High Weald Species
Early to flower, Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) bursts into a mass of frothy, white blossom in March and April. The blooms appear on the dark brown branches before the leaves and are appreciated by honey bees and other insects and pollinators.
Blackthorn is a thorny shrub or small tree, common in the High Weald’s many hedgerows and woodland edges. It is an important species for wildlife; the leaves are food for many butterfly and moth caterpillars, and the dense, spiny bushes make great nesting places for birds.
The Marsh Marigold or King Cup (Caltha palustris), is a member of the buttercup family and one of our most ancient plants. Its bright golden-yellow cup-shaped flower, like a large, stout buttercup, lights up marshy places, damp meadows, wet woodland, ditches, pond margins and watersides in the High Weald.
Marsh Marigold flowers from early spring through to summer, providing early nectar for insects and dark, shiny leaves which give shelter for frogs.
The Skylark (Alauda arvensis) is a brown-streaked bird with a small crest and a white-sided tail, a little larger than a sparrow but smaller than a starling. Skylarks like open countryside and can be heard or seen in the High Weald’s grasslands, heathland and farmland, often starting to breed in March.
Inconspicuous on the ground, the males are easier to see during their distinctive vertical song flight, displaying high up in the sky.
The male Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni) is a large, bright lemon-yellow butterfly. The female is a pale greenish-yellow, almost white. Both have pointed leaf-shaped wings with visible veins.
Brimstones are one of the first butterflies to appear each year, flying on warm days throughout the year, especially in spring. They are one of the butterflies doing well in the High Weald and can be seen in sunny places here in scrubby grassland, woodland
The Wild Daffodil (Narcissus pseudonarcissus) is found in ancient woods and undisturbed grassland. Scattered patches survive in the High Weald, although it is now rare.
Most of the daffodils growing on our roadsides and in parks are likely to be garden varieties. True Wild Daffodils are more subtle and delicate: shorter with lemon trumpets, paler yellow petals and grey-green leaves. Coppicing and less intensive grassland management help them thrive.
The pretty Primrose (Primula vulgaris), one of the nation’s favourite wildflowers, grows well in undisturbed High Weald soils.
The Latin ‘prima rosa’ means first rose, and the Primrose is one of the first blooms of early spring brightening up open woodland, shady hedge-banks, road verges and railway embankments. The flowers are an important nectar source for butterflies. Primrose was once used as a herbal remedy to relieve pain.