H2: Dry Heath/Acid Grassland Mosaic

Habitat Class: 

As you walk over higher dry heath you will occasionally come across areas of open grassland which have resulted from past agricultural activity. In some cases this may date date to Mesolithic times and the original woodland clearance which was followed by intensive stock grazing or attempts at cultivation. Other areas may be more recent attempts at agriculture but the underlying sand or gravel soil has defeated even the most optimistic farmer!

In the ancient areas the border between the heath and the grassland may have become somewhat blurred and the flora and fauna will be quite rich and varied whereas in more recent areas there may still be clearly defined fields with less diverse vegetation. It is quite common for these areas to be still grazed by livestock today and in the Purbeck area on Stoborough Heath and Middlebere Heath ponies from the New Forest have been brought in to help maintain the nature of these ancient sites.

This is not a pure habitat type but a hybrid of two but they are so entwined that it is easier to merge them together. Areas of heather and gorse are interspersed with open grassland of where particular dry areas are colonised or the reddish brown sheep' sorrel which gives it a unique and distinctive look.


Under the Phase 1 habitat survey classification system dry heath land/acid grassland mosaic is coded as D5 and is described as follow:

"This represents a common mixture of dry heath (D1) and acid grassland (B1). The category has been specified only for the ease of mapping and the relative proportions of each type of habitat should be noted."

Under the National Vegetation Classification system dry heath/acid grassland mosaic  is classified primarily as H1-4, H8-10, H12, H15-18 and U1-8.


Occurs at: 
Indicator species: 
Displaying 1 - 39 of 39
Species Scientific Name Relationship
Bell Heather Erica cinerea Associated
Birdsfoot Ornithopus perpusillus Indicator
Birdsfoot Trefoil Lotus corniculatus Associated
Bramble Rubus fruticosus agg. Associated
Bristle Bent Agrostis curtisii Indicator
Common Bent Agrostis capillaris Associated
Common Sorrel Rumex acetosa Associated
Common Storksbill Erodium cicutarium Indicator
Creeping Bent Agrostis stolonifera Associated
Devils-bit Scabious Succisa pratensis Associated
Early Hair-grass Aira praecox Indicator
Gorse Ulex europaeus Associated
Grayling Hipparchia semele Associated
Hairy Birdsfoot Trefoil Lotus subbiflorus Indicator
Harebell Campanula rotundifolia Associated
Heath Bedstraw Galium saxatile Associated
Heath Speedwell Veronica officinalis Associated
Lesser Stitchwort Stellaria graminea Associated
Lichen (C portentosa) Cladonia portentosa Associated
Mossy Stonecrop Crassula tillaea Indicator
Mouse-ear-hawkweed Pilosella officinarum Associated
Narrow-leaved Hawkweed Hieracium umbellatum Associated
Perennial Rye-grass Lolium perenne Associated
Red Fescue Festuca rubra Associated
Ribwort Plantain Plantago lanceolata Associated
Selfheal Prunella vulgaris Associated
Sheeps Sorrel Rumex acetosella Indicator
Sheeps-fescue Festuca ovina Associated
Small Copper Lycaena phlaeas Associated
Small Heath Coenonympha pamphilus Associated
Smooth Cats-ear Hypochaeris glabra Indicator
Smooth Hawks-beard Crepis capillaris Indicator
Smooth Meadow-grass Poa pratensis Associated
Soft Rush Juncus effusus Associated
Subterranean Clover Trifolium subterraneum Indicator
Sweet Vernal-grass Anthoxanthum odoratum Associated
Tormentil Potentilla erecta Associated
Wavy Hair-grass Deschampsia flexuosa Associated
Yorkshire-fog Holcus lanatus Associated

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