Ranscombe Farm IPA
Location: Situated on the North Downs, immediately west of the Medway Gap, near Cuxton, Medway, Kent.
Grid Reference: TQ 705 680
Ranscombe Farm IPA has been recognised as one of 165 Important Plant Areas in the UK.
The key features of this IPA are:
Ranscombe Farm is a working farm and has long been famed amongst botanists as one of the richest sites for arable plants in the UK.
The farm is Plantlife's largest nature reserve in England, occupying a total area of 560 acres on the slopes of the North Downs. Recently declared as a country park, the landscape includes arable habitats, extensive ancient woodland and fragments of chalk grassland. A large part of the site is within the Cobham Woods Site of Special Scientific Interest, and the whole farm is within the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The reserve boasts an impressive repertoire of arable flowers (the reason for it's identification as an IPA), and two of the fields on the far western side are believed to be one of the best sites for annual plants on arable land in Britain.
Notable plants include the UK’s largest population of the nationally rare broad-leaved cudweed, the first British locality for rough mallow and local and rare species such as ground pine, rough poppy, narrow-fruited cornsalad and Venus’s looking-glass.
Other wildflowers to be found in the fields include blue pimpernel, night-flowering catchfly, dense-flowered fumitory and three more species of poppy (common, prickly and long-headed). The woodlands are at their best in spring when a colourful display of early-purple orchids and bluebells can be seen.
Although limited in extent, the chalk grassland habitats host a rich suite of plants including wild liquorice, lady orchid, fly orchid, man orchid, clustered bellflower and horseshoe vetch.
Image: Ranscombe Farm © Plantlife
Ranscombe Farm Reserve
The jewel in Plantlife's crown - find out why it's so special and how you can see it for yourself.