FJ Monkhouse et al (eds) 1964
JM Lambert, J M Manners, AW Westrup, JA Paton, FB Hora, NM Blaikley, MBradshaw-Bond
THE VEGETATION OF THE REGION
Although most of the region round Southampton is relatively densely populated and intensively cultivated, several large tracts of natural and semi-natural vegetation still survive. Among these, the New Forest, with its woodlands, heaths and bogs on Tertiary and Quaternary deposits, is outstanding; the unenclosed parts of the Forest are unique, at least in southern England, and have probably not undergone any drastic changes since early Bronze Age times. Moreover, the long sinuous coastline, with its mud flats, saltmarshes and shingle spits, is relatively undisturbed in many places and offers much of interest. On the Chalk farther inland, most of the old beechwoods and downlands have disappeared as a result of agriculture and forestry, but the fragments which remain are sufficient to give some idea of the former vegetation. Lakes are few and mostly artificial, but the valleys of the larger rivers flowing off the Chalk provide examples of freshwater vegetation, marsh and water meadow, while valley bogs occur at the heads of smaller streams draining from the sands and gravels. Thus, though the Southampton region lacks hill and moorland vegetation based on older and harder rocks, it possesses are representative range of most types of vegetation occurring in southern Britain. fortunately, few of the areas concerned have been studied adequately from an ecological point of view, and such information as exists about them is scattered and fragmentary.
Most of the remaining unexploited woodland consists of oak and beech, with more occasional areas of pinewood, birchwood, ashwood and alder carr. The richer soils of the region usually bear pedunculate oak (Quercus robur). For instance, in the New Forest, such oakwood occupies many of the better sands, clays and gravels, while oakwood with hazel (frequently coppiced) occurs on both Clay-with-Flints overlying the Chalk and on some of the Tertiary clays, both on the mainland and in the Isle of Wight. The range of soil tolerance of the oak is generally considered to be less than that of beech, but the former extent of selective felling is unknown, so that the real factors controlling the relative abundance and present distribution of the two species are obscure. Thus, evidence from pollen analysis of the soils of certain New Forest woods (Dimbleby and Gill, 1955) suggests that oak formerly occupied areas which are w beechwood; moreover, in various of the existing woodlands of mixed oak and beech, such as Denny Wait, beech is regenerating much more freely than oak at the present time.
In a few New Forest woods, notably Salisbury Trench and certain others in the north, the pedunculate oak is replaced by freely regenerating sessile oak (Q.petraea) on a corresponding range of soils. From the distribution and character of these woods, Anderson (1951) has in fact suggested that Q.petraea is the real New Forest native, which has been largely replaced by Q. robur as the result of selection by man.
The best and most extensive beechwoods of the region formerly occurred on the Chalk, and a few lay within the area covered by Watt (1925) in his classic studies on the native beechwoods of the South Downs. Since the time of his work, however, much felling and replanting have been carried out, and only fragments of the original woodlands now remain; these occur as typical beech hangers on scarp slopes with rendzina soils, and contain the usual calcicolous shrubs and sparse ground flora.
Beechwoods on acid soils are rather uncommon in Britain, but are a striking feature of the New Forest. They are characterised by the consistent presence of an understorey of holly (Ilex aquifolium) and by the occurrence of anon-calcicolous ground flora in the gaps and glades. Recent evidence from pollen analysis (Seagrief, 1955) suggests that beech entered the Hampshire Basin in late Boreal times (a much earlier date than for other parts of Britain) and it seems logical to regard the New Forest Beechwoods as an extension of the Continental beech forests on acid soils.
Natural and semi-natural woods in which other trees are dominant are of lesser importance in the region. Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris) is probably not native here, but since its eighteenth-century introduction into the Forest as a 'nurse' tree in plantations, it has spread considerably into the adjoining heaths and bogs, while P. pinaster similarly forms woods around Bournemouth. Ash (Fraxinus excelsior) occurs mainly as a serial stage when beech on chalk is felled. The silver birch (Betula verrucosa)similarly follows felling on other soils, but also appears to form more permanent woodland round the margins of oak and beechwood in the Forest. Lastly, there are several small alder carrs in the centres of some of the valley bogs, along the edges of streams where drainage is impeded and around certain of the artificial lakes; the alder is often mixed with sallow (Salix cinerea) and birch (Betula pubescens), and the alderwoods vary in physiognomy from quaking 'swamp-carr' with much Carex panictilata in the ground flora to a rather drier type of woodland on firmer ground.
As with the woodland, the amount of grassland in the region has been much reduced in recent years. For Hampshire as a whole, the Agricultural Return for 1881 gives the area under permanent grass as 199,100 acres; by 1962 this figure had dropped to 148,700 acres, largely as the result of ploughing or afforestation of chalk grassland. The situation is similar on the Isle of Wight, where again much of the former downland has disappeared. However, a number of isolated areas of chalk grassland still remain, especially on the steeper slopes; for example, Old Winchester Hill near Corhampton, which is now a National Nature Reserve, and Tennyson Down on the Isle of Wight, now owned by the National Trust, are both examples of residual grassland slopes which have been left unploughed.
The presence of typical chalk downland, rich in species, depends on continued grazing by rabbits or sheep, and the widespread reduction of the rabbit population by myxomatosis has recently affected the character of such vegetation to a marked degree. Not only have low-growing herbs been progressively ousted by the vigorous growth of grasses, but the seedlings of bushes like hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) and juniper (Juniperus communis)are becoming established. Older examples of both hawthorn and juniper scrub can be seen in places, as on Old Winchester Hill. The juniper usually occupies the exposed steeper slopes, and the hawthorn the more sheltered areas and deeper soils, in the manner described by Watt (1934). Further progression would ultimately lead to woodland, and it is noteworthy in this connection that the juniper bushes often act as a 'nurse' for yew (Taxus baccata), so that yew woods sometimes result instead of the more usual beechwood of such chalk-based areas.
Of the other grasslands, perhaps the most interesting are the New Forest 'lawns'. These have developed as the results of felling, burning and grazing, and are maintained by pony and cattle grazing. The lawns may be derived from heathland, woodland or alder carr and though the swards are superficially similar in appearance, their dominant species differ according to the nature of the soil and the original vegetation. Agrostis setacea is common in lawns derived from heath, while in those from woodland or carr Agrostis tenuis, Festuca ovina and Anthoxanthum odoratum predominate, with Poa trivialis in shady places.
Heathland in the region is confined to the poorer sands and gravels, usually with a more or less podzolised soil. Such heaths are usually regarded as derived from woodland in prehistoric times, and podzolisation of the soil may well have accompanied, rather than preceded, the establishment of heathland species (cf. Dimbleby, 1962). Today, the extensive heaths of the New Forest are maintained by periodic burning by the Forestry Commission, but some areas which have been left unburnt for several years are showing rapid colonisation by pine.
Although the Forest contains excellent examples of heath vegetation at all stages of regeneration after burning, the actual floristic composition of these heaths is by no means uniform across the area. In the north-west, where there are large areas of plateau-gravels at 3 50 to 400 feet, the heaths are well drained by the comparatively steep valleys dissecting the plateau; such areas bear a typical dry heath vegetation, dominated by heather (Calluna vulgaris) with much Erica cinerea, and with bracken (Pteridium aquilinum) sparsely distributed throughout. In contrast, the south-eastern heaths lie on less elevated ground with shallower valleys, and the gravels possess a rather clayey matrix; these heaths provide a rather wetter facies, with heather still abundant, but now accompanied by Erica tetralix and Molinia caerulea.
Towards the valley bottoms, the heathland vegetation is usually replaced by bog. Such bogs are best developed in the shallower valleys where drainage is impeded, either by the general conformation of the land or by the accumulation of mineral and peaty alluvium. An excellent series of valley bogs occurs in the Matley and Denny Forest Nature Reserve to the south-cast of Lyndhurst; these bogs show an almost diagrammatic zonation (cf. Rose, 1953) from wet heath along their margins, through typical bog communities of bog-moss (Sphagnum spp.), cotton-grass (Eriophorum angustifolium) and bog myrtle (Myrna gale), to a central alder carr with the tallest trees in the middle .
The deepest bog in the Forest is Cranesmoor, west of Burley, and this has been intensively investigated by Newbould (1953, 1960). It lies in a basin at the confluence of a number of small valleys, with the narrow exit to the basin blocked by a plug of clay. The bog is formed over lake muds estimated from pollen analysis to have been laid down in early Boreal times, and the overlying peat is up to 15 feet deep in parts. The peat consists mainly of either Sphagnum or Schoenus nigricans remains, and the present surface vegetation shows a similar variation associated with hydrological differences in different parts of the bog.
Whereas the valley bogs are associated with streams draining from base-poor rocks, the larger rivers flowing southwards from the Chalk into Southampton Water support an entirely different type of freshwater vegetation. Most of the alluvial flats along their courses are drained and used as pasture, but areas of more waterlogged marsh occur in parts, with stretches of sweet-grass (Glyceria maxima), reed (Phragmites communis) and large sedges (mainly Carex riparia and C. acutiformis). For instance, the Winchester water meadows, with their network of dykes, and other less extensive stretches near Mansbridge at Swaythling, provide good examples of this in the Itchen valley.
Where the entry of brackish water is restricted, even the tidal reaches of the rivers are sometimes bordered by great beds of reed, as in the Test north of Redbridge and in the Beaulieu river above the Beaulieu bridge. Such artificial impediments to tidal flow in fact often provide a sharp boundary between the reed and the exclusively maritime vegetation which fringes the coast.
Easily the most important coastal species is Spartina townsendii agg. This vigorous maritime grass forms virtually monospecific swards over the great stretches of mud bordering the coastline almost continuously from Hurst Castle to Chichester Harbour, and occupies similarly suitable sites on the sheltered side of the Isle of Wight. The interest of Spartina lies not only in its origin as a new species in Southampton Water nearly a century ago, but also in the rapidity with which it has taken sole possession of soft mudflats previously unoccupied except by Zostera. Within the last thirty years, however, the swards have shown progressive signs of 'die-back', particularly in the Lymington and Beaulieu estuaries (Goodman,1957, 1960; Goodman et al. 1959, 1961; Braybrooks, 1957); this phenomenon is believed to be connected with the mode of build-up of the sward over the fine-particled mud, but it is difficult to predict at present the ultimate fate of these Spartina marshes .
More traditional saltmarshes are represented only locally round the coast, partly because the extremely soft muds are unsuitable for most saltmarsh plants, and partly because some of the older saltings on firmer sites, like Lincegrove Marsh at Bursledon, have already been invaded and virtually overrun by Spartina. However, a number of saltmarsh areas have been described by Perraton (1953) for Portsmouth and Langstone Harbours, and islands in the latter still show an excellent saltmarsh series ranging from Aster tripolium swards to mixed saltmarsh vegetation.
Finally, some mention should be made of the shingle areas . The drift is from west to east along the coast, and eastwardly directed spits are present at the mouths of many of the Hampshire rivers, notably at Calshot, Needs Oar Point and Hurst Beach. None of these areas, however, is vegetationally outstanding. other shingle areas occur at Browndown and on Portsea and Hayling Islands, but although these stretches in general possess a better range of species, the natural communities are for the most part disturbed.
The purpose of this account has been to provide a basic description of the main types of natural and semi-natural vegetation to be found within a radius of roughly 25 miles round Southampton. Only a fraction of the vegetationally important plants has been mentioned by name, and there are of course in addition numerous subordinate species which contribute to the total flora of the region. Even the inconspicuous plants are of interest to the botanist and others; and hence the subsequent contributions will briefly survey the main features of significance in the local distribution of representatives of the major systematic groups.
THE FLORA OF THE REGION
Because the Hampshire Basin, with its sheltered sea coast and fringe of chalk hills, offers such a wide range of habitats, the flora of the region shows a great diversity. The Isle of Wight, with its close succession of geological outcrops , also helps to make the Southampton region one of the richest in the country in the number of vascular species to be found. Situated about midway along the southern coast, it shares the floras both of the south-cast (as Phyteuma tenerum and Aceras anthropophora) and of the south-west (Pinauicula lusitanica, Parentucellia viscosa, Wahlenbergia hederacea, Rubia peregrina). With the rainfall much more limited than farther west, perhaps ferns are not to be seen at their best, but they are still present in good variety.
The sea coast possesses examples of most types of coastal environment at one place or another. The vestiges of sand dunes on Hayling Island provide Marram Grass, Lyme Grass, the beautiful Sea Convolvulus, Sea Holly, and a good variety of Clovers; rarities to be looked for include Poa bulbosa Phleum arenarium, Teesdalia nudicaulis and Scilla autumnalis. On the shingle beaches and spits, plants include Sea Kale, Sea Campion and Thrift, with the rarities Frankenia laevis, Kohlrauschia anteuilii, Geranium purpureum and Silene nutans. Chalk cliffs are to be found on the Isle of Wight, with Matthiola incana, Marrubium vulgare, Centaurium capitatum and Daucus gummifer; Cochlearia officinalis and Brassica oleracea, however, seem to have vanished. The clay cliffs and slips of the island have a very interesting flora; newly bared areas are rapidly colonised by Coltsfoot and Great Horsetail, while Linum bienne, Melilotus altissima, Lotus tenuis, Blackstonia perfoliata, Epipactis palustris, Gymnadenia densiflora and Anacamptis pyramidalis are frequent as the areas become more stabilised.
But saltmarshes and tidal mud-flats are the typical habitats of the Hampshire coast. These provide the one true Hampshire native, Spartina townsendii, first collected near Hythe in 1870 and believed to have arisen as a hybrid between the indigenous Spartina maritima and the introduced Spartina alterniflora. Other notable saltmarsh plants include species of Zostera and Salicornia (Ball and Tutin described their Salicornia obscura and Salicornia nitens from Hayling Island), Inula crithmoides, Althaea officinalis and, mostly behind the sea-walls, grasses such as Polypogon monspeliensis, Agropyro littoralis, Hordeum marinum and the Puccinellia spp.
The scattered remnants of the woodland contain another range of interesting species. For instance, the woods of the clays and gravels of the north of the Isle of Wight and in the south of the New Forest are characterised by atypically Hampshire plant, the Long-leaved Lungwort or 'Cowslips of Jerusalem'. Wild Daffodils are to be found in many woods, and Butcher's Broom, Spurge Laurel and Tutsan are frequent. Columbine, Green and Stinking Hellebores, esser and Greater Butterfly Orchids, Bird's-nest Orchid and both species of yellow Bird's-nest are occasionally to be found. Carex paniculata, Carex pendula and Carex laevigata are the most striking sedges of the wetter woodland .
The Hampshire rivers and water meadows are particularly attractive botanical 'hunting grounds'. Most streams contain the Yellow Waterlily, Marestail, several species of Pondweeds, the Stream Crowfoot (Ranunculus pseudofluitans) and the River Water Dropwort. Among the sedges and reedbeds of the river banks are to be found the Yellow and Purple Loosestrifes, Blue Skullcap, Yellow Iris, Valerian and, more rarely, Meadow Rue, Lesser Teasel and Flowering Rush. Mimulus guttatus and Impatiens capensis, both introduced species, are increasing along the river sides, while the Butterbur (Petasites hybridus), with its giant leaves, monopolises several stretches of bank. The characteristic plant of the meadows is Water Avens (Geum rivals).
The wet heathland and bogs of the New Forest contain several insectivorous plants; Drosera rotundifolia, intermedia and anglica, Pinguicula lusitanica, Utricularia minor and intermedia are all there (Utricularia vulgaris and neglecta are elsewhere in the area, at Christchurch and at Freshwater respectively). Dactylorchis incarnata, Haminarbya paludosa, Eriophorum angustifolium, vaginatum and gracile are other bog plants, while in and around the peaty gravel pools are Lycopodium inundatum, Ranunculus lingua and tripartitus, Ludwigia palustris, Cicendia filiformis, Galium debile, Sparganium minimum and augustifolium. The Coral Necklace(Illecebrum verticillatum), once very restricted in area, has spread widely on wet gravel rides and is now to be found close to the county boundaries to cast and west, both near Woolsbridge beyond Ringwood and in the Southleigh Forest by Emsworth. In drier parts of the heathland Lobeliaurens still persists (though it was nearly lost through afforestation) and Gladiolus illyricus is to be found under the bracken . Two New Forest orchids, Listera cordata and Spiranthes aestivalis, have, however, disappeared, the latter now being extinct in Britain.
Although the old downland turf is fast disappearing from the hills around the basin, Man Orchid, Frog Orchid and the Fragrant, Pyramid, Bee and Fly Orchids are still to be found. Filipendula vulgaris, Thesium humifusum, Cynoglossum officinale, Phyteuma tenerum, Cirsium eriophorum, Carex humilis and Nardurus maritimus are others of the downland plants.
Even the large towns must not be overlooked by the botanist. Perhaps the most characteristic species there, all on the increase, are Senecio squalidus,viscosus and vulgaris (var. radiatus), while of more specialised interest are the casuals and aliens of the rubbish tips and the docks areas.
Several species, as well as those already mentioned, have special claims as Hampshire plants. The common Heath Spotted Orchid was first named, as Orchis ericetorum, by Lillton from Bournemouth specimens. Bromfield's Calamintha sylvatica is still conserved in his original locality on the Isle of Wight. Townsend's Arum italicum neglectii, now known to be widely distributed, was found near Ventnor, as also was the still more widespread Epipactis phyllanthes as its variety vectensis. In this district the striking Melampyrum arvense, 'Poverty Weed', once so common in the wheatfields that bread made from Island grain was black and bitter with its seeds, is now restricted to a single grassy bank.Centaurium tenuifolium found in the north of the Island by Townsend, is now also very rare indeed. Pulicaria vulgaris, nowhere common, has perhaps its main distribution in this country in South Hampshire, as has the much more common weed Misopates orontium.
In spite of the large number of existing records of Hampshire's plants, new discoveries are still being made. Recent additions are the Northern Marsh Orchid (Dactylorchis purpurella), Variegated Horsetail(Equisetum variegatum) and Marsh Sowthistle (Sonchus palustris).
Mosses and Liverworts
An account of the distribution of mosses and liverworts in southern Hampshire is best considered by dividing the region into three parts. The New Forest area is very rich in mosses and liverworts and has been visited by many bryologists during the last 150 years. The chalk hills to the north of Southampton also have a rich bryophyte flora, which differs considerably from that in the New Forest; this area had not been so closely investigated until recent years. The remainder of the region, around and to the cast of Southampton, has long been neglected by bryologists, and the paucity of species is very marked in this highly cultivated and extensively developed area.
Between 1957 and 1960, recording was carried on in a wide variety of habitats throughout the whole of the botanical vice-county of South Hants, and all records were related to 10-kilometre squares on the National Grid of the Ordnance Survey. By 1960 sufficient records had been accumulated to warrant the publication of the first Bryophyte County Flora based on the National Grid(Paton, 1961). As a result of this recording on the Grid many places not previously visited by bryologists were examined and many names were added to the total list of species. Thus in 1961 there were 416 species and varieties recorded in the vice-county.
In the older unspoilt woodlands of the New Forest a number of interesting bryophytes are present, often very local in their distribution, for instance Bazzania trilobata and Saccogyna viticulosa on sheltered banks. on tree trunks Frullania fragilifolia, Dicranum montanum and Pterogonium gracile occur scattered in the Forest, but the rare Zygodon forsteri is only known in one locality. Where afforestation has not been too extensive in woodlands on the Chalk, Porella platyphylla, Eurhynchium ischleicheri and Isopterygium depressum are to be found about tree roots and on earthy banks, while on fragments of loose chalk on woodland banks or underscrub, several minute species are found such as Fissidens minutulus, Seligeria paucifolia and Tortella inflexa. Throughout the region elm, ash and elder trees in particular often have interesting bryophyte floras which include Ortliotrichumi tenellum and Leptodon smithii.
Undisturbed chalk downland is rich in species, especially where the ground is sloping or uneven and where the plants do not get buried by dead grass. Weissia crispa, Neckera crispa, Entodon orthocarpus and Thuidium hystricosum are scattered throughout the region, but Scapania aspera and Weissia tortilis are much more restricted. On disturbed soil a number of small ephemeral species are seen at their best in winter, including such rarities as Aloina rigida, Phascum curvicollum, P. floerkeanum, Ephemerum recurvifolium and several species of Pottia.
Most of the dry Calluna heaths are poor in species, though Campylopus introflexus appears to be spreading. Where the heaths are wetter characteristic species include Sphagnum molle, Dicranium spurium and Camlpylopus brevipillis. On damp banks Cladopodiella franscisci and Odontochisma denudatumi may be locally abundant. The valley bogs consist mainly of Sphagnum, of which Sphagnum magellanicumi is the most striking; these bogs are rich in hepatics, which frequently grow mixed together with the upper branches of the Sphagna. Here may be found the minute Lepidozia setacea, Calypogeia sphagnicola and Cephalozia macrostachya, while larger species such as Mylia anomala, Cladopodiella fluitans and Odontoschisma sphagni may occur mixed or in pure mats. The moss Splachnum ampullaceum also occurs in the New Forest bogs, but is always restricted to patches of decaying animal dung. Where the bogs become rather more marshy, such mosses as Campylium stellatum, Drepanocladus revolvens and Acrocladium stramineum are often found. In places where the Lower Headon Beds come to the surface the calcareous clay soils provide habitats suitable for a much larger number of species. Of these Preissia quadrata and Drepanocladus sendtneri are each only known in a single locality; Minium pseudopunctatum, Plilonotis calcarea and Campylium elodesare very local, but others such as Trichostomum crispulumi and Camipylium protensum are also characteristic of chalk downland.
On stream banks in the New Forest Lejeunea lamacerina var. azorica and Hookeria luiceiis are frequently found. Where the water flows from the Chalk a number of interesting species occur on the bases and trunks of trees beside streams and rivers, including Tortula latifolia and Orthotrichum sprucei. On the bases of walls and bridges Fissiden scrassipes is frequent, and Cinclidotus fontinaloides and Barbula nicholsonii are more local in their distribution. On damp brick walls Tortula marginata and Gyroweissia tenuis often occur growing together, while on dry flint walls a wide variety of species of Barbula and several Orthotricha are to be found with Tortula intermedia.
The bryophyte flora of the coast is very limited because there are no good dune slacks and the Chalk does not reach the coast anywhere. Cololejeune aminutissima and Ulota phyllantha occur on scrub, and on the cliffs Pottia crinita and Eurhynchium speciosum have been recorded.Pottia heimii and Eurhynchium megapolitanum occur in saltmarshes, but all these species of maritime habitats are rare in Hampshire.
In terms of the vice-county as a whole, about fifty species are rare or very restricted in their distribution, and many, such as Nardia, geoscyphus and Ulota ludwigii, have been recorded only once. In contrast, nearly fifty species are widely distributed throughout South Hants, and occur in most of the grid squares. Of these the following have been recorded in every square: Ceratodon purpurceus, Tortula muralis, Barbula convoluta, B. unguiculata, Bryum argenteum, Brachythecium rutabulum and Eurchynchium praelongum. Many other species are nearly as widespread throughout the region, while others are common either in the New Forest or on the chalk ridge.
The wide variety of habitats present in the region enables a large number of bryophytes to thrive, but its climate and geographical position and the lack of rocky habitats limit the number of species that are able to survive. The mild, humid climate of the low-lying parts of the New Forest favours the growth of bryophytes and the more basic marshy areas are the richest in southern Hampshire.
Our main source of information on the fungi of the region is largely due to two amateurs: the Rev. W. L. W. Eyre (i841-I914) who was rector of Swarraton, and J. F Rayner (1854-1947), a medical man who lived in Southampton. Eyre studied intensively the area in the neighbourhood of his rectory, especially Grange Wood and nearby Micheldever, but he also had a wide knowledge of the larger fungi of the whole region and contributed an account of them to the Victoria County History of Hampshire (1900). Rayner made a special study of the fungi of the New Forest and also prepared the first list of fungi for the Isle of Wight, making numerous additions by leading subsequent forays .This work was continued by E. W. Swanton (1870-1958), for fifty-one years the distinguished curator of the Haslemere Educational Museum, who published the most recent list in the Proceedings of the Isle of Wight Natural History and Archaeological Society for 1934. Both Eyre and Rayner published in the Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club and Rayner also in the Proceedings of the Bournemouth Natural Science Society, his last supplement to the New Forest list appearing in the Proceedings of the latter Society for 1918.
The region under consideration may, for the present purpose, be conveniently divided into three districts: the mainland part of the Hampshire Basin; the chalk margins; and the Isle of Wight.
The first of these districts, with its Tertiary and Quaternary deposits, has two great tracts of forest land. To the south-cast is the Forest of Bere (3000 acres), to the south-west the New Forest (of some 90,000 acres). Only the latter has been investigated mycologically, and here about 1000 of the larger fungi have been recorded. The deadly Death Cap (Amanita phalloides) is frequent and always associated with trees, mainly oak and beech, while the closely related and equally deadly A. virosa and A. verna are also present, though much less common. The rare Hydnum erinaceum sometimes provides a magnificent sight. Many species are also associated with the planted conifers, like the beautiful Lactariis deliciosus, with its deep carrot-coloured latex.
The Ascomycetes and other micro-fungi have scarcely been examined in this district, although they probably occur abundantly. For example, all the British species of the Discomycete Trichoscyphella (with one doubtful exception) have been found in the New Forest in recent years by Dr. J. G.Manners in the course of his work on larch canker caused by T. willkommii On the other hand, rust fungi are not well represented in the Forest probably because the rainfall is relatively low and the area is poor in the type of damp, floristically rich habitat in which rust fungi are abundant.
For the present purposes, the chalk area may be taken as extending as far north as Basingstoke, and from Alton in the cast to the county boundary in the west. It thus takes in the great exposure of open chalk downland, the soil of which is shallow and well drained, so that typical grassland toadstools like Hygrophorus (sections Camarophy11us and Hygrocybe), Panaeolus and Stropharia are for the most part poorly represented. The most noteworthy grassland species are the Field Mushroom, Agaricus campestris(not to be confused with the much less tasty Cultivated Mushroom, A.bisporus), and the equally edible St. George's mushroom (Tricholonia gambosum), so called because it is at its most abundant round about St.George's Day.
Woodland is sparse in this district, and except for Harewood Forest(2000 acres), woods are mostly quite small. The top soil is often derived from Clay-with-Flints and is thus water-retaining, or the Chalk may be overlain with a reasonably deep loam soil derived from Tertiary debris. Mycologically these small woods are very rewarding, yielding many of the really fine toadstools which are associated with beech and oak woods on chalk. Probably a number have disappeared with the destruction of many of the old beechwoods, but the following are still found: the edible Amanita strobiliformis; Clitocybe odora, with its bluegreen cap and splendid ' anise' smell; Inocybe patouillardii, which is wholly white or cream but bruises bright red and is deadly poisonous; Horn of Plenty (Craterellus cornucopioides) whose black trumpets are delicious when fried and served on hot buttered toast; the large Fairy Club, Clavaria pistillaris; and Boletus satanas, attractive to look at but a powerful emetic.
The area round the rectory at Swarraton will always be remembered for two outstanding finds by the Rev. Eyre-namely, the Discomycete Sarcosphaera eximia with its violet hymenium, and the little toadstool Melanophyllumeyrei (Lepiota eyrei), remarkable for the very unusual bluish-green colour of its spores. Moreover, in Eyre's time the Summer Truffle (Tuber aestivum)was common in this district, equally on chalk and stiff clay, and under oak and fir as well as beech.
The Isle of Wight, which combines the geology of the two previous districts ,also combines their fungus floras. The more southerly position of the Island, however, no doubt accounts for the presence of Clathrus ruber (cancellatus),a distinctly southern species, whose red-latticed beauty is marred only by its disgusting smell. Swanton, in his list already referred to, states that only a small area of the Island had been 'at all intensively examined'. Nevertheless, some 650 Basidiomycetes and 130 species in the other groups of fungi-mostly Ascomycetes-are on record, and there is no doubt that further search on the Island would easily bring the number of larger fungi up to thatof the New Forest. Noteworthy toadstools are the Earth-star (Geastrum(Geaster) triplex), the rare Lepiota emplastrum, the strong smelling L. bucknallii, and Boletus parasticus which parasitises earthballs (Scleroderma).
The Southampton region is not characterised by large quantities of seaweed, since rocky coasts are infrequent. One rocky area is at Bembridge on the Isle of Wight, where ledges of limestone run well out to sea and, with the intervening channels, provide a habitat for quite a variety of marine algae. These include the usual larger brown seaweeds, among which are Halidrys siliquosa and Cystoseira tamariscifolia, while smaller specimens include Asperococcus bullosus and Padina pavona. Many red algae can be found at low-water spring tides, including Chylocladia verticillata, Furcellaria fastigiata and abundant Plocamium coccinium. The green alga Codium is also conspicuous. Other rocky areas also occur on the coast of the Island, but probably none possesses a greater range of species than that met with at Bembridge, though Steephill Cove near Ventnor might be worth investigating.
On the mainland suitable sites are more restricted. The very numerous mud-flats have a conspicuous zone of Enteromorpha at certain times of the year, and this is likewise abundant on the lower parts of the saltmarshes, where Fucus vesiculosus may also be found. At the western end of the region, some seaweed occurs at Hengistbury Head, but otherwise very few appropriate habitats exist. Towards the cast, however, just south of the Castle at Southsea, adequate anchorage is provided by the stone and concrete sea defences, with boulders and smaller stones on the shore below; but no pools are left at low tide and the variety of algae is limited. Species of Laminaria and fucolds are abundant, with the red algae Rhodymenua palmata and Callithamnion tetragonum epiphytic on the former. Polysiphonia elongata and Gracilaria verrucosa may be conspicuous on areas where rock is overlain by sand near low-water level.
A different type of environment is provided in the more sheltered waters of Portsmouth Harbour, where a causeway of concrete exists between Horsea Island and the mainland, and broken masses of concrete and many small stones are mingled with mud. The shore has a gradual slope on which small plants of Fucus vesiculosus are abundant, with good Fucus serratus at a lower level. The channel from the northern part of the harbour contains asmall quantity of Laminaria saccharina, but it is not usually exposed at low water of any tide. Halidrys siliquosa and Cystoseira tamariscifolia are present in the quieter water west of this channel. Shallow pools ining to the sea are left at low tide and these contain an abundance of more delicate algae, including attractive masses of Nitophyllum punctatum,Griffithsia corallinoides and Chondria dasyphylla. Dictyota dichotoma and Bryopsis plumosa are also present, while drift specimens of Cutleria multifida have been collected.
In contrast to the seaweeds, the freshwater algal flora of the area is both extensive and varied. In a single week in June 1947, N. Woodhead and R. D.Tweed of the University College of North Wales, Bangor, collected 476 different species and in addition 106 varieties; many of these were first records for the British Isles. In spring and early summer almost every pond, stream and woodland or farm puddle can be depended upon to produce a variety of specimens. The New Forest in particular is plentifully supplied with ponds and streams, all of which produce rich hauls. The Holmsley bogs yielded 206 species and varieties and Hatchet Pond 203, when investigated by the two botanists mentioned above. Elsewhere the distribution of suitable collecting areas is sparse, but they nevertheless exhibit the same luxuriance. Unfortunately, this happy state of affairs is being interfered with by the reclaiming of land for agriculture and forestry, and by a general lowering of the water-table, resulting in the disappearance of ponds and streams.
All the common filamentous algae are represented and are widely distributed .Species of Spirogyra, Oedogoniumi, Ulothrix, Cladophora, Chaetophora,Mougeotia, Zygnema, and like forms can be found without difficulty in the spring and early summer. Microspora can be collected at any time of the year in certain localities. The Boarhunt pond will usually yield the rare Cylindrocapsa geminella Woole var. minor Hansg. The environs ofthe rivers Itchen, Hamble and Meon provide other uncommon species. Volvoxaureus occurs in many woodland and urban ornamental ponds with quitesurprising regularity. Batrachospermum is widely distributed;Chlamydomonas, Etidorina, Pandorina, Tetraspora and other Volvocales are of course common. Hydrodictyon is infrequent, but is found occasionally. The ponds and puddles of every farmyard can be relied upon to produce Desmids and several species of Eugleneae. Phacus and other Euglenineae. Vaucheria is especially common near the coast. The commonest alga of the brackish waters is, as might be expected, Entermorpha; it occurs everywhere, reaching into streams seemingly as far as any salty water can penetrate, the exclusively freshwater Spirogyra for instance being found only a short distance away. Diatoms are of course to be found everywhere. The Myxophyceae are widespread and in greatvariety: Oscillatoria, Arthrospira, Gloeotrichia, Tolypothrix and Aphanothece are all common. The Charophyta occur with fair frequency, but are much more abundant just outside the area.
Even from this limited survey, there is no doubt that the region is of very considerable interest and deserves much more attention from freshwater algologists than it has so far received.
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