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PLANT RECORDING IN 2003 MARTIN SANFORD Recorders have continued to put a tremendous effort into achieving good coverage of the County for a new Atlas. The remaining squares that are poorly covered are mainly in dull arable areas and the rewards for this sort of ‘squarebashing’ are not high. Nevertheless, there were some interesting new records made including the usual crop of newly escaped aliens. There were over 28,000 new records added to the database and we are rapidly heading for half a million records. Several recorders also took part in the BSBI Local Change Survey and we look forward to seeing the analysis of this data for the Suffolk tetrads. We continue to be indebted to the Norfolk team led by the indefatigable Alec Bull. They have continued to increase our knowledge of arable species like the Cornfield Knotgrass Polygonum rurivagum that I mentioned last year. There are several species distributions which stop halfway down the County showing where the Norfolk recorders have reached the plants other recorders miss - see the map of Spreading Meadow-grass Poa humilis below for an example. The map in the New Atlas (Preston, Pearman & Dines, 2002) shows how well Norfolk has been covered compared with the rest of the country. Tetrad distribution of Suffolk records of Poa humilis

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Particular thanks are due to the following recorders for their major contributions: A. L. Bull and the Norfolk recorders, Mr D. & Mrs Y. Leonard, L. P. Hall, M. Gulham, M. Hackwell, W. Mitchell, R. W. Ellis, D. Mathias, A. Copping, F. Schumann, R. M. Leaney, Mrs J. P. Ellis, R. Chancellor, D. Miller, J. Cull, B. Mathews, J. Humphris, P. Payne, N. Miller, S. Taylor, C. A. Jacobs, R. Mitchell, J. Negal, G. Peck, M. Austin, B. Fountain, M. Searle, A. Toomey, P. Westley, D. Strauss, H. Thompson, Ms A. S. Wolfe, J. Westcott, N. Gibbons, M. Woods, T. Tarpey, P. G. Lawson, R. Hartley and the Sudbury Flora Group, Mrs G. Ridgway; thanks also to all others who have contributed records. For the records listed below nomenclature and order follows Stace (1997); Clement & Foster (1994) is the authority for information on alien plants. All records are from the year 2003 unless stated otherwise. Red Data Book species are described in Wiggington (1999) and Nationally Scarce species are covered by Stewart, Pearman & Preston (1994). Helleborus viridis L., Green Hellebore (see Plate 7). Hastings Wood, Brettenham, TL9454, April, Tom Tavener. A new 10-km square for this rare woodland plant which is restricted to chalky soils. Although it is occasionally grown in gardens there are only about eight sites where it occurs in native woodland. Suaeda vera Forsskaol ex J. Gmelin, Shrubby Seablite. Felixstowe Ferry Creek, TM3237, August, Barbara Mathews. This plant has turned up in a few new sites in recent years, this is the second on the Deben estuary. Silene gallica L., Small-Flowered Catchfly. Benacre/Covehithe, TM5182, Toby Abrehart and Peter Lawson. Westleton, TM46P, May, Joan Westcott. Benacre is a new site for this rare arable weed which has been listed in the Biodiversity Action Plan. The population at Westleton has been known for some years. The species should also be looked for in drought prone coastal grassland. There are several records from this habitat in Norfolk and it has also been found on the banks of a disused railway. Lavatera trimestris L., Royal Mallow. Charles St, Ipswich, TM1644, single plant established from seed on verge, October, Martin Sanford. First Suffolk record for this attractive garden mallow. Abutilon theophrasti Medikus, Velvetleaf. Parsnip field N. of Sketchvar Wood, Elveden, TL8380, September, David and Yvonne Leonard. An attractive, tall alien species with strange crown-shaped fruits, it is introduced with wool shoddy, bird-seed and oil-seed. Helianthemum nummularium (L.) Miller, Common Rock-Rose. Ickworth Park, TL8060, Joyce Humphris. An interesting record away from the typical chalk country favoured by this species.

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Sisymbrium volgense Bieb. ex E. Fourn., Russian Mustard. Raydon, Bottom of Higham Hill, TM0337, June, Nick Miller. Still at the same site where it was found by Mark Hyde in 1980. It arises as a grain contaminant and many colonies are long lived. Lepidium heterophyllum Benth., Smith’s Pepperwort. Lakenheath, RAF pathway near golf course and edge of runway towards Wangford, TL78L, June, David and Yvonne Leonard. A surprisingly scarce native crucifer which, once established, maintains stable populations over many years. There are only half a dozen Suffolk records for this species. Vaccinium myrtillus L., Bilberry. Two large patches beside Icknield Way near Marmansgrave Wood, Thetford, TL8480, September, Alec Bull and Barry Nicholson. First confirmed Suffolk record. Although Simpson (1982) included this species in his Flora he could not cite any authentic records. Alec has suggested these plants may be survivors of a deliberate planting by Elveden Estate where there were a number of attempts to introduce both Red and Black Grouse between 1870 and 1920. This site is very close to the long-established population of Thracian Birthwort, Aristolochia hirta in Marmansgrave Wood. Rubus boreanus Genev., a bramble. Thetford, TL8581, September, Alec Bull. First record for West Suffolk v.c. 26. Potentilla × mixta sens. lat. (P. erecta × reptans or P. anglica × reptans), Hybrid Cinquefoil. Assington, orchards behind Partridge Row, TL9337, June, Nick Miller. Hybrids between the creeping Potentilla species are probably much commoner than records suggest. They are generally lumped under Potentilla × mixta sens. lat., as it is impossible to distinguish them in the field. Although sterile, they can spread by runners and may be found with, or without, the parent species. Some forms of the parents can be very similar to the hybrids which deters people form recording them. Securigera varia (L.) Lassen, Crown Vetch. Woodbridge, opposite Notcutts, TM2648, July, Susan Stone. Ipswich, wall in Spring Road, TM1744, July, Martin Sanford. This attractive alien vetch was only noted (as Coronilla varia) as a casual in docks at Felixstowe and Lowestoft in Simpson (1982) but it is a deep-rooted plant and sometimes lives for many years. The Woodbridge site was first noted by Mike Crewe in 1992 and the plant in Ipswich has been established for several years. Medicago sativa subsp. falcata (L.) Arcang., Sickle Medick. Elveden, TL88A, September, Bob Ellis; TL88F, September, Bill Mitchell; TL87E, September, Yvonne Leonard. Foxhole Heath Roadside verges, TL7378, July, Mark Woods. Maidscross Hill, TL7382, July, Mark Woods. Forest rides, Thetford, abundant even when mown on industrial estate, TL88K September, Alec Bull.

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Martin George spent some time in Breckland this year trying to find convincing specimens of this plant from which he could collect seed for the Millennium Seed Bank Project. It looks as if subsp. falcata may be being replaced by its hybrid with subsp. sativa known as Sand Lucerne M. × varia. The maps in the New Atlas (Preston, Pearman & Dines, 2002) show that there are no squares where falcata is found which do not also contain × varia. The East Suffolk sites for × varia that I have examined often contain plants resembling falcata and I suspect that several of the recent records I have received for falcata may have actually been the hybrid. Crithmum maritimum L., Rock Samphire. Felixstowe Ferry, TM3236, August, Barbara Mathews. Once established on stabilised shingle this plant can be very long-lived. I hope it can survive the heavy visitor pressure in this area. Torilis arvensis (Hudson) Link, Spreading Hedge-Parsley. Eye, TM17M, May, Bob Ellis. A rare arable species with few sustainable populations; it has been included in the County Biodiversity Action Plan. Calystegia pulchra Brummitt & Heyw., Hairy Bindweed. Near Bird Hide on S. side of Benacre Broad, TM5282, September, John Bedford. An alien bindweed which is probably under-recorded. It rarely sets seed in this country so most spread is vegetative from garden escapes and on waste ground. It is unusual to find it so far from human habitation. Melampyrum pratense L., Common Cow-Wheat. Flixton Decoy, TM5195, May, Colin Jacobs. A new site for what is now a very rare plant in Suffolk, there are now less than a dozen sites left in the County. Sambucus ebulus L., Dwarf Elder. Long Melford, disused railway line, TL8644, Ron Hartley. Raydon, East of Sulleys Farm, TM0437, July, Nick Miller. Known at both these sites for some years. It also grows on railway embankments at Ipswich. These sites provide ideal habitat without the annual cutting of road verges which tends to kill off this species. Achillea ptarmica L., Sneezewort. Lakenheath, TL7180, August, Alec Bull. Although the double-flowered form is regularly found as a garden escape, the native species has declined greatly due to drainage of wetlands. It used to grow at Lakenheath Poors Fen, but I had thought it lost from Breck Fens until Alec re-found it. Guizotia abyssinica (L. f.) Cass., Niger. Eye, TM1474, Summer, Bob Ellis and Mary Ghullam. Southwold, TM5076, September, Peter Lawson. A tall annual of rubbish tips, sewage farms, roadsides and waste places, where it is usually found as a casual from bird-seed.

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Zostera angustifolia (Hornem.) Reichb., Narrow-Leaved Eelgrass. Bawdsey, TM3540, September, Brian Fountain. Following the massive decline in eelgrasses there have been very few recent records of any Zostera species. Cyperus longus L., Galingale. Aspall, pond at Potash Fm, TM1664, September 2002, Alec Bull, David Mathias and Frances Schumann. Mendlesham, TM1065, Summer 2003, Alec Bull, David Mathias, Frances Schumann, Bill Mitchell and Lawrence Hall. Two new sites for this unusual sedge relative. The species is only native in South and West Britain, but may be spread from garden ponds by birds. Carex binervis Sm., Green-Ribbed Sedge. Ingham, TL87K, May, Janet Negal, Bill Mitchell and Lawrence Hall. We have very few records of this species which usually occurs on moist acid soils. Agrostis castellana Boiss. & Reuter, Highland Bent. Lowestoft, TM5491, 2002, Arthur Copping. Rickinghall Superior, TM07L, 2003, Arthur Copping. 1st and 2nd Suffolk records. A perennial species native to the Mediterranean region it is found on roadsides and in amenity grassland and is often included in grass-seed mixtures. It is probably overlooked as it is not easily distinguished from A. stolonifera. Digitaria sanguinalis (L.) Scop., Hairy Finger-Grass. Landguard Common, viewing area, TM2832, August, Ron Porley. A scarce annual grass usually originating from bird-seed. Very few recent records. Epipactis helleborine (L.) Crantz., Broad-Leaved Helleborine. Corton, Sewage Works Wood, TM5397, August, Alan Beaumont. North Cove, TM4690, July, Ricky Fairhead. Good numbers have been seen at both these North Suffolk sites in recent years. Neottia nidus-avis (L.) Rich., Bird’s-Nest Orchid. Bradfield Woods, northern end of Cargate Ride, TL9257, May, G. Reeder. This species had not been seen at Bradfield since the 1970s. Platanthera chlorantha (Custer) Reichb., Greater Butterfly-Orchid. Hoxne, Strangleman’s Hole, TM1875, June, John Antram. A new site for this rare woodland species. Aceras anthropophorum (L.) Ait. f., Man Orchid. Coddenham, roadside verge, TM1054, June, Susan Stone. Lingwood Meadows SSSI, TM1158, June, Susan Stone. Two new sites for this species in one year is very surprising. The number of plants found suggests that it has been present on these sites for some time and these records may be a result of better surveying rather than evidence that the species is colonising new areas.

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References Beckett, G. & Bull, A. L. (1999). A Flora of Norfolk. Gillian Beckett, Norwich. Clement, E. J. & Foster, M. C. (1994). Alien plants of the British Isles. Botanical Society of the British Isles, London. Preston, C. D., Pearman, D. A. & Dines, T. D. Eds. (2002). New Atlas of the British and Irish Flora. Oxford University Press, Oxford. Stace, C. A. (1997). New Flora of the British Isles, 2nd ed. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. Simpson, F. W. (1982). Simpson’s Flora of Suffolk. Suffolk Naturalists’ Society, Ipswich. Stewart, A., Pearman, D. A. & Preston, C. D. (1994). Scarce Plants in Britain. Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Peterborough. Wigginton, M. J., ed., (1999). British Red Data Books. 1. Vascular Plants. 3rd ed. Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Peterborough. Martin Sanford Botanical Recorder S.B.R.C. Ipswich Museum High Street Ipswich IP1 3QH

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T. Taverner Plate 7: Green Hellebore, Helleborus viridis L. at Hastings Wood, Brettenham, April 2003 (p. 120).

PLANT RECORDING IN 2003  

Martin Sanford

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