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Flora & Fauna - Grasses & Sedges

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Water meadows were originally created in order to provide food for grazing animals, principally sheep. It is not surprising, therefore, that in the Harnham Water Meadows there are quite large numbers of various grasses - in all, 35 different species. About half of these are the kinds of grass that would have been sown as a source of food when the meadows were first created.

Among these palatable species are:

Meadow Foxtail

Meadow Fescue

Yellow Oat-grass

Soft Brome

Perennial Rye-grass

two kinds of Sweet-grass

Cock's-foot

Timothy

three kinds of Meadow-grass

The other species are either of little agricultural value or are distinctly undesirable, the latter category including Couch and Tufted Hair-grass.

There are 9 different species of true sedge (Carex) in the meadows, ranging from small kinds such as Brown Sedge and Glaucous Sedge to the much taller Greater and Lesser Pond Sedge (both pictured right).

In spite of its name, Common Spike-rush, a tiny plant growing in the bottom of damp ditches, is actually a member of the sedge family.

Rushes are very characteristic plants of water meadows, often growing in the damper spots where the soil is poorly drained.  In the Harnham Water Meadows there are 6 different species, of which by far the commonest is Hard Rush. A much smaller plant, the Field Wood-rush, flowers early in the year, April - May, and unlike other members of the family prefers dry places.

Greater Pond Sedge
Lesser Pond Sedge

Greater Pond Sedge

Lesser PondSedge

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