Rare plant is blooming at Brede High Woods

Broomrape
Broomrape

AN extremely rare plant has made a reappearance at Brede High Woods

Greater Broomrape has emerged on the heathland area of the woods, a rare species last recorded in 2003.

The Woodland Trust, which acquired the woodland in 2007, has an aim to protect native woods, trees and their wildlife for the future, and this is one of many indicators that the conservation charity is succeeding. The heathland work is currently being funded by Natural England under the Higher Level Stewardship scheme.

Greater Broomrape is a very distinctive orchid like plant, and in early June can grow to the height

of half a metre in as little as two weeks.

It was once common and is parasitic on broom and gorse but it had not been recorded in East or West Sussex for some time, and it is also declining throughout the rest of the British Isles.

Dr. Patrick Roper, a professional ecologist who has been studying the site for over 50 years said: “ I am absolutely delighted. It is very satisfying to see the success of good management of the heathland.

“It shows that a mixture of open space and woodland generates an enormous amount of biodiversity, similar to that seen at Brede over 100 years ago, and it is there for everyone to enjoy.”

Site manager Dave Bonsall added: “ The restored heathland at Brede continues to develop in a positive way. This rare plant has been shaded out by planted trees, but now there are at least eight spikes of it which should set more seed for next year.”

Dr Roper is hopeful that as time goes on an increasing number of rare species may re-emerge, for example the heath dog violet, which has not been recorded on the site since the 1930s.

Summer and early autumn is the most colourful time for heathland, with dwarf gorse and three types of heather all flowering at the same time, providing a welcome source of nectar and pollen for insects, especially those that need to build up their recourses for winter.

The trust has also recently completed the upgrade of the original car park at Brede by laying new tarmac over the entrance and track leading to the main area to repair potholes and level the entrance, making visiting the woods even easier. This work has been funded by public donations from the initial acquisition appeal in 2007.

To find out more information about Brede High Woods or any of the woods under the Woodland Trust’s care in East Sussex go to VisitWoods.org.uk.

The Woodland Trust is the UK’s leading charity championing native woods and trees. It has 300,000 members and supporters. It’s aim is to enable the creation of more native woods and places rich in trees and to protect native woods, trees and their wildlife for the future.