Wembury Point to Erme Estuary IPA

Location: South coast of Devon, to the west and south east of Wembury.

Grid Reference: SX 523 485


Wembury Point to Erme Estuary 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 Shore Dock

  • Part of the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Wembury Point to Erme Estuary IPA comprises approximately 15 km of cliff-dominated coastline, to the east of Plymouth Sound, including the mouth of the River Yealm. Low cliffs rise to 50 m, with adjacent cliff slopes up to 100 m in height. This small site supports several important and rare vascular plants. Localised freshwater seepage onto raised beach platforms along the base of the cliffline provides the ideal habitat for the internationally-rare shore dock, here in its second largest rocky shoreline colony in the UK. This stretch of the south Devon coast includes four sites for shore dock and, at the mouths of the rivers Tamar and the Yealm, the now scarce eelgrass. Dotted sedge occurs at its only Devon site at Wadham Rocks.

    Relatively extensive cliff slopes support semi-natural coastal grassland, heath and scrub communities, still grazed in part, and the IPA supports local or rare vascular plants including lanceolate spleenwort, dotted sedge, pennyroyal mint and autumn squill. In addition to these, a number of other species more or less restricted to unimproved coastal grasslands may be found, including upright chickweed, hare's-foot clover, bird's foot clover, rough clover, knotted clover, subterranean clover, spring squill, knotted hedge parsley and the dwarf variety of common cornsalad.

    Image: Cliffs and beach east of Wembury Point ©Nilfanion (Wikimedia UK) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons