Ardmeanach IPA

Location: The central peninsula on the west coast of the Isle of Mull.

Grid Reference: NM 440 290

Ardmeanach-(c)--By-Chris-Haikney-(userchaikney)-(Own-work)-[GFDL-(httpwww.gnu.orgcopyleftfdl.html),-CC-BY-SA-3.0-(httpcreativecommons.orglicensesby-sa3.0)-or-CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1-web.jpg

Ardmeanach IPA has been recognised as one of 165 Important Plant Areas in the UK.

The key features of this IPA are:

  • The species richness of vascular plants on Rock cliffs, ledges and shores, including the supralittoral, littoral sediment and subalpine grassland
  • One of the best UK examples of threatened habitats of:
    Species rich acid, montane grassland;
    Ungrazed upland cliff ledges on calcareous rocks
  • The second largest of the Inner Hebrides, most of Mull is made of lava poured out of fissure volcanoes many millions of years ago.

    The distinctive stepped outline of the Ardmeanach peninsula formed as the molten lava cooled to form the cliffs which can be seen today. The area is made up of a series of uplands separated by blanket bog and heath, bordered by rock cliffs, ledges and shores. It features a rich diversity of habitat and supports over 400 species of flowering plants and ferns, making it one of the richest areas in the Hebrides. Several of these are nationally scarce including hairy stonecrop, alpine cinquefoil and mountain avens.

    Along the rocky coastline of the peninsula, low cliffs towards the shore support maritime communities. Red fescue and sea thrift dominated grasslands occur alongside maritime heath, and roseroot, sea spleenwort, buck’s-horn plantain, wild carrot and sea plantain can also be found within the rock crevice and cliff ledge communities.

    Inland, and less influenced by salt spray, species-rich calcareous grasslands occur beneath and over outcropping basalt cliffs with a mixture of sheep’s-fescue, common bent-grass, common centaury, fragrant agrimony, red clover, wild thyme, common bird’s-foot-trefoil and common tormentil on the dry slopes.

    The upper cliff ledges and exposed plateau feature montane habitats. These support arctic alpine plant communities including mountain avens, alpine saw-wort, northern bedstraw, moss campion and alpine lady’s mantle. The most notable species is Iceland purslane, here, in one of its two British localities, growing abundantly on gravel spreads.

    The basalt cliffs also support well-developed examples of a type of tall herb fringe community in the relatively mild south-west of Scotland, representing some of the best examples known on such cliffs and in the region. Characteristic species include globe-flower, wild angelica and lady’s-mantle. Unusually, perhaps because of the low altitude of the cliffs, woodland species such as dog’s mercury and false brome may also be found.

    Image: Ardmeanach IPA © Chris Haikney under CC BY-SA-3.0