Verdley Wood

Field meeting reports

Meeting date: 9 October 2005

(Leader: Howard Matcham)

The hardy members of the society do not stop recording at the first mist of Autumn, especially when there is a new Flora to be produced.  The sun shone all day on the hybrid proceedings – the general tetrad recording of vascular plant species harmoniously joined with the sampling of the bryological flora.  The first focus was SU82Y, a tetrad so far untroubled by the recording card, and we started in the lane and cleared woodland by the cars.  In October the recognition of species can be rather like the work of a forensic scientist, as patient examination eventually decodes skeletal pieces of stem and limp portions of green material.  Flowering Sedum telephium (Orpine) offered no such challenge and was the highlight here.  A pleasantly early lunch in the woods near the remains of Verdley Castle, and Bruce diverted the company with the tale of how the last Brown Bear in England had perished on a hunting expedition launched from that very spot.  In the afternoon the expertise of Rod and Howard was to the fore as we headed for the SSSI and its treasures.  The mossy duo were delighted with such gems as Pohlia wahlenbergia and Philonotis arnelliae, but a steep scarp slope produced even better – Bazzania trilobata, a representative of the Atlantic element in our native flora.  While we admired the tiny three-lobed leaf tips of the latter and also the distinctive capsules of Tetraphis pellucida, Frances and Bruce waded through the sea of Dryopteris dilatata (Broad Buckler-fern) lapping at the trunks of the chestnut coppice in the quest for Dryopteris aemula (Hay-scented Buckler-fern)… alas, not to be revealed on this occasion.  We were by now in SU92C which already had a tally of 214 vascular plant species. We were able to add 14 to these, Judy’s hawk-eyed detection of Isolepis setacea (Bristle Club-rush) taking the prize.  Back at the cars, all 11 members agreed that this had been a highly successful day.  As a postscript, Howard telephoned later with the news that another Pohlia species turned out to be P. drummondii, only the second county record, and not seen since 1950 when Alan Crundwell and Ted Wallace found it in North Park Copse – no great distance away.