A post from our Chairman Andrew:
Some of us have a difficult relationship with rushes, with soft rush (Juncus effusus) being a particular problem in some fields when it can become almost a monoculture of hard clumps. It’s also one thing that sheep won’t eat. So, it’s good to see a “nice” rush now flowering in our two fields. It’s field woodrush (Luzula campestris). There are only two genera of rushes in Britain, Juncus which contains the round-stemmed familiar rushes often of damp ground, and Luzulathe woodrushes. Some of them are impressive large plants like the great woodrush (Luzula sylvatica) which can be 80cm tall and dominate the ground flora of woodland, but field woodrush is only a couple of inches high. All the woodrushes have very long hairs on their leaves, especially where they meet the stems, and none of the Juncus rushes do, and I’m told that is a reliable way to distinguish them (but am ready to be corrected).
It’s obviously not a grass when you look at the flowers, and because the male and female parts are together and not separated into male and female flowers, it’s not a sedge. There’s a lot of it in our fields, and it flowers in early spring, and is not at all obvious later in the year.
Also just appearing in one of our fields is lady’s smock, also known as cuckooflower (Cardamine pratensis), we’ve not seen it in this field before.
There are also a few grass plants just starting to flower, and I think this one is sweet vernal grass (Anthoxanthum odoratum), but again am prepared to be corrected.
Would anyone else be interested in attending a basic course on identifying common grasses, rushes and sedges? If there was much demand maybe the group could arrange it.