Scientific name Calluna vulgaris – Agrostis capillaris heath
Common name Heather – Common Bent heath
Community code HE2C

 

HE2C: Calluna vulgaris – Agrostis capillaris heath     HE2C: Calluna vulgaris – Agrostis capillaris heath     HE2C map: Calluna vulgaris – Agrostis capillaris heath

Download pdf synopsis: HE2C

 

Vegetation

Calluna vulgaris dominates this heath community. Alongside it are usually found Erica cinerea and Potentilla erecta, together with patches of Agrostis capillaris, Molinia caerulea and Trichophorum cespitosum/germanicum. Frequent species are Anthoxanthum odoratum, Agrostis canina/vinealis, Galium saxatile and Carex binervis, contributing an element of upland grassland. Spreading rosettes of Blechnum spicant may also be encountered. Pleurocarpous mosses form most of the bryophyte layer; Hylocomium splendens, Thuidium tamariscinum, Hypnum jutlandicum and Scleropodium purum are constants here but Pleurozium schreberi and Rhytidiadelphus squarrosus are also frequent.

 

Ecology

This is primarily a heathland community of the lower to middle slopes of hills and mountains. Soils are relatively well-drained, acidic and infertile.

 

Sub-communities

Two sub-communities are described. The Daboecia cantabrica – Lotus corniculatus sub-community (HE2Ci) is essentially a regional variety of mid-west Ireland. Daboecia cantabrica is a constant species here, whilst Hypericum pulchrum, Lotus corniculatus and Plantago lanceolata are frequent to occasional, so edaphic conditions can be somewhat basic. The Carex binervis – Rhytidiadelphus loreus sub-community (HE2Cii) is the more widespread and acidic type in which grasses such as Deschampsia flexuosa, Nardus stricta and Festuca vivipara may be found.

 

Similar communities

This community is somewhat transitional between the dry heaths of HE2A and HE2B and the wetter heaths of HE2D and HE2E. It lacks the Ulex gallii bushes of HE2A and is both grassier and damper than HE2B. In HE2D, one will find greater abundance of Molinia caerulea and Erica tetralix; this latter species seldom features in the present community. In HE2E, a more upland community, the frequent presence of Racomitrium lanuginosum and the scarcity of Agrostis capillaris are diagnostic.

Conservation value

Most examples of this vegetation qualify as EU Annex I habitat 4030 Dry heaths.  Some could be regarded as 4010 Wet heath where Molinia caerulea is more plentiful. This community is on average a moderately species-rich heath community.

 

Management

These heaths, which often form parts of commonages, may be used as rough grazing land (typically for sheep). Burning may be periodically used across large areas to suppress the dwarf shrubs and encourage grass growth. Overgrazing can also be a problem. Another threat is agricultural improvement.