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Malshanger – 18 July 2015

On a clear sunny day Julia Cooper led a group of 26 at Shear Down farm near Basingstoke. The farm is 3000 acres of which 2000 is mixed arable (Wheat, Barley and Oats) and 500 acres of woodland for firewood. It is unique in the fact that they grow Mint and Lavender which they process on the site to extract essential oils and then make their own food and cosmetic products. Our main interest was in the areas of set-aside which bordered and intersected the fields and the species rich hedgerows which lined the roads. The farm does not have access to water and is in a rain shadow so this year has been particularly difficult for the Mint.

The first field margin we visited (a Barley field used to supply local brewers) was deliberately seeded with grasses and wild flowers (Clover, Bird’s-foot Trefoil, Lucerne, Melilot, Pineappleweed)which gave a succession of flowering times to sustain the insect life through the season.

The second field was part Barley and part seeded with wild flowers and grasses and divided by a wide boundary of Chicory a good bird seed plant. The seeded area contained species such as: Sunflowers, Field Madder, Field Pansy, Buckwheat, Dwarf Toadflax, Rye Brome, Sorghum, Goat’s Rue and Phacelia.

The Mint was Black Mitcham Mint which is a very dark leaved and extremely strong smelling variety. Because of the poor rainfall this year the mint was fairly small and this had left plenty of space for wild species such as, Small Toadflax, Fat-hen, Creeping Thistle, Spear Thistle, Field Bindweed, Dwarf Spurge, Sun Spurge, Black-bindweed, Nipplewort, Field-forget-me-not, Wild Parsnip, Creeping Buttercup, Common Ragwort, Groundsel, White Campion, Perennial Sow-thistle, Prickly Sow-thistle, Wall Speedwell, Common Field-speedwell and Green Pig Weed.


The final margin was rich in arable weeds and was ploughed each year to encourage the growth of Greater Venus’s Looking –glass, Fool’s Parsley, Scarlet Pimpernel, Shepherd’s-purse, Common Fumitory, Cleavers, Cut-leaved Crane’s-bill, Dove’s-foot Crane’s-bill, Sharp-leaved Fluellen, Round-leaved Fluellen, Sainfoin, Prickly Poppy, Common Poppy, Field Madder, Scentless Mayweed, Narrow-fruited Cornsalad, Field Pansy, Restharrow, Common Cudweed

In the hedgerows we found Agrimony, Musk thistle, Common Knapweed, Greater Knapweed, Wild Basil, Hairy St John’s Wort, Field Scabious, Common Toadflax, Common Broomrape, Wild Mignonette, Bladder Campion, Black Bryony, Hedge Bedstraw, Goat’s-beard, Coltsfoot (leaves only) and Germander Speedwell.


Not many insects and birds were evident; we only recorded the Little Metallic Longhorn moth on Field Scabious and Cinnabar Moth caterpillars on Ragwort.



Agricultural Weeds      
Scientific name British name Scientific name British name
Aethusa cynapium Fool’s Parsley Matricaria discoidea Pineappleweed
Anagallis arvensis Scarlet Pimpernel Melilotus altissima Tall Melilot
Capsella bursa-pastoris Shepherd’s-purse Myosotis arvensis Field-forget-me-not
Chaenorhinum minus Small Toadflax Onobrychis viciifolia Sainfoin
Chenopodium album Fat-hen Ononis repens Common Restharrow
Cirsium arvense Creeping Thistle Papaver argemone Prickly Poppy
Cirsium vulgare Spear Thistle Papaver rhoeas Common Poppy
Convolvulus arvensis Field Bindweed Pastinaca sativa Wild Parsnip
Euphorbia exigua Dwarf Spurge Ranunculus repens Creeping Buttercup
Euphorbia helioscopia Sun Spurge Senecio jacobaea Common Ragwort
Fallopia convolvulus Black-bindweed Senecio vulgaris Groundsel
Filago vulgaris Common cudweed Sherardia arvensis Field Madder
Fumaria officinalis Common Fumitory Silene latifolia White Campion
Galium aparine Cleavers Sonchus arvensis Perennial Sow-thistle
Geranium dissectum Cut-leaved Crane’s-bill Sonchus asper Prickly Sow-thistle
Geranium molle Dove’s-foot Crane’s-bill Tripleurospermum odorum Scentless Mayweed
Kickxia elatine Sharp-leaved Fluellen Valerianella dentata Narrow-fruited Cornsalad
Kickxia spuria Round-leaved Fluellen Veronica arvensis Wall Speedwell
Lapsana communis Nipplewort Veronica persica Common Field-speedwell
Legousia speculum-veneris Large Venus’s-looking-glass Viola arvensis Field Pansy
Plants sown for bird seed etc.      
Borago officinalis Borage Helianthus annuus Sunflower
Cichorium intybus Chicory Lotus corniculatus Common Bird’s-foot-trefoil
Fagopyrum esculentum Buckwheat Phacelia tanacetifolia Phacelia
Galega officinalis Goat’s-rue Trifolium pratense Red Clover
Wild flowers in the hedgerows etc.      
Agrimonia eupatoria Agrimony Linaria vulgaris Common Toadflax
Carduus nutans Musk thistle Orobanche minor Common Broomrape
Centaurea nigra Common Knapweed Reseda lutea Wild Mignonette
Centaurea scabiosa Greater Knapweed Silene vulgaris Bladder Campion
Clinopodium vulgare Wild Basil Tamus communis Black Bryony
Galium mullugo Hedge bedstraw Tragopogon pratensis Goat’s-beard
Hypericum hirsutum Hairy St John’s-wort Tussilago farfera Coltsfoot (leaves only)
Knautia arvensis Field Scabious Veronica chamaedrys Germander Speedwell