Chailey Commons

Field meeting reports
Picture of Clathrus archeri (Devil's Fingers)
Clathrus archeri (Devil’s Fingers). Photo: Brad Scott

Meeting date: 2 September 2017

(Leaders: Jacqui Hutson)

A brilliant blue sky and bright sunshine welcomed the assembled group of 18 people on Romany Ridge. Several members of the group were new and one was an ex-resident of Sussex, now living in Wales. We crossed the road to Pound Common and headed south-west to a sheltered damp hollow. On the way we admired several individuals of the scarlet but foul-smelling Devils’ Fingers (Clathrus archerii), a fungus that arrived from Australia with troops in 1914. Then down to the hollow where we paid homage to 16 spikes of Gentiana pneumonanthe (Marsh Gentian). Much photography took place. On from there through a narrow path flanked with Ulex minor (Dwarf Gorse), Calluna vulgaris (Heather), Erica tetralix (Cross-leaved Heath) and E. cinerea (Bell Heather) and then to a dampish area where there were many leaf rosettes of Cirsium dissectum (Meadow Thistle). They are susceptible to grazing but the Longhorn cattle on the Common had not grazed them down. The ranger told me that some had flowered in late May. This thistle does not repeat-flower as do other Cirsium spp. Despite the lack of thistle flowers this small area was interesting in having a good population of Achillea ptarmica (Sneezewort) and some Milkworts (Polygala serpyllifolia as well as P. vulgaris). Across the road on Romany Ridge we recorded four Rush species and plenty of Hydrocotyle vulgaris (Marsh Pennywort) in an area that had been cleared and scraped some years ago. Steven found some plants of Dryopteris borreri (Borrer’s Male-fern) in the adjacent woodland as well as other ferns, and Gill, our visitor from Wales, found a tiny plant of Genista anglica (Petty Whin) on the path that led us to another wet area by a stream. Some extradisciplinary activity by Brad yielded a rare spider and two springtails, one of which was new to the county, only, Brad remarks modestly, because no-one records this group! There was also some Bryophyte identification taking place but no new taxa were added to the records that the South East Bryophyte Group made last year.

Picture of Veronica scutellata (Marsh Speedwell)
Veronica scutellata (Marsh Speedwell). Photo: Brad Scott

The day ended in the far north of Romany Ridge where we indulged our senses on the perfume of Agrimonia procera (Fragrant Agrimony) and debated an unusual looking Euphrasia (Eyebright) which could have been a rare species but turned out to be E. nemorosa (Common Eyebright) after all. After the group dispersed Elisabeth and Nick Sturt went off to try to refind Epilobium palustre (Marsh Willow-herb) but instead found a boggy area that we hadn’t come across on our wanderings, and added Drosera rotundiflora (Common Sundew), Eleocharis multicaulis (Many-stalked Spike-rush) and Narthecium ossifragum (Bog Asphodel), bringing our total number of taxa up to 126.

See also: James McCulloch ‘Flower of the Illyrians’. Only Natural. 3 September 2017