4 sedges and a sundew

Flanders Moss NNR
Stephen Longster who has previous worked on the Stirling NNRs recently revisited Flanders Moss. This is what he saw:

I’ve been away from Flanders for a while, so it was good to spend a couple of relaxing hours on the bog; even though, on a warm, humid, still day it’s a bit crusty with lots of flies. The dry weather has given the bog a crunchy rather than a squelchy aspect. I was out and about, monitoring some of the bog restoration work that the EcoCo LIFE project funded. You can learn more about EcoCo  here  and follow us here, and the work being carried out, such as tree removal and stump flipping (a technique used to remove the ridges and furrows from an old spruce plantation).

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Before EcoCo funded restoration work.

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After EcoCo funded restoration work


While I was crunching round the bog, I noticed that all four of the Bog sedges are in flower or in fruit simultaneously.

Common Cotton grass
This is really impressive at the moment in all its cottony glory. The cotton allows the fruit to be distributed on the wind; like dandelions

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Common Cotton Grass en masse; makes a spectacular site

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Cotton grass fruits, giving this little Birch tree a ghostly aspect. Looks a bit like Miss Havisham’s front room.


The other Cotton grass is the Hares tail Cotton grass. There is less of this in fruit as it’s a wee bit earlier, peaking in mid-May.

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Unlike the Common Cotton Grass, the Hares-tail Cotton Grass only has one flower head, so called because a hare only has one tail. At the top of the cotton fluff; a seed is about to take off on the wind to relocate somewhere else, depending on wind direction and speed.

This bog sedge; Deer Sedge is a lot less flashy and fluffy, by comparison to its cotton cousins.

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The last, but definitely not least of the bog sedges, is White Beaked Sedge. This very elegant little sedge has a very distinct white beaky looking flower at the tip (hence the name) It’s far less common than the other three sedges and is a real bog specialist.

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The midge munching carnivorous plant Sundew is also in flower. Look out for the tiny white flowers close to the bog surface.


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And the soon to be consumed insects, stuck in the sticky leaves below.

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Although the bog appears to be dry, it’s holding water below the surface. The dry sphagnum on top isn’t dead; it’s just waiting for the rain.I did a little experiment to observe the Lazarus like qualities of the Sphagnum moss.

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According to the time clock on my camera; the same sphagnum 4 minutes after immersion. It’s now green, saturated with water and fully revived.

It’s this remarkable property that enables a Sphagnum covered bog, the size of Flanders Moss, to soak up millions of litres of water in minutes. After a long dry spell mineral soils, particularly the clay soils which surround Flanders Moss, take a long time to absorb water and initially rain water runs off it, like it would off a tarmacked car park. In a sudden summer storm with a heavy downpour of rain, the moss holds rain water, which would otherwise shoot off down the River Forth and possibly through someone’s living room.

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