Oxford Meadows IPA

Location: North western edge of the city of Oxford. These meadows lie along the River Thames/ Isis.

Grid Reference: SP 495 085

Oxford Meadows 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 creeping marshwort
  • One of the best UK examples of threatened habitats of:
    Lowland hay meadows
  • Home to fritillaries and other wildflowers, many of Oxford's meadows have escaped modern development and have benefited from the survival of traditional management, which has been carried out here over centuries.

    The IPA includes plant communities that are perhaps unique in the world in reflecting the influence of long-term grazing and hay-cutting on lowland hay meadows, for which this is considered to be one of the best areas in the United Kingdom.

    Some areas of the meadows are regularly flooded, and many species present such as creeping bent, silverweed and marsh foxtail are flood tolerant. Together with floating grass, water mint, water forget-me-not and articulated rush, they form a sward which supports species such as marsh arrowgrass, water dropwort, marsh helleborine and marsh bedstraw.

    Some of the meadows are used for grazing and here the flora is rich with an abundance of herbs such as ox-eye daisy, meadowsweet, greater burnet, pepper saxifrage, devil's-bit scabious, adder's-tongue fern and at least eighteen species of wild grasses. Where the meadows are managed for hay with subsequent autumn grazing, this regime produces a wealth of wild flowers during early summer. The notable plants, green-winged orchid, autumn crocus, saw-wort, pepper saxifrage and meadow rue occur in these areas.

    Port Meadow is the larger of only two known sites in the UK for creeping marshwort Apium repens (a species that confirmed Oxford Meadows identification as an IPA). Iffley Meadows are home to the largest remaining population of fritillaries in the middle Thames area and these can also be seen in Magdalen College Meadow, where they have been recorded as flowering since around 1785.