Isle of Lismore IPA

Location: Situated in Loch Linnhe in Argyll, western Scotland. It can be reached by either a car ferry from Oban or a passenger ferry from Port Appin.

Grid Reference: NM 849 415

Isle of Lismore 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 stoneworts in base-rich fens.
  • One of the best UK examples of threatened habitats of:
    Nutrient-poor waters with Stonewort algae;
    Alkaline fens
  • The Isle of Lismore is about ten miles long and lies at the entrance to the Sound of Mull in Loch Linnhe at the south-western end of the Great Glen.

    Lismore rises to no great height but has an undulating, rocky landscape; being composed of well-drained limestone and with a relatively sheltered location. 'Lios Mor', the Gaelic from which its name is derived, means 'great garden' and this is borne out in the ever-changing variety of wild flowers to be found growing in its fertile soils.

    Thanks to its underlying Dalradian limestone, Lismore has exceptionally fertile soil supporting a profusion of wild flowers. These include primroses, bluebells, celandines, wood sorrel, cuckoo flowers and dog violets in spring which giving way to orchids (including early purple, common spotted, frog and fragrant), helleborines (both broad and narrow-leaved), buttercups, bugle, knapweed, silverweed, tormentil, lady’s mantle, red campion, St John’s wort, and sweetly fragrant meadowsweet.

    Three base-rich lochs overlie the limestone and are one of the few high-quality occurrences of this habitat type in Scotland. The lochs have very clear water and are low in nutrients but with high alkalinity. The clarity of the water is reflected in the occurrence of long-stalked pondweed in depths of over six metres. The high alkalinity of the site is evident in the presence of several rare stoneworts including Chara rudis and Chara curta.

    The lochs become shallow at each end and in these areas there is a transition from aquatic communities to emergent vegetation, and a range of fen communities, including reed-bed, sedge swamps and brown-moss mires. Here you might find yellow iris, yellow water-lily, bog orchid, alternate water-milfoil, common figwort, globeflower, marsh cinquefoil or round-leaved sundew.