Danes Wood and The Rewell

Field meeting reports
Picture of Gnaphalium sylvaticum (Heath Cudweed)
Gnaphalium sylvaticum (Heath Cudweed). Photo: Dawn Nelson

Meeting date: 9 August 2015

(Leader: Nick Sturt)

A warm, sunny morning heralded this meeting of nine members, who gathered in a quiet lane edging Danes Wood – a westerly outpost of the larger Rewell Wood or ‘The Rewell’, as many locals know it.  Under the leadership of our Chairman we were tasked to find missing species within the squares SU90T and Y.  The pleasant coolness of the path into the wood presently gave way to a wider, dappled ride of ruts, rushes and some persistent puddles.  Mike commenced the search for Luzula x borreri, the hybrid of L. pilosa (Hairy Wood-rush) and L. forsteri (Southern Wood-rush) and, while several candidates appeared, none was convincing until he was eventually successful and found a good example to show us before lunch.  Borrer again cropped up when Steven showed us the salient points in a ‘typical specimen’ of Dryopteris borreri (Borrer’s Male-fern) which obligingly grew near similar fern species for comparison.  D. affinis (Golden-scaled Male-fern), he pointed out in case we had not noticed, had an indusium ‘like a Cumberland sausage’.  We wandered along rides and tracks finding our way into Rewell Wood.  Mike found what appeared to be a Potentilla hybrid, P. x mixta (Hybrid Cinquefoil), which he declared had ‘good achenes’, but on consulting Stace was found to P. anglica (Trailing Tormentil). Silver-washed fritillaries and other butterflies danced in the sunlight above the herbage in the rides.  Dawn suddenly announced that we were in the vicinity of the Gnaphalium sylvaticum (Heath Cudweed) that she had discovered a few years ago.  ‘I’ll just go and look for it’, she said, and pushed her way through the wall of vegetation edging the ride where we were gathered… and she vanished!  She was back soon with sticks in her hair proclaiming ‘I’ve found it’. And she had – eleven excellent specimens hidden in a glade under an oak tree.  We walked along a return route hoping but failing to find Centunculus minimus (Chaffweed), which had previously been seen in ruts in this part of The Rewell. We admired the egg-like seeds of Lithospermum officinale (Common Gromwell), which someone rather poetically described as ‘jewel-like’. Returning to Danes Wood, we found a good stand of Calluna vulgaris (Heather) in flower and a large foreign interloper, Erica lusitanica (Portuguese Heath), along with a fine specimen of Cotoneaster rehderi (Bullate Cotoneaster). We crossed what was a working gravel-pit some 30 years ago, looking in vain for Filago minima (Small Cudweed), but then a fine stand of Hieracium umbellatum attracted our attention and Mike was happy.  Near the Hieracium, and watching us with a distinct expression of curiosity was a large cricket bearing a curved yellow pronotal stripe reminiscent of a broad smile which Steven told us was a Roesel’s Bush Cricket.  And so back to the waiting cars, but not without a smattering of unexpected calcicoles such Carlina vulgaris (Carline Thistle) and Blackstonia perfoliata (Yellow-wort).

Picture of Galeopsis tetrahit (Common Hemp-nettle)
Galeopsis tetrahit (Common Hemp-nettle). Photo: Dawn Nelson
Picture of Lithospermum officinale (Common Gromwell)
Lithospermum officinale (Common Gromwell). Photo: Dawn Nelson