Suffolk Natural History, Vol. 31
SEA HOG'S FENNEL (PEUCEDANUM OFFICINALE L.) IN SUFFOLK F. W. SIMPSON It was in September 1990 that two visiting botanists, Mr. M. A. R. Kitchen and Mrs. C. Kitchen, found a colony of Sea Hog's Fennel growing among the reeds, near Southwold Harbour. The site is part of a protected area (SSSI). This very interesting find was reported to Mrs. E. M. Hyde in November 1994, after another visit to confirm its identity when flowering. It can be mistaken, when not in flower, for Milk Parsley (Peucedanum palustre (L.) Moench) which is known as 'Hog's Fennel' and occurs less than a mile from the Southwold site in a fresh water marsh at Walberswick. Fifteen plants of Sea Hog's Fennel were counted. The species is rare enough to be included in the national Red Data Book (i.e. found in less than 16 10km Square in Britain) and is the foodplant of the rare Fisher's Estuarine Moth (Gortyna borelii Pierr), which, in Britain, occurs only in one area of Essex. The origin of this colony is uncertain. It may be fairly recent, as several good botanists worked the Southwold area in the 1950s for records for the Atlas of the British Flora, published in 1962. Whatever its origin, this colony is very important, as it adds to its limited distribution in Britain, namely North Essex and Faversham in Kent. In North Essex it is still frequent, and even plentiful, around Hamford Water, especially on some of the islands. It also occasionally occurs on roadside verges. I have found that it has decreased in recent years around Little Oakley, due to farming and other developments, and the bulldozing of ancient banks. One would like to think that the Southwold site is a relic of its former more widespread distribution. In my copy of the second edition of William Withering's British Plants, 1792, are records for salt marshes about Yarmouth and Cley, Norfolk, on the authority of Hudson (William Hudson, 1730-1793, was a distinguished botanist, director of Chelsea Physic Gardens, London). The Norfolk records do not appear in Floras of Norfolk, even among the extinct species. It is also interesting to note that Withering also gave Shoreham. Sussex, as another site. The hand-coloured plate in Withering was drawn by J. E. Sowerby, dated July Ist, 1807 (William Withering, botanist of Birmingham, 1741-1794). Hudson's herbarium was partly destroyed by fire and it is not known whether a specimen of the Sea Hog's Fennel was in his collection. F. W. Simpson, 40 Ruskin Road, Ipswich IP4 1PT
Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 31 (1995)
Plate 10: Hog's Fennel, Peucedanum officinale Lâ€ž this national rarity was found at Southwold in 1994. (p. 48).