,Levin Down Wildflower Walk - 15 July 2022 - Leader Helen Dignum

 Friday the 15th was a perfect day for the Natural History Society’s botany walk on Levin Down Nature Reserve.  Nine of us set off, under the guidance of Helen Dignum; with a clear blue sky, lots of sunshine, and a gentle breeze.  Swallows and swifts performed aerobatics overhead, and one red kite soared high above, as we entered the footpath at the bottom of Levin Down.

We reached the first gate watched by a tower of corvids, (were they crows or rooks?).
I had my magnifying lens ready, not too sure whether Helen would set us tests: were we going to attempt plant identification?  To my relief, all was well prepared; this was to be an introduction to the local flora: all plants identified by Helen; and a list of their names in order of sighting provided by Email after the walk, now we could easily return and visit them again at our leisure on another day.

Most of us knew one or two plants already by sight, but we learned so much more with Helen to guide us. The first plant spotted was the bladder campion with its deeply notched petals and purplish yellow bladder. It is much loved by moths, butterflies and frog-hoppers and I’ve discovered that the root of the plant produces a soapy lather for washing clothes. I don’t advocate digging one up for this purpose as 1 in 5 wildflowers are threatened with extinction and at least 345 are considered critically endangered.

There were so many plants that I didn’t know: the tiny squinancywort, and red bartsia to name just two; and then there’s the flower of Sussex: The Round Headed Rampion with a beautiful blue-violet, globose inflorescence; I didn’t know that Sussex had its own flower. Would I have been able to identify wild marjoram, basil, thyme, parsnip and carrot without Helen?  I don’t think so. St John’s Wort, I thought I knew, but perforate St John’s wort looked magical when the small translucent glandular dots on its leaves were viewed with a lens.  Spotting the harebell and eyebright ensured that only the truth was spoken on our walk, as the first, if worn, compels the telling of truth, and the second enables one to detect those telling lies (do you see that I so enjoyed this walk that I was moved to discover more about the wild flowers).  

In all, at least fortyfour plants were identified. It was truly fascinating and I am now hooked on botany.  I must add that I was a guest from the U3A Practical Science group, but I now intend to join the Chichester Natural History Society too.

Lynn Taylor

Levin Down plant list 12/7/22
Bladder Campion,Black Bryony, Lesser Burdock, Wild parsnip, Nettle leaved bellflower, Hedge bedstraw, Red bartsia, Field Bindweed, Marjoram, Yarrow, Spindle tree, Upright Hedge Parsley, Vervain, Bramble, Clematis, Perforate St John’s Wort, Hemp Agrimony, Small Scabious, Wild Basil, Daisy, Rough Hawkbit, Pyramidal orchid, Quaking Grass, Wild Thyme, Harebell, Bird’s-foot Trefoil, Squinancywort, Dwarf Thistle, Kidney Vetch, Rock Rose, Juniper, Yew, Juniper, Yellow Rattle seedheads, Mouse-ear Hawkweed, Round Headed Rampion, Wild Carrot, Wood Sage, Clustered bellflower, Dodder, Chicory.

There is a Sussex Wildlife Trust volunteer work party which meets on Sundays at 10 am till mid-afternoon carrying out a range of tasks, particularly scrub clearance to maintain the reserve. They are looking for more volunteers. If you are interested, please contact the volunteer reserve manager Rob Eadie on 07776150863 or robert@wingspan.co.uk for more details.

Levin Down July 2022
Common Dodder in flower

Levin Down July 2022
Wild Parsnip

Levin Down July 2022
Wild Basil



Chichester, West Sussex

© Copyright 2022 Chichester Natural History SocietyWeb Design By Toolkit Websites