Scientific name Quercus petraea – Corylus avellana woodland
Common name Sessile Oak – Hazel woodland
Community code WL1C


WL1C: Quercus petraea – Corylus avellana woodland  WL1C: Quercus petraea – Corylus avellana woodland  WL1C map: Quercus petraea – Corylus avellana woodland

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This is mainly a high forest community dominated by Quercus petraea with a dense understorey of Corylus avellana. Betula pubescens, Fraxinus excelsior and Sorbus aucuparia are frequently present. Corylus is usually joined in the understorey by Ilex aquifolium and frequently by Crataegus monogyna. The main species in the field layer are Dryopteris dilatata, Hedera helix, Lonicera periclymenum, Blechnum spicant, Oxalis acetosella, Rubus fruticosus agg., Viola riviniana/reichenbachiana and Athyrium filix-femina. Other frequent species include Dryopteris affinis and Luzula sylvatica. Hyacinthoides non-scripta may form carpets of blue flowers in the spring. In the bryophyte layer, one could expect to find Thuidium tamariscinum, Isothecium myosuroides, Eurhynchium striatum, Kindbergia praelonga and Hypnum cupressiforme.



These are stands of well-drained mineral soils and podzols found on sloping ground in upland margins. Soils are rather mildly acidic and infertile.



The Quercus petraea – Corylus avellana woodland comprises two sub-communities. The Quercus petraea sub-community (WL1Ci) is the more typical variation in which sessile oak is always present in the canopy. The Fraxinus excelsior sub-community (WL1Cii) is more mesotrophic and sessile oak is often absent; included here are some low canopy Corylus stands on mildly acidic soils.


Similar communities

The greater abundance of Corylus avellana is the main way of differentiating between this community and others in group WL1. This community may be regarded as transitional to group WL2, and stands of WL1Cii could be confused with the hazel woodlands of WL2E. Those stands typically occur on shallow base-rich soils, however, and support a suite of species indicative of those conditions (e.g. Geum urbanum, Potentilla sterilis, Fragaria vesca, Brachypodium sylvaticum).


Conservation value

This is a species-rich woodland community with a diverse bryophyte flora. Stands with Quercus petraea are likely to qualify as EU Annex I habitat 91A0 Old oak woodlands.



These woodlands are commonly grazed, particularly by deer, and overgrazing is an acknowledged problem. Locally, woods have been fenced and deer culling employed to try to promote woodland regeneration. Invasion by non-native species and woodland clearance are also threats. Rhododendron ponticum thrives in these moist, acidic conditions. Spraying with herbicide, cutting and removal of seedlings have been used to combat the spread of this species within these woods.