Chalk grassland surveys
I spent some very pleasant mornings in July counting wildflowers on the South Downs with some like-minded people.
Spotting chalk loving wildflowers at Crowlink
The chalk grassland surveys were carried out by Seaford Natural History Society in association with the National Trust. These are carried out across numerous fields near the Seven Sisters cliffs every year.
We were given a list of good and bad plants to look out for. On our first meeting near Crowlink car park, we all got to grips with the species lists. I was the only newbie, so had to be shown a few of the plants that I wasn’t familiar with. The field we were in was a very good example of chalk grassland, so we found many of the species on the list present. I personally wouldn’t try to ID a plant that wasn’t in flower unless I was very familiar with it, but there were a couple of very experienced amateur botanists among us who could (for example Hairy Violet and Cowslip flower in spring not summer).
Chalk grassland indicator species
- Bird’s foot Trefoil – Lotus corniculatus
- Carline Thistle – Carlina vulgaris
- Common Rock Rose – Helianthemum nummularium
- Cowslip – Primula veris
- Dropwort – Filipendula vulgaris
- Devil’s-bit Scabious – Succisa pratensis
- Eyebright – Euphrasia
- Fairy Flax – Linum catharticum
- Field Scabious – Knautia arvensis
- Gentians – including Gentianella amarella
- Greater Knapweed – Centaurea scabiosa
- Hairy Violet – Viola hirta
- Kidney Vetch – Anthyllis vulneraria
- Lady’s Bedstraw – Galium verum
- Marjoram – Origanum vulgare
- Milkwort – Polygala vulgaris
- Mouse-ear Hawkweed – Pilosella officinarum
- Ox-eye Daisy – Leucanthemum vulgare
- Restharrow – Ononis repens
- Rough/Lesser Hawkbit – Leontodon
- Salad Burnet – Sanguisorba minor
- Small Scabious – Scabiosa columbaria
- Squinancywort – Asperula cynanchica
- Stemless Thistle – aka Dwarf Thistle – Cirsium acaule
- Wild Basil – Clinopodium vulgare
- Wild Thyme – Thymus polytrichus
- Yellow-wort – Blackstonia perfoliata
- Broad-leaved Dock – Rumex obtusifolius
- Curled Dock – Rumex crispus
- Creeping Thistle – Cirsium arvense
- Common Ragwort – Senecio jacobaea
- Common Nettle – Urtica dioica
- Tor Grass – Brachypodium pinnatum
None of my pics on this page relate to the lists! This is because I was too busy identifying wildflowers to photograph them. But we found Dropwort, Lady’s Bedstraw, Squinancywort, Bird’s-foot Trefoil, Fairy Flax, Salad Burnet, Milkwort, Restharrow, Hairy Violet leaves, Stemless Thistle and others from the list. (Don’t worry, I wasn’t in charge of record keeping!).
Walking back to the carpark we found this unusual Horehound, Marrubium vulgare which was pointed out by Chris, one of the botanists.
He also identified this thistle for me, which wasn’t one I’d noticed before.
The main image at the top of the page is Clustered Bellflower, Campanula glomerata which I saw in various places in the summer of 2021.
I made it my mission for the next month or so to photograph as many flowers as possible from the chalk grassland indicator species list. You will see them on the next few pages: