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NOTES ON THE SUFFOLK FLORA

The above is extracted from some notes left by Mrs. Rivis, " to be given to the Suffolk Naturalists at my death " . She died 18th January, 1958, leaving Rosehill House and land to the Suffolk Naturalists " for the general purposes of the Society and in particular for a place of quiet enjoyment and a sanctuary for wild life." C.

NOTES ON T H E SUFFOLK FLORA. by

F. W.

SIMPSON

RECORDERS for the Distribution Maps Scheme organised by the Botanical Society of the British Isles and for our own County Flora Scheme have so far discovered few new species for the County and they have not been able to re-find very many of the rare or local plants recorded by the excellent botanists of the 19th Century. T h i s is not really surprising as the majority of the more interesting habitats have undergone many changes or been completely destroyed. In checking the Suffolk cards I have noticed that a fair number of common or frequent plants, shrubs and trees have apparently been widely overlooked, and it is hoped that the gaps will be filled enabling us to plot accurately the distribution of the more important species. The results of this survey will be published in due course, chiefly in map form and in our Flora, so that it is very important that the recordings should be as complete and accurate as possible. Some of the larger groups have hardly been touched and there are very scanty records indeed for the Brambles, Roses and Hawkweeds and only limited finds among the Grasses and Sedges. These are, of course, difficult groups for the beginner, but there are specialists who are prepared to identify material.

This survey when completed will enable us to form a general picture of the mid-20th Century flora of the British Isles. Records must be properly checked and where some doubt may exist a specimen may be required even if the botanist feels confident and that such a check is quite unnecessary.


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Many botanists have failed to note correctly whether a plant or tree is truly wild-native, introduced or naturalised. For example Digitalis purpurea (Foxglove), Tilia cordata (Small-leaved Lime) and Sorbus aucuparia (Mountain Ash) are species that have been widely planted in the County, yet are native in certain areas. Some very doubtful Suffolk plants have been recorded for several squares : sometimes however it is possible to go on for years overlooking a plant growing almost on one's doorstep. Lathyrus montanus (Bitter Vetch) has been frequently noted by a number of recorders, but I still feel that until a specimen can be produced some other plant has been seen. A diligent search for many years has failed to produce a single example. Oenanthe crocata (Hemlock Water Dropwort) is another error and probably recorded for Apium graveolens (Wild Celery). Vaccinium myrtillus (Bilberry has been recorded for the Tunstall, East Suffolk and the Lawshall, West Suffolk squares but must certainly be errors. Monotropa hypopithys (Yellow Bird's-nest) noted for the Earl Soham Square is surely an error. Neottia nidus-avis (Bird's-nest Orchid) or an Orobanche (Broomrape) was probably found, however I should like to know that Monotropa really occurs in Suffolk. Illecebrum verticillatum is marked for the Debenham area. Cardamine impatien (Narrow-leaved Bitter Cress) is a fairly frequent error and records no doubt refer to Cardamineflexuosa(Wood Bitter Cress), a frequent plant of damp shady banks and woods. The many records for Lepidium smithii (Smith's Cress) and Lepidium campestre (Fiel Pepperwort) require further investigation as I feel that Cardaria draba (Hoary Cress or Pepperwort) is the plant which has been observed, for it is frequent in Suffolk. Mycelis muralis (Wall Lettuce), a rare Suffolk species, has been observed in several parishes but the frequent Lactuca virosa (Prickly Lettuce) or Lactuca serriola may have been found. Hippocrepis comosa (Horseshoe Vetch) has been noted for several areas where it cannot possibly occur. Narcissus pseudonarcissus (Wild Daffodil) has been incorrectly reported for some garden outcasts or planted Narcissus. Primula elatior (Oxlip), a species with a restricted and marked Suffolk ränge, has been often mistaken for the hybrid Primula vulgaris x veris (False Oxlip). This hybrid can be found in nearly all the Suffolk squares. Hypericum dubium (Imperforate St. John's Wort) has been recorded several times, but my observations show that it is very scarce in Suffolk. These records may upon investigation prove incorrect and refer to Hypercium tetrapterum (Square-stemmed or Four-winged St. John's Wort) which is a frequent and often abundant species of wet places and iji woods, but has not been so widely noticed.


284

NOTES ON THE SUFFOLK FLORA

The recordings have shown so far a wide distribution for some of our aliens and casuals, such as Datura stramonium (Thorn Apple) which is large and attractive so that it is unlikely to be missed. Atropa belladonna (Deadly Nightshade) has also been found in many parishes but is probably usually only a garden escape or relict of cultivation ; I doubt whether it occurs truly wild in Suffolk. A Veronica about which we should like more accurate information is Veronica agrestis (Field Speedwell), which, although it has been much recorded, appears to me to be now very scarce. Chenopodium rubrum (Red Goosefoot) and Specularia hybrida (Venus's looking-glass) are both more frequent than formerly. Coronopus didymus (Lesser Swine-cress) has been recorded almost as many times as Coronopus squamatus (Common Swine or Wart Cress). However the former species is not yet really frequent or even common, although it is certainly spreading. A Stonecrop, Sedum reflexum, has become a common garden outcast and is naturalised on many banks and in waste places. Among the records of new species are two of special interest: Orchis militaris (Military Orchis) and Trientalis europaea (Chickweed Wintergreen). In spite of the destruction of many interesting habitats since Victorian times I have been hoping that some plants may have managed to survive in out of the way places. The rare Thelypteris oreopteris (Sweet Mountain Fern) was re-discovered. The distribution of Ferns has, in the main been rather neglected. Dryopteris spinulosa (Narrow Buckler Fern), which I find a very frequent fern in many habitats all over Suffolk, such as wet woods, marshes and heaths, has hardly been recorded by other botanists. No Lycopodium (Club Moss) has been found although Lycopodium inundatum (Marsh Club Moss) may still occur in Lothingland. DĂźring August, 1957, I found a small patch of Lycopodium clavatum (Common Club Moss) in East Norfolk, about ten miles north of Yarmouth. There is a record for the Rendham Square of Equisetum sylvaticum (Wood Horsetail), but I have seen no Suffolk specimens of this attractive species. There are no new records for Hypericum elodes (Marsh St. John's Wort) Linum perenne (Perennial Flax) and Sorbus torminalis (Wild Service Tree). Pyrus communis (Wild Pear), has been frequently recorded, but the trees may not be wild and only on sites of former gardens or orchards. Littorella uniflora (Shoreweed) has not been recorded and may now be extinct. There is one record for Suaeda fruticosa (Shrubby Sea-Blite) for the Orford square ; although it is possible, I would like to see a specimen. There used to be one bush at Trimley marshes, but I have not


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seen it for some time and I fear it may have been destroyed. Chenopodium vulvaria (Stinking Goosefoot) has only been marked for Lowestoft, but it certainly still occurs at Felixstowe. Polygonum bistorta (Snakeweed) has hardly been noticed and is now very local. Rosa rubiginosa (Sweet-Briar) formerly such a frequent shrub and planted in hedges and plantations is now apparently scarce. It still occurs at Dalham and Barton Mills. The Orchid records are rather scanty. Orchis ustulata (Burnt Orchis) has not been found and is probably extinct. There are still no authentic records for Platanthera bifolia (Lesser Butterfly Orchis) which hardly surprises me as I do not think that this species occurs in Suffolk and all records refer to Platanthera chlorantha (Greater Butterfly Orchis). There is only one recent record for Coeloglossum viride (Frog Orchis) : all the old rough permanent horse-pastures where it formerly occurred have now been ploughed up. Hammarbya paludosa (Bog Orchis) is probably now extinct in the County. The Bog Orchis requires a very exacting type of habitat of wet sphagnum and peat, suitable conditions hardly existing in Suffolk to-day. The areas best worth searching are in the Fritton-Herringfleet district. The grass Poa bulbosa (Bulbous Meadow-grass) has not been recorded. However, I used to find it sĂśme twenty-five years ago growing in the loose sandy soil between the beach huts, near the Martello Tower, at the south end of Felixstowe. It flowers early, in April and May, and then the leaves and stems wither and the " bulbs " (swollen stems) blow about with the loose sand. The recorders have added a number of new aliens to the flora and these have nearly all been reported in Notes and Observations in past Transactions. However, I should like recorders to have found at least a dozen new " native " species and to have refound some 50-70 species which grew in Suffolk in Victorian times or earlier and have not been seen since.

Notes on the Suffolk Flora  
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