Scientific name Quercus petraea – Vaccinium myrtillus woodland
Common name Sessile Oak – Bilberry woodland
Community code WL1D

 

WL1D: Quercus petraea – Vaccinium myrtillus woodland  WL1D: Quercus petraea – Vaccinium myrtillus woodland  WL1D map: Quercus petraea – Vaccinium myrtillus woodland

Download full pdf synopsis: WL1D

 

Vegetation

This is a high forest community dominated by Quercus petraeaSorbus aucuparia and Betula pubescens accompany the oaks, with Ilex aquifolium usually beneath in the understorey. The field layer is rather species-poor but contains a characteristic suite of constant species: Blechnum spicant, Vaccinium myrtillus, Oxalis acetosella and Luzula sylvatica. Bilberry can form extensive patches. The bryophyte layer is well developed and contains Thuidium tamariscinum, Rhytidiadelphus loreus, Isothecium myosuroides, Polytrichum formosum, Mnium hornum, Plagiothecium undulatum, Dicranum majus and Dicranum scoparium.

 

Ecology

This is an acidophilous oakwood community of podzols and well-drained mineral soils found on hillsides and valley sides in the uplands. Soils are highly acidic and very nutrient-poor.

 

Sub-communities

Two sub-communities have been described for this community. The Agrostis spp. – Galium saxatile sub-community (WL1Di) has a grassier field layer reflecting heavier grazing and more open light conditions. Agrostis canina/vinealis, Agrostis capillaris, Anthoxanthum odoratum, Galium saxatile, Sphagnum quinquefarium and Holcus mollis are characteristic here. The Ilex aquifoliumHedera helix sub-community (WL1Dii) occurs where there is less heavy grazing: Ilex aquifolium, Hedera helix, Lonicera periclymenum, Dryopteris dilatata and Kindbergia praelonga are more frequent.

 

Similar communities

This community differs from communities WL1B and WL1C in the high frequency of Vaccinium myrtillus, Betula pubescens and Sorbus aucuparia and the low frequency of Corylus avellana. From WL1A it is easily distinguished by the presence here of Quercus petraea. There are affinities between this community and the oceanic birch woodlands of WL4B, but in those stands oak is generally absent.

 

Conservation value

This is a fairly species-rich woodland community with a high proportion of the diversity contributed by the bryophyte flora. Almost all of these stands qualify as EU Annex I habitat 91A0 Old oak woodlands.

 

Management

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.