Annual meeting 1961: Lewes

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6 April 1961 - 11 April 1961

Meeting report

The Society held its Spring meeting in Sussex this year, a county which had not previously been visited by the Society for an extended field meeting. Lewes was the centre from 6 to 11 April from which the daily car journeys were made to areas selected by Dr Rose and Mr Wallace to whom all who attended will wish to express their thanks for undertaking the initial organization, with the assistance of Mrs Paton, and for leading the party over some of these areas during the week. As was to be expected there are very few new records to report from such a well-worked county, but for those members not well acquainted with the chalk of the south-east there were many interesting plants to be seen and quite a number also on the sands and clays of the Weald.

On 6 April the chalk hills west of Lewes were visited and such characteristic calcicoles as Fissidens cristatus, Encalypta streptocarpa, Weissia microstoma, Neckera crispa, Entodon orthocarpus, Cirriphyllum crassinervium, and Campylium protensum were seen. Pottia davalliana, Phascum floerkeanum, Barbula unguiculata var. cuspidatum*, Pleurochaete squarrosa, Pohlia delicatula, Eucladium verticillatum and Plagiothecium denticulatum were also recorded on this excursion in addition to an interesting specialized flora on chalk pebbles in shaded situations consisting of Fissidens minutulus, Seligeria paucifolia, S. calcarea and Tortella inflexa. Leiocolea turbinata was fruiting freely on the damp chalky clay beside shaded paths. The spongey bark of elder branches provided a habitat for numerous bryophytes including Zygodon viridissimus var. occidentalis.

* = New v.c. record throughout.

The morning of the second day, 7 April, was spent at the sandrocks west of Uckfield where fruiting Orthodontium lineare was seen in great quantity. On these rocks also there was Campylopus brevipilus, C. fragilis, Diphyscium foliosum, Pohlia annotina var. decipiens, Lepidozia sylvatica, Calypogeia neesiana var. meylanii, Barbilophozia attenuata, Mylia anomala and Cephalozia connivens. Campylopus introflexus agg. and Rhodobryum roseum were in the heath on top of the sandrocks. In the adjoining woodland there was Rhynchostegiella pallidirostra and Scleropodium caespitosum. Roadside banks revealed fruiting Reboulia hemispherica and Bartramia pomiformis which are both rare in the south-east. In the afternoon a part of Ashdown Forest near Fairwarp was examined. The valley of a small stream, which had escaped the destructive effect of numerous heath fires, contained a very interesting flora including Sphagnum subsecundum var. auriculatum, Campylostelium saxicola, Hyocomium flagellare (, Isopterygium elegans (, Calypogeia arguta and Scapania undulata var. dentata. Sphagnum molle was collected on the damp heath.

Under Mr Wallace’s leadership the party assembled at the foot of Chanctonbury Hill on the Saturday and worked the slopes and top of this well-known landmark. Leptodon smithii was found on several elm trees near the meeting place and they also provided the habitat for Tortula laevipila var. laevipiliformis. The exposed roots of trees and their bases in the various pieces of woodland bore a rich bryophyte flora including Isothecium striatulum, Cirriphyllum crassinervium (, Eurhynchium murale, Rhynchostegiella pallidirostra and Plagiothecium curvifolium. Higher up the trees on trunks and branches Lejeunea ulicina was abundant; Zygodon viridissimus var. occidentalis, Cryphaea heteromalla (, and Radula complanata were found on several species of tree. Mr Townsend found a form of Dicranoweissia cirrata with large gemmae at the leaf-base. Other interesting plants on the chalk were Tortella inflexa in fruit, Trichostomum sinuosum and Thuidium philiberti. Dr Watson repeated a discovery he made two years ago further west along the same escarpment by finding Nowellia curvifolia on a rotting log. The return to Lewes was made via Sullington Warren on the Lower Greensand where Campylopus introflexus agg. was present in some quantity and Miss Lobley found Orthodontium lineare* in a rabbit burrow. Dicranum spurium was still to be seen and growing amongst the various Sphagna in the wetter areas there was Lepidozia setacea, Cephalozia macrostachya and C. connivens.

Dr Rose took the party to Fairlight Glen on 10 April which is the locus classicus in south-east England for Fissidens rivularis and Dumortiera hirsuta which still seemed to be holding their own in spite of some evidence of pollution of a side stream. Epipterygium tozeri was fruiting well on a pathside bank and Dichodontium pellucidum, Hookeria lucens and Eucladium verticillatum were on wet rocks by the stream. In the afternoon some members were shown a very rich piece of country towards the eastern boundary of Sussex in Marline Wood where a stream runs over a series of terraces formed of Ashdown Sand. Here we were shown an impressive quantity of fruiting Tetraphis browniana and another station for Fissidens rivularis which was also in fruit. Other plants present in this valley were Fissidens adianthoides, Trichostomum tenuirostre, Hookeria lucens, Heterocladium heteropterum and the var. flaccidum, Metzgeria conjugata, and Solenostoma pumilum with perianths. Another group visited Bingletts Wood and saw Dichodontium pellucidum, Hookeria lucens, Heterocladium heteropterum, Rhytidiadelphus loreus, Hyocomium flagellare and Saccogyna viticulosa. Yet another group visited Bedgebury Forest in Kent where they saw Atrichum angustatum, A. tenellum, Polytrichum nanum (, Pohlia rothii*, Bryum bicolor and Lophozia incisa.

On the last day a reduced party went to Abbott’s Wood north of Eastbourne where Polytrichum nanum and P. aloides were both fruiting and in addition Pleuridium subulatum, Hylocomium brevirostre, Fossombronia pusilla (, Lophozia capitata*, Nardia scalaris and Cephaloziella rubella were amongst the more interesting plants. The meeting was blessed by fair weather and all those present were grateful to the organizers for arranging such a varied programme which proved interesting in spite of the inclusion of some well-worked ground. I would like to thank all those who kindly supplied me with lists of their findings.

P. J. Wanstall