Jan Hobbs is a remarkably varied wildlife reserve It is a site of semi-improved neutral grassland and copse, alongside a headwater of the River Yarty. It is a fascinating site and well worth a visit.
A range of interesting species can be found here: from a the tiny creeping willow, which rarely grows more than six inches tall, to the huge greater tussock sedges, in places almost chest high. These species do very well in the heavy, wet soils of the Blackdown Hills.
Jan Hobbs is also home to a plant with a rather macabre reputation – the ghostly toothwort. Toothwort completely lacks chlorophyll and is unable to create any energy for itself. Instead it the hazel, growing underground almost all year, sapping energy from the roots of its host. The bizarre, pinkish-white flowers, the only part of the plant seen above ground, emerge just briefly in the spring. In folklore, toothwort is know as the corpse flower. It was said that it would only grow above the place a body had been buried. Numerous shoots of this rare plant can be found at Jan Hobbs, in the deeply-shaded hazel thickets by the stream – but we doubt any bodies are buried there!
Type of habitat:
Semi-improved grassland and ancient woodland with coppice along the stream.
Look out for:
Wild garlic, bluebells, sancile, wood anemone, black knapweed, devil’s-bit scabious, bird’s-foot trefoils, mouse-ear hawkweed.
Somerset Wildlife Trust nature reserve
Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
Somerset Wildlife Trust
Best time to visit:
April to October
Grid reference: ST263136
Nearest postcode: TA20 3QB
Open access. Parking near entrance for two or three cars.