Yellow Asteraceae at Fence Houses
As a contribution to the Botany Group Yellow Asteraceae project I took my recording sheet
down to the old Cosyfoam works at Lambton Lane, Fence Houses to see what I could find.
Part of this site was in active commercial use until a few years ago, before the buildings
were demolished leaving a substrate of brick and concrete rubble. There are still areas of
bare ground here today, gradually being colonised by vegetation. Other parts of the site
have not seen any commercial activity for a greater length of time, allowing the soil time to
develop, now exhibiting a discernible humus layer and consequently a different range of
The site’s vegetation communities indicate that the soil is neutral to slightly calcareous;
some parts are very well-drained while others show impeded drainage where the substrate
has been compacted.
The commoner yellow Asteraceae typically to be found on disturbed ground are well-
represented, such as Dandelion, Colt’s-foot, Pineappleweed, Common Groundsel,
Nipplewort and Common Ragwort.
Other colonists of bare ground here include Common Cat’s-ear, Autumn Hawkbit, Smooth
Hawk’s-beard, Oxford Ragwort, a few Sticky Groundsel and patches of Mouse-ear-
On the margins of the site and elsewhere where the soil is better-developed there is Tansy,
Goat’s-beard, Hoary Ragwort and one or two of the Hawkweed group.
There is plenty of Prickly Sow-thistle and some Perennial Sow-thistle; however I didn’t find
any Smooth Sow-thistle but might have just overlooked it. A couple of other species that
were nice to find were Bristly Oxtongue and Great Lettuce, the latter in good numbers, some
individual plants growing over two metres tall.
The range of yellow Asteraceae here reflects the wider diversity of plant species at this site.
Insects and other invertebrates are abundant too, and nature is definitely taking its course,
converting a derelict place into a really interesting area of unofficial countryside.