Cissbury Ring

Field meeting reports
Picture of Centaurium minus (Lesser Centaury)
Centaurium minus (Lesser Centaury). Photo: Nick Sturt

Meeting date: 13 August 2016

(Leader: Nick Sturt)

The SBRS had not been to Cissbury since 1998 on which occasion the matchless Alan Knapp bagged an Eyebright determined as Euphrasia confusa. Armed with an antique vasculum which had belonged to John Cole’s father and keys from Chris Metherell, Elisabeth prepared to do battle with the genus while the seven other members preferred less taxing taxa. It was a glorious day in the field and the chalk ramparts supported large areas of fine sward where most of the specialities eventually revealed themselves – Asperula cynanchica (Squinancywort), Blackstonia perfoliata (Yellowwort), Carlina vulgaris (Carline Thistle), Cirsium acaule (Stemless Thistle), Hippocrepis comosa (Horseshoe Vetch), Pimpinella saxifraga (Burnet Saxifraga); and Sue D. was on hand to add the accompanying grasses such as Avenula pratensis and A. pubescens (Meadow and Downy Oatgrass) and Koeleria macrantha (Crested Hair-grass). Not even the leaves of Carex caryophyllea (Spring Sedge) escaped Frances but she was foiled in her ambition to find the rosettes of Tephroseris integrifolia (Field Fleawort) which she had learned to recognise on a previous recce of Kithurst Hill. So the morning sped by happily enough and eventually Elisabeth, her samples of Euphrasia and the author’s lunch caught up with us. New member Michael also found us and we enjoyed his company until he had to dash off to a wedding. The view south towards the blue sea was blissful over our picnic, and then a sweep of the flint mines completed work on TQ10I.

Across the hill to the less well-worked TQ10P and the new card was soon marked up with a selection of some less calcicolous species (eg Rumex acetosella Sheep’s Sorrel) before a return to the ramparts reunited the party with most of the plants of the morning and yet more Euphrasias. In the end there were some target species which were not refound – Coeloglossum viride (which had been seen in 1998), Juniperus communis (Juniper), Thesium humifusum (Bastard Toadflax); also neither Campanula glomerata (Clustered Bellflower) nor Phyteuma orbiculare (Round-headed Rampion) had made themselves known.  Elisabeth returned home with an embarrassment of samples of Eyebrights with subtly varying characters, including, it turned out, the not inaptly named Euphrasia confusa.