|Scientific name||Calluna vulgaris – Nardus stricta heath|
|Common name||Heather – Mat-grass heath|
Download full pdf synopsis: HE3C
Cover in this usually low-growing community is largely provided by a mixture of Nardus stricta, Calluna vulgaris and Racomitrium lanuginosum. Potentilla erecta, Agrostis capillaris, Erica cinerea and Juncus squarrosus are also constants, whilst Trichophorum cespitosum/germanicum, Carex binervis, Carex panicea and Galium saxatile are frequent. In the bryophyte layer, Racomitrium is joined by Hypnum jutlandicum and frequently Rhytidiadelphus loreus. Pale green shoots of Huperzia selago are only occasional but conspicuous.
This Calluna vulgaris – Nardus stricta community is one of upper slopes, ridges and plateaux, primarily occurring as montane heath on shallow, acidic soils particularly where there is some disturbance such as overgrazing.
No sub-communities have been described for this community.
There are some similarities with GL4B Nardus stricta – Potentilla erecta grassland but in that community the cover of dwarf shrubs and Racomitrium lanuginosum is much lower. The abundance of Nardus stricta helps differentiate the present community from the others in the HE3 Vaccinium myrtillus – Racomitrium lanuginosum group.
Most of the examples of this vegetation qualify as EU Annex I habitat 4060 Alpine and subalpine heath, but also included here are somewhat degraded upland examples of 7130 Blanket bog (active)*. This is on average a heath community of middling diversity.
These heaths, which often form parts of commonages, may be used as rough grazing land (typically for sheep) and overgrazing can be a problem. Climate change threatens arctic-alpine species which are restricted to montane communities such as this.