Western Rother Valley

Field meeting reports
Picture of Pink Purslane (Montia sibirica)
Montia sibirica (Pink Purslane). Photo: Nick Sturt

Meeting date: 29 April 2015

(Leader: Dawn Nelson)

On a sparkling Spring morning with swallows aloft, eleven botanists shook off the lethargies of winter and followed Dawn with eager anticipation of the joys ahead: full-on vascular plant recording without the shackles of tetrad lists and irritating cries from a Flora Group apparatchik of ‘that’s already on’.  We positively sailed along Cumber’s Lane piling on species and arguing merrily about such matters as the status of an old pear tree and the shape of the fronds of Polypodium interjectum (Intermediate Polypody). Steven’s pteridological expertise was illuminating not only throughout the day but throughout a fern-filled Summer.  Polygonatum multiflorum (Solomon’s Seal) had already been spotted on a bank before we entered the wood where Mike found a 20m swathe of it.  There was much else besides to keep the party busy until a somewhat windswept lunchtime spent among the Lupins which are still sown by the National Trust in memory of the late owner beside the A272.

The afternoon was dedicated to Fyning Moor SSSI and all the specialties of this swampy woodland eventually yielded themselves up: Geum rivale (Water Avens) and its hybrid with G. urbanum (Wood Avens), Carex paniculata (Greater Tussock-sedge), Ribes nigrum (Black Currant), Dryopteris carthusiana (Narrow Buckler-fern), Stellaria neglecta (Greater Chickweed) and Chrysosplenium alternifolium (Alternate-leaved Golden-saxifrage). The last was difficult to find, possibly not having thrived in a comparatively dry winter.  In addition to the wood there was a rushy meadow, where Frances re-found the leaves of a fine colony of Dactylorhiza praetermissa (Southern Marsh-orchid).  Dawn brought the day to an end with a team-building exercise involving scaling fences and crossing bogs: give or take the odd ripped Norfolk jacket and nearly lost wellington-boot, this was highly successful and the company dispersed glowing with achievement. Dawn, as usual, had done us proud.  And it was especially good to welcome new-member Alison, Fiona (representing the National Trust), and Caroline from Natural England. It was thanks to Caroline that we were able to enjoy Fyning Moor with the permission of the owner.

A group of botanists in the Western Rother Valley