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Summary: Taken to include Combe Wood to the east. This area is not all woodland, despite its name. The site has many excellent Sarsen Stones and an astonishing array of rare or scarce plants. Access by foot from Davy Down Country Park
Description: The valley floor is silt from the Mardyke, then on the lower slopes is a belt of chalk, and the top of the bank is pure sand. Towards the western end the soil becomes richer and the slope flattens out, but sand and chalk still influence the plants This mixture gives great diversity of plants. The actual woodland is degraded due to neglect and hungry horses, although it has a preservation order on it. It is chiefly Hawthorn, Elder, Ash and Oak, roughly in that order. It has good diversity of fungi (if the horses don't eat them all!) and a large patch of Deadly Nightshade (Atropa belladonna) on the chalk lower slope. The top of the bank is where material was dumped to make the cutting for the A13 and is nutrient-poor sand with Sarsen Stones and very short herbs with some scrub. Roses are in great variety in what was Combe Wood. Many of the rare or scarce plants grow in the sandy top but prickly scrub is encroaching. Rabbits keep the thin sward very short, and horses trample and graze. There are sometimes 5,000 plants of Filago pyramidata, many more of F. vulgaris and F. minima. Also there is Anchusa arvensis, Astragalus glycyphyllos, Potentilla argentea, Carlina vulgaris, etc. Mary Smith has full list.
Reason for interest: It should be a SSSI for its plants and again for its Sarsen Stones.
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