Posted by: lensweb | April 26, 2017

Wonderful Woodland Flowers

Wonderful Woodland Flowers

Sellers Wood Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust Reserve.

Meet At entrance -junction of Sellers Wood Drive West and Wood Link. Follow the Western Outer Loop Road A6002 to the west of Bulwell NG6 7FW Grid Ref SK524454.

Leader Marion Bryce

A team of ecologists were asked to survey a wood, they visited the wood in Spring, Summer and Autumn and collated a long list of plant species and were proud to present a 30 page report on what they found. But the report was rejected. Why? They had been so busy looking down that they forgot to list the trees!  Determined not to follow this example 15 LENS members set out to survey Sellers Wood which is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and is a fine example of broad-leaved semi-natural woodland.  We asked ourselves the question, is Sellers Wood an example of ancient woodland?

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The LENS team made a slow start, excited to find wood arum in flower and numerous plant species to identify and mark down on our list. The diverse vegetation contained a number of plant species characteristic of lowland ancient woodland.

Certain woodlands are known to be ancient through the study of old historical records, and observations of landscape features such as banks, ditches giving clues to previous land use. By surveying a number of proven ancient woodlands, species which are usually confined to this type of habitat can be identified. Their presence can then be used to indicate ancient woodland status in other woodlands. The indicator species chosen are usually plants because they are conspicuous and easy to identify.

Plant species associated with ancient woodland; tend to be either shade-evaders (species which complete their season’s growth cycle early and die back soon after the canopy expands), or shade-tolerant species. They may be short, perennial species, with a high seed weight. Poor dispersal ability may be partly responsible for confining these species to ancient woodlands as they may have a low ability to colonise secondary woodland sites and due to specialised growth requirements may be more vulnerable and lost by habitat disturbance.

Ancient Woodland Indicator Species (AWVP). scores are the number of AWVP species present at a particular site which are accepted indicators of ancient woodland in a particular natural landscape area.  The greater the number of Ancient Woodland Indicator species occurring together in a wood, the greater the probability that a woodland can be accorded this status. A high AWVP score is a reliable indication of natural diversity – it may also indicate the probability of ancient woodland. AWVP lists of species provide extremely useful tools for ecologists and conservationists in evaluating woodland habitats, the lists of indicator species vary according to natural region because local geology, soils, climate and history of land use, influence the plant species present.

Sellers Wood scored twenty five out of a total of 103 flowering plants listed. Significant AWVP indicators were bugle, wood anemone, wood sedge, remote sedge, early purple orchid and yellow archangel, honeysuckle, yellow pimpernel,  wood melick, wood millet, dog’s mercury, wood forget me not, three veined sandwort, hart’s tongue fern, primrose, pignut, bluebell, field rose, sanicle, black bryony, wood speedwell, early dog violet as well as wild cherry and wych elm. The yew, holly and aquilegia were thought to possibly be recent introductions so making the score 22. Whether this would qualify the wood for lowland ancient wood status is not certain but it shows that there is a diverse flora as would be expected on magnesian limestone (also known as Bulwell stone). With historical research the status of lowland ancient woodland might be proven.

Before we left the woodland to the birds we noted ash and wych-elm, with an understorey of hazel and rowan; also birch and pedunculate oak with hazel and hawthorn and some intrusion by sycamore and the usual nuisance bramble. The bluebells were magnificent with wood anemone and greater stitchwort adding a Gertrude Jekyll dimension.

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There were also a number of well-vegetated ponds formed from the old clay pits which used to provide the clay for the nearby Richard Sankey Works which was once the best known manufacturer of earthenware flower pots in the world.

Marion Bryce 24 April 2017

ROSE, F. 1999 Indicators of ancient woodland: the use of vascular plants in evaluating ancient woodland for nature conservation. British Wildlife 10, 241-251

The Woodland Heritage Manual By Ian D. Rotherham, Melvyn Jones, Lindy Smith, Christine Handley (eds)


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