Field Reports

Wednesday 1 August     West Wittering Botanical Walk

Leader John Arnott


John Arnott welcomed 23 attendees to West Wittering village green and we walked to the shingle beach at Snowhill Creek. Gazing at the mud flats and shingle beach we were soon introduced to Horned wrack and Bladder Wrack, Seablite and Glasswort, all species surviving extreme changes in their environment, covered by tides, dried by the sun, frozen in winter.  Swathes of rice grass (Spartina anglica) stabilise the mud flats, and are a hybrid between a native Spartina and a South American species. Walking along the beach we found many more flowers and plants: Spear Orache and Grass-leaved Orache, Sea Lavender, Sea Purslane. Despite the dry summer, we managed to find flowering Sea Campion, Golden Samphire and Yellow Horned Poppy, with its vastly elongated seed pods. John’s sharp eyes found us Greater Sea Spurrey and one specimen of Lax-flowered Sea Lavender. Shrubby Seablite is nationally rare, but was growing well near Ellanore Spit.

Another striking plant growing above the shoreline starred with the best name of the day. This was the Duke of Argyll’s Teaplant. This spiny shrub, originally from China, had stunning purple flowers, like tiny passion flowers, and is the source of goji berries. John explained the unexpectedly diverse culinary, cosmetic, love divination and witchcraft prevention uses of plants as varied as Teasel, Sea Beet, Sea Kale, Bittersweet and other plants. Almost every plant had an interesting story and historical use.
Thanks to John Arnott for leading a walk fascinating both for the plants and the folklore.

Species list: Bladder wrack, Horned wrack, Seablite, Glasswort, Grass-leaved Orache, Sea Club Rush, Round fruited rush, Rice grass, Spear-leaved Orache, Sea lavender, Sea Purslane, Marram grass, Sea Campion, Sea sandwort, Duke of Argyll’s Teaplant, Curled dock, Bittersweet, Sea Kale, Sea Beet, Prickly Sowthistle, Teasel, Wild Carrot, Common Knapweed, Golden Samphire, Sea Spurge, Lesser Burdock, Shrubby Seablite, Yellow Horned Poppy, Sea Aster, Sea Wormwood, Sea Plantain, Greater Sea Spurrey, Lax-flowered Lavender.
Winkle, Hydrobia ulvae (Mud Snail), Common Shore Crab, Compass Jellyfish, Oak galls.

Helen Dignum

Sea Lavender

Yellow Horned Poppy

John Arnott explains....

Golden Samphire

Chichester, West Sussex

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