Woodwalton Fen. Barrie Galpin
The Great Fen of the future will be a mosaic of many types of habitat: there will be open water and reedbeds; there will be wet and dry meadows and true fen habitat; there will also be new areas of wet woodland and scrub. Each of these habitats will have their own plant communities and it will be interesting to see how the existing plants and fungi in the two National Nature Reserves are able to colonise the newly restored areas.
Woodwalton Fen NNR has more than 400 recorded species of wildflowers and other plants, many of which rely on the fen habitat to survive. Wildflowers such as Ragged Robin (Lychnis flos-cuculi), Purple Loosestrife Lythrum salicaria) and Marsh Pea (Lathyrus palustris) create carpets of purple, yellow, pink and white in the summer. On the fragments of ancient, acid peat, which survived the peat cutting of the 20th century, Purple Moor Grass (Molinia caerulea), Meadow Rue (Thalictrum) Great Water Dock (Rumex hydrolapathum) and the rare, beautifully fragrant Bog Myrtle (Myrica gale) can be found. In the ditches there are the rare and carnivorous Bladderwort (Utricularia) and Water Violet (Hottonia palustris).
On the other hand Holme Fen NNR has relic fragments of a 'raised bog', created by peat which built up to form a dome above the water table and surrounding land. Sphagnum Mosses, Cross-leaved Heath and Bog Myrtle were once common here and now have a precarious foothold. In drier areas there is heath habitat with Heather (Calluna vulgaris) and Wood Sage (Teucrium scorodonia). The grassy glades and 'poor fen' support typical fen sedges and rushes as well as more unusual plants like Meadow Rue, Climbing Corydalis (Ceratocapnos claviculata) and the very rare Fen Woodrush (Luzula pallidula) which is found nowhere else in Britain. Holme Fen also has over 500 species of fungi, their development helped by the short life cycle of the Silver Birch trees.
The pages in this part of the website provide details of some of the most important and interesting plants and fungi that are found across the Great Fen Area.
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