Connecting people and green spaces

Botanists in Clover – Pump field survey


On the Verge were busy at the end of August carrying out some surveys of the plants in our green spaces. We were really interested to survey the “Pump Field” which is just east of the other two Martello Fields. There are plans for this field, together with the unmade road next to it, to become a community garden. It has great potential for community engagement and educational projects. We look forward to hearing more about the plans from “The Cliff gardens project” which is part of the “Seaford Cares” lottery project.

Sometimes wildflowers are so common, that you barely notice them. Clover, which is so loved by bumble bees is one of them, but it is worth looking closer. They really are quite beautiful little flowers. I was surprised to learn that there are actually quite a few different varieties of clover, which are part of the pea family. In the middle of the Pump field, our botanists spotted Strawberry Clover (Trifolium fragiferum). This is a beautiful little clover, whose seed heads did indeed look like little strawberries!

Strawberry Clover


Even more excitingly our botanists got out a hand lens and the invaluable Wild Flower key  (book by Francis Rose) to confirm they had some Hare’s-foot clover (Trifolium arvense)!

It may have looked like some strange field yoga class, but getting down close to the flowers, really is the only way to get an identification with some flowers. Close examination of the leaves, the branching on the stem, the flower, the hairiness are all crucial bits of information needed to make that final identification.

The Pump field, was surprisingly rich in wildflowers, despite the middle being mowed short a few weeks earlier for an event. It was a bit late in the season for a plant count but the banks still had flowers and seed heads including hogweed, wild carrot, common fleabane, mallow, yarrow and sow thistles. Smaller flowers included Autumn hawkbits, Bird’s Foot Trefoil, Field Mouse ear, Redshank and Rough Chervil.

Overall there were 48 species of wildflower, which really was a brilliant result, leaving us happy as cows in clover!*

Sarah our botanist found out a bit more for us. Hare’s-foot clover is found in sandy grassland near the coast (and on sandy soils inland in West Sussex). Seaford Natural History Society confirmed that Hare’s Foot Clover has been recorded only twice in the town and not at all in this location, so we have a new record for the town. Excellent!


* Apparently the idiom “in clover” goes back at least to the 1700s and is based upon the fact that cattle enjoy eating clover over other vegetation. A happy cow is in clover!


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