Wildflowers of Chalk and Limestone (Collins New Naturalist Library, Volume 16)
J. E. Lousley
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Wild Flowers of Chalk and Limestone will urge many to follow in the author's footsteps in search of the rich flora which make our chalk downs and limestone cliffs so fascinating to explore. This edition is exclusive to newnaturalists.com
Few areas can boast so many rare and beautiful wild flowers as those of the chalk and limestone. Few areas, too, have so much lovely scenery in which to search them out. Mr. Lousley's vivid and authoritative presentation of his subject shows that he has made full use of these opportunities. His special affection is for the woods and chalk downs of south-eastern England, of which he has a knowledge almost unsurpassed.
Nevertheless, in this book he has also given us an admirable survey of all the important limestone regions in the country from the Devonian formation at Berry Head to the oolite of the Cotswolds and the great carboniferous stretches of the north. This book will urge many to follow in the author's footsteps in search of the rich flora which make our chalk downs and limestone cliffs so fascinating to explore.
the rocks from which the soils are derived. Limestones are rocks which contain at least 50 per cent of carbonate of lime, which is known to chemists as calcium carbonate, CaCO3. This is a basic (alkaline) substance which neutralises acids, and farmers spread ground limestones on their fields to prevent the soil from becoming sour. Chalk has been used for this purpose since very early times and many small chalk-pits remain to remind us of the practice. The net result is similar to that attained
the hybrid offspring. It is at its best in late June and early July, but mutilated plants often put up late flowers again in the autumn. Away from the tourist-haunted Gorge (which is best visited in the early morning or late evening when the crowds are absent) it is a relief to seek the quiet of some of the neighbouring woods. One of the choice plants to be found is Blue Gromwell, Lithospermum purpurocaeruleum. This is a rarity with only a few localities rather widely scattered about the
botanists that it is back in its old haunts! Stachys germanica may fairly be claimed as Oxfordshire’s own peculiar rarity. There are a few records for other counties, but they have all been of a temporary nature and it is only on this stretch of Oolite that the species can be regarded as undoubtedly native. Perfoliate Penny-cress is again to be found in the district immediately east of Wychwood. Here it is getting towards the eastern limit of its main area in Britain. In one place I have seen it
against this theory there is the undoubted fact that there have been important general changes in the vegetation of some of its old haunts. Thus Helks Wood, Ingleton, where botanists used to find it in the seventeenth century, is now a rather unlikely place for it to grow. Calceolus Mariae, or Mary’s Shoe, as it was once called, has shallow roots and an underground stem which creeps in leaf mould just below the surface of the soil. it can thus live for a number of years without flowering, while
Beech, Fagus sylvatica, is to be found on the chalk of south-eastern England. Its essential requirement is good drainage and it often forms “hangers” on the shallow soils of the escarpments. Nevertheless the finest woods are often—as at Box Hill and on the Chilterns—to be seen on the deeper earth of the Clay-with-Flints. Gilbert White referred to the Beech as “The most lovely of all forest trees,” and I think he was right. When walking through one of these woods I always have a feeling that I am