Valebridge Common Field, Burgess Hill
The surprise and delight of visiting ecologists when we show them the meadow full of flowering dyers’ greenweed in summer
- Dr. Margaret Pilkington of Sussex University
Valebridge Common Field is a 5.1 ha site, part of Bedelands nature reserve, Worlds End, Burgess Hill which is a unique collection of meadows and woodlands open to the public. Valebridge Common Field contains many iconic Wealden wildflowers. Originally part of the Manor of Keymer, it was farmed as pasture prior to its ownership by Mid Sussex District Council. This gave rise to characteristic grasslands resulting from grazing and hay cropping. These meadows are now managed to enhance the already-rich diversity of wildflowers.
Among the sweet vernal grass in Valebridge Common Field is adder’s-tongue fern, dyers’ greenweed, grass vetchling, damp-loving sneezewort, birds’ foot trefoil, knapweed, ox-eye daisy, yellow rattle, common spotted orchids and many others. These encourage a rich variety of invertebrates. Seed is taken to enhance or create new Wealden meadows during most years.
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Species to spot
Best time to see: June - Sept
A thistle-like plant also known as 'black knapweed', although its flowers are actually bright pink. It is a popular source of nectar for the Red Admiral, Meadow Brown, Peacock, Painted Lady and many other butterflies.
Marbled white butterfly
Best time to see: June - Aug.
A distinctive medium-sized white butterfly, with black-chequered markings, often be found feeding on purple flowers such as common knapweed. The caterpillars feed on grasses. Image © Adam Hincks/CC BY_SA