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  • Writer's pictureSim Elliott

The woodland of Bedelands Farm Local Nature Reserve, Burgess Hill. 09.02.24

Updated: Mar 4

I reached Bedelands Farm by train from Brighton. I got the train to Wivelsfield (change at Lewes, journey time ca. 30 mins; trains every 30 minutes). The entrance to the reserve is about 500m further on up the road (north) from the station and is off the left (west) side of the road. Wivelsfield Station is not in Wivelsfield; it is the World's End area of Burgess Hill. It is thought that the name may ... reflect the workers' sense of remoteness while billeted in a local farm (in what is now the Noel Rise area). This Train will Terminate at Worlds End | Wivelsfield railwa… | Flickr


Addendum: I made a return visit on 01.03.23. I have added some interesting things that I saw at the end of this post.



Bedelands is a nature reserve in the low weald; it is characteristic of the typical wet woodland and meadows of Weald Clay (see below for more information on topology of the Low Weald). At 33 hectares, this is the largest green site in Burgess Hill. Owned by Mid Sussex District Council, it lies at the north east of the town. It is signposted from Maple Drive and Valebridge Road. There are 7 meadows set in ancient woodlands, with a great profusion of wildlife, including the protected Hazel Dormouse. Wildflowers are abundant, The River Adur and a large Mill Pond run along the northern boundary, with the London – Brighton railway along the eastern side. There are a few smaller ponds.  Bedelands local nature reserve | Burgess Hill Green Circle Network (bh-green-circle.org.uk)


The purpose of my trip was to see what lichens were in the ancient woodland, in preparation for leading a potential introduction to lichens session for Woodland Trust and Action in Rural Sussex's Lost Woods of the Low Weald and Downs. Home | The Lost Woods Project The wildflower meadows are an important feature of the reserve but I did not explore these as these deserve a late spring/summer visit when the wild flowers are in flower. The meadows have the Dyer's Greenweed, Genista tinctoria and Adder's-tongue, Ophioglossum vulgatum; so well worth a visit. This is a large nature reserve which needs many visits to really appreciate; this blog post is my first impression of the magical woods at Bedeland's Farm NR


What is a lichen? A lichen is not a single organism; it is a stable symbiotic association between a fungus and algae and/or cyanobacteria. Like all fungi, lichen fungi require carbon as a food source; this is provided by their symbiotic algae and/or cyanobacteria, that are photosynthetic. The lichen symbiosis is thought to be a mutualism, since both the fungi and the photosynthetic partners, called photobionts, benefit. What is a Lichen? | The British Lichen Society


Lichen names. Most lichens only have a Latin binomial name, as there are very few vernacular names e.g., "Lungwort" and "Greenshield Lichen", that have developed through folk use. I have given English names to all the lichens in this post. Where possible I have used the English name suggested by the British Lichen Society, but where they do not suggest a name I use the English name used by iNaturalist; but these are not necessarily names that have common currency across anglophone countries, they are just names that have been made up, and iNaturalist doesn't itself have an English name for every lichen



All sections of text in italics are quotations, sources sited.


I am only an amateur naturalist; thus all identifications are provisional; if you note a mistake in identification please feel free to tell me. If you want to contact me about any aspect of this blog, email me at simeon[underscore]elliott[at]gmail[dot]com.


Please note this post is not a systematic survey of the this location (I do not have the level of knowledge to, nor did I have sufficient time do that); it is just the things I happened to notice.


The photographs are in chorological order


Big Wood


On a English Oak, Quercus robur



Cryphaea heteromalla, Lateral Cryphea, on Oak above



Parmotrema perlatum, Black Stone Flower, on same Oak



Ramalina farinacea, Farinose Cartilage Lichen, on same Oak



Lecidella elaeochroma Lecidella Lichen, on same Oak



Evernia prunastri Oakmoss, on same Oak



Exidia glandulosa Witches' Butter, on same Oak



Male catkins of Corylus avellana, Hazel



Oxyrrhynchium hians, Swartz's Feather-Moss on Hazel



Hyacinthoides non-scripta, Bluebell; an ancient woodland indicator



Urtica dioica, Common Nettle



Arum maculatum, Lords-and-Ladies



Hypnum cupressiforme, Cypress-leaved Plait-Moss



Carpinus betulus, European Hornbeam




Metzgeria furcata, Forked Veilwort, on Hornbeam



Lepraria sp, probably L. finkii , Fluffy Dust Lichen



Ilex aquifolium, European Holly



Probably, Athyrium filix-femina, Lady Fern



Atrichum undulatum, Common Smoothcap



Prunus avium, Wild Cherry




Probably Lysimachia nemorum, Yellow Pimpernel



Taxus baccata, English Yew




Pseudisothecium myosuroides, Mouse-tail Moss, on base of an Oak



Orchesella cincta, One of the most common species of springtails in Britain. Orchesella cincta | NatureSpot Springtails are a class of Arthropods. Previously thought to be insects, they are now classified in the arthropod sub-phylum Hexapoda. They are characterised by having a jumping organ, or furca, underneath their body that can fling them to safety if attacked. There are around 250 UK species in the UK. They are one of the most abundant animal groups and can be found in most moist habitats.  Springtails & Bristletails | NatureSpot



Rhynchostegium confertum Clustered Feather-Moss




 Graphis sp., probably G. scripta; script lichens



Phlyctis argena, Whitewash lichen, on wild cherry



Parmotrema perlatum, Black Stone Flower




Mill Pond Weir



Mill Pond



Fissidens taxifolius, Common Pocket-Moss



Plagionmium undulatum, Hart's-tongue Thyme-moss with capsules, by a stream



Dead trunk with Hypnum cupressiforme, Cypress-leaved Plait-Moss;

Badhamia utricularis (a slime mould), and Stereum hirsutum, Hairy Curtain Crust fungus





Slime moulds are Single-celled amoebae, they can remember, make decisions and anticipate change, urging scientists to rethink intelligent behavior.


Something scientists have come to understand is that slime molds are much smarter than they look. One species in particular, the SpongeBob SquarePants–yellow Physarum polycephalum, can solve mazes, mimic the layout of man-made transportation networks and choose the healthiest food from a diverse menu—and all this without a brain or nervous system. "Slime molds are redefining what you need to have to qualify as intelligent," Reid says.


Like Badhamia utricularis, in the wild, P. polycephalum rummages through leaf litter and oozes along logs searching for the bacteria, fungal spores and other microbes that it envelops and digests à la the amorphous alien in the 1958 horror film The Blob. Although P. polycephalum often acts like a colony of cooperative individuals foraging together, it in fact spends most of its life as a single cell containing millions of nuclei, small sacs of DNA, enzymes and proteins. This one cell is a master shape-shifter. P. polycephalum takes on different appearances depending on where and how it is growing: In the forest it might fatten itself into giant yellow globs or remain as unassuming as a smear of mustard on the underside of a leaf; in the lab, confined to a petri dish, it usually spreads itself thin across the agar, branching like coral. Biologists first brought the slime mold into the lab more than three decades ago to study the way it moves—which has a lot in common with they way muscles work on the molecular level—and to examine the way it reattaches itself when split. "In the earliest research, no one thought it could make choices or behave in seemingly intelligent ways," Reid explains. That thinking has completely changed.

In the early 2000s Toshiyuki Nakagaki, then at Hokkaido University in Japan, and his colleagues chopped up a single polycephalum and scattered the pieces throughout a plastic maze. The smidgens of slime mold began to grow and find one another, burgeoning to fill the entire labyrinth. Nakagaki and his teammates placed blocks of agar packed with nutrients at the start and end of the maze. Four hours later the slime mold had retracted its branches from dead-end corridors, growing exclusively along the shortest path possible between the two pieces of food. How brainless slime molds redefine intelligence | Nature



Watford Meadow and Watford Wood


Juncus conglomeratus, Compact Rush



Quercus robur, Pendunculate Oak covered in Flavoparmelia caperata, Common Greenshield lichen



Plicaturopsis crispa, Crimped Gill on dead trunk



Dryopteris filix-mas, Male Fern




Fomitopsis betulina ,Birch Polypore, on dead silver birch



Piptoporus betulinus is almost exclusively restricted to dead or dying birch trees. The brackets are annual but may persist thyrough one winter.

The Birch Polypore is parasitic on living trees, but it can also live as a saprobe [is any organism that feeds and grows on dead organisms] once the tree has died and so is able to fruit in subsequent years until the trunk rots away.


This large polypore develops from a small white spherical swelling on the side of dead or living birch trees. Barbers used to 'strop' or sharpen their cut-throat razors on tough, leathery strips cut from the surfaces of these polypores, and so they became known as the Razor Strop Fungus. The 5,000 year old mummy found in the Tyrol and nicknamed Ötzi the Iceman was had two pieces of this fungus on a neck thong, and it seems unlikely that their purpose was to sharpen a razor. Fomitopsis betulina, Birch Polypore fungus (first-nature.com)


Probably a Lecanactis sp. lichen, possibly L. abitiena; on Pendunculate Oak; an old tree lichen



A ghyll stream cutting through the low weald clay


The wooded and watery Low Weald has been described as a quintessentially medieval landscape. The Low Weald lies north of the Wealden greensand forming a horseshoe shape around the High Weald. It is a low-lying gently undulating landscape of clay vales and gentle ridges of limestone and sandstone. The landscape is small-scale, intimate and tranquil with a medieval pattern of small irregular pasture fields enclosed by a strong network of shaws and tall thick species rich hedgerows. Mature hedge and field trees (typically oak) are a common feature of this landscape with oak-hazel and hornbeam coppice occurring as a traditional and ancient stand type, often carpeted with swathes of bluebells in Spring. This intricate pattern was gradually formed over the ages by piecemeal woodland clearance which began in the 12th and 13th centuries. The Low Weald typically has an abundance of ponds, including numerous field corner ponds. The land is drained by many small stream valleys and dissected by rivers which are often accompanied by low-lying meadows with alder and willow wet woodland Overall Character of the Low Weald (westsussex.gov.uk)



Cladonia sp. lichen, probably C. coniocrea, on dead tree stump; extremely common on low weal dead wood



A Buzzard, soaring in the sky above my head



The woodland of Bedeland's Farm is beautiful - I look forward to may more visits there.


Friday 01.03.24


Sarcoscypha sp. Elf Cups




Female Hazel Flower



Male shoots of Frullania dilatata, Dilated Scalewort,



Looking like Audrey II (Dionaea muscipula X Pinguicula vulgaris) from Little Shop of Horrors!



A little bouquet of common lichens and a moss. On Quercus robur,Lewinskya sp. probably L. affinis (Wood Moss) with Xanthoria parietina (Common Orage Lichen, Physcia tenella (Hooded Rosette Lichen) and Flavoparmelia caperata (Common Greenshield Lichen)




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