A bright and breezy afternoon saw 40+ families and friends meet with their guides at Shoreham Fort to explore the shingle beach from the Fort to the Burrells and discover the rich variety of plants that thrive and survive there.
4 groups, with their guides explored the beach, looking at the different ways that plants had adapted to the dry, soil-less and hot conditions. Many with rubbery leaves and deep tap roots like the Sea Kale, others with reduced leaves and thick or spiny skins to reduce water loss like the Samphire and Slender Thistles.
Plants found in bloom were Valerian, Tree Mallow, Thrift, Sea Campion, Bittersweet, Ragwort, Kidney Vetch, Bird’s foot Trefoil, Ivy-leaved Toadflax, Hoary Cress and Sea-Side daisies, whilst Biting Stonecrop, Silver Ragwort, Sea Beet Purple Toadflax,Common Mallow and Curled Dock, were all in bud and should be in flower soon. English Stonecrop is also growing strongly and should flower later in June. One group was delighted to find an early flowering Vipers Bugloss not usually in bloom for a couple of weeks, whilst there were no sightings of the Yellow Horned Poppy that usually graces the shore
Orache was found in small clumps close to the shore, from where it will spread through the summer turning areas of the lower shingle green with its arrow head leaves held low to the ground
This year the Starry Clover, one of the UK’s rarest plants was found in many locations, last years seed having spread and germinated. http://www.glaucus.org.uk/starry.htm It was lovely to see such strong growth and presence. Another rarity was the discovery of two large clumps of another rare plant, Italian Catch-fly http://www.glaucus.org.uk/Catchfly.htm
The beach is at its most spectacular at the moment, tread carefully for amongst the taller plants, the smaller ones shelter and proliferate, many with their leaves close to the ground and flowers above like the Mouse-eared Hawkweed.
The day ended with a welcome cup of tea and cake and FoSB thanks Michelle and her family for allowing everyone to invade their garden and house for refreshments at 140 Old Fort Rd.,