Old photographs of the Sussex countryside can sometimes tell a good story. This one from 1947 was found in the Rye depot of the Environment Agency and shows part of the mud at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve being planted with something that looks like rice. In the background is the familiar "skyline" of the village, with the Watch House, flagpole, William the Conqueror pub and old railway carriage that are all still there. On the extreme right of the photo is a tall concrete structure that is part of the outfall of Nook Drain.
The man has a willow basket and is planting Common Chordgrass, Spartina anglica imported from Southampton Water to stabilise the mud. When in flower it can be identified by its very long anthers (more than 8mm, the male part of the flower - white in photo below). Common Chordgrass resulted from chromosome doubling in a hybrid between a native grass, S. maritima, and a species introduced from North America, S. alterniflora. The hybrid, S. x townsendii, was first recorded in 1870 in Southampton Water; S. anglica was first recorded in 1892 from Lymington. More detail about the plant is here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...
This planting seems to have been effective because the concrete structure is now much shorter and the Common Chordgrass has persisted in the old saltmarsh that is now dominated by Sea Purslane.
However, as a non-native species the plant is causing concern in our new saltmarsh beacuse we want open mud to persist where the 10,000 shrimps per square meter feed Redshank, Avocets and other wading birds. So we are monitoring the progress of the plant and controlling it where it is growing in the bare mud..
If you have any old photos of Sussex countryside that can tell a story, then do contact us at [email protected]