Hargate Forest

Field meeting reports

Meeting date: 21 July 2012

(Leader: Helen Proctor)

A select group of seven members met at a corner of Hargate Forest, a 61 hectare site that is owned and managed by the Woodland Trust. The woodland is situated on the northern border of East Sussex, close to Tunbridge Wells and within TQ53T. The southern part consists of semi-natural woodland, while conifers in the north are being thinned, especially near the rides, in order to allow heathland species to regenerate. A stream flows through the forest, and ponds have been created by the Woodland Trust.

Five additional Sussex Plants Atlas species were recorded. A large meadow, surrounded by woodland, gave us Achillea ptarmica (Sneezewort) and Succisa pratensis (Devil’s-bit Scabious) as well as a good view of a Silver-washed Fritillary butterfly. Epipactis helleborine (Broad-leaved Helleborine) was, surprisingly, found underneath Rhododendron ponticum (Rhododendron). After much hunting, Lythrum portula (Water Purslane) was found in damp ruts in tracks. However, one SPA species could not be recorded, as the Woodland Trust had successfully eradicated it! This was Rhododendron luteum (Yellow Azalea) of which the dead stems still covered a large area. An open grassy area by a wide track produced Euphrasia anglica (Eyebright) and we were pleased to see Convallaria majalis (Lily-of-the-valley) still surviving. However, we were unable to confirm an earlier sighting of Dryopteris aemula (Hay-scented Fern).

Seventeen additional species were recorded, bringing the tetrad total to 353.