Heyshott and Ambersham Commons

Field meeting reports

Meeting date: 9 June 2006

(Leader: Bruce Middleton)

Gems from the word Go, as Bruce directed us to scour the bareish sandy ground around the cars for the likes of Aira caryophyllea (Silver Hair-grass), Myosotis discolor (Changing Forget-me-not) and Trifolium subterraneum  (Subterranean Clover).  He then led us by devious ways over Ambersham Common to survey bog bearing the tiny caltrops of Carex echinata (Star Sedge) and damp heath studded with the glistening tongues of Drosera intermedia (Oblong-leaved Sundew).  Down to a stream area with woodland and more wet species such as Dryopteris carthusiana (Narrow Buckler-fern), then on to a forest ride where water seeped out and a hands-and-knees search produced Anagallis tenella (Bog Pimpernel) and the first leaves of Radiola linoides (Allseed); with Scutellaria minor (Lesser Skullcap) growing we suspected the presence of Isolepis setacea (Bristle Club-rush), which Mike Shaw obligingly found.  And so, knocked out more by the plants than the heat, lunch in the shade.  After which calcicoles, including Blackstonia perfoliata (Yellow-wort), along the embankment of the defunct railway, which was formed largely from chalk spoil from the cuttings around West Dean.  Mike again produced an ace in the form of a sedge which we at length concluded to be Carex muricata subsp. lamprocarpa  (Prickly Sedge).  There was also the opportunity to pay homage to the leaves of Wahlenbergia (Ivy-leaved Bellflower), introduced on a damp roadside early in the 20th Century by friends of Rev Edgell.

Alan reckoned that the total number of species was 261, probably a Society record.  In a former life, Bruce trained as a chef: the fifteen botanists who experienced the day will surely not disagree with me when I describe the meeting as a gourmet feast of flora.