Mull Oakwoods IPA
Location: Off the west coast of Scotland about one hundred miles north-west of Glasgow.
Grid Reference: NM 530 426
Mull Oakwoods IPA has been recognised as one of 165 Important Plant Areas in the UK.
The key features of this IPA are:
Old oak woodlands with holly
This scattered complex of woodlands on the island of Mull is the largest remaining example of native woodland in the Hebrides.
The old sessile oak woods with Ilex and Blechnum are considered to be one of the best such areas in the United Kingdom and they support a rich assemblage of oceanic lichens, bryophytes, flowering plants and ferns.
The stands of open oak woodland at Loch Ba have been less intensively exploited in than other deciduous woods on Mull resulting in older standards and fewer multiple-stemmed trees. Alder and ash occur along the stream courses and, in an area of more fertile soil, by the loch below Sròn nam Boc. Here the ground vegetation consists of false brome, with bluebell, primrose, wood sorrel, wood anemone, yellow pimpernel, and in wetter situations tufted hairgrass, marsh hawksbeard and meadowsweet.
Holly and rowan form the understorey throughout the woods while birch dominates the upper slopes. Open glades occur within the oak woodlands in the north-west; slopes between scattered wooded sections in the south east support wet, dwarf shrub, and drier heathland occurs on the slopes of Sròn nam Boc.
Scarisdale Wood by Loch na Keal, Coille na Stroine by Loch Ba and Coille na Craig Dubh above the river Clachaig consist of the remains of ancient wind-shaped oak/birch woodland on moss covered boulders. The tree canopy rarely exceeds 8 m in height. Rowan is common in the understorey and holly, sallows, hazel and ash, are also present.
The field layer is dominated by blaeberry and purple moor grass. Where the soil is deeper the field layer is again rich in herbs such as wood-sorrel, yellow pimpernel, primrose, common dog-violet, wood anemone and bluebell. Wild angelica, marsh hawks-beard and meadowsweet are present in wetter situations and in small areas of base-rich soils sweet woodruff is present below ash and hazel.
Hypnoid mosses including Hylocomium splendens, Thuidium tamariscinum and Rhytidiadelphus loreus grow abundantly. The native woodland relics support rich assemblages of oceanic lichens and bryophytes along with ferns such as the hay scented buckler fern and the filmy fern.