Breckland IPA

Location: The IPA spans the western borders of Norfolk and Suffolk in the heart of the east of England.

Grid Reference: TL 872 942


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

The key features of this IPA are:

  • One of the UK’s most important populations of Prostrate Perennial Knawel.
  • The species richness of vascular plants on dry and acid grassland

  • About Breckland

    Breckland covers an area of roughly 370 sq. miles/940 sq. kilometres. While it consists of a number of habitat types from naturally-fluctuating meres, valley fens and chalk rivers to a range of woodland types, its botanical interest lies mainly in its dry heaths with their distinctive plants, some found nowhere else in Britain.

    Five nationally rare (Red Data Book) and eleven nationally scarce vascular plant species can be found here, many of which are largely restricted to Breckland and characteristic of its habitats; they include prostrate perennial knawel which is found nowhere else in the world.

    The Breckland area contains one of the most extensive areas of lowland heath remaining in Britain today. Lowland heath is one of Europe's rarest and most threatened habitats and it is for this reason that the Breckland heaths are of international importance and have been recognised by many designations including four National Nature Reserves and 42 Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

    Wildflowers you could see in Breckland

    Breckland specialities include rare plants such as spiked, spring, fingered and Breckland speedwells, perennial knawel, Spanish catchfly and grape hyacinth (the plant usually cultivated is a different species while the native grape hyacinth is smaller, with rather darker, more blue-black flowers and is confined to Breckland). On grass heaths look out for the white-flowered meadow saxifrage during May, and the crimson flowers of maiden pink in July. Chalky soils favour Breckland thyme and wall bedstraw, while acidic soils are home to heather and Cladonia lichen. On well-grazed areas, characteristic rare lichens, bryophytes and plants occur including Spanish catchfly, bur medick and Breckland thyme.

    Image: Breckland IPA © Tim Pankhurst/Plantlife