Captain’s Wood is owned by Suffolk Wildlife Trust and is found next to the village of Sudbourne which lies south of where we live, about 40 minutes drive away. The morning had been beautiful and bright but by early afternoon the skies were beginning to cloud over and by the time we got to the wood the sun wasn’t shining much at all.
This was the first time we had visited the wood. We had heard that the bluebells there were wonderful and hoped that we would see some. We parked the car in a small car-park a few hundred metres from the entrance to the wood and walked down the lane towards it.
Both sides of the lane were covered in Alexanders (Smyrnium olusatrum) which had been in full sun all the morning and as a consequence were giving off a perfume redolent of rotting spinach!
Alexanders is a very attractive umbellifer and until recently has only been found within a few miles of the coast. I am not sure why, but in the last couple of years it has spread very quickly further inland and I have seen it in Norwich this spring for the first time.
I remember including it in one of my posts last year but can’t remember which so I’ll repeat what I said then. The name Alexanders refers to its origins as a herb of Macedonia (Alexander the Great’s country of birth). Its black seeds were sold in the 17th century under the name of Macedonian Parsley and Nicholas Culpeper the herbalist noted that among other things, Alexanders could cure not only flatulence but snake bite! The whole of the plant is edible and the generic name Smyrnium refers to its myrrh-like taste.
We walked along a short entrance path between gardens towards the wood.
Bee hives in someone’s garden
The first part of the wood we walked through didn’t really look like a wood.
This is newly acquired land consisting of 17 acres of small fields, scrub and a little area of woodland in-between the village and Captain’s Wood proper. This land has not been farmed for many years and was largely left fallow. Part of the land stays wet for most of the year and apparently has Marsh Orchids and other wetland plants growing there.
On entering the wood I saw this beautiful moss.
Most of the wood looks like this.
Captain’s Wood consists of mainly open woodland with Oak and Birch. There is a large stand of Hazel, clumps of mature Scots Pine and lines of planted Sweet Chestnut. Herds of deer roam at large through the wood and seven different types of bat live here.
There were a few Violets on the woodland floor. I didn’t check to see which violet this was but I think it may be Sweet Violet (Viola odorata)
Climbing Corydalis (Ceratocapnos claviculata)
Bartholomew of Glanville was an English friar living in the 13th century. He wrote an encyclopaedia of natural history and in it he said that, despite its ‘horrible savour’, the roots of this plant could be made into a potion for dispelling melancholy. Later on Climbing Corydalis became known as a cure for intestinal diseases. This plant, along with fumitories, has flowers that resemble clovers and vetches though with fewer petals. The flower’s peculiar shape has been likened to the head of a crested lark; hence the name ‘corydalis’.
Wild Cherry (Prunus avium)
The Foxgloves (Digitalis purpurea) were growing well.
Woodland floor under the pine trees.
A ‘Witch’s Broom’ in a Birch tree.
These ‘Witch’s Brooms’ are caused by a type of parasitic fungus which induces galls in its host.
One of the veteran Oak trees in the wood.
A close-up of the lichen-covered trunk of the Oak tree. A lot of the bark has disappeared and it no longer looks like a tree trunk anymore.
These veteran trees support many different species of fungi and invertebrates that are dependent on the slowly rotting heartwood of the tree. Most notable is the Oak Polypore fungus which is known from only six other sites in Britain. The Oak Polypore fruits for only a very short time in the summer.
New Oak leaves and flowers
One of the several ponds in the wood
Wood Sorrel (Oxalis acetosella). A flower which indicates ancient, undisturbed woodland and hedges. The petals are white or pink with lilac veins.
A Beech tree (Fagus sylvatica) coming into leaf
This bright green, running like a river through the woods is Dog’s Mercury(Mercurialis perennis)
A coppice stool. The wood from the coppice is harvested every few years. New shoots are protected from deer and then left to grow until they are ready to be cut again.
At last we reached the part of the wood where the bluebells were, but found we were just a little too early to see them at their best.
Bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta)
There were a number of white bluebells.
Bluebell potential was good….
….but if we had visited a week later it would have looked heavenly. Unfortunately, a week later we were doing other things.
We got back to the car and discovered we had a puncture. Richard tried to change the tyre himself but we were unable to get the tyre off. We had to call a rescue company and after just under an hour’s wait the mechanic arrived. He managed to remove the tyre by sitting on the ground and kicking it with his left then right boot alternately.
Captain’s Wood is somewhere we would visit again. It has plenty of plants and a variety of trees. The walk through the wood would be pleasurable at any time of the year.
Thank-you for visiting!