The excursion on Wednesday 13th July was led by Jan and Jerry Welsh. On a fine day, a large group met at the Red Lion at Peppard to look at the flora of the Chiltern beechwoods. The walk down to Littlebottom Wood took us past the old trees on the boundary bank of Peppard Common, near which was a white specimen of Herb-Robert Geranium robertianum. The north-east slope of the wood has a rich flora in spring and has a greater variety of tree species than is normal for Chiltern woodlands. The hedge linking Littlebottom Wood to Greatbottom Wood was also rich in species, particularly with Spindle Euonymus europaeus. In Greatbottom Wood, a steep climb to the north-east had a variety of ancient woodland indicator species: Woodruff Galium odoratum, Wood Anemone Anemone nemorosa, Three-veined Sandwort Moehringia trinervia and some Ramsons Allium ursinum, the latter possibly originating from a disused pheasant enclosure at the top of the slope. Close by here was a chalk pit with a track just inside the edge of the wood with Spurge-laurel Daphne laureola, Sanicle Sanicula europaea and Wood Spurge Euphorbia amygdaloides. Further down the slope there were old saw-pits and orchid species were present in the vicinity of chalk pits; White Helleborine Cephalanthera damasonium, Green-flowered Helleborine Epipactis phyllanthes, Bird’s-nest Orchid Neottia nidus-avis and a single specimen of the saprophyte Yellow Bird’s-nest Hypopitys monotropa.
We passed the sandy excavations from a badger sett before reaching the boundary of Greatbottom Wood and Oveys Wood. This is the location where Vera Paul, then a schoolgirl, had found Ghost Orchid Epipogium aphyllum, though it has not been seen in this area for a number of years. Numerous White Helleborines were seen around an old wood boundary and within a further chalk pit an unusual sub-species of Violet Helleborine Epipactis purpurata rosea, with little or no chlorophyll, was seen and photographed.
The walk returned along the valley bottom then to the pub where a good lunch was enjoyed.
Report by Jerry Welsh
Pictures by Rob Stallard