Saturday, 24 June 2017

Ground flora

We are starting to see the effects of our woodland management on the ground flora. The recent wet weather in May followed by some very hot sunny June days has meant that all the ground flora has put on a growth spurt. The photo above shows a group of foxgloves in the willow grove - plus several varieties of ferns including hard ferns and shield ferns. The willow grove is too wet for bracken, and the deer don't like foxgloves - which explains the fine show.

Where the pines have been thinned and light penetrates to the woodland floor , bracken dominates  Bracken bashing shows how in its absence, a variety of grasses soon colonise. The line of bracken at the back shows clearly what happens without control. In the foreground are dense tussocky clumps of Deschampsia cespitosa. 

These ferns have colonised a damp spot which is too wet for bracken to thrive.

This photo shows the east west part of the track through the birch which was created  in late 2015/early 2016. On the ground of the newly opened track there are still some ground flora species which are more commonly found under the canopy - eg wood sorrel and mosses. However, now there are also a range of different grasses, ferns, foxgloves, wood sage  Some parts of the track have taken longer to recover from the wear and tear of the felling machinery. The dark green is soft rush  - Juncus effusus - which seems to be a plant of early succession in the places where the ground has been made bare and compacted. We have noticed in other spots where the machinery was busiest - such as up in the log stacking area in the cark park - that Juncus will colonise first. Presumably this is because it can tolerate poorly drained soils. Once it has established, it quickly becomes dominant. However, we aren't that concerned because we have noticed that after a short time, other plant species move in - mainly grasses, and Juncus's dominance is restricted only to those small patches which were most compacted.