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UPDATING THE SUFFOLK FLORA FRANCIS SIMPSON

Since the publication of Simpsons Flora of Suffolk in 1982 many new records have been made, the more interesting of which have been published in Suffolk Natural History. There have been several surveys. One project on the orchids was very successful, resulting in publication of The Orchids of Suffolk by Martin Sanford. Unfortunately, since 1982 several species have become less frequent, rare, and possibly are now extinct in Suffolk. The Flora cites localities, but many of the habitats have been lost or changed and the pressure on others by developers will continue. We have lost the old chalk pits at Blood Hill, Bramford and Coddenham which had good floras. The brick and sand pit in Paper Mill Lane, Bramford, although dating only from the early 19th Century, had an interesting flora with four species of Orchids. It is being filled up with household and other waste. Very little remains of the once extensive heaths on the outskirts of Ipswich. Warren Heath has been developed for housing and a super-market. Nearby Purdis Heath remains undeveloped and there are fragments of Rushmere Common not used as a Golf Course. On the coast we have lost the saltings and shingle beach at Fagbury, Trimley, to the extensions of Felixstowe Dock. However, the single specimen of the Shrubby Sea Blite (Suaeda vera) (illustrated on page 501 of the Flora) was saved and removed to another site. There is little we can do in some areas to protect the flora from erosion. The fine colony of Sea Holly (Eryngium maritimum) photographed for the Flora (page 497) at Minsmere has gone. Elms, which used to be such a feature of the landscape, have died from Dutch Elm disease. No longer can we look across the fields in early spring and see the elms 'red' with their flowers. In addition the hurricane of October 1987 devastated many woods, more so on the eastern side of the County. The bluebell woods on the light sandy soils suffered very badly, especially those of the Shotley Peninsula, Cutlers Wood and Holbrook Park, allowing the rapid growth of brambles. Dodnash Wood, Bentley, was severely damaged. Here there has also been much felling, resulting in the loss of some of its spring flora. No longer are to be seen the carpets of Wood Anemones followed by Bluebells. In some woods nettles have increased alarmingly recently 'suffocating' other flora. This has possibly been caused by the seepage of nitrates from arable and in some cases by the disposal of slurry in the woods and surplus straw. DĂźring the past decade several ancient woods have been destroyed or much reduced in size with the loss of flora. The Oxlip (Primula elatior) has disappeared from a number of woods and copses where it was once plentiful and its numbers are declining elsewhere due mainly to the extensive drainage of surrounding land. The Primrose has also suffered. It used to occur in many woods near Ipswich. Gone are the sites where there used to be carpets of

Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 28 (1992)


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Suffolk Natural History, Vol. 28

Primroses as formerly at Newbourn Springs. The revival of coppicing in recent years has in some woods assisted the flora, while in others it has been very harmful to a long-established flora. The Helleborines and Bird's-nest Orchid require the shade afforded by uncut coppice. Many country churchyards which used to be the havens of attractive flora have become the victims of intensive mowings reducing them to the status of lawns. Herbicides have been used on paths, verges and church walls with the loss of interesting ferns. Of the extinct, or probably extinct species listed in the Flora a few have been refound. The most interesting is of a Single specimen of Early Spider Orchid (Ophrys sphegodes) in Breckland in 1991, (previous last record 1793). Another Orchid, the Frog, has been found in an old meadow at Metfield. A small colony of the Wasp Orchid (Ophrys apifera var. trollii) occurs on a roadside verge at Cookley. The Yarrow Broomrape (Orobanche purpurea), which had been last recorded in 1933, has been seen and photographed by several botanists in a cemetery at Lakenheath. Ray's Knotgrass (Polygonum oxyspermum ssp. raii) survives on a small area of Felixstowe beach south of the Pier. I suspect that it had been overlooked. The last record was in 1909 from Landguard Common. The area where it now occurs before the development of Felixstowe was part of Landguard Common which then extended as far as the Spa Pavillion Gardens. Elongated Sedge (Carex elongata) I refound in Reydon Wood, where it had last been collected in 1917. Tasteless Water Pepper (Polygonum mite) has been refound in at least two sites. Chaffweed (Anagallis minima), so small that one had to crawl on hands and knees to see the specimens was on Roper's Heath, Tuddenham, in 1988. Toothwort (Lathraea squamaria), parasitic on the roots of Hazel, Field Maple and Elm is very rare in Suffolk, but was discovered during coppicing and tree felling in Priestley Wood, Barking, 1983. Small-flowered Winter Cress or Yellow Rocket (Barbarea stricta) which can be mistaken for other species of Barbarea was identified in 1989 from a specimen collected at Oulton Broad. Penny Royal (Mentha pulegium) has been reported growing in a damp area of Porter's Wood, Woodbridge. It was perhaps introduced as other introductions occur there. At Beccles Common two colonies of the attractive Annual Beard-grass (Polypogon monspeliensis) were discovered in 1987, (last seen at Felixstowe in 1936). Since 1982 we have been able to add some eighty new species and hybrids to the Suffolk flora. The majority of these first records are for bird seed aliens and casuals and also garden throw-outs. Details have been published in Suffolk Natural History. The most impressive alien was seen in 1988 with the flowering of the Giant Fennel (Ferula communis) on the roadside verge of the A l l at Icklingham. This plant is a native of S. Europe. The Least Duckweed (Lemna minuscula) has been the most successful alien of recent times since first being found in a drainage dyke at Orford in 1983. It has spread very rapidly to suitable wet habitats, especially along the coastal strip, and become as common as the Common or Lesser Duckweed (L. minor). It has been spread mainly by birds.

Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 28 (1992)


U P D A T I N G T H E SUFFOLK FLORA

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References Simpson, F. W. (1982). Simpsons Flora of Suffolk, Ipswich. Suffolk Naturalists' Society. Sanford, M. (1991). The Orchids of Suffolk, Ipswich. Suffolk Naturalists' Society. Suffolk Natural History (1982-91) The Transactions of the Suffolk Naturalists' Society. F. W. Simpson, 40, Ruskin R o a d , Ipswich, IP4 1PT

Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 28 (1992)

Updating the Suffolk Flora  

Simpson, F. W.

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