Wealden Heaths and Greensand Grassland IPA
Location: The core areas of the IPA lie to the south west and south east of East Grinstead. One area is west of the village of West Hoathly, either side of the B2028 between Crawley Down and Haywards Heath, around Wakehurst Place. The other is south east of Groombridge immediately to the east of the A26, just north of Eridge station.
Grid Reference: TQ 335 318/TQ 533 359
The Wealden Sandrocks IPA includes a number of sandrock outcrops, a nationally rare habitat, in the High Weald Natural Area.
In some places wooded ghylls have been formed by streams cutting through the sand and clays, leaving the sandstone exposed. These rock systems support a rich community of ferns, lichens and bryophytes including many Atlantic species which are uncommon in south-east England.
The plant communities here include uncommon plants such as the Tunbridge filmy fern, bryophytes such as Dicranum scottianum, Orthodontium gracile, Tetrodontium brownianum, Scapania gracilis and Blepharostoma trichophyllum, and some important lichens.
Several types of woodland are present. On the higher slopes woodland of oak standards and hazel coppice grade into more varied oak wood with birch, yew, holly and some beech. Ash is frequent in some areas and alder occupies the springlines in the valley bottoms. Bracken, bilberry and honeysuckle dominate the ground flora on the higher slopes; on the clays bramble is prevalent, while flush communities which include opposite-leaved golden-saxifrage occur with the alder.
At the Wakehurst and Chiddingly Woods sites several species which are uncommon in Sussex can be found, including hay-scented fern, ivy-leaved bellflower and green hellebore. Bluebells and dog’s mercury form a dense ground flora in places. At the site near Eridge Green the woodland rides support a flora which includes water-pepper and corn mint.
Image: Wealden Heaths © Simon Duffield, Natural England