Wanstead’s Botanical Bonanza

Plants were always going to play a big part in the Wren Group’s quest to find 1,000 species within the Wanstead area in 2016. They have not disappointed. The year got off to a very good start, with many plants in flower in the churchyard of St Mary’s on Overton Drive and around Jubilee Pond in early January. And a wet spring contributed to fine shows of many flowers in May and June, with micro-sites such as the wayleave behind Belgrave Road coming into their own.

The areas that proved the most productive were Wanstead Flats and Wanstead Flats, of course, but within these were some real gems, notably the SSSI and the bank at the west end of the brickpit. Parts of the wonderfully managed City of London Cemetery were excellent also, but the real stars were the Old Sewage Works and the Green Man roundabout – both of which had displays of Bee Orchids in June. The Old Sewage Works also had a few Pyramidal Orchids in July.

Bee Orchid

Other flowers which seem to have a good spring and early summer include Heath Bedstraw, Grass Vetchling and Meadow Vetchling on Wanstead Flats, and Yellow Rattle flowered for a second year running in the SSSI. After a tip-off from Kathy Hartnett, Paul Ferris identified a specimen of Italian Eryngo by Jubilee Pond at the start of August. Where has this, previously unrecorded, plant come from? A couple of months earlier Sharon Payne had identified Sulphur Cinquefoil on Bush Road. Again, the provenance of this specimen is anyone’s guess.

Meadow Vetchling
Grass Vetchling

As of the beginning of August well over 400 plants have been noted, including a number of mosses. Many grasses remain unidentified, and many more mosses won’t be recorded until the damp days of autumn. Why not take a look at the linked list and see whether you can add any species to it? Please let us have a note of the location, date and whether the plant was in flower.

Tim Harris

Leave a Comment