Senior ecologist; Jo Greetham recently attended a training course on arable plants with the Species Recovery Trust.
We spent the day assessing the field margins of Roundwood Farm, one of the countries richest sites for rare arable plants.
Thirty minutes into the course and we’d covered less than 100m which just shows the amount of rare arable plants we were finding. We’d ticked off many rare species as well as learnt about plant coping mechanisms to stay one step ahead of the farmers and herbicides.
Roundwood farm was beautifully managed with large areas sown with nectar rich plants providing native invertebrates and birds food and cover. Amongst the seed mix were hidden gems such as night-flowering catchfly (Silene noctiflora) and Venus’s looking-glass (Legousia hybrida).
A highlight of the day was finding fine-leaved fumitory (Fumaria parviflora) which I thought symbolised the objective of the course, emphasising the importance of really looking closely at the field margin.
We spent the last 20 minutes of the course searching for the illusive ground pine (Ajuga chamaepitys), although to my dismay we were unsuccessful. Seeds banks are such amazing things; seeds can lay dormant for years before the plant re-appears. It just goes to show that there is a real value of long-term monitoring – maybe on next years course ground pine will reappear!
I thoroughly enjoyed my day out with Phil Wilson of the Species Recovery Trust and would definitely recommend the course to all.