THE FLORA OF AN OLD PASTURE HABITAT by
P. J. O.
As farming improvements continue, it is not surprising that the area of old pastures loses ground. The acreage which still survives where there has been little or no management, must be comparatively small and the purpose of this study is to record the flora found on such an old pasture, where the only influence has been the natural condition of its soil type. This pasture in the parish of Woolpit was surveyed in June, 1961. The soil is a fine sandy loam Over gravel and is naturally well drained. All of the plants recorded are common and are associated with alkaline grassland of low fertility, but this record does not necessarily represent a fĂźll list of plants found in these conditions. A soil analysis showed a pH 8.3, low potash and very low phosphate content. From local information, there is no record of any inorganic fertilizer having been applied or of any act of management, other than cattle grazing. The low phosphate condition was evident from beyond the gate, by the small but established bushes of Crataegus monogyna (Hawthorn), Rosa canina (Dog Rose) and Rubus spp. (Bramble). The grasses classified as abundant included Dactylis glomerata, Holcus lanatus, Lolium perenne and Festuca rubra: frequent Cynosurus cristatus, Trisetum flavesceus, Poa trivialis, Poa pratensis mollis and Antho xanthum odoratum ; occasional, Poa annua, Bromus mollis and Agrostis stolonifera. The occasional occurrence only of Agrostis stolonifera, is typical for dry conditions but it can be a dominant species in old wet pastures. Of clovers, Trifolium repens was frequent, T. dubium and T. campestre were occasional together with T. pratense, one plant of which supported Orobanche minor. Lotus corniculatus was frequent and there were a few plants of Vicia sepium. The remaining plants feil into two categories. The following would be found in a variety of soil conditions in old swards : Cirsium vulgare, C. arvensis, Plantago major, P. lanceolata, Senecio jacobea, Stellaria graminea, Hypochaeris radicata, Equisetum arvense, Cerastium vulgatum, Rumex crispus, Convolvulus arvensis and Heracleum sphondylium by the hedge. The other group gave an indication of soil poverty, more particularly a status low in phosphate : Achillea millefolium, Chrysanthemum leucanthemum, Centaurea nigra and Daucus carota were frequent. Since this record was made, the pasture has been ploughed down.