|Golden Valley Environment Group
Flowering plants of the parish of Clifford
Merbach Hill commons project
is a predominantly agricultural parish, dominated by hills (Merbach
hill rises to 318m), woodland, the river, and various features
associated with agricultural development. Further
environmental information, such as geological features and natural
history, will be posted on this page as it becomes available.
section on 'flowering plants' was put together by a local resident. If
any local resident has undertaken research which they would like to
share on the site, please contact Dave, the website manager.
Flowering plants of the parish of Clifford
Golden Valley Environment Group
is situated at the north-western end of the Golden Valley, where
environmental stewardship efforts are coordinated by the Golden Valley
Environment Group (GVEG). Information below is taken from GVEG's
'statement of purpose'. GVEG has its own website
main purpose of GVEG is to enable individuals and groups to achieve
sustainable communities within and around the Golden Valley and to
facilitate positive action in the community to benefit the environment
locally and globally.
GVEG started in the autumn of 2006
and has undertaken a range of awareness raising initiatives and
supported local families and groups to establish environmental actions.
Our legal body - Green Action CIC (Community Interest Company) acts as
a community enterprise providing a financial and legal umbrella for
GVEG and other local environment groups needing to raise funds and
develop projects. GVEG has a committee of 8 members, of which 3 are
also directors of Green Action CIC.
GVEG is one of many local
groups in Herefordshire which are made up of residents, public bodies
and business people who are working together to investigate and put
into practice ways of reducing pollution, waste and energy
consumption. We also support local economic and joint venture
initiatives to increase community resources.
We recognise that
the core problem of climate warming is causing environmental
degradation and that the solution lies in a multiplicity of sustainable
communities’ actions based on physical, social, economic, human,
natural and cultural values in organising, working in and living in,
Our operational objectives are to:
influence individuals, groups and organisations to take action to
reduce pollution and waste, and increase resources and economic well
• promote good environmental policies and practices in the workplace, at home and in the community
• raise small grants and develop projects to pilot and promote environmentally good practices
work with other environmental and sustainable communities groups around
the country through joint ventures and promotional campaigns
work with our Parish Councils and Herefordshire Council to research and
develop local policies for sound environmental practices
• engagement of local individuals and groups to achieve our objectives
• openness about what, how and when we do things
• act democratically and in accordance with our Governance Statement
• zero waste in production, transport and disposal of materialstop
The following lists were provided by Hardwicke resident Alison Alcock based on information in W. Keble Martin’s The Concise British Flora in Colour. It is not a comprehensive list, but it provides a very thorough general overview.
(hard-copy) list of fungi in the churchyards of St Mary's Church,
Clifford and the Holy Trinity Church, Hardwicke is available from
the website manager. The list is based on surveys undertaken
by local mycologists during 2006.
Gardens and cultivated ground
Brooks and damp places
is blessed with plenty of trees, in hedgerows, small woods and
plantations. There are plantations of larch (Larix) and Scots pine
(Pinus sylvestris). The main woodland trees are oak (Quercus rober),
ash (Fraxinus excelsior) with an understorey of holly (Ilex aquifolium)
and hazel (Corylus avellena).
or may (Crataegus monogyna) grows not only in hedgerows but scattered
around Little Mountain, Alt Common and Merbach in gnarled and
characterful shapes, their white blossoms like snow in May. Also in
hedges and elsewhere are field maple (Acer campestre), blackthorn
(Prunus spinosa) – with its clouds of white blossom followed by sloes,
bullace (Prunus domestica) – with fruit like little round damsons, crab
apple (Malus sylvestris) its beautiful pink and white blossoms opening
in April, its sour little apples making a delicious jelly.
(Sambucus nigra) which has creamy-white frothy heads of flowers which
turn into black berries, dogwood (Cornus sanguinea) and ivy (Hedera
helix) are also found in hedges, the ivy also growing up trees and
walls etc, its October flowers providing vital nectar for insects
before winter. Also to be found in the woods are beautiful trees of
wild cherry (Prunus avium), silver and downy birch (Betula pendula and
B. pubescens) and on the edges and in hedgerow spindle (Euonymus
europeus) with its colourful fruits – bright pink cases hiding bright
orange seeds. In damper places are white willow (Salix alba), great and
common sallow (Salix caprea and S. atrocinerea), alder (Alnus
glutinosa) – with its purple catkins, and aspen (Populus tremula).
glorious yellow coconut-scented flowers of gorse (Ulex europeus) adorn
the commons and some field edges along with the bright yellow flowers
of broom (Cytisus scoparius) and the western gorse (Ulex gallii) which,
unlike common gorse, blossoms in late summer. There are a few rowans
(Sorbus aucuparia) in the higher places, and yew (Taxus baccata) in
both churchyards, hornbeams (Carpinus betulus) above Pen-y-Lan and a
splendid specimen of small-leaved lime (Tilia cordata) growing at Lower
Middlewood. The sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) can also be seen
throughout the parish.
are many smaller plants growing in the woods, the lovely wood anenome
(Anenome nemorosa) and bluebell (Endymion non-scriptus) being prolific
where they do grow. Gooseberries (Ribes uva-crispa) and blackcurrants
(Ribes negrum) can be found. Primroses (Primula vulgaris) can be found
in woods and on banks in the spring, and foxgloves (Digitalis purpurea)
in the summer.
obvious beauties are wood sorrel (Oxalis acetosella), wood dogviolet
(Viola reichanbachiana), bugle (Ajuga reptans), yellow pimpernel
(Lysimachia nemorum), wood speedwell (Veronica Montana), moschatel or
townhall clock (Adoxa moschatellina) – with its tiny cubic head of five
green flowers, lords and ladies or cuckoo pint (Arum maculatum) - with
its strange green-hooded ‘flowers’ and spikes of poisonous orange
berries, and hairy wood-rush (Luzula pilosa).
humble still are three-veined sandwort (Moehringia trinerva), herb
bennet (Geum urbanum), red-veined dock (Rumex sanguineus), sanicle
(Sanicula europaea), ivy-leaved speedwell (Veronica hederifolia), Dog’s
mercury (Mercurialis perennis), woodland meadow-grass (Poa nemoralis),
wood melick (Melica uniflora), woodland brome (Bromus ramosus) and wood
false-brome (Brachypodium sylvaticum).
might find early purple orchids (Orchis mascula), the Roast beef plant
(Iris foetidissima), the parasitic toothwort (Lathraea squamaria) and
greater broomrape (Orobanche rapum-genistae).
fruit trees, hawthorn, poplars etc, Herefordshire’s county plant
mistletoe (Viscum album) grows prolifically. In woods, on banks, all
over the place grows the lesser celandine (Ranunculus ficaria)
brightening wherever it grows with its shiny yellow petals.
the hedges and on their banks and verges grow refugees from wood and
meadow, often growing more abundantly then in their original habitats.
The year starts in early spring with celandines and primroses (see
above) and the delightful white, deep purple or, occasionally,
pinky-mauve scented flowers of the sweet violet (Viola odorata). Then
come dog and common violets (Viola canina and V. riviniana), barren
strawberry (Ptentialla sterilis), coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara), white
dead-nettle (Lamium album) – which you can sometimes find in the autumn
and winter too, yellow archangel (Galeobdolon luteum),
Jack-by-the-hedge (Allilaria petiolata) which has mild garlicky leaves,
greater stitchwort (Stellaria holostea) - with its prolific white
stars, red campion (Melandrium dioica) more deep pink then red,
strawberry (Fragaria vesca) – followed by its delicious little fragrant
red fruits, great white clouds of cow parsley (Anthiscus sylvestris) –
followed by lesser white clouds of chervil (Chaerophyllum temulentum)
and hedge parsley (Torilis japonica).
summer the beautiful bright blue flowers of bird’s-eye or germander
speedwell (Veronica chaemedrys) adorn grassy banks along with lesser
stitchwort (Stellaria graminea), ground ivy (Glechoma hederacea) and in
damper places greater chickweed (Steallaria neglecta), herb robert
(Geranium robertanium), shining cranesbill (Geranium lucidum) and
codlins and cream or greatwer willow-herb (Epilobium hirsutum). The
showy magenta pink rosebay willowherb (Chamaenerion angustifolium)
grows in great patches, its seeds blowing away in white fluff later in
the year and the pretty and elegant St John’s wort (Hyperiucm pulchrum)
grows on dryer banks. Higher in the hedges grow brambles (Rubus ssp.)
beloved for their blackberries if not for their thorns, beautiful dog
roses (Raso canina) and white field roses (Rosa arvensis),
sweetly-scented and followed by their orange-red hips. Three hedge
climbers are black bryony (Tamus communis) with its strings of
poisonous, translucent red fruits, the Herefordshire speciality hop
(Humulus lupulus) and masses (if it hasn’t been cut off by
overenthusiastic hedge-trimmers) of honeysuckle (Lornicera
periclymenum) with its wonderful fragrance.
in the year come the splendid blue-tufted vetch (Vicia cracca), yellow
toadflax (Linaria vulgaris), betony (Betonica officinalis), wood sage
(Teucrium scorodonia) and golden rod (Solidago vigoria), all very
pretty. There are many of the woodland and meadow grasses, but barren
brome (Bromus sterilis) is most often found in hedgerows.
verge plant of the winter which ends and then starts the year is the
vanilla-scented winter heliotrope (Petasites fragrens) which grows in
Gardens and cultivated ground
because of herbicides, there are not many wild flowers left in
cultivated fields. But as almost everyone in the parish has a garden,
they will know all about so-called ‘weeds’. Those that are the biggest
nuisance are couch grass (Agropyron repens), greater bindweed
(Calystegia sepium) – despite its very lovely white trumpet flowers,
ground elder (Aegopodium podagraria), hairy bittercress (Cardamine
hirsute), creeping buttercup (Ranunculus repens) with its beautiful
yellow flowers and goosegrass (Gallium aperine) which sometimes seems
to be making a bid to take over the world in gardens and hedges.
‘weeds’ are very pretty, such as daisy (Bellis perennis), dandelion
(Taraxacum officinals), fumitory (Fumaria capreolata), scarlet
pimpernel or poor-man’s-weather-glass (Anagallis arvensis), field pansy
(Viola arvensis), Persian speedwell (Veronaica percsica), slender
speedwell (Veronica filiformis) – which sometimes makes a blue haze
over lawns, creeping cinquefoil (Potentilla reptans), ribwort plantain
(Plantago lanciolata) – with its dark-brown conical heads and ring of
cream stamens, and nipplewort (Lapsana communis). Sometimes the
handsome great silvery green rosettes and tall silvery spikes with
yellow flowers of common mullein (Verbascum thapsus) appear.
garden wild flowers are wartcress (Coronopus squamatus), shepherd’s
purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris), chickweed (Stellaria media), common
pearlwort (Sagina procumbens), annual pearlwort (Sagina apetela), hairy
willowherb (Epilobium parviflorum), broad-leaved willowherb (Epilobium
montanum), square-stalked willowherb (Epilobium tetragonum), cudweed
(Filago germanica) – a gunny little grey woolly plant – pineapple weed
(Matricaria matricarioides) which smells just like pineapples. You can
often find the cudweed and pineapple weed round farm gates. Groundsel
(Senecio vulgaris), smooth sowthistle (Sonchus oleaceous), prickly
sowthistle (Sonchus asper), common forget-me-not (Myosotis arvensis),
grey speedwell (Veronica polita), Greenfield speedwell (Veronica
officinalis), thyme-leaved speedwell (Veronica serpyllifolia),
woundwort (Stachys sylvatica) – which smells foul, red dead-nettle
(Lamium purpureum), greater plantain (Plantago major), common orache
(Atriplex patula), sun spurge (Euphorbia helioscopia), petty spurge
(Euphorbia peplus), knot grass Polygonum aviculare), red-leg (Polygonum
persicara) and stinging nettle (Urtica dioica).
are very few ancient meadows left, but many of the meadow plants still
survive, and some abound. Meadows in May and June may be golden with
bulbous and meadow buttercups (Ranunculus bulbosus and R. acris).
Nearly all meadow flowers, even the grasses, are very attractive,
meadow cranesbill (Geranium pratense) with its great blue saucers being
perhaps the most splendid. Other are: lady’s smock (Cardamine pratense)
in damp spots, red clover (Trifolium pratense), zig-zag clover
(Trifolium medium), white clover (Trifolium repens), meadow vetchling
(Lathyrus pratensis), devil’s-bit scabious (Succia pratensis), yarrow
(Achillea millifolium), ox-eye daisy (chrysanthemum leucanthemum),
meadowsweet (Filipenula ulmaria) in damper places, hardheads (Centaurea
nigra), cat’s-ear (Hypochoeris radicata), corn sow-thistle (Sonchus
oleraceus), goatsbeard (Tragopogon pratensis) with its great ‘clocks’,
the delightful harebell (Campnula rotundifolia), the honey-scented
cowslip (primula veris), self-heal (Prunella vulgaris) and three
comparative rarities: meadow saxifrage (Saxifraga granulata),
green-winged orchid (Orchis morio) and meadow saffron (Colchicum
following are some of the humbler meadow inhabitants: common mouse-ear
(Cerastium fontanum), clustered mouse-ear (Cerastium glomerata),
cut-leaved cranesbill (Geranium dissectum), black medick (Medicago
upulina), hop trefoil (Trifolium campestre), bush vetch (Vicia sepium),
common vetch (Vicia sativa), agrimony (Agrimonia eupatoria), burnet
saxifrage (Pimpinella saxifraga), pignut (Conopodium majus), pepper
saxifrage (Silaum silaus), hogweed (Heracleum sphondyleum), ragwort
(Senecio jacobaea), the three thistles creeping (Cirsium arvense) –
which has a very pleasant scent however much of a nuisance it is, spear
(Cirsium vulgare) and marsh (Cirsium palustre) which grows in damp
fields. Smooth hawksbeard (Crepis capillaries), hay rattle (Rhinanthus
minor), sorrel (Rumes acetosa), sharp dock (Rumes conglomerates),
broad-leaved dock (Rumes obtusifolius), curled dock (Rumes crispus),
and Good Friday grass (Luzula campestre).
are several true grasses: meadow foxtail (Alopecurus pratense), timothy
(Phleum pratense), creeping bent (Agrostis stolonifera), common bent
(Agrostis tenuis), sweet vernal (Anthoxanthum odoratum) which gives hay
its distinctive scent, creeping soft-grass (Holcus mollis), Torkshire
fog (Holcus lanatus), tufted hair grass (Deschampsia cespitosa), yellow
oat-grass (Trisetum flavescens), oat grass (Arrhenatherum elatius),
crested dog’s-tail (Cynosurus cristatus), cocksfoot (Dactylis
glmorata), annual meadow grass (Poa annua), rough meadow grass (Poa
trivialis), meadow grass (Poa pratensis), sheep’s fesue (Festuca
ovina), red fescue (Festuca rubra), meadow fescue (Festuca pratensis),
and rye grass (Lolium perenne).
are plants that can be found on the short cropped grass and old
quarries on Merbach and Little Mountain and on walls etc. They include
common milkwort (Polygala vulgaris), soft-leaved cranesbill (Geranium
molle), the lovely lemon yellow mouse-ear hawkweed (Hieracium
pilosella), and the golden autumn hawkbit (Leontodon taraxacoides),
bird’s-foot trefoil or lady’s slipper or bacon and egges or whatever
you like to call this enchanting little plant (Lotus corniculatus),
tormentil (Potentilla erecta), whitlow grass (Erophila verna),
thyme-leaved sandwort (Arenaria serpyllifolia), trailing St John’s wort
(Hypericum humisufum), lesser yellow trefoil (Trifolium dubium), wall
sppedwell (Veronica arvensis), red bartsia (Odontites verna),
delightful aromatic wild thyme (Thymus serpyllum), sheep’s sorrel
(Rumes acetosella), silvery hair-grass (Aira caryophyllea), navelwort
or pennywort (Umbilicus rupestris), prickly lettuce (Lactuca serriola)
and ivy-leaved toadflax (Cymbalaria muralis).
Brooks and damp places
this category are lesser spearwort (Ranunculus flammula), watercress
(Rorippa nasturtium-aquatica), wavy bittercress (Cardamine flexuosa),
opposite-leaved golden saxifrage (Chrysosplenium oppositifolium), water
forget-me-not (Myosotis scorpioides), figwort (Scrophularia nodosa),
the impressive but invasive alien Himalayan balsam (Impatiens
glandulifera), brooklime (Veronica beccabunga), bog stitchwort
(Stellaria alsine), the tiny blinks (Montia fontana), marsh pennywort
(Hydrocotyle vulgaris), butterbur (Petasites hybridus) – which flowers
early in the year and then grows enormous leaves, the wild garlic or
ransoms (Allium ursinum) and the common rush (Juncus conglomoratus).
are also snowdrops (Galanthus nivalius) and daffodils (Narcissus
pseudonarcissus) that carpet St Mary’s churchyard in late winter and
spring which are no doubt wild but got marooned in this safe haven.
Merbach Hill commons project
Hill common is one of 12 Herefordshire commons involved in a project,
managed in a partnership between Herefordshire Nature Trust, English
Nature and Herefordshire Council, to develop sustainable long-term
management of the commons.
A management plan has been developed, which includes the following 'vision statement':
A programme of bracken clearance and the re-introduction of grazing
livestock will restore areas of grassland to the common. This
should benefit a range of plant species.
- Surveys for
butterflies, moths, reptiles, dormice and the wildlife of the ponds
will increase knowledge of the ecology of the common. An
archaeological suvey will increase knowledge of previous human
- The mosaic of habitats on the common will continuie to support a significant bird list.
The footpaths and bridleways on the comon wil be kept open and
accessible and some coppicing of trees will enable the excellent views
across the surrounding countryside to be retained and enjoyed.
- Interpretation panels and information on the Bredwardine village website will explain the history, ecology and archaeology of the common.
By encouraging Clifford Primary School to 'adopt' the common it is
hoped to engender a sense of interest in, and ownership of, the common
amongst local children from an early age.
parties have been organised in order to take this work forward,
including path clearance and the construction of bird boxes with the
help of children from the school. Details of upcoming work
parties will be posted in this website; for further information please e-mail project manager Tim Breakwell.
is bounded along the north and west by the River Wye, which at 251km is
one of the country’s longest rivers. The river rises in the dramatic
uplands of mid Wales, flowing past Rhayader, Builth Wells, Clifford,
Hay-on-Wye, Hereford, Ross-on-Wye and Monmouth and enters the Severn
Estuary at Chepstow.
The Wye is unusual in that there is a
public right of navigation. This has been in place at least since an
Act of Parliament in 1662. The river, which is largely
unpolluted, is consequently very popular for recreational boating and
The Wye provides a wide range of wildlife habitats
and supports a number of rare species which justifies its selection as
one of only three rivers in Britain to be designated as a Special Site
of Scientific Interest. The river is regarded as one of the best
salmon fisheries in Britain and it also provides excellent coarse
View of the River Wye looking north from Merbach hill
Photo: Dave Prescott
normal standards the Wye is not a navigable river for large craft due
to its long stretches of shallow streamy water. The upper river
contains many rocky stretches. Prior to the construction of tarmac
roads, and before the era of the internal combustion engine and the
lorry, waterways including both canals and rivers were the most
effective way of transporting goods from the coast inland and between
the eighteenth and early nineteenth
centuries the Wye was used for the transportation of goods to and from
Hereford and above, to Moccas, Whitney, Clifford and Hay-on-Wye -
though barge traffic to Clifford and Hay was limited by the shallow
water and lack of a bridlepath. In
1805 it was estimated that about 500 men were employed in hauling
barges up the Wye and bringing about 15,000 tons of goods annually
up-river to Hereford.
The Environment Agency
The River Wye website
The Landscape Origins of the Wye Valley project
Details to follow.