Scientific name Calluna vulgaris – Nardus stricta heath
Common name Heather – Mat-grass heath
Community code HE3C

 

HE3C: Calluna vulgaris – Nardus stricta heath     HE3C: Calluna vulgaris – Nardus stricta heath     HE3C map: Calluna vulgaris – Nardus stricta heath

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Vegetation

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.

 

Ecology

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.

 

Sub-communities

No sub-communities have been described for this community.

 

Similar communities

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.

 

Conservation value

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.

 

Management

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.