Friday, 4 March 2011

Barberry blog

Back to Botany!

The picture below is of the inflorescence from a plant of Common Barberry (
Berberis vulgaris) growing on Park Downs, Banstead. It is a species I had never seen before and is regarded as an archaeophyte in Britain, a long-established alien. It is not particulary common.

Although the individual flowers are small (~1cm diameter) they are rather attractive with the large club-shaped stigma.

On Park Downs it has an interesting/amusing history. A number of plants had been known to be present over many years and it is said that when voluntary conservation work started about 20 years ago they were given the task of clearing scrub to give these plants a bit more space because they were being shaded out. The only trouble was that they didn't appear to be able to separate this species from more common chalk scrub plants and when they finished work they had cleared the lot, Barberry and all. This story is apparently true and it was assumed that the plant was lost from the site.

However last year Roger Hawkins found this individual growing in deep shade that, despite being about 2m tall and having plenty of flower, would be diffcult to find unless you knew where it was. Nice to know at least one survives!

Wednesday, 2 March 2011


I am happy to be able to say that the massive campaign I ran on this blog (NOT!!!!) has been successful! (click here)

Seriously, it is great news that the SESWC have decided not to attempt to cross the Heath. It is rather appropriate that the BBC used a Skylark to illustrate their
coverage . A walk over the Heath the other day showed a considerable number of this iconic species taking up territories in areas that would have been reduced to a building site for a year and permanently scarred therefter.

A victory for common sense and a defeat for short-term thinking!

I have learnt a lot over the past few months including some new things about the Heath and its inhabitants. Perhaps I will now have a bit of time to blog about them!