Vascular Plants

We have recorded 94 priority vascular plant species in Sussex, from a range of habitats including chalk grassland, saltmarsh and arable field margins.

Red Star-thistle

Photo: Victoria Hume
Biodiversity Action Plan vascular plant species recorded in Sussex

This includes…

Borrer’s Saltmarsh Grass A grass of bare places by the sea, in grazing marshes around cattle-poached pools and depressions and on earthen sea walls. This species was once widespread along the Sussex coast but has declined considerably. Currently known from seven sites along the East and West Sussex coast.

Cut Grass A very rare perennial grass of nutrient-rich mud around the cattle-trampled margins of lakes and ponds, in ditches, on canal banks and riversides. Its British stronghold is now in West Sussex, where it is principally restricted to the Arun valley, though still widespread and plentiful on Amberley Wild Brooks.

Red Hemp-nettle A steadily decreasing annual of arable land, waste places and open ground. Now very rare in Sussex with only two post-1986 records from Rye Harbour in East Sussex and Pagham in West Sussex.

Red Star-thistle Although included as a Red Data species, the native status of Centaurea calcitrapa nationally is disputed.It is considered native in Sussex on dry banks on the chalk. Widely recorded from the Downs in East and West Sussex.

Spiked Rampion This plant, with its tall spikes of white flowers, is entirely confined in Britain to East Sussex. There are numerous records from woodlands and hedgerows of the Low Weald during the late 1800s and early 1900s, but now it is a rare and declining species with currently only a few records from the Heathfield and Hailsham areas.

Stinking Hawk’s-beard Once known from a few places along the Sussex and Kent coast, this species apparently became extinct in England in 1980, when the last plants were recorded at Dungeness. Plants introduced at the Dungeness site in 1992 initially thrived, but the population then declined to extinction by 2002 as a result of the overgrowth of other vegetation. It has since been established at other sites at Dungeness, Kent and Rye Harbour, East Sussex.

True Fox Sedge This nationally rare native sedge of southern lowland England grows on river banks, ditch sides and damp meadows on heavy clay soils which are sometimes flooded in winter. Most of the extant populations are in Kent and Sussex, though it is currently confined to West Sussex in our area. Separation from False Fox-sedge Carex otrubae is difficult.

Text: Sussex Biodiversity Record Centre

More information about vascular plants

Botanical Society of the British Isles
Plantlife
Sussex Botanical Recording Society