|IPA Factsheet - Fivehead Fields|
Site Description Three arable fields supporting one of the most important assemblages of arable flora in Britain. One of only three cornfield flower SSSI managed as arable fields in the UK.
Botanical Significance The site is an Important Arable Plant Area of European importance the most notable species recorded include Valerianella rimosa (UKBAP, EN) Petroselinum segetum, Scandix pectin-veneris (UKBAP, CR) Torilis arvensis (UKBAP, EN), Euphorbia platyphyllos, Vicia parviflora, Valerianella dentata (EN), Legousia hybrida, Lithospermum arvense (EN), Ranunculus arvensis (UKBAP, CR). The fields contain a wide variety of arable weeds, several of which are now nationally rare or scarce. There is a large population of the nationally rare Broad-fruited Cornsalad Valerianella rimosa, which is included in the Red Data Book of Rare and Endangered species in Britain. This is now the only site for this species in South West Britain and only one of about ten known in Britain. There are also populations of Shepherd’s Needle Scandix pecten-veneris, Corn Parsley Petroselinum segetum and Corn Buttercup Ranunculus arvensis which are all now nationally scarce and which have experienced substantial declines in distribution in recent years. Other nationally scarce species found here are Broad-leaved Spurge Euphorbia platyphyllos, Spreading Hedge-parsley Torilis arvensis, Narrow-fruited Cornsalad Valerianella dentata and Slender Tare Vicia tenuissima. Amongst the other uncommon species found on this site are Small Toadflax Chaenorhinum minus, Dwarf Spurge Euphorbia exigua, Sharp-leaved Fluellen Kickxia elatine and Round-leaved Fluellen Kickxia spuria.
General Habitat Description The site is situated on a gentle, south-facing slope an calcareous clay soils which have developed from the underlying Jurassic shales. One of only three cornfield flower SSSI managed as arable fields in the UK.
Conservation Issues The long rotation of conservation management including fallow and zero input cereal crops has led to a build up of pernicious weeds, namely black-grass, perennial onion couch, bristly ox-tongue and sow-thistle. A programme of herbicide use and rotating between spring and autumn cultivations has been helpful at controlling this weed problem. Selective herbicide use will be required to manage the weed problem in the future