Cambrian Mountains Woodlands IPA

Location: Scattered in the Cambrian Mountains area of mid Wales, to the west of Rhayader and the A470.

Grid Reference: SN 863 669

Cambrian Mountains Woodlands 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 Killarney Fern.
  • The species richness of bryophytes in broadleaved deciduous woodland.
  • The species richness of lichens in broadleaved deciduous oceanic woodland.
  • One of the best UK examples of threatened habitats of:
    Old oak woodlands with holly
  • Scattered around the foothills of the Cambrian Mountains, these woods support an outstanding assemblage of lower plants. A diverse lichen and bryophyte community grows on the trees, rocks and woodland floor in the steep sided valleys, much of which has a distribution restricted to and centred on the Atlantic coast of Europe.

    The woods themselves are largely made up of sessile oak, with some birch and ash and have a typical upland acidic flora.

    It's difficult to beat a springtime visit to these kinds of woodlands, particularly in May when they contain carpets of bluebells. The woodland is good for other wildflowers too. Visit in April and you may find lesser celandines, primroses, common dog violets, wood anemones and, in the wet flushes of the woodland, golden saxifrage. In the summer yellow pimpernel, herb-Robert, common cow-wheat, red campion, enchanter’s nightshade, Welsh poppy, heather and bilberry may take over from the spring flowers, and the autumn is time for impressive displays of fungi.

    The IPA is particularly noted for the mosses, liverworts and lichens that carpet the trees, rocks and soil. These plants rely on the humid shady conditions in the woodland and the very low levels of air pollution in west Wales. Ferns also thrive in the dark, humid conditions, and you might find royal fern, beech fern, oak fern, brittle bladder fern and rarities like Killarney fern and the little Wilson’s filmy fern.