|IPA Factsheet - Melbury park|
Site Description A surviving remnant of the Forest of Blackmoor, Melbury Park was probably enclosed as a deer park in the late 15th century. The site has a varied topography and includes several small streams. This, together with the rare continuity of park woodland including individual trees of great antiquity, helps to explain the exceptional importance of this site for lichens. Indeed it is one of the richest localities for epiphytic lichens in Europe.The park has many exotic and ornamental trees but large areas have open semi-natural woodland. Many of the trees are very large and some are extremely old. Oak Quercus robur dominates most of the woodland but Ash Fraxinus excelsior and Beech Fagus sylvatica are also frequent and in wetter areas Alder Alnus glutinosa, Willow Salix and Birch Betula occur. There are also specimen trees and avenues which include Sycamore Acer pseudoplatanus and Horse Chestnut Aesculus hippocastanea. The grassland in much of the deer park is unimproved but it is unusually poor in herbs. These tree species are ideal for lichens.
Botanical Significance Noted for lichen interest. Parkland and mature forest with diverse epiphytic lichens. Most of the lichen communities at Melbury Park are associated with acid bark, typical of Oak. Graphidion, Calicion and Usneion communities are well represented but it is the Parmelietum perlatae community which is the most widespread. Probably the most impressive lichen community is the Lobarion pulmonariae, which here is the most luxuriant and widespread in lowland England. It is best developed in the west of the deer park and includes many rare species, such as Agonimia octospora, Lecanactis amylacea, Pannaria conoplea, Sticta limbata and Thelopsis rubella. Another community, the Xanthorion is typical of enriched bark. It was particularly well developed on elm Ulmus spp. at Melbury, but is still represented on the base-rich bark of Ash, Sycamore, Elder Sambucus nigra, Hawthorn Crataegus monogyna and Maple Acer campestre. The community is best developed in the south-east of the park and amongst its many component species has Anaptychia ciliaris and the rare Teloschistes flavicans. Further rare lichens at Melbury include Cetrelia olivetorum, Lecidea sublivescens, Pertusaria velata and Phyllospora rosei. Altogether more than 250 species of lichens are recorded from Melbury, of which well over 200 are epiphytes. Source: SSSI citation 1985.
General Habitat Description Woodland and Forest. Forestry