|IPA Factsheet - The Mendips|
Site Description Situated in North Somerset, the Mendip Hills rise eastwards from the Bristol Channel above the Somerset Levels.
Botanical Significance The area is noted for lichens, vascular plants and habitats interest. The Cheddar Complex supports a wide range of semi-natural habitats which includes unimproved grassland, calcareous dry dwarf-shrub heath, semi-natural broadleaved woodland and dense and scattered scrub. The unimproved acidic and calcareous grassland communities and the complex mosaic of calcareous grassland and acidic dry dwarf-shrub heath have a restricted distribution in Britain. The floristic interest of the site is high. Four nationally rare plants are present -- two of which are endemic to the Cheddar area -- as well as fifteen nationally scarce species. Many rare plants grow on the rocky outcrops and steep scree slopes of Cheddar Gorge.. The nationally rare Little Robin Geranium purpureum, Cheddar Pink Dianthus gratianopolitanus and Cheddar Bedstraw Galium fleurotii occur here, the latter two species being endemic to the area. Nationally scarce species include Slender Tare Vicia tenuissima, Dwarf Mouse-ear Cerastium pumilum and Rock Stonecrop Sedum forsteranum. Mossy Saxifrage Saxifraga hypnoides and Lesser Meadow-rue Thalictrum minus do not occur elsewhere in Somerset. These outcrops also support a diverse lichen community including small lichen species of the genus Cladonia Two nationally scarce species are present in the Charterhouse area. Spring Sandwort Minuartia verna is found on the old lead works, and Soft-leaved Sedge Carex montana is common on Ubley Warren. The nationally scarce Sorbus porrigentiformis and the nationally rare Sorbus anglica also occur. The lower plant interest of the site is considerable. Cheddar Gorge is one of the very few areas in southern Britain for the lichens Solorina saccata, Squamaria cartilaginea and Caloplaca cirrochroa. Bryophytes at Charterhouse with a restricted distribution in Somerset include Grimmia doniana and Gymnostonum aeruginosum. In Asham Woods the generally sheltered and humid conditions provide an ideal environment for a wide range of lower plants. 114 species of Moss, 21 species of Liverwort, and 122 species of Fungi have been recorded. Mendip Woodlands in south-west England is a relatively extensive example of Tilio-Acerion forests on limestone. It is a cluster of three ash-dominated woods on Carboniferous limestone. A rich variety of other trees and shrubs are present, including elm Ulmus spp. and, locally, small-leaved lime Tilia cordata. At Ebbor Gorge elm rather than lime is mixed with ash Fraxinus excelsior in a steep-sided gorge; at both Rodney Stoke and Cheddar Wood lime and ash are found on rocky slopes with patches of deeper soil between the outcrops.. Ferns characteristic of this woodland type, such as hartís-tongue Phyllitis scolopendrium and shield-ferns Polystichum spp., are common. The site is in the centre of the range of common dormouse Muscardinus avellanarius and holds a large population of this species. The Mells Stream flows through Edford Wood and on the river banks Monkís-hood Aconitum napellus, a nationally scarce plant, grows in abundance. Other ancient woodland species include Wild Daffodil , Narcissus pseudonarcissus, Herb Paris Paris quadrifolia, Solomonís-seal Polygonatum multiflorum and Meadow Saffron Colchicum autumnale. The meadows and pastures contain a high cover and diversity of herb species including Dyerís Greenweed Genista tinctoria Cowslip Primula veris, Pignut Conopodium majus and Green-winged Orchid Orchis morio. Source(s) SSSI citations 1992 (Edford Woods and meadows) 1984 (Asham Woods) 1989 (The Cheddar complex), SAC designation - Mendip Woodlands.
General Habitat Description