Monday, May 11, 2015

Sterile Brome

Bromus sterilis by HermannSchachner Wikimedia Commons
I finally managed to get out on a Sussex Botanical Recording Society field trip on Saturday. I think the last one I managed to get to was in 2013, which was also my first! I had been inspired to join after going on 'An Introduction to Botanical Recording' run by the BSBI. The woman who ran it was on Saturday's field trip, which was nice. 
We were surveying some ancient woodland south of the A27 west of Arundel which is under threat from 'road improvements'. I only hope the efforts of organisations like the SBRS help to prevent the continued attrition of our remaining fragments of decent habitat.
I say 'we'; the reality was that the eleven others spotted the species and shouted out the Latin binomial abbreviations used for recording whilst I struggled to work out which plants were being referred to, usually resorting to asking someone what was what. They kindly took me under their collective wing and taught me the identification features of this and that, including some grasses and sedges.
Part of the motivation to really get out there was reading about the new National Plant Monitoring Scheme in the current issue of British Wildlife. This is a new collaboration between the BSBI and Plantlife to allow long term monitoring of the flora in various habitats of interest. It was inspired in part by the similar schemes run by the BTO, such as the Breeding Bird Survey and Wetland Birds Surveys which I've done for the last five or six years. So in a burst of enthusiasm I've signed up to survey a 1km x 1km Ordnance Survey square in the Ashdown Forest. My information pack arrived today and it is very impressive. Furthermore there are a number of free training days being run around the UK for volunteers and I've signed up for the Grasses Identification workshop at Reading University on 8th June. 
Grasses, sedges and ferns are, to me anyway, a step up from identifying what we think of as wildflowers. I've got some superb books, but the jargon can be opaque to the beginner (see 28th February!), making the keying out of specimens a real headache. 
But you know what they say... practice makes one a little better than one was before. So I've decided to have a bit of blitz on grasses in preparation for the workshop.
This is a rather pretty grass growing plentifully by our polytunnel and here and there in the orchard. It is very long and wispy with a lovely purplish hue. I have just spent a good 40 minutes keying it out in three different books and can confidently announce that it is Bromus sterilis or Sterile Brome. Hurrah!

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