A. R. (Arthur Reginald) Horwood.

A new British flora : British wild flowers in their natural haunts (Volume 3) online

. (page 22 of 23)
Online LibraryA. R. (Arthur Reginald) HorwoodA new British flora : British wild flowers in their natural haunts (Volume 3) → online text (page 22 of 23)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


over the other plants, for being lofty their
fruits are more likely to be carried the farthest.

The lower strata of plants are also largely
dispersed by the agency of the wind. The



Rosebay and other Willow-herbs have cottony
appendages, which enable the seeds to travel
like parachutes and to settle at a distance.
Red Campion, Bluebell, and many other plants
possess censer fruits, whilst others are pro-
pelled by a catapult or explosive mechanism,
as in the case of Wood -sorrel and Wood
Spurge.

Animal agency is also largely influential in
dispersing seeds. Luscious edible fruits, as
those of the Cherry, Rowan, &c., are so scat-
tered. Ivy berries serve the birds in winter.
Many fruits have hooks which catch in the
coats of animals, as Enchanter's Nightshade,
Sanicle, Woodruff, Wood Forget-me-not. The
Violet is largely distributed by ants. The
small seeds, too, of Grasses and orchids are
scattered by aid of the wind.

Soil and the Woodlands. The influence of soil
is well shown in the case of woodland plants
in the predilection of the several types of domi-
nant tree for a particular kind of soil. But
the ground flora is also made up of plants
that prefer certain types of soil before others.
Whilst most woodland plants live in a soil rich
in humus, there are many that do not abso-
lutely require it. Typical humus-loving plants
are Wood Anemone, Goldielocks, Wood-sorrel,
Enchanter's Nightshade, Angelica, Ivy, Wood-
ruff, Small Periwinkle, Wood Forget-me-not,
Betony, Dog's Mercury, Aspen, &c. A few
are also especially addicted to a sandy soil, as
the Lime, Wild Cherry, Strawberry (the two
last need some humus), Wych Elm (also on
clay), Oak (or on clay), Snowdrop, Bluebell
(both the latter need some humus too). Clay
is preferred by Sanicle, Honeysuckle, Wood
Loosestrife, Yellow Archangel, Twayblade,
Ramsons, which are damp-loving plants, and
they need some humus. Chalk or limestone
is required by Green Hellebore, Wayfaring
Tree, Marjoram, Wood Spurge, Beech, Bee
Orchis, Lily of the Valley, and here, again,
there is some humus required. The Colum-
bine, Holly, Mountain Ash, Foxglove, Wood
Sage, as a rule, grow on more rocky shallow
soils.

Methods of Survey. The first object to aim
at in surveying a wood is to estimate the
nature of the dominant tree type. This may
be done by marking out squares, and numeri-
cally counting or mapping the trees in such
a space. If an entire wood is done the most
perfect results will be obtained. It is possible,
however, to estimate this factor by taking one
or two small squares in different parts. A
further fact to be ascertained is whether the
wood is open or close, whether it is coppiced
or not, and whether the tree types are artificial
or natural. The character of the soil must be



ROADSIDES AND HEDGES



245



ascertained, and the trees should in mapping
be put down accurately on squared paper,
ruled to a definite scale. What applies to the
trees also applies to the scrub.

In surveying the ground flora it is not enough
to make a list of the plants found in the wood
in order of dominance, noting the relative fre-
quency of each, but attention should be paid
to the form of association, and to the relative
position of certain types which occur in a



definite connection with each other. As there
are early and late flowering periods, surveys
should be made at different seasons of the
year, in order to get a full and accurate idea
of the whole formation. The conditions of
light, moisture, height, soil, &c., must also
be noted in each case, so that a connected idea
may be formed of the full nature of the en-
vironment and its influence upon the woodland
flora.



SECTION VI



ROADSIDES AND HEDGES



Accessibility of the Roadside. One of the
features that the roadsides possess in common
with meadows and pastures, or fields, for the
botanist commencing to study plants in the
field, is their accessibility. There is, in fact,
no law of trespass applicable to roadsides. It
is advisable to respect the rights of those who
rent the grass strips on each side of the road
during the summer for the grass which is laid
to hay. This ought not to be promiscuously
trampled down. Other points to notice are
the necessity of avoiding the breaking down
of weak fences, or the damaging of trees or
hedges, by making gaps.

Diversified Character of the Roadsides. The
roads or highways are essentially diversified.
One of their main features is their continuity,
which causes the flora to be exceptionally
varied. Thus we may pass from a road in
the west amongst ancient rocks of a sandy or
siliceous character to others in the Pennines
where limestone predominates, and the change
in the flora will be most marked.

Moreover, roads exhibit a great variation
in form. Some roads, especially the Roman
roads, are remarkably straight, and the aspect
is thus essentially the same, whereas other
roads are extremely winding in character, and
we may thus have the opposite aspects upon
the same side of the road.

Then there are upland and lowland roads,
the former more ancient. The plants of the
one differ from those of the other. Frequently
a road will exhibit repeated undulations as it
crosses transversely a series of valleys, and
this will give the flora a diversified character,
introducing alternate wet and dry conditions.

Artificial and Modern Character of Roads.
A road is essentially artificial in character.
But in spite of this fact there are even from the
natural point of view some features of interest,



e.g. the dispersal of certain groups of plants
by their agency, and the juxtaposition of three
or four types of vegetation that make it of
particular interest, as the sward, hedge, and
ditch.

Moreover, it is really chiefly the macadam-
ized part that is entirely artificial and of no
especial interest, though even this has its
special features, as the predilection of certain
plants for macadam borders, e.g. Silverweed,
and especially some mosses that are rarely
found (though naturally they do exist) else-
where, e.g. Pottia bryoides, dependent upon
the dispersal of nitrogenous matter in manure,
&c.

Then, again, roads, especially primitive un-
fenced roads, or the roadsides, are actually
parts of ancient pasture or meadow, or even
woodland in many cases.

As a whole, roads, however, are modern, and
it is only a question of degree in each case.
The ancient roads naturally are likely to have
a more varied flora, made up of plants that
have been carried along them by human
agency or otherwise, and the more modern
roads will necessarily be more uniform.

Enclosure of Roads. As a general rule,
roads, especially main roads, are bounded by
hedgerows or walls, and where necessary and
possible by ditches. But very often in country
districts the road, which is in such cases inter-
sected at each field boundary by gates, is not
enclosed at all, but is simply a macadamized
track through fields, often arable.

This, moreover, is very largely the case in
hilly districts, where there are large tracts of
heather or furze which may or may not be
common land. It was at the time of the en-
closure of the common lands that the majority
of the roads now fenced in were also enclosed,
so that the enclosing portions, hedgerows and



246



HINTS AND NOTES



ditches, are not, as a rule, more than 200, and
usually only about 100 years old. And as the
enclosure of a road, as will be seen, is of impor-
tance in determining the flora of a roadside,
these are really points of importance that need
emphasizing.

Planting of Roadside Hedges with Trees, &c.
The enclosure of roadsides demanded the
planting of hedgerows and trees in order to
keep cattle, &c., from straying upon the roads
promiscuously. As the enclosure is modern,
comparatively speaking, so also is the planting
of the hedgerows. Where roads pass through
wooded districts, however, hedges may be
more ancient, the natural tree and scrub of the
woods being utilized for the purpose. More-
over, some roads that were not enclosed already
had trees on either side of the road before the
hedgerows were planted, some old avenues
dating at least 200-300 years back. The in-
fluence of planting in hedgerows and along
roadsides is important alike in establishing a
tree zone and in controlling the light for both
hedgerow, or scrub layers, and the ground
flora.

The Preservation of the Roadsides. Our
English roadsides have been noted for their
beauty; and this is a subject for praise well-
earned in many a district still. But there are
factors that are disturbing the conditions that
make for the beauty of the wayside to-day.
They may be divided into three sections:
(i) upkeep of the roadside, (2) traffic of the
roadside, (3) hawking and collecting of way-
side plants.

The upkeep of the roadside by Urban and
District Councils results in the reduction
of the wild nature of the vegetation to the
clipped and neat appearance of a park walk.
( 'hue nn a son i^'oi'tt, and everything in its place,
one may say, but the essential beauty of a
country lane lies in its natural, not artificial
character. So that the trimming of the hedge,
which reduces it to a dead level of purely vege-
tative branches, and also affects the under-
growth, is misplaced enthusiasm. So, also, is
the too frequent clearing out of ditches, and
the plastering of their contents upon the hedge-
banks.

The rooting up of plants for sale along the
roadside is another factor. In a few counties,
such as Devon, Surrey, Kent, Sussex, and
part of Essex, local by-laws have been framed
to prevent this. It is hoped all counties will
follow suit. Since these lines were written
other counties have actually done so.

Influence of the Macadam. The macadam is
normally the artificial part of the road. It
varies in different districts, owing to absence
or presence of quarries suitable for road-



mending purposes. Over a large area of this
country certain quarries distribute their
special materials, e.g. quartzite from Nun-
eaton, granite from Mountsorrel, syenite from
Charnwood Forest generally, basalt from
Rowley Regis.

These rocks afford, when broken down into
grit and dust, siliceous particles, and accor-
dingly, when distributed over the Eastern
Counties or east of the Pennines, introduce
new soil conditions, and may in this way
help to disperse new plants in the district.
For the margin of the macadam abuts upon
the soil, and plants grow close up to the
fringe of turf. Silverweed, White Clover,
Strawberry-headed Clover, &c., are plants
that grow commonly by the wayside where a
siliceous macadam is put down.

The macadam is liable when gritty to get
swept on to the greensward, where, indeed, a
pile of the sweepings is often laid. When
macadam is sandy or gravelly the margin, or
in an unfrequented road the grassy ridges
between the ruts and the middle area of mac-
adam, is often a special habitat for sand- or
gravel-loving plants, as Trifolium Jiliforme,
Mcrnchia erecta, Bird's Foot, Subterranean
Clover.

A chalky, flinty, or limestone, or oolite road
is often made on such rocks which may have
shallow soils, and in such cases the macadam
is merely the soil exposed. Here the Rock-
rose, Horseshoe Vetch, Squinancy Wort, &c.,
grow.

Effect of Traffic. The maintenance of a
road is for traffic, and this factor is one of the
most important in determining the type of
flora upon a roadside. There are three or
four classes of road dependent upon traffic:

(1) Main road with frequent and heavy
traffic, much used.

(2) By-road with less frequent traffic, little
used, but maintained as a main road.

(3) By-road, where the road is not main-
tained, and only the effect of vehicular traffic
keeps the track open, and this produces ruts,
and alternating strips of grass between.

(4) Ride, or unused road, generally grassed
over, and to all intents and purposes con-
tinuous pasture or meadow.

Along the first type the hedges are often
close-clipped, and there may be pathways
(tarred, &c.) at the side. Dust will almost
invariably stick to and clog the leaves of the
plants, giving the wayside plants a sickly
appearance. But the frequency of agricul-
tural traffic may introduce here a good many
fresh plants.

In the second case the first factor is less
aggravated, and the wayside flora more



ROADSIDES AND HEDGES



247



luxuriant and less covered with dust, &c.
The frequent traffic with wagons, &c., causes
a good proportion of cornfield weeds to be
dispersed along the way.

In the case of (3) and (4) the effect of traffic
is more or less negligible.

Dispersal by Roads. As the media for traffic
of all kinds it is not to be wondered at that
roads afford one of the greatest means of
dispersal of plants. And though this is
obvious if one thinks about the matter at all,
yet it does not seem, like many other facts of
this nature to which attention is drawn in
these notes, to have been adequately con-
sidered.

It should be noticed that the distribution is
in the first instance linear, but may be later
much more general, and the origin (via any
particular highway) may be obscured. Another
equally important fact is the extra protection
afforded by the unusual closeness of the
hedges, and the ample shelter they, and the
ditches, afford. The greensward also is
subject to interference from traffic by man or
horses, &c., or mowing in summer, or the
operations of the road-scraper, hedger, or
ditcher.

Man himself is responsible for some dispersal
of seeds. Workmen carry in their bags plants
and soil, liable to be dropped in passing to and
fro. People using roads who have traversed
arable or even grass fields or woods are liable
to leave seeds behind embedded in mud from
boots or shoes, or which have been caught in
the clothing. Gardening operations in allot-
ments, &c., are responsible for a good deal
also, weeds being thrown over the hedge into
the road.

Birds especially are liable to carry seeds
and drop them along the highway. Cattle,
horses, &c., disperse them in hoofs; and in
their coats, which are woolly or hairy, seeds
that are furnished with hooks or spines may
be caught, and so dispersed. The carting of
hay, corn, stones, lime, dressings, manure,
&c., is a very frequent source of dispersal
on highways.

Wind is another factor. So also is the
drainage by ditches, water plants being intro-
duced in this manner.

The Hedgerows in Fields and along the
Roadside. Since an integral part of the
highway is the hedgerow on each side, it
is best to regard the hedgerows in fields as
similar in character to the roadside hedge-
rows, for both have the same origin. One
feature of roadside hedges, however, is their
continuity in a more or less parallel course,
whilst hedgerows in fields are limited in
extent and direction to moderately-sized rect-



angles ; so that dispersal along the wayside
is if anything more permanent.

The roadside or border of each hedge on
a highway is frequently the habitat of a more
numerous ground flora, as it is less disturbed
in rural districts, but the hedge itself is usually
kept well trimmed and layered, whereas the
hedges in fields are often allowed to grow
for a long period untouched.

Village Outskirts and their Influence on a
Roadside Flora. When a series of roads has
been studied and the floras of all compared,
one outstanding feature will become apparent.
It will be found as a rule, allowing for the
possible change in soil, altitude, moisture,
&c., that the flora of the roadside is fairly
uniform, when the immediate effect of villages
or towns upon the route is eliminated.

But a noticeable fact, which will soon become
apparent, is the occurrence at variable distances
from a village of certain plants, which do not
travel far along the highway on either side
of a town or village. Such plants are, for
example, Greater Celandine, Winter Cress,
Dwarf Elder, Tea Plant, Hop, Horse-radish,
Chickweed, Comfrey, Borage, Alkanet, Clary,
Black Horehound, White Horehound, Pelli-
tory-of-the-Wall, Good King Henry, &c.

Rarely, if ever, do these plants occur in the
majority of districts in any other or a possibly
native station. The probable reason of the
occurrence at all near villages or on the high-
ways, is the former use of these plants for
domestic or herbal or other purposes. They
cannot, in fact, be regarded as truly native.

Gate-posts, Gateways, Bridges, Stone-heaps,
&c. The continuity of the greensward or the
hedgerow on a highway is sooner or later
broken by gateway, bridge, and stone-heap,
or some other equally welcome variation of
the general monotony.

The gate-posts and gates on every highway
are a frequent source of interest to the lichen-
ologist. They afford also to the student of
flowering plants an easy means of wandering
for a while from the highway on either side,
and this makes the flora to be studied along a
highway more varied and interesting.

About a gateway unusual plants will occur,
such as Wart Cress, Charlock (Raphanus),
Great Plantain, Knot Grass, various Cheno-
podia, Docks, &c., dispersed from arable or
similar open soil.

Pearlwort may be found on the sides of
bridges, or Cerastium triviale, or Runie.v
Acetosella, and on a wet bridge over a road
I have seen growing amongst the bricks,
Epilobia, Scrophularia aquatica, &c. In the
water or on the margin, aquatic plants may be
found, such as Glyceria, Catabrosa, Lythrum,



2 4 8



HINTS AND NOTES



&c. Where heaps of stones have been
thrown down and then cleared away, on the
open ground one may find Red Poppy, Fumi-
tory, Shepherd's Purse, Persicaria, Spurrey,
Charlock, Wild Oat, &c., weeds that have
strayed there from the cornfield or elsewhere
quickly colonizing the new ground.

Antiquity of the Highways. It is a common
fallacy to suppose that the earliest roads were
made by the Romans. But since there are a
great number of other roads of importance,
and certainly early origin, not made like those
of the Romans, it is better to consider that
these other roads are the earlier, and that the
Romans took the roads they found and im-
proved them themselves.

This is, moreover, shown by the occurrence
along Roman roads of implements of the
Bronze and Neolithic Ages, and Pre-Roman
earthworks and burial-places with pottery, &c.,
as well as tumuli and other remains of Roman
age.

The situation of some of the oldest sites of
early civilization along the highway is in any
case largely responsible for the introduction of
plants into this country. Flax and some of
the cereals were brought by the early peoples
from the Continent, and the subsequent col-
onization of the country by Anglo-Saxons,
Danes, Normans, and others has in each case
augmented the original native flora, and it
was largely by the agency of the ancient high-
ways that these plants found their way into
the districts where now they are considered to
be native.

High-level Roads and Low-level Roads.
Owing to the effect of the Ice Age it was not
possible in the Palaeolithic or early Stone Age
tor any direct tracks to be made across the
country as in later times, nor was man then
able to construct such roads, for his imple-
ments were of the crudest character, and his
intelligence of no higher order. When the
climate became ameliorated, man in the New
Stone Age or Neolithic period was able to
traverse the country more easily, and means
of communication became a necessity as the
beginnings of trade and agriculture became
possible.

So it is found that there are certain types of
ancient road which date from the ensuing era
or Bronze Age. The low-lying country was
then of a marshy and unsuitable character for
cultivation, and impassable, so that the roads
at first ran along the ridges, and are known
as ritigavavs. Remains found along these
roads are the earliest. Next to these were
hillside roads, which ran along the sides of
the valleys or the hills dividing them. These
were made in the late Bronze Age. Of a still



later type are the harrow -ways of the South of
England, which are of late Celtic Age, just
preceding the Roman period, and it is probable
that these were largely utilized by the Romans
in making their own way across the country.
All these types are high-level roads, and the
low-level roads were not made until the country
was brought under cultivation and drainage
after the felling of forests.

The distinction between these types of roads
is important in estimating the relative age of
introduction of plants by such means as roads.

Roadside Habitats. Though a roadside ap-
pears to present extremely uniform conditions
at first sight, in reality there is a good deal of
diversity. A solitary bush by the wayside
may form exactly the habitat for such a plant
as Hemp Nettle, which requires such protec-
tion, but not that of a moist ditch.

The macadam at its margin or on old
unfrequented roads affords a habitat for a
number of characteristic plants, such as Silver-
weed and Common Cinquefoil. Along the
sward at the side of the road grow the usual
meadow or pasture plants, varying with the
soil. On clay in early spring on open ground
the Lesser Celandine may be seen, on sandy
loamy soil later appears the Upright Meadow
Crowfoot.

The ditch affords a habitat for moisture-lov-
ing plants, such as Watercress, Willow-herbs,
Figwort, and in wide ditches one may find
Duckweed and Starvvort, or Water Buttercup.
The bank of the hedge affords a shelter for
numerous plants that require shade and pro-
tection, such as the Herb Robert, Jack-by-the-
Hedge, Avens, White Dead Nettle, Nettle,
Docks of various kinds which grow near
water, with Sedges and Rushes and many
others. The three-nerved Sandwort and Chick-
weed grow in the hedge bottom, as do Arch-
angel and Moschatel.

In the hedge itself grow Hawthorn (wide-
spread), Elder, Sloe, Buckthorn, Cornel,
Blackberry, Rose, Field Maple, Guelder Roses,
and such trees as Oak, Ash, Beech, Wych and
Common Elm, &c.

There is frequently a little scrub at the side
of the road, in some parts made up of Sloe or
Furze or Bramble, amongst which many other
plants, as Grassy Stitch wort, &c., will grow.
Further variety is afforded by the occasional
occurrence of ponds or streams by the way-
side.

Limits of Roadside Vegetation. Soil alone
does not cause the variation to be noticed in a
roadside flora. Much depends upon the alti-
tude of a road also, apart from the effect this
usually has upon the upkeep of the road.
Above loco ft. cultivation ends, and with this



ROADSIDES AND HEDGES



249



limit also other plants disappear. The typical
vegetation above this is the moorland heather,
&c., varied with Matvveed or wet-soil plants,
as in the bogs, which cover so large a part of
the uplands. As a whole, in fact, the flora of
a roadside is usually very uniform in this
respect, as it is a sine qua non to provide a
level road. But there are considerable varia-
tions in altitude in the same road, and the
flora even at the bottom of a long steep hill
will differ from that at the top, if only from
the greater exposure to wind.

At low levels in flat country the roads may
frequently be under water for some period of
the year, or the surrounding district over-
saturated with moisture, especially near rivers.
In this case many plants will be dispersed,
owing to the floods, by the carrying of seeds
from elsewhere, and aquatic plants often
spring up along such roads.

The influence of altitude upon plants in this
way should be carefully noticed, and lists of
plants at different heights should be made and
compared.

Effect upon Habit. The tree types and hedge
or scrub of a roadside may be continuous or dis-
continuous. In the former case, if the two sides
of the road are equally allowed to attain their
full development, as in an avenue, to take an
extreme case, the effect upon the rest of the
flora will be similar to that of a ride or glade
in a wood, and the conditions as regards light,
moisture, and protection will be such as shade-
plants require. The latter have several types
of habit, as the inversely pyramidal, grass
habit, and rosette habit. Where the tree and
scrub are discontinuous the conditions will be
intermediate, and sun-plants will in this case
be more dominant, whilst shade-plants will
seek the shelter of the hedge bottom or ditch.
In the opposite extreme case, where both trees
and scrub are absent and the hedges layered


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 22

Online LibraryA. R. (Arthur Reginald) HorwoodA new British flora : British wild flowers in their natural haunts (Volume 3) → online text (page 22 of 23)