Scientific name Corylus avellana – Potentilla sterilis woodland
Common name Hazel – Barren Strawberry woodland
Community code WL2E


WL2E: Corylus avellana – Potentilla sterilis woodland  WL2E: Corylus avellana – Potentilla sterilis woodland  WL2E map: Corylus avellana – Potentilla sterilis woodland

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Corylus avellana dominates the low canopy of this diverse woodland community. Crataegus monogyna usually joins the hazel or persists beneath, frequently in a spiny understorey with Prunus spinosa. Fraxinus excelsior is also frequent, occurring as young trees or saplings, or sometimes as emergents above the hazel. Spindly shrubs of Euonymus europaeus may also be found here. In the field layer, the constants are Rubus fruticosus agg., Hedera helix, Viola riviniana/reichenbachiana, Potentilla sterilis, Geum urbanum and Oxalis acetosella. Frequent forbs are Geranium robertianum, Fragaria vesca, Arum maculatum, Circaea lutetiana, Veronica chamaedrys, Primula vulgaris and Sanicula europaea. The chief ferns are Dryopteris filix-mas, Polystichum setiferum and Phyllitis scolopendrium. There is usually a luxuriant bryophyte layer coating the ground, rocks and lower trunks, primarily consisting of Thuidium tamariscinum, Eurhynchium striatum, Thamnobryum alopecurum, Plagiomnium undulatum, Kindbergia praelonga, Rhytidiadelphus triquetrus, Hylocomium brevirostre, Plagiochila asplenioides and Ctenidium molluscum.



This is a base-rich scrub woodland community primarily associated with well-drained mineral soils. It is found on flat or sloping ground in the lowlands, often where there is outcropping limestone. Soils are of fairly average fertility.



Two sub-communities have been described for this community. The Ctenidium molluscumEpipactis helleborine sub-community (WL2Ei) largely represents species-rich stands associated with limestone pavement complexes. Ctenidium molluscum, Epipactis helleborine, Tortella tortuosa, Lejeunea cavifolia, Asplenium trichomanes and Sesleria caerulea are more frequent in this sub-community, as are a number of the forb species listed above. The Fraxinus excelsior – Ilex aquifolium sub-community (WL2Eii) represents a more general assemblage lacking these karst indicators.


Similar communities

Hazel-dominated stands are also included within community WL1C but those occur on more acidic soils and should lack the suite of forbs occurring in the present community that are indicative of basic conditions.


Conservation value

This is quite a species-rich woodland community with a fairly diverse bryophyte flora. Stands do not qualify as any of the EU Annex I woodland habitats, but stands on thin soils occurring in association with karst limestone could be considered under habitat 8240 Limestone pavement*.



One of the main threats to these woodlands is woodland or scrub clearance. Conversely, abandonment of grazing in some areas has led to significant increases in hazel scrub. These stands may be grazed by livestock (often cattle) or feral goats and overgrazing can be an issue. Sites can also be lost due to quarrying of limestone.