Dartmoor IPA

Location: Between Plymouth and Exeter, bordered by the A38 to the south and east and the A30 to the north.

Grid Reference: SX 661 777


Dartmoor IPA has been recognised as one of 165 Important Plant Areas in the UK.

The key features of this IPA are:

  • The species richness of lichens in Broadleaved deciduous woodland: oceanic and parkland
  • One of the best UK examples of threatened habitat of:
    Blanket bogs (extensive areas of peatland);
    Dry heaths;
    Wet heaths;
    Old oak woodlands with holly
  • Dartmoor is the largest and highest upland in southern Britain and includes a large number of different habitats, and is of international importance for its blanket bogs, upland heaths and upland oakwoods, each supporting a broad array of wild flowers and plants.

    This upland, part of an extensive granite outcrop , lies at an altitude of between 350 and 600 metres. With an annual rainfall of up to 200cm the Dartmoor landscape, grazed by cattle, sheep and ponies, combines blanket bog, acidic grassland and heathland separated by deep wooded valleys.

    Rare and nationally important lichens survive here because of its lack of pollution and steep rocky slopes. The mining industry on Dartmoor has also created artificial rock outcrops on which rare lichens have formed.

    Dartmoor's high areas, where in the drier spots bell heather, heather and the cross-leaved heath may be found, support extensive blanket bog with its associated sphagnum moss species and hare’s tail and common cotton-grasses.

    The acidic upland slopes host a type of grassland largely restricted to the south west of Britain with purple moor grass, sheep’s fescue, mat-grass and bristle bent predominating. By contrast, in the valley mires and bog pools soft rush and sharp-flowered rush, bottle sedge, star sedge, marsh lousewort, round-leaved sundew, bog asphodel and the marsh clubmoss occur; uncommon plants at these sites also include the stag’s clubmoss and the black bog-rush.

    Black Tor copse in North Dartmoor is of national importance for the variety of lichens which cover the trees, mosses and rocks.

    Image: Dartmoor © Richard Munckton under CC BY NC 2.0