor (Lesser Skullcap). Growing in association with the latter were some robust plants of Isolepis setacea (Bristle Club-rush), and, touchingly loyal to the absent Alan, we all searched for another known associate, Anagallis minima (Chaffweed)… without success.

At the end of the day our guide Marcus took us to the extraordinary house which Ben Law has hewn out of Prickly Nut Wood. Nestling in a clearing next to some windmill generators and solar panels, this was genuine eco-friendliness. We were also introduced to a ‘yurt’, an ethnic shelter beyond the experience of all but Michael and Olwen: the intrepid explorers, it transpired, had not only slept in one but had helped to erect one, having apparently been persuaded by the owner that this would be an extraordinarily lucky thing to do. Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he…