GRASSES IN NORTH HARROW

 

The grasses in Stanmore Common and Bentley Priory Open Space have been extensively surveyed in recent years for evidence of unimproved grassland and ancient woodland.Unimproved grassland has not been fertilised or planted by man and is therefore in a semi-natural state. Ancient woodland is woodland which was in existence prior to 1660.

 

Bentley Priory has SSSI status because it contains both neutral and acid unimproved grassland areas. On the Priory, the dominant species are common bent, red fescue and Yorkshire fog. Common bent may well be the most significant of these according to the Natural England list of grasses for such habitats. Associated wildflowers at Bentley Priory are common knapweed, birdís foot trefoil and harebell among others.One important fern in the grassland is adderís tongue.

 

The work done by John Dobson at Stanmore Common has highlighted important grasses typical of both unimproved acid grassland and ancient woodland.These are, for the grassland: sweet vernal-grass, creeping soft-grass, giant fescue, early hair-grass, wavy hair-grass, heath grass, sheepís fescue, purple moor-grass, mat-grass, yellow oat-grass, and for the woodland: hairy brome, wood small-reed, wood millet, wood meadow-grass.

 

In addition to the grasses on the Common, there are bulbous rush, Heath rush and heath wood-rush. Important sedges on the Common are green-ribbed sedge, cyperus sedge, grey sedge and glaucous sedge. Pill sedge is present in abundance in the grassland and in addition, Bristle club-rush is present as is heath rush. All these plants indicate either ancient woodland or unimproved grassland.

 

Flowering plants include heather, pignut, sanicle, devilís-bit scabious and betony.

 

If left ungrazed and irregularly mown, these grasslands will become rank.This is because the soil will gain nutrients from the decaying vegetation.The stronger grasses will then take over eliminating the vulnerable narrow-leaved grasses and out-competing the wildflowers associated with the habitat.

 

Much of the local woodland contains ancient fragments. Rosemary Etherigde has provided a list of ancient woodland indicators for Pear Woood following a walk for grasses conducted in Pear Wood in 2013. The mix of grasses has a very similar profile to those in the woodland on Stanmore Common as might be expected for two sites so close together. Other interesting finds were a rare bumblebee and a row of 10 mature Wild Service trees and some saplings. As of February 2014 we are waiting for a response to a submission that was made in 2013 for Pear Wood to be granted SSSI status.

 

If anyone has further information, then please send the data to lovegroveao@aol.com

 

 

Grasses. Sedges and Rushes

Stanmore Common

Bentley priory

Pear wood

Indicators of ancient woodland

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hairy brome

Bromus ramosus

X

 

 

 

 

 

Wood small-reed

Calamagrostis epigejos

X

 

 

 

 

 

Creeping Soft-Grass

Holcus mollis

X

 

 

 

X

 

Wood Melick

Melica uniflora

 

 

 

 

X

 

Wood millet

Milium effusum

X

 

 

 

 

 

Wood Meadow-Grass

Poa nemoralis

X

 

 

 

X

 

Pendulous Sedge

Carex pendula

X

 

 

 

X

 

Remote Sedge

Carex remota

X

 

X

 

X

 

Wood-Sedge

Carex sylvatica

X

 

 

 

X

 

Hairy wood-rush

Luzula pilosa

X

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Indicators of unimproved grassland

 

 

 

 

 

 

Common Bent

Agrostis capillaris

X

 

X

 

X

 

Early hair grass

Aira praecox

X

 

 

 

 

 

Sweet vernal grass

Anthoxanthum odorarum

X

 

 

 

 

 

Heath Grass

Danthonia decumbens

X

 

 

 

X

 

Wavy Hair-Grass

Deschampsia flexuosa

X

 

 

 

X

 

Giant fescue

Festuca gigantea

X

 

 

 

 

 

Sheep's Fescue

Festuca ovina

X

 

 

 

X

 

Red fescue

Festuca rubra

X

 

X

 

 

 

Yorkshire fog

Holcus lanatus

 

 

X

 

 

 

Creeping soft-grass

Holcus mollis

X

 

 

 

 

 

Purple moor-grass

Molinia coerulia

X

 

 

 

 

 

Mat-grass

Nardus stricta

X

 

 

 

 

 

Yellow oat-grass

Trisetum flavescens

X

 

 

 

 

 

Green-ribbed sedge

Carex binervis

X

 

 

 

 

 

Grey sedge

Carex divulsa

X