Flora: April 2014, (Part Two):
With the increasing temperatures and longer daylight hours, the flora around the Estate is really getting into its stride now and a whole diversity of interesting species are emerging, of which the ones listed below are just a sample.
Common Stork’s-bill continues to enliven the short grass of the dune pastures, where it grows in a very stunted form, as shown in the photograph.
At the other end of the plant scale, the white flower heads of Cow Parsley are now a familiar sight along the roadside verges. After Alexanders, Cow Parsley is the earliest and one of the commonest members of its family in the area.
Also sporting white flowers, but with a completely different appearance, is Garlic Mustard. It grows commonly in places by the roadside and around the Observatory car-park, its leaves and stems smelling strongly of garlic if crushed.
Several species of the Horsetail family occur in the area – in the Observatory garden the species is Field Horsetail, in the Haven Stream it is Water Horsetail while the ‘grand-daddy of them all’, Great Horsetail, can be found at the edge of the area in a Worth farmyard.
Also in damp habitats, look out for the pale pink flowers of Lady’s Smock, sometimes called Cuckooflower, and the distinctive silver leaves of Silverweed.
Out on the golf-courses and other similar areas, the first orchids of the year, in this case Green-winged Orchid, have made their appearance in abundance
Finally, if you walk along the sea-front, spare a thought for the plants that grow there, such as this Sea Sandwort. There can be few tougher areas for a plant to try to establish itself – more of this in a later entry in this section of the web-site.
A complete Flora and Checklist of all the 800-odd plants that have been recorded within the Sandwich Bay area has just been published and is available in printable-CD format or as an already-printed copy, by contacting Ken Chapman at the Observatory. The cost of this production is a donation of £5, all proceeds going to the Observatory.
Flora: April 2014, (Part One)
Some of the very earliest flowering plants around the Estate are already ‘going over’, but now is a good time to start looking for some species which flower only very briefly. These are called Spring ephemerals.
They are often very small so for these you need to get down on your hands and knees and look at the short turf grassy areas such as along the upper beach. Here you might find the tiny blue flowers of Early Forget-me-not or the pale–blue Corn Salad. White-flowered plants are probably going to be Common Whitlow-grass or Little Mouse Ear or the more local Danish Scurvy-grass. The flowers of Common Storksbill can be found now, with their colours varying from rich pink to white, and Eddie found three examples of the uncommon Spring Vetch on Princes Golf Course.
Much, much, larger, and an obvious feature all along the Estate roadsides at the moment, are the showy pale-green flowering heads of Alexanders.
Rosettes of Lizard Orchids are appearing around the Estate, with a colony of about 50 on just one house frontage – whether they will survive the grass mower is another matter. In the Little Gully, there are a number of examples of the nationally very local and rare bracket fungus, Fomitiporia hippophaeicola. It grows on living Sea Buckthorn.
Finally, an apparent new species of tree for the area has just been found – it’s an introduction, but still of interest since it’s the tallest tree around the Observatory and we all walk or drive right past it every time we come into the Observatory car-park. Look at the large tree on the side of the gateway – it’s a Hybrid Black Poplar, (Populus x canadensis). The native Black Poplar is now a rare tree, but this hybrid is widely used in planting schemes and for hedgerow construction.