16 July 2011

Three heathers

We have discovered a quite extensive colony of cr0ss-leaved heath (Erica tetralix) towards the north of Compartment 5a (Map ref. TQ792204).

20110605 BHW 046

This area was cleared of conifers less than 18 months ago and these plants must have survived in the gloom for many years before the light returned.  Cross-leaved heath tends to prefer wetter spots than the other two Sussex heathers and, although the habitat here seems pretty dry, the plants grow in a fairly narrow west to east band where there may be a spring line or damper conditions.

The first of the heathers to flower is bell heather (Erica cinerea) with bright purple flowers and a preference for dry banks.  It is not all that common in Brede High Woods but, hopefully, it is increasing.

20090810 BHW Erica cinerea

The latest heather is ling (Calluna vulgaris) which is a rather pale mauve and has only just started.  This is the commonest of the three species in the woods and is doing well in many places where there is acid soil.

20110605 BHW 066

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