Autumn workshop 1985: Selborne, Woolwich

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2 November 1985 - 3 November 1985

Workshop report

Sixteen attended the workshop from 2-3 November in Selborne in addition to the four members (June Chatfield, Alan Crundwell, Francis Rose and Rod Stern) providing tuition. The subject of the Workshop was the larger, common bryophytes of woodland, and after a general introduction to bryophytes in The Gilbert White Field Studies Centre where we were based, the afternoon of 2 November was spent in the field when we walked to Milking Hanger and Long Copse (an S.S.S.I.), a deep wooded valley of standards and coppice cut into the Upper Greensand. This is a remarkably wet wood for southeast England and there was luxuriant growth of bryophytes. We investigated the trunks of the oak standards and secondary tree layer, the ground layer and the sides of the stream – these habitats yielded a total of 45 species. After a busy afternoon outside, members were able to do justice to the gargantuan meal at Bush House when we relaxed in the evening in a beamed restaurant with a l og fire.

All localities visited are in v.c. 12. Sunday morning, which was cold and frosty, was spent on Selborne Hanger, a steep woodland on the scarp slope of the chalk that is capped by acid clay-with- flints, providing an interesting contrast in the bryophyte flora. Selborne Hanger (also an S.S.S.l.) is managed by the National Trust and their local Warden Chris Webb joined the weekend course. Also with the workshop were John Ockenden, responsible for the East Hampshire Hangers Project and Fay Stranack, Chairman of the Conservation Committee of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Naturalists’ Trust.

The final excursion on the Sunday afternoon was to Hogmoor Inclosure, Whitehill, a mixed woodland and heath on acid sandy soil of the Lower Greensand. Here we found a complete contrast in flora with acid indicators like Pleurozium schreberi, Polytrichum juniperinum and Sphagnum spp. Rhytidiadelphus loreus, a moss typical of old woodland, was an unexpected find in this location. Although away from the official theme of woodland bryophytes, a large slab of concrete put down by the army was well colonised by mosses, especially the smaller acrocarps. Forty seven species were recorded from the Hogmoor Inclosure. This proved an enjoyable meeting and there were requests for further bryological activities in this area. The location of the meeting -Selborne – is known as the home of the Reverend Gilbert White, author of The Natural History of Selborne (1789). White was more of a zoologist than a botanist, but his writings do occasionally refer to mosses and one letter in the book features Polytrichum commune or The Great Golden Maidenhair, which was used for making besom brooms.

June Chatfield


Selborne, Woolwich