Monday, 9 January 2012

Flora of the Malvern Hills

Malvern local group's New Year began enthusiastically with a packed hall, mince pies and hot punch. Rob Havard (Conservation Officer of the Malvern Hills Conservators) gave a fascinating talk with many excellent photographs, focussing to begin with on the beauty of the Malvern Hills and the ever-changing colours of the plants and trees which grow there. I don’t think anyone would predict that a talk on flora would start with several pictures of sheep’s sorrel but when you see it mixed with heath bedstraw and masses of wavy hairgrass, you become aware of the deep reds, whites and pinks - all surprisingly beautiful. 

There is a remarkable diversity of plants on the Malverns, because of the mixture of acidic and alkaline soils, lowlands and uplands, tree cover and open grassland, wetlands and dry thin soil. Several species are common here but rare elsewhere like climbing corydalis on acidic soil and llime-loving spring cinquefoil. Yellow flags grow in abundance in the stream beds, foxgloves appear in exuberant swathes especially in the second year after a clearance or a fire and two kinds of gorse flower all the year round; the European and western kinds. In places there are thousands of orchids, mostly common spotted and southern marsh along with various hybrids.

It was interesting to see a photo of British Camp as it was in 1948 and to realise how it has changed since then. In 2001 the Conservators reintroduced grazing on to the Malverns and this has helped restore and maintain the balance between secondary woodland, bracken and open grassland. There has been a mixed public response to the gates, paths and fencing necessary for the livestock but on the whole walkers appreciate the reasons for them and the Conservators actively encourage dog training to reduce control problems. They are keen to promote all reasonable use and enjoyment of the land, maintaining harmony between conservation and tourism.

We are privileged to live near 3000 acres of beautiful open land, much of it designated SSSI.  The Malverns are a haven for reptiles, birds, mammals and flora and we need to continue to look after them and appreciate their beauty.  

The next meeting will be on February 2nd at the Chase 6th Form Annexe. Phred Newbury will talk about the unique wildlife of Madagascar.

Alison, Malvern Local Group

1 comment:

  1. Just Googled sheep's sorrel - it is a beautiful red colour as you say.