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Trees and plants at Clanger Wood

A visit to Clanger Wood is a special joy in spring and summer when a wide range of beautiful flowering plants bring a splash of colour to the woodland. They include bugle, moschatel and early purple orchid.

There is a good show of bluebells in May. If you look at them carefully you may also spot some rare native white bluebells. White Spanish bluebells are quite common but white natives are rare. You can tell the two apart by their scent as white Spanish bluebells have no scent while white native bluebells are sweet-smelling.

Along the edges of the woodland rides you will see butterfly food plants such as common dog violet and primrose, while typical damp grassland species include devil’s bit scabious and marsh thistle.

Early purple orchid adds splash of colour in spring. (Photo: WTML/ F. Hitchinson)

Clanger Wood was originally an oak coppice and is listed in the Ancient Woodland inventory as ancient semi-natural woodland and plantation ancient woodland. Today, the wood is mostly mature oak, interspersed with strips of conifer trees that were planted in the early 1970s and young, naturally-regenerating broadleaved trees including field maple, birch and willow.

The conifers include Norway spruce and Japanese larch. They were planted in strips running north to south among oak trees that were planted sometime around 1880. The understorey of smaller trees is made up of hazel, ash, hornbeam, hawthorn, wych elm, holly and some young rhododendron.

Spindle and bramble provide berries for the wood’s wildlife, while ivy is another feature of the wood’s shrubby ground cover.

Many typical woodland plants grow in West Wood, especially in the open glades. They include ragged robin, birdsfoot trefoil and meadowsweet. Small glades are maintained by regular coppicing as open spaces are important to the wood’s many butterflies.

Many fungi species flourish on dead wood, especially the many big, old, moss-covered oak stumps that remain after felling in the 1960s. Also, lots of ferns thrive in the wood particularly near the stream at the eastern end.

On the Enclosure map of 1808 there is a reference to a ‘meer oak’, in Clanger Wood. It is also mentioned in older records. The name is thought to derive from the terms ‘gemaere’, or ‘maere’, meaning a strip of land, or in this case a tree marking the boundary between properties. It’s possible that the oak survives to this day, but the exact tree has not been identified.