Field Trip to Ashdown Forest on 6th September 2012

Led by Sylvia Priestley.

Six Club Members enjoyed a beautifully sunny day.

Marsh Gentians, Gentiana pneumananthe, on Ashdown Forest. Marsh Gentians, Gentiana pneumananthe, on Ashdown Forest.

The Marsh Gentians, Gentiana pneumananthe, which we had come to see, were plentiful and seemed to be spreading. Helen Proctor had come up from Upper Dicker; she was busy with her botanical recording for the Sussex Botanical Recording Group. Bill Welch was there taking a keen interest in everything and photographing most things.

We started down our usual track, leading to the Airman's Grave, finding our first lot of Marsh Gentians on the left; there were more after the Grave on the next path on the right - where we originally found most of them. Helen pointed out Spiked Sedge, Carex spicata. She had a futile search for Lesser Skullcap which I had found by the stream many years ago.

As we walked up the hill beside the Duddeswell stream, we found more Marsh Gentians and some Saw-wort, Serratula tinctoria, which I remembered Geoff Bird saying had male and female flowers on different plants. I found this to be true though it is only mentioned in the larger Blamey book.

It was along this path that we saw a few patches of Common Cow-wheat, Melampyrum pratense, and an Alder Buckthorn, Frangula alnus with its distinctive fruit. Bill found a few Hieraciums one of which Helen thought was H. sabaudum.

Comma, Polygonia c-album, on Ashdown Forest. Comma, Polygonia c-album, on Ashdown Forest.

We had our lunch in a shady spot, where there were two Amanita citrina. Bill, knowing we had not been able to find any Sundews found several plants in one of the many flushes of Sphagnum moss on our route.

We eventually came to the waterfall with its adjacent Hydnellum concrescens. This has appeared in the same place for many years. I have shown it to two meetings of the Field Club. We crossed over the waterfall and went up the far side and back to the Hollies car park, finding clumps of Deergrass, Trichophorum cespitosum, on the way. We crossed the road to Ellison's pond to have a look at the ponds. The Duck Potato, Sagittaria latifolia, was still there. (I remember seeing it with Howard many years ago.) We saw it at Haysden recently and we knew that the insides of the petals are clear white. Our native Arrowhead, Sagittaria sagittifolia, has purple blotches inside the lower part of the petals. We did not see any Dragonflies or Damselflies over the ponds.

Recently I read an article in The Garden magazine in which it described how a lady who had a degree in biology is growing Duck Potatoes in this country. The plant has for centuries been a staple food crop of the native people of North and South America.

Thank you to Bill Welch for the following species list:

Butterfly: Comma, Polygonia c-album.
Dung fly: Scathophaga sp.
Robber fly: Machimus atricapillus
Hoverflies: Eristalis pertinax, Eupeodes luniger, Sphaerophoria sp.
Moths: Chevron, Eulithis testata, Tortrix (unidentified), Silver Y, Autographa gamma

You can see Bill Welch's photographs from this field trip in this Picasa web album: Ashdown Forest, September 2012.

This article originally appeared in the November 2012 issue of our quarterly bulletin "Fieldfare."

This article is copyright © Sylvia Priestley 2012.     The photographs are copyright © Bill Welch 2012.