News and Events

Flora Group / BSBI Exhibition Meeting

Saturday 5 December 2009, 11am – 4pm
Testwood Lakes Centre, Totton, SU345155

We will continue this traditional autumn get-together / social event, so please bring along cakes and other goodies to eat, or sandwiches for us to share, plus your specimens, photos, material for display boards, and any other botanical talking point. This is a splendid informal event for meeting others interested in Hampshire’s wildflowers. A digital projector will be available, so please can you bring a few digital photos to show us (but only British plants and preferably species found in Hampshire!). This year there will not be slide projector unless anyone specifically requests one from Tony Mundell.

If you don’t wish to talk about your photos then please at least bring a few prints of photos (or pressed specimens) that you can put on the display tables – ideally annotated with where the photo was taken. Failing that, bring a few biscuits etc and help us munch them!

Testwood Lakes Centre is reached from Brunel Road, a turning off the A36 at a roundabout between Totton and Ower. After entering Brunel Road, look for a small turning on the left after the block of industrial units. Go along this track, ignoring the first (public) car park, until the Centre comes into view above the lake. There is plenty of parking there.

Contact: Tony Mundell, email:

Lower plant training days in 2009-2010

On Saturday 21st November 2009 Neil Sanderson is leading a Lichen Identification Training Day at Busketts Wood and Fair Cross in the New Forest. This will be a walk though one of the richest areas in Europe for lichens, where we will look at the diverse lichen flora of the old woodlands and, if we get far enough, dry heathland. The methods, tricks and jiz used in field identification of lichens will be explained along with the ecology and conservation of lichens. We will meet at the car park at the cricket pitch at Busketts Wood at SU 311 111. Bring picnic lunch and a hand lens if you have one. Contact: Neil Sanderson via e-mail on

A key aim of the Wessex Bryology Group is to encourage those who are new to the subject to become more experienced and confident at identifying bryophytes, and in early 2010 there is a series of three meetings, each in a different habitat, specifically aimed at beginners. Two of these are in Hampshire. Beginners are, of course, most welcome at all our meetings. There is no formal membership or constitution and each person goes out at his/her own risk. The only equipment needed is a hand lens (x10 or x20) and some paper packets for collecting specimens. Many of the sites we plan to visit include wet and muddy areas so boots are advisable. We will usually eat a packed lunch on site. All meetings start at 10.30am and finish between 3pm and 4pm.

Evern pru 01 (16K)

Contact: Andrew Branson, e-mail or Sharon Pilkington, e-mail:

Saturday 23rd January 2010 Woodland and grassland at Vernditch Chase/Martin Down.
Leader Andrew Branson.
Meet at National Nature Reserve car park on Blandford-Salisbury Road (A354) at SU037200. A good range of common woodland and grassland species to ease people into some basics of identification and ecology.

Saturday 6th February 2010 Heathland/mire at Vales Moor in the New Forest.
Leader Sharon Pilkington.
Park in the car park at SU188040. This extensive mire and heath complex will provide a chance to get to grips with various species of Sphagnum and other typical mire and heath mosses and liverworts. Wellies strongly recommended.

Saturday 20th February 2010 Chalk downland at Melbury Down-Win Green ( NT) South Wilts/Dorset
Leader Andrew Branson.
Park off the road to Compton Abbas airfield at ST915197. We will look for some classic chalk downland and flint scree bryophytes in the morning, including Rhodobryum roseum. Later in the day we will test our skills at Win Green.

Flora News Autumn 2009 Issue

This is now available on the Flora Group Newsletters page. The Index, on the same page, is now also up to date with this latest issue.

Reports on recent events

A full set of reports on previous events in 2009 can be found in the Autumn 2009 Flora News, available on the Flora Group Newsletters page.

The fortunes of Deptford Pink (Dianthus armeria)

Diant del 01 (94K)

© Ginnie Copsey 2009

A scarce plant in Britain and on the Red Data List as Endangered, the beautiful Deptford Pink has always been uncommon in Hampshire and now appears to be lost from all but one of its twelve historic Hampshire sites.

At Avon Forest Park, between Matchams and St Leonards, two days of search failed to find any plants at one of its two recorded locations there, despite the extensive area it was once scattered over and plenty of good habitat remaining. It was therefore very gratifying to find 37 flowering stems at its other location nearby, where a single flowering stem had been found when last recorded 23 years ago. Still, this must remain one of the most vulnerable native species in the county.

News from Breamore Marsh

Brown Galingale (Cyperus fuscus) is an even rarer plant in Britain than Deptford Pink, having only ever been known in twelve sites, and surviving in just six. The overwhelming bulk of the population is in two sites in the Avon Valley, Breamore Marsh being pre-eminent.

Clive Chatters, who monitors the populations here annually, reports an exceptional year for it with plants numbering into the tens of thousands. The grazing regime is key here, with cattle and geese providing the bare, damp, well-trodden ground it needs to germinate and flourish. This has been helped by clearing the ranker vegetation from some of the ditches.

At its other site around Kingston North Common, Clive reports just over 200 plants. Counts have been much higher here at times, but the grazing here is much less effective at keeping coarser vegetation down and many spots where clearance was carried out a few years ago are now closing in.

Brown Galingale is late to flower and fruit, and can be admired well into the autumn if the weather is not too harsh.

Cyper fus 01 (71K)

© [W] Krzysztof Ziarnek 2008

Ludwi uru 01 (101K)

© Martin Rand 2009

A much less welcome event is the arrival of the stunningly beautiful but incredibly invasive South American waterweed Ludwigia urugayensis (Water-primrose) in one of the Breamore Marsh ponds. This species (also known as Ludwigia grandiflora) and its relative Ludwigia peploides have been making spectacular inroads into waterways on the Continent. Here it chokes channels, suppresses all other plant life and deoxygenates the shaded water beneath.

One can't be sure how it arrived here, and the plant is notorious for regenerating from very small stem fragments, so it may have come by natural means with waterfowl. However it seems more likely that it was a deliberate introduction, in which case it is an appallingly reckless action. I would like to say "criminally reckless", but this is not literally true as the species are not currently listed on Schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Hopefully they will soon be added, before we reach the point where it is pointless to ban them.

This is the fourth recorded occurrence of these two species in the wild in Hampshire. So far it has mercifully not turned up in any of the river systems. I urge all readers to report any sightings to the Environment Agency or Natural England; or if they prefer, they can mail me with the details and I will pass them on (please include a grid reference and as much detail as possible).

Diary section

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Note that as a matter of policy we are not including personal contact details in the diary, so please include a link where people can find out more.

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Old News

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