Lavington Common

Field meeting reports
Picture of Potentilla novegica
Potentilla novegica (Ternate-leaved Cinquefoil). Photo: Nick Sturt

Meeting date: 29 July 2015

(Leader: Mike Shaw)

Despite the unseasonably cool weather, eleven members assembled at the car park where we were given an introduction to the management of the heathland reserve by Fiona Scully of the National Trust. We then walked into The Plantation to a boggy area where some scrapes had been created, together with a small pool. Carex nigra (Common Sedge) was found at the pool edge, with Drosera rotundifolia (Round-leaved Sundew), Salix repens (Creeping Willow), Isolepis setacea (Bristle Club-rush) and Carex echinata (Star Sedge) on the damp track nearby. Another similar track provided our first sighting of Drosera intermedia (Oblong-leaved Sundew), with Rubus bertramii (Bertram’s Bramble) under the adjacent bracken. The group slowly retraced its steps back to the car park where the leader had planned lunch, but an advance party, led by Frances, decided they couldn’t wait and were found further along the track by a cattle trough, rebelliously tucking into their sandwiches. Before joining them, Nick took a couple of us to see an interesting Potentilla spotted earlier on the main track. None of us recognized it so reference books were extracted and we eventually keyed it out to Potentilla norvegica (Ternate-leaved Cinquefoil), an introduced species not recorded in Sussex for over 40 years.

Lunch over, the group reassembled in the car park having admired the Potentilla on the way. We then headed onto the main part of the common north of the road, noting a single bush of Rubus laciniatus (Cut-leaved Bramble) by the side of the track. The common was very dry, but interesting plants were seen in some areas, chiefly in scrapes of various ages, including Eriophorum angustifolium and vaginatum (Common and Hare’s-tail Cottongrass), Rhynchospora alba (White Beak-sedge) and more Drosera intermedia. At the pool we were tempted by Richard’s offer to use his grapnel, recalling the hilarious entertainment it had provided at Steyning last year, but sadly had to decline as Fiona pointed out that the pool was too acidic for plants and was chiefly preserved as a dragonfly habitat.

Returning to the car park, Frances bade her farewell, while the rest of us spent the remaining time exploring a damp ride in the northern part of The Plantation, adjacent to the road. This proved to be an inspired decision and produced some of the best finds of the day, including more Isolepis setacea, nice patches of Centunculus minimus (Chaffweed), Carex demissa (Common Yellow-sedge), Danthonia decumbens (Heath-grass) and frequent bushes of Rubus glanduliger (Gland-bearing Bramble). We then joined the road and walked along the verges back to the car park, recording Carex muricata subsp. pairae (Prickly Sedge) amongst others. Altogether the meeting produced 176 records, including nine sedges and nine rushes, with several new to the tetrad. A good day was enjoyed by all, with a wide range of interesting plants, pleasant weather, and good company.

A group of botanists at Lavington Common