By Emma Stewart – 26th August 2006

The flora of Little Mitchellwood reflects many things.  It tells us that it has not been a woodland for very long, that it is close to gardens and farmland, and it shows us that people are once again introducing plants into this wee place.

This short description of the flora of Little Mitchellwood will focus deliberately on the plants that are likely to be semi-natural here.  This simply means plants that have found their own way here from the surrounding natural countryside many years ago and have now established themselves into communities of plants.  The plants that have come in from surrounding gardens or that have been recently obviously planted have therefore been ignored for the sake of this description.

The woodland is not shown as being planted yet on the first edition Ordnance Survey maps of 1860.  In woodland terms it is regarded as recent, which means that it has not had very long to establish the sort of woodland plants you would find in a much older woodland.   The woodland is small in size which will also have meant that a lot of woodland plants would not be happy here as they need to be away from any edges.  Only the bottom edge of Little Mitchellwood has plants that are real woodland species, this area is the most shady and perhaps has the deepest soils being at the bottom of the slope.   You will find wood sorrel, lesser celandine and wood avens (herb bennet) here.

The woodland itself is a mixed woodland with a variety of conifers and broadleaves as is common when woods are planted for amenity rather than to provide timber.  Trees to be found here are Blackthorn, Ash, Wych elm, Hawthorn, Sycamore, Gean, Rowan, Whitebeam, and Scots pine.    Some of the broadleaves are regenerating and producing the next generation of trees, essential for the survival of the woodland and for wildlife.

Most of the plants to be found are more commonly seen in grasslands than woodland and the ground flora is therefore quite grassy in appearance.  But mixed in amongst the grasses such as timothy, common couch, cocksfoot, creeping soft-grass, false oat-grass, rough meadow-grass, smooth meadow-grass, sweet vernal grass and creeping bent-grass there is a great variety of flowering plants as well.    Blues of field forget-me-not and germander speedwell mix with yellows of meadow buttercup, lady’s bedstraw, birds foot trefoil, meadow vetchling, and the whites of pignut, lesser stitchwort, ribwort plantain, and yarrow.

Although a small site there is a good variety of flora to be found on a gentle stroll around Little Mitchellwood.   It is a mix of Mother Nature’s and man’s hand, an interesting spot to explore.

Birds I have seen are:

  • Chaffinch
  • Blackbird
  • Song Thrush
  • Blue tit

Insects:

  • Large yellow underwing moth
  • Inchneumon fly
  • Ringlet butterfly

Contribution to the Opening of Little Mitchellwood on 26 August 2006

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