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DOUBTFUL, EXTINCT AND UNCOMMON FLORA OF SUFFOLK By

F.

W.

SIMPSON

IN the past we have often too readily accepted as authentic a number of records of plants supposed to have been found in Suffolk by various trusted authorities. The " Flora of Suffolk, 1889, by the Rev. W. M. Hind gives details of a number of plants which probably never occurred in the County. Others have become extinct before we have been able to verify the accuracy of records. Doubtful finds have also appeared from time to time in various publications, including our own Transactions. Hind's Herbarium is preserved at the Ipswich Museum and this has been examined from time to time by a number of botanists who have found that several of his specimens had been incorrectly identified. Unfortunately his mistakes were passed on to the Flora and appear as his records for some uncommon plants, then thought new to Suffolk. If his Herbarium had not been available we might have been inclined to accept the majority of new records. We all like to claim fresh discoveries and feel some satisfaction when finding a rarity for the first time. It is however most important that " voucher" specimens, especially of the more critical species should be collected and submitted for examination before records are published. To-day no one botanist claims to have sufficient knowledge of all the critical groups in the British Flora to be able to identify all finds, and doubtful specimens are submitted to specialists. Gone are those Victorian days when there were a number of excellent field botanists possessing a very wide knowledge of almost every flowering plant and fern then described. Specimens could be named with some ease from the comparatively simple floras of the day. There arose, however, a number of botanists who were not satisfied with the simple pattern of these early floras. Almost every species had to be attacked and sub-divided into more species with innumerable forms or varieties. There existed almost a keen rivalry to describe something new. Fortunately a great number of these " splits " have since been proved identical or worthless, and mere habitat variations. The " Flora of the British Isles," 1952, (Clapham, Tutin and Warburg) goes a long way to rectify some of the errors of earlier floras. However, this Flora must not be regarded as in any way final. We who learnt our Latin names and arrangement of the British Flora from earlier works, such as " Bentham and Hooker " are inclined to deplore the more recent changes— although we must accept a great deal of the revision of nomenclature as necessary.


DOUBTFUL, EXT IN CT AND UNCOMMON FI.OFA OF SUFFOLK

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This list of the doubtful, uncommon and extinct plants of the county is published here partly as a guide to some useful work we should like botanists to undertake—to re-discover some of these missing plants. We are frequently asked to preserve our interesting flora and refrain from collecting the rarer kinds. This appeal applies more to the dilettante class, the posy hunters and the " mass " collectors of only rarities. T h e thoughtful botanist knows what to collect without endangering a plant's chance of survival, or spoiling a lovely show of some attractive kind for others to admire. It is necessary that there should be a certain amount of collecting for accurate determination and comparison with herbarium specimens, which is not possible in the field. In dealing with unknown plants, if only one or few examples are present, it may be sufficient to gather only certain parts and not the whole specimen (a) a typical leaf, or leaves, when the stem leaves differ from the leaves growing at the base, and perhaps forming a rosette ; {b) a flower, usually with part of attached stem ; (c) a fruit, nut or seed-pod. Thalictrum majus Crantz.—T. majus Sm. T . minus L. ssp. majus (Crantz) Clapham. Greater Meadow Rue. Recorded in Hind's Flora as " somewhat rare, in copses, etc." Five records are given for West Suffolk—between Cavenham and Tuddenham, Mildenhall, Ixworth, Pakenham and T u d d e n h a m . " First recognised as a Suffolk plant in 1879, by Mr. W . Jordan of Cockfield. Earlier plants in Herbaria were labelled T . minus." This Thalictrum is now regarded as a sub-species of the very variable T . minus L. It is however mainly restricted to damp places in the north of Britain and Wales. I doubt its occurrence in Suffolk, and these records may only refer to habitat variations of T . minus L. ssp. montanum (Wallr.) Clapham. Plants found in shady places are much larger and might be mistaken for T majus. There is also an old record in Hind's Flora for Thalictrum dunense D u m . T . maritimum S y m e = ( T . dunense auct., non Dumort. T . arenarium Butcher. T . minus ssp. arenarium (Butcher) Clapham). Found at Corton and Gorleston in October 1861. Hind attaches great doubt to this record which appeared in a paper by W. Winter in the New Series of " T h e Phytologist," 1861. I have so far been unable to find any T . minus ssp. arenarium on the dunes or cliffs of our Suffolk coast, but I do not rule out the probability that it was found at Corton and Gorleston and subsequent erosion or development


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DOUBTFUL, EXTINCT AND UNCOMMON FLORA OF SUFFOLK

destroyed the habitats. In many areas of Britain we frequently encounter " Meadow Rue " on the dunes and cliffs. The authors of the " Flora of the British Isles " have included " Suffolk " within the ränge of the distribution of this plant. Ranunculus confusus Godr.—Hind's plant from Felixstowe is R. baudotii Godr. and his form R . salsuginosus Hiern from Walton is R. aquatilis ssp. heterophyllus (Weber) Syme emend var, submersus Bab. True R. confusus Godr. may not occur in Britain but R. baudotii var. confusus Godr. is recorded in the list of Suffolk Plants in the Victoria County History, without locality. I have seen no specimens. Ranunculus floribundus Bab. and R. penicillatus Hiern.—Listed as two separate species in Hind's Flora are now regarded as both varieties of R. aquatilis ssp. peltatus (Schrank) Syme emend. Also under R. penicillatus Hind records Form—R. pseudo-fluitans Kiern = R. aquatilis ssp. pseudofluitans (Baker & Foggitt) Clapham. The records for West Row, Mildenhall, Barton Mills, Lackford and Nayland are probably incorrect. His specimen from West Row is R. aquatilis ssp. peltatus var. penicillatus (Bab.). The Nayland plant recorded by the Rev. J. D. Gray was almost certainly R. fluitans Lam. which can be seen both in the River Stour and the Mill race at Nayland. The plant in the River Lark at Lackford is also R. fluitans. Ssp. R. pseudofluitans is a much larger plant than R. fluitans, it favours swift-flowing rivers and streams of more hilly districts and may not occur in our slow meandering Suffolk waters. Ranunculus lenormandi F. Schultz.—Lenormand's Water Crowfoot. No exact locality in Hind's Flora for E. Skepper's ms. note— E. Suffolk. Mrs. M. Southwell records it for a muddy place at Icklingham, 1948, and it may be locally frequent. I am told that it favours brackish ditches, and it may have been this species I saw once in a brackish muddy ditch (but out of reach) at Sudbourne, in marshes towards the Aldeburgh Ferry. The Water Crowfoots are a difficult group, and the distribution of the many forms not properly known. We find, however, that the same species tends to vary considerably, whether growing in shallow water, or on mud of a drying-up pond and in full-sun or partial shade. Well developed achenes must be collected, and it is frequently useless depending upon the characters of the floating and submerged leaves.


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Fumaria confusa Jord.—F. bastardi Bor. I have not found this species in Suffolk. Hind's herbarium specimens are F. officinalis L. F. confusa is described as a plant mainly of W. England, Wales and Ireland. Fumaria muralis Sondr.—Wall Fumitory. True F. muralis may not occur in Suffolk. Hind's specimen from Fakenham is F. officinalis L. Other Suffolk records may refer to F. Boraei Jord. Ssp. F. boraei (Jord.) Pugsl. Fumaria vaillantii Lois.—Vaillant's Fumitory. Hind's specimen from Wangford, W. Suffolk, is F. parviflora L. F. vaillantii is a very local plant I have not found in the county, although I expect it to occur. Fumaria densiflora DC.—F. micrantha Lag. Dense-flowered Fumitory. Recorded for West Row, Mildenhall and Higham, W. Suffolk. A plant of chalky fields ; probably a local plant in West Suffolk, and possibly East Suffolk in the Gipping Valley where the chalk comes to the surface. I have only seen it in Wiltshire. The species, sub-species, varieties and hybrids of the annual " Fumitories " have been sadly neglected by Suffolk botanists who all too readily ascribe their finds " Fumaria officinalis." Barbarea stricta Andrz.—Small-flowered Yellow Rocket. This is a rare or overlooked species, and any records need careful checking. Hind's specimen from Thurston is not this species but a small form of B. vulgaris R.Br. Barbarea intermedia Bor.—Intermediate Yellow Rocket. I have not found this species in Suffolk. Hind's specimen from Nayland is B. verna (Mill.) Aschers (B. praecox (Sm). R.Br. Viola lutea Huds.—Mountain Pansy. Unlikely to occur in Suffolk. Hind's specimen from Bamham is V. tricolor L. ssp. curtisii (Forst.). This is the common and very attractive " Wild Pansy " found all over the Brecks and East Suffolk heathland. Dianthus armeria L.—Deptford Pink. A rare annual. I believe this attractive plant is now extinct in the county. It was found at Coddenham some twenty or thirty years ago, but I have searched in vain all possible habitats. Holosteum umbellatum L.—Jagged Chickweed. Formerly on old walls and roofs at Bury, Eye and Hoxne Abbey, but has not been seen for many years. In pre-historic times it was probably a very common Breck species, and its seeds have been found in some quantity in the ancient deposits of the Breck meres.


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DOUBTFUL, EXTINCT AND UNCOMMON FLORA OF SUFFOLK

Hypericum elodes L.—Marsh St. John's Wort. Extinct in many of its former habitats. I have not found it in Suffolk for several years It may still persist in a few places in Lothingland and possibly about Dunwich and Westleton. Linum bienne Mill.—L. angustifolium Huds. Pale Flax. Probably extinct. Formerly at Gunton, near Lowestoft and at Darsham. Linum anglicum Mill.—L. perenne auct. angl. Perennial Flax. Probably extinct. Formerly a rare plant of borders of fields at Ixworth, Bury, Stowlangtoft, Pakenham and Bardwell. Genista pilosa L.—Hairy Greenweed or Broom. Recorded for the sandy heaths between Bury and Tuddenham, W. Suffolk. These heaths have been considerably reduced and changed in recent years and this small shrub is likely extinct. Trifolium maritimum Huds.—T. squamosum L. Sea-side Clover. Extinct but may re-appear. Formerly a native of the saltmarshes near Yarmouth and at Shingle Street, Hollesley. When recorded in 1804, Yarmouth was then in Suffolk. The salt-marshes of South Town and Breydon Water to Burgh Castle may have been its habitat. *Vicia bithynica L.—Bithynian Vetch. Rough-podded Purple Vetch. A perennial species of cliffs, bushy places and in hedges. Recorded for Beccles by the Suffolk poet, George Crabbe and this record appeared in MS list of Suffolk plants by David Elisha Davy of Ufford and Yoxford, about 1828. Hind in his Flora considered this record was probably an error. The plant'has been found since in the Lowestoft area, at Oulton Broad (Trans. S.N.S., Vol VIII, p. 141) and I believe again in recent years. I think it can therefore be considered a native of Suffolk. Lotus montanus (L.) Bernh.—L. macrorrhizus WTimm. Bitter Vetch. Tuberous Vetchling. This species I have never found in Suffolk. It is difficult to account for its apparent absence. There is a somewhat vague record for Honington in Henslow & Skepper's 1860 "Flora of Suffolk." The plant grows in several places in Essex, but mainly in the south of the county. I have observed flowering plants on the banks of railway cuttings a few miles south of Colchester ; about ten miles from the Suffolk border. In Essex it favours somewhat heathy habitats on the London Clay or other Tertiary deposits. Suitable areas in Suffolk exist mainly in the south and south-east, especially the valley of the Stour and its tributaries. * Vicia bithynica L . — F o u n d at Kessingland b y R . A. L o n g and at Carlton Colville b y J. R. Read ( T h e Lowestoft Field Club, A n n u a l R e p o r t for 1950).


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Potentilla verna L.—P. tabernaemontani Aschers. Spring Cinquefoil. Formerly on the chalky heaths west of Bury, but always rare. Almost certainly now extinct. Lythrum hyssopifolia L.—Grass Poly or Hyssop-leaved Loosestrife. Not seen recently. Found in gravelly places or hollows flooded during winter. Annual. Formerly grew at Bury, Barrow Bottom and east of Barton Mere. Found in 1934 at Woodbridge by A. K. Airy Shaw (See Trans. S.N.S., Vol. II, p. 228). Not seen there since. Sedum Fabaria Koch.—Purple Orpine. (S. telephium L. ssp. fabaria (Koch) Schinz & Keller). Recorded in Hind's Flora as a distinct species. Hind's specimen from Wattisfield is S. telephium L. Specimens of S. telephium found growing in open C l e a r i n g s or on banks exposed to füll s u n l i g h t develop stronger characters, brighter flowers, etc., and may be mistaken for S. fabaria. I do not think this Orpine occurs in Suffolk. Eryngium campestre L.—Field Eryngo. Extinct. Formerly on the coast of Lothingland and at Dunwich 1855-56. A specimen in Ipswich Museum Herbarium from Hintlesham 1856, probably a casual. E. campestre is now a very local and scarce plant in S. England. (Enanthe pimpinelloid.es L.—Parsley Water Dropwort. Extinct or doubtful. Recorded for Bury (a mile west, possibly Westley Bottom), Tuddenham, Lakenheath, Oulton and Leiston. Hind's specimen from Tuddenham Bog is Oe. lachenalii C. C. Gmel. (This species still occurs in all these parishes, except possibly Westley.) (Enanthe silaifolia Bieb.—Sulphurwort. I have not seen this plant in Suffolk. It may occur near Sudbury. The records in Hind's Flora again refer to Oe. lachenalii. Oe. lachenalii varies in size : those growing in the West Suffolk Fens are usually much smaller and more slender than coastal examples. (Enanthe crocata L.—Hemlock Water Dropwort. Recorded for West Stow, Ipswich, Barham and Pin Mill, Chelmondiston. However, I have searched Suffolk in vain for this species. No herbarium specimens exist. It could easily be mistaken for similar plants, such as Apium graveolens, Cicuta virosa and Sium latifolium. It occurs in Essex and Norfolk. Valerianella carinata Lois.—Keeled Com Salad or Lamb's Lettuce. Not seen recently. A rare annual in arable fields and on banks. Hind's specimen from Nayland is V. locusta (L.) Betcke (V. olitoria (L.) Poll.). The species of Valerianella are difficult to identify unless obtained with ripe fruits. (To be continued).

Doubtful, Extinct and Uncommon Flora in Suffolk  

Simpson, F. W.

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