Clayhanger SSSI lies to the north of Walsall on gravely glacial boulder clays, which overlie the Middle Coal Measures (Carboniferous). The site includes a wide range of wetland habitats from open water through swamp and fen communities to species-rich marshy grassland, which adjoin areas of neutral and acidic grassland. Habitat diversity, well developed stands of emergent vegetation, and species restricted in their national distribution combine to make Clayhanger one of the best wetland sites in the West Midlands.
The site shows considerable variation in the areas of open water and associated emergent vegetation, which is dominated by greater reed-mace (Typha latifolia) and reed sweet-grass (Glyceria maxima). In some pools there are good stands of common club-rush (Bolboschoerius lacustis) or sea club-rush (Scirpus maritimus), a coastal species which is rare inland. This emergent vegetation grades into fen communities, which include mare's-tail (Hippuris vulgaris), tubular wate- dropwort (Oenanthe fistulosa) and pink water-speedwell (Veronica catenata). Marshy grassland areas, which are very local in the county, are dominated by rushes (Juncus articulus, J. bufonius, J. conglomerates and J. effusus) with sedges (Carex nigra and Carex ovalis) becoming locally abundant.
This community is species-rich with marsh ragwort (Senecio aquaticus), gipsywort (Lycopus europaeus), water forget-me-not (Myosotis scorpioides), skullcap (Scutellaria galericulata), celery-leaved buttercup (Ranunculus sceleratus), and trifid bur-marigold (Bidens tripartite). Adjacent neutral grassland has areas where meadow thistle (Cirsium dissectum) is abundant; this species is restricted nationally to the south and east and is uncommon in the Midlands.
Early marsh-orchid (Dactylorhiza incarnata) and common spotted-orchid (D. fuchsii) are present together with their hybrids. Spoil heaps have developed an acidic grassland vegetation which includes harebell (Campanula rotundifolia), eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis) and matgrass (Nardus stricta), an uncommon species in the county.
This is a privately owned site with limited public footpath access.
Natural Environment Team
Telephone 01922 654739
This page was last updated on 16 February 2015