St Dunstan’s Farm, Warbleton

Field meeting reports
Picture of orchid
Photo: Helen Proctor

Meeting date: 24 May 2017

(Leaders: Jacqueline Rose/Judy Clark/Ellen Campbell)

The sun shone, the clouds were few, and it was very warm for late May. A select group of eleven met to explore meadows at St Dunstan’s Farm, meadows still managed traditionally and one of the few areas of unimproved species-rich grassland remaining in the Weald. They are indescribably beautiful. Tiny white stars of Linum catharticum (Fairy Flax) and Milkworts in colours of white, pink and blue (Polygala serpyllifolia and P. vulgaris) were interspersed with patches of pink Pedicularis sylvatica (Lousewort) while yellow Buttercups and white Ox-eye daisies danced in the breeze. Early orchids, including Anacamptis morio (Green-winged Orchid), were already over but Dactylorhiza fuschii (Common Spotted Orchid) and D. maculata (Heath Spotted Orchid) were in full flower, enabling us to compare their markings, and a few Neottia ovata (Twayblade) added their delicate spikes to the mix.  We saw ten different sedges including the rare Carex pallescens (Pale sedge) and C. panicea (Carnation sedge) with its fat utricles, the latter made memorable for some us by Helen’s mnemonic – pregnant panicea! Then there was great excitement when we found an apparently dioecious sedge. Could it really be C. dioica? No, just a misbehaving C. laevigata (Smooth-stalked Sedge).  Not to find C. pulicaris (Flea Sedge) was disappointing (but it is still there and was seen in early June) but was more than made up for by half a dozen plants of the East Sussex speciality, Phyteuma spicatum (Spiked Rampion), just coming into bloom. Many thanks to David and June Hobden for their hospitality, not least the provision of tea and coffee making facilities.