Wessex Meeting August 27th 2016

Leaders: Ashley Basil and Andrew Leonard
Those attending the meeting were:-
Jo and Ashley Basil, Andrew Leonard and Jane Markovic

We met at Lysander Meadow, which is behind Wickham recreation ground, to look for a population of Equisetum x rothmaleri (E. arvense x E. palustre). As it was late in the season it was not looking at its best but large patches were found. It is scarce in the UK the nearest site is on the Isle of Wight. It is encouraging that a parish council can look after a site like this, a great credit to them.

We moved on to Bere Forest, on the way stopping to look for wall ferns, Asplenium ruta-muraria, Asplenium scolopendrium and Asplenium adiantum-nigrum all suffering in the deep shade.
Afterwards, we parked in Hundred Acres Road and walked down a shallow valley in the woods. Masses of Dryopteris dilatata many suffering from fern mite, and the classic damage, although some whole fronds were mildly effected.
Further down we encounted Blechnum spicant looking very good. At last our luck was changing, Dryopteris carthusiana on a hump showing off its horizontal rhizomes and pale scales. An area of forest extraction was found and the woodland ferns were looking unwell in the sun. Andrew had an old record of his and a bit of hunting over the ruts and brash revealed 2 small crowns of Osmunda regalis looking very good with a second flush of fertile fronds. This was unexpected, we had a look round for some sporelings but found none, well worth a visit next year. The ruts and disturbed ground as we saw last year at Lyndhurst can make an ideal nursery for them.
Back in to the woods and a struggle in the undergrowth showed up a great surprise for this area. A dozen very fine looking Polystichum aculeatum were found, adjacent were some Polystichum setiferum, Andrew’s impromptu lecture on their differences gave us a clear idea on how to identify these.

Then he showed us another plant, how we struggled then Jo got got it possible Polystichum aculeatum x P. setiferum (P. x bicknellii) due to being so late. Confirmation by abortive spores not possible.

Back to the cars, and a late lunch in the Bold Forester, a pub in a time warp, lunch was OK, and a long discussion on a wide range of topics ensued. A great deal of thanks to Andrew for a very good day and the sharing of his knowledge.

Ashley Basil

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