Hadlow Down

Today was a gorgeous day for a field meeting of the Sussex Botanical Recording Society, and eight of us met a little to the east of Hadlow Down village to record the tetrad TQ52L. I was a bit late, but I needn’t have worried about not being able to find everyone since they were still only a few yards from the cars closely examining the grass and some Corn Mint (Mentha arvensis) among it, for which the vegetative key was very useful.

These meetings are really great because they give the opportunity to consolidate what I’ve learnt so far, which is quite reassuring when I realise that I broadly remember most of the common species at least, and I always learn some field characters that I wasn’t previously aware of.

Today was no different, and I think I’m beginning to remember the speedwells, and even saw one I’d not seen before. This one was rather unusually growing on a path, though there was lots of it by the lake later on.

Picture of Brooklime (Veronica beccabunga)

Brooklime (Veronica beccabunga)

The lake edge proved to be a good place too and we found Large Bittercress (Cardamine amara) and Cyperus Sedge (Carex pseudocyperus), as well as the less desirable alien American Skunk-cabbage (Lysichiton americanus).

We had an early lunch break in one of the meadows, which had many of the same species in it that I see in Pixton Meadow in Forest Row, though the relative proportions was different.

Picture of people in a meadow

Lunch in a meadow

Then, crossing the stream we noticed some Carex divulsa, which we could compare with C. remota with its long bracts, and there was also a patch of Carex strigosa, which could be contrasted with C. sylvatica. The former has very short stalks to the spikelets, broader leaves and pointed ligules, whereas the latter’s stalks are long and it has blunt ligules.

Picture of Rhagio tringarius

Rhagio tringarius

I got a bit distracted by invertebrates on the way, especially now that I can actually recognise the snipe fly Rhagio tringarius. Though butterflies were a bit thin on the ground (I only saw a few Common Blue), there were a few moths, including Burnet Companion (Euclidia glyphica), which looks like a new record for the hectad.

Picture of Burnet Companion (Euclidia glyphica)

Burnet Companion (Euclidia glyphica)

The site also has a colony of the rare Spiked Rampion (Phyteuma spicatum), but we couldn’t locate it it. However, being keen to see it, at the end of the day we drove a little way to find some known examples on a hedge bank by the side of a lane. Almost all of its known UK distribution is in East Sussex, primarily on verges on the acid soils of the Weald.[1]

Picture of Spiked Rampion (Phyteuma spicatum)

Spiked Rampion (Phyteuma spicatum)

[1] Wheeler, B.R., and M.J. Hutchings. ‘The history and distribution of Phyteuma spicatum L. (Campanulaceae) in Britain.’ Watsonia 22 (1999): 387-395. Web. Available from: <http://archive.bsbi.org.uk/Wats22p387.pdf>

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