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.

10. Common Stork's-bill (2)

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.

4. Cow Parsley SBE 200414

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.

45. Garlic Mustard SBBO 190414 (5)

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.

4. Great Horsetail Worth 060414  (4)

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.

14. Lady's Smock or Cuckooflower SBE 190414 (2)

15. Silverweed S Bay 040414 (4)

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

Green-winged Orchid St G GC 27042014 (6)

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.

3. Sea Sandwort SBay 040414 (2)

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. 

Common Storksbill
Common Storksbill



Danish Scurvy Grass
Danish Scurvy Grass








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.

Fomitiporia hippophaeicola in the Little Gully
Fomitiporia hippophaeicola in the Little Gully











Hybrid Black Poplar
Hybrid Black Poplar

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.