Pembrokeshire Limestone Coast IPA

Location: The coastline of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park from south west of Pembroke to Penally in the east.

Grid Reference: SR 987 951

Pembrokeshire Limestone Coast 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 Petalophyllum ralfsii (petalwort)
  • The species richness of lichens on rock cliffs, ledges and shores
  • The species richness of lichens in temperate shrub heath
  • The species richness of vascular plants in broadleaved deciduous woodland
  • The species richness of vascular plants on rock cliffs, ledges and shores
  • One of the best UK examples of threatened habitats of:
    Fixed dunes;
    Vegetated sea cliffs of the Atlantic coast;
    Nutrient-poor waters with Stonewort algae
  • The spectacular limestone cliffs of this stretch of the South Wales coast contain great arched caves, and are topped with wildflower-rich grassland and heathland. With their warm south-facing slopes, they provide the perfect home for a range of important species-rich plant communities, including an assortment of rare species.

    On the more sheltered side of the headlands, steep limestone cliffs were once quarried, and a raised beach persists on the more exposed southerly side. The shore and rock platforms are home to characteristic maritime communities.

    The plants of the cliffs range from maritime vegetation, rock with lichens and crevice communities to a mosaic of grassland and cliff scrub. The well-developed crevice flora is dominated by rock samphire, golden samphire, sea plantain, buck's-horn plantain and the occasional patch of rock sea-spurrey and sea aster. On the warm south-facing slopes the plant community is dominated by thrift and sea mouse-ear, with kidney vetch, spring squill, English stonecrop and wild thyme.

    At Lydstep Head, a good community of heathland lichens is to be found, including Cladonia pocillum, Collema tenax, Solenospora candicans and Physcia semipinnata. A thick mattress of red fescue and thrift exists low down on the more sheltered east-facing slopes and, in places, this gives way to wild carrot and red fescue grassland. In one or two places a bluebell maritime grassland community occurs. On the upper parts of south and west-facing slopes, calcareous grassland forms a short, tussocky, rabbit-grazed sward, interrupted by small rocky outcrops. The sward is dominated by red fescue, with crested hair-grass, crested dog's-tail and salad burnet and occasional common bird’s-foot-trefoil, pyramidal orchid, quaking-grass, cowslip, greater knapweed and carline thistle.

    Small patches of bell heather exist in scattered clumps amongst wind-pruned gorse, along with western gorse and heather in one or two locations.