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  • Writer's pictureSim Elliott

Lichens, Bryophytes, Fungi and Wild Flowers at Ebernoe Common. 07.04.23

Updated: Apr 16, 2023

Ebernoe Common is a low weald heath, ancient wood and wood pasture nature reserve managed by the Sussex Wildlife Trust reserve, north of Petworth, see Ebernoe Common | Sussex Wildlife Trust


Ebernoe Common is of national importance as an example of a large ancient woodland. Microsoft Word - Ebernoe Common citation for confirmation.doc (naturalengland.org.uk)


I reached Ebernoe by train, bus and foot. I took the train from Brighton to Worthing, where I got the number 1 Stagecoach Bus from Worthing to Petworth 1 Bus Route & Timetable: Worthing - Midhurst | Stagecoach (stagecoachbus.com) (once an a hour; 65 minute journey). From Petworth I walked up the B road that goes through Gunters Bridge. Just beyond Holland Wood (on the west of the road) there is a footpath starting from the east side of the road which goes through Langhurst Common (not named on this map, but it is the wood between Langhurst Farm and Palfrey Farm). This path enters Ebernoe's Common's south east corner. It is about 3.5 miles from Petworth to Ebernoe and about 2 miles of that is B Road with no footpath. The Ramblers Association suggests: "keep to the right-hand side of the road so you can see oncoming traffic. Keep close to the side of the road ... . If you come across a sharp right-hand bend it may be safer to cross to the left-hand side of the road and cross back after the bend". https://www.ramblers.org.uk/advice/safety/highway-code-for-walkers.aspx? You may wish to wear a high-viz jacket/vest whilst walking in the road.



Description of the reserve from the Sussex Wildlife Trust:


This site is dominated by old wood pasture where Commoners would have turned out their cattle or pigs to graze and browse on young trees and scrub, Beech mast and acorns, or on the grassy meadows in glades and clearings. Grazing stopped by the middle of the 20th century and the wood pasture became more and more overgrown. When Sussex Wildlife Trust bought the reserve in 1980 great effort went into opening up glades and rides, and restoring grazing to the reserve. Volunteers have helped to mow and rake open areas that were covered in Bracken and Bramble and we now have species-rich rides and glades full of flowers such as Primrose, Devil’s-bit Scabious, Adders’-tongue Fern, Sneezewort and various orchids. There are small areas of coppice here too but they are limited as they needed to be protected from the Commoners’ animals. To the north, Furnace Meadow is rich in flowers, with Quaking-grass, Cowslip, Pepper-Saxifrage and Betony colouring the grasslands throughout the summer months.


The ponds have also been returned to their former glory. Furnace Pond, which was associated with an iron furnace in the 1500s, and Fish Pond, which was probably used for keeping Carp, have both been opened up by the removal of invasive Reedmace to achieve a balance of open water and bankside vegetation.


In the sticky clay areas of the northern part of the reserve the trees are predominantly Oak and Ash, but there is a great variety of other species too, including Field Maple, Hazel and Wild Service Tree. To the south the soils become more acidic and sandy; here Beech is the more common forest tree, and in places the Lemon-scented Fern and Wild Daffodils grow. Reserve profile | Sussex Wildlife Trust



Reasons for notification: Ebernoe Common is of national importance as an example of a large ancient woodland. It contains a wide range of structural and vegetation community types which have been influenced in their development by differences in the underlying soils and past management. The native trees, particularly those with old growth characteristics, support rich lichen and fungal communities, and a diverse woodland breeding bird assemblage.


Here is the part of the citation for lichens. The full citation is given at the end of this post.


Lichens: Ebernoe Common supports a nationally important assemblage of lichen species (over 100), the largest recorded number found in woodland over Weald Clay, including several which are closely associated with ancient woodland such as Catillaria atropurpurea and Stenocybe septata. The lichen assemblage includes four Red Data Book species, Agonimia octospora, Micarea pycnidiophora, Pertusaria pustulata and Ramonia chrysophaea as well as one nationally rare species, 12 nationally scarce species, and 20 species listed on the New Index of Ecological Continuity. I didn't see any of these species, but I did see many other lichen species.


All identifications of species are provisional, especially those for lichens and bryophytes which are hard to identify. My observations do not constitute a systematic survey of the species of Ebernoe, they are just the species I happened to notice on my walk around the reserve. If you note a mistake in identification please feel free to tell me. If you want to contact me about any aspect of this post, email simeon[underscore]elliott[at]gmail[dot]com.


Sections of the text in italics are quotations, sources are cited.



The photographs are presented chronological (in the order of my walk) rather than by type of species.


A clump of Usnea sp. probably U. subfloridana, a "Beard lichen fallen from a tree


Veronica persica, Common Field-Speedwell


Viola odorata, Sweet Violet



Kinderbergia prealonga, Common Feather-moss


Stereum subtomentosum, Yellowing Curtain Crust


Ulota sp., probably Ulota bruchii, Bruch's Pincushion


Probably Amblystegium serpens, Creeping Feathermoss



Beech, covered with mosses and liverworts


Isothecium myosuridies, Slender Mouse-tail Moss, on the beech above


Metzgeria furcata, Forked Veilwort, on the beech above




Possibly Tramestes suaveolens


Probably Lenzites betulinus, Birch Mazegill



Cryphaea heteomalia, Lateral Cryphaea




Ficaria verna, Lesser Celandine; one of the earliest flowering woodland flowers in spring


Ficaria verna and Bombylius major, Dark-edged Bee-fly. Seeing the dark-edged bee-fly hover in mid-air, some people describe it as a tiny, fluffy, flying narwhale. It has a hairy little body and face, and a very long, straw-like tongue. Meet the bee-fly: the cute bee mimic with a dark side | Natural History Museum (nhm.ac.uk)


Felled birch, showing the abundant epiphytes which were at the top of the tree


Epiphytes on the felled branches


Probably Ulota crispa, Crisped Pincushion, and Parmontrema perlatum, Black stone Flower (also a spice used in Indian cooking)


Ramilina farinacea, Catriledge Lichen, and Parmontrema perlatum, with Ulota sp. mosses


Usnea sp., probably U. subfloridana, probably Kinderbergia prealonga, Common Feather-moss, and Parmotrema perlatum


Frullania dialata, Dilated Scalewort


Probably Evernia prunastri, Oak Moss


Usnea sp., probably U. subfloridana


Coprinella sp., probably C. micaceus, Glistening Incap


Fungi on sawn trunk (proabaly Quercus sp.), possibly Common Mazegill, Datronia mollis



Probably Kinderbegia praelonga, Common feather-moss


Probably Exidia truncata, Witches Butter, surrounded by, probably, Hypnum cupressiforme, Cypressed-leaved Plaitmoss



Probably Flavopamelia soredians


Rhytidiadelphus squarrosus, Springy Turf Moss


Polytrichum sp., probably P. formosum, Bank Haircap



Thelotrema lepadinum, Barnacle Lichen, on the bark of living trees in ancient woods, and it is indicative of longstanding woodland conditions. Barnacle Lichen (Thelotrema lepadinum) - Woodland Trust



Birch sp. with epiphytes


The epiphytes on the birch sp. above


Metzgeria furcata on birch


Isothecim myosurides, Slender Mouse-tail Moss, on birch


Fungus, probably, Hypoxoylon fargiforme, Beech Woodwart, or possibly Annulohhypoxylon mutiforme with lichen, probably, Lepraria vouauxii on birch

Microgram of probably Lepraria vouuxxi using dissecting microscope


Fungi on stump, probably Auricularia mesenterica Tripe Fungus, and possibly Hymenochaete rubiginosa Oak Curtain Crust.



Wood pasture


Fish pond, which was probably used for keeping Carp, Reserve profile | Sussex Wildlife Trust



Birch with epiphytes (Metgeria furcata and Barnacle lichen)


Metzgeria furcata


The walk from Petworth to Ebernoe


Petworth and Petworth Park


Before walking to Ebernoe I had a walk around the Deer Park of Pet worth House


St Mary's, Petworth


The chancel and north transept remain from a large cruciform aisleless church, which was mostly C13 and probably emerged from a lost pre-Conquest one. The north aisle and base of the tower are C14, the north chapel and some windows C15 and the south aisle and rest of the tower early C19. There were later C19 and C20 alterations. Petworth – St Mary – Sussex Parish Churches


Petworth House


In 1682 heiress Elizabeth Percy, who at just 16 was already twice widowed, married Charles Seymour the 6th Duke of Somerset. Together they formed possibly one of the wealthiest couples in England.


Inspired by the rebuilding of the French palace of Versailles from 1661, Elizabeth and Charles set about creating a home for themselves by rebuilding Petworth to rival the new European palaces. Petworth House & Park's history| W Sussex | National Trust


Egyptian Goose and Goslings


Egyptian Geese were introduced from Africa to East Anglia in the 17th century by the landed gentry as signifiers of wealth and their interest in the exotic. There is no evidence that Egyptian Geese were introduced to Petworth Park; theses geese are probably feral and came here of their own accord as part the expansion of their range. Perhaps UK Egyptian Geese have developed a penchant for stately homes and parks in the UK! Although that is not always the case, as they have colonised the lovely Tilgate Park in the new town of Crawley


The Egyptian Goose is a loud and rather striking goose, most familiar to birdwatchers in East Anglia and the south-east of England.


This 17th century introduction to England has only relatively recently shown significant expansion in its numbers and distribution. In 1991 the population was estimated at c.900 individuals, 91% of which were in Norfolk. Since then, the species has colonised the rest of East Anglia, much of London and parts of the Home Counties. Expansion into the East Midlands is the likely next step.


Egyptian Geese breed very early in the year, and favour large old trees with suitable cavities for nesting. With the male in attendance close by during incubation, breeding pairs are readily found. Egyptian Goose | BTO - British Trust for Ornithology



The Deer Park


The 700-acre Deer Park at Petworth is one of the finest surviving and unspoilt examples of an English landscape designed by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown. ..

The magnificent herd of fallow deer have called Petworth Park home for over 500 years; they were reportedly hunted by Henry VIII on his visit to Petworth in the 1520s. Today between 700 and 800 deer grace the parkland. Petworth House & Park Deer Park | W Sussex | National Trust


Yellow Meadow-ant hills, homes for the ants feeding on a honey dew from their winter guests, the larvae of the Chalkhill Blue butterfly. If the winter is really bad, they'll eventually eat the larvae as well! Petworth Park | Midhurst Footpath Companions (midhurstwalking.co.uk)

Probably the moss Calliergonella cuspidata Pointed Spear-moss on the ant hills

with Bryum spp. mosses.


One the ancient trees of Petworth Park, covered in lichens


Gunter's Bridge


A tree (probably a Poplar) covered in lichen


Probably Lecanora chlarotera or L hybocarpa


Possibly Punctelia jeckeri


Xanthoria parietina


Old Barn with made of sandstone blocks


Cadoniae sp. on the wall of the barn


Langhurst Common


Footbridge of a ghyll, with Lesser Celandine


Pelia endiviifolia in the ghyll by the footbridge


Isothecium myosurides





Site name: Ebernoe Common

County: West Sussex District: Chichester

Status: Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) notified under section 28C of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, as inserted by Schedule 9 to the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000.

Local Planning Authority: Chichester District Council National Grid reference: SU 976 271 Area: 234.05ha Ordnance Survey sheet: 1:50,000: 186 & 197 1:10,000: SU 92 NE Date notified: 21 November 2003


Reasons for notification: Ebernoe Common is of national importance as an example of a large ancient woodland. It contains a wide range of structural and vegetation community types which have been influenced in their development by differences in the underlying soils and past management. The native trees, particularly those with old growth characteristics, support rich lichen and fungal communities, and a diverse woodland breeding bird assemblage. Nationally important maternity roosts for barbastelle bat Barbastella barbastellus and Bechstein’s bat Myotis bechsteinii occur within the woodland.


General description: Ebernoe Common is a complex of ancient woodland blocks largely derived from ancient wood pasture. The northern and southern sections of the site contain woodland managed as high forest in more recent times. The site also contains 78 of the 100 ancient woodland indicator plants for south-eastern England.


Closed High Forest The most extensive woodland type is closed canopy beech Fagus sylvatica high forest with some oak Quercus robur, which occupies the central and western plateau of Ebernoe and Colhook Commons (predominantly National Vegetation Classification (NVC) W14 Fagus sylvatica-Rubus fruticosus woodland and W15 Fagus sylvatica-Deschampsia flexuosa woodland). Holly Ilex aquifolium forms a dense understorey with scattered yew Taxus baccata. Beneath the closed beech canopy the ground flora is virtually absent, but where canopy gaps occur the flora reflects local variations in the degree of acidity and drainage of the silty soil. A large number of plants indicative of ancient woodlands occur, including wood melick Melica uniflora, thin-spiked wood sedge Carex strigosa, yellow pimpernel Lysimachia nemorum and wood millet Milium effusum.


A series of predominantly oak/ash woods with hazel Corylus avellana understorey managed as high forest lie within the southern section of Ebernoe Common (predominantly NVC W8 Fraxinus excelsior-Acer campestre-Mercurialis perennis woodland and W10a Quercus robur-Pteridium aquilinum-Rubus fruticosus woodland). Bittles Field, lying on the slopes of a narrow stream valley, contains particularly fine examples of mature oaks. At the northern end of the site are Kiln Copse, Mercers Copse and a series of smaller copses, all predominantly oak high forest with ash-rich woodland on valley slopes (predominantly NVC W8 Fraxinus excelsior-Acer campestre-Mercurialis perennis woodland and W10a Quercus robur-Pteridium aquilinum-Rubus fruticosus woodland).


The ground flora is dominated by bluebell Hyacinthoides non-scripta with abundant wood anemone Anemone nemorosa in some parts. Other ancient woodland indicator species present include wild service tree Sorbus torminalis, butchers broom Ruscus aculeatus, yellow archangel Lamiastrum galeobdolon, hairy wood-rush Luzula pilosa, and southern wood-rush L. forsteri. In the north and east of Ebernoe Common, oak is co-dominant with beech in a more open high forest with abundant holly. This area is predominantly NVC W8 Fraxinus excelsiorAcer campestre-Mercurialis perennis woodland, W10a Quercus robur-Pteridium aquilinumRubus fruticosus woodland, and W14 Fagus sylvatica-Rubus fruticosus woodland.


In the south-eastern end of this block outcrops of "Paludina" limestone give rise to base rich soils occupied by a less mature woodland of field maple Acer campestre, oak, hazel and ash. Spindle Euonymus europaeus is present and the ground flora includes early purple orchid Orchis mascula and greater butterfly orchid Platanthera chlorantha. Wild service tree is a frequent component in the oak-hazel woodland of Willand Wood and two other uncommon species, butcher's broom and wild daffodil Narcissus pseudonarcissus occur throughout this wood.


Wood Pasture: In the south, Hoads Common is ancient wood pasture, which although not grazed for many years, retains elements of a wood pasture structure, with old pedunculate oak and beech, including a few pollards, scrub, and open glades. The greater part consists of oak woodland, with dense and frequently impenetrable holly dominating the understorey.


At the northern end beech is dominant with very tall mature trees. It is predominantly NVC W10a Quercus robur-Pteridium aquilinum-Rubus fruticosus woodland and W14 Fagus sylvatica-Rubus fruticosus woodland.


Lichens: Ebernoe Common supports a nationally important assemblage of lichen species (over 100), the largest recorded number found in woodland over Weald Clay, including several which are closely associated with ancient woodland such as Catillaria atropurpurea and Stenocybe septata. The lichen assemblage includes four Red Data Book species, Agonimia octospora, Micarea pycnidiophora, Pertusaria pustulata and Ramonia chrysophaea as well as one nationally rare species, 12 nationally scarce species, and 20 species listed on the New Index of Ecological Continuity.


Fungi: The site also supports a nationally important assemblage of fungi including seven Red Data Book species: oak polypore Buglossoporus pulvinus, spine-face Creolophus (=Hericium) cirrhatus, coral spine-face Hericium coralloides, pink meadow waxcap Hygrocybe calyptriformis, Collybia racemosa, Coriolopsis gallica and Cortinarius cyanopus. These are species particularly associated with ancient woodland and wood pasture with a significant dead wood resource. Woodland breeding bird assemblage Ebernoe Common supports a nationally important assemblage of woodland breeding birds of over 20 species which includes sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus, buzzard Buteo buteo, woodcock Scolopax rusticola, stock dove Columba oenas, cuckoo Cuculus canorus, tawny owl Strix aluco, green woodpecker Picus viridis, great spotted woodpecker Dendrocopos major, lesser spotted woodpecker Dendrocopos minor, nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos, garden warbler Sylvia borin, blackcap Sylvia atricapilla, chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita, goldcrest Regulus regulus, spotted flycatcher Muscicapa striata, long-tailed tit Aegithalos caudatus, marsh tit Parus palustris, willow tit Parus montanus, coal tit Parus ater, nuthatch Sitta europaea, treecreeper Certhia familiaris, jay Garrulus glandarius, bullfinch Pyrrhula pyrrhula, and hawfinch Coccothraustes coccothraustes.


Bats Ebernoe Common is of national importance for colonies of barbastelle and Bechstein’s bats, which use trees as summer maternity roosts where the female bats gather to give birth and rear their young. The bats also use the site as a foraging area and as flight paths for dispersal to their foraging territories both within and outside of the SSSI. In addition to the reasons for notification, thirty three species of butterfly have been recorded from the across the site, including purple emperor Apatura iris, brown hairstreak Thecla betulae, grizzled skipper Pyrgus malvae, and dingy skipper Erynnis tages. Stag beetles Lucanus cervus have also been recorded and their presence is indicative of a significant wood pasture invertebrate interest. A total of eleven other bat species have been recorded from the site, including Brandt’s bat Myotis brandtii, whiskered bat Myotis mystacinus, Leisler’s bat Nyctalus leisleri, and grey long-eared bat P. austriacus.


Other information Part of the site is a National Nature Reserve owned by Sussex Wildlife Trust declared under section 35 of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949. Ebernoe Common is listed in A Nature Conservation Review (NCR) (Ratcliffe, 1977).

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