If you look over the old flint wall near the end of Sandore Road you will see a small area of wild land. Almost set into the old wall is an even older huge Ash tree – which came first? This patch of land is being left untouched by the Council part of re-wilding.
A group from On the Verge went into the area last week – entering through a narrow tree lined path from Bromley Road. Conker cases were already falling along the path from a huge tree. At first glance there seemed to be nothing of interest apart from the tall grass and the long dangling strands of seeds on an enormous sycamore tree. But the group looked closely and found some 50 different plants.
In order to be precise about identifying the species they used hand lenses to look at features like the hairs on the underside of leaves – were the hairs straight or arranged in v shapes?! I was intrigued that the common names of many of the plants contain animal names. There was cock’s foot grass – the seed heads look like the three toed foot of a hen or cockerel. There were cat’s ear (little yellow flowers a bit like dandelions) cow parsley, hog weed, purple toadflax, and two types of sow thistle. And of course the conkers come from a horse chestnut. I wonder how the animal associations became part of the names people have used for centuries.
We did also see some butterflies and a flashy black and white and red tiger moth. Trying to work out the links with the animals my brain feels it is stuck in a Yorkshire fog – the name of one of the grasses we found!.
Thanks Mon! The plant surveys are always a revelation. We welcome new volunteers (previous botany experience not essential).
This is a really special re-naturing site and we would like to set up a regular monitoring group of “green space champions” at this site. If you live nearby and would be interested, please get in touch!