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Plants and Their Habitats

 

  Plants and Their Habitats at Dubwath Silver Meadows 

INTRODUCTION:

Dubwath Silver Meadows is a marvellous place to look at and learn about wildlife - and plants are a very important, perhaps the most important, part of wildlife simply because everything else depends on them. Wild plants don't just grow anywhere - particular plants have particular preferences and tend to grow in places, with other plants with similar preferences, that have particular characteristics in terms of soil (whether limey or acid), wetness (dry or waterlogged), light (open or shady), and how the land is managed by people (is it grazed by animals, cut, or allowed to grow up into woodland?). The relationship between all these things is called ecology. A group of plants that has similar preferences in terms of its ecology is called a plant community and the particular place where these ecological preferences are found is called a habitat.

Dubwath Silver Meadows supports an amazing variety of plant communities and habitats that range from open wetland to wet woodland and from open grassland to dry woodland. While this variety does reflect natural ecological characteristics, it also reflects, in very important ways, centuries-old human intervention in the ecology, mainly through grazing animals and cutting of vegetation. Without grazing and cutting, the reserve would be covered almost entirely by woodland plant communities and much of the variety in plant and therefore other wildlife would be lost.

PLANT COMMUNITIES   

Dubwath Silver Meadows is an amazing mosaic of different plant communities and habitats. It is made up of mainly wetland habitats:

  • Mire (open habitats where water lies not far beneath the land surface);
  • Swamp (open habitats where water lies at or above the land surface);
  • Wet woodland (shaded habitats where wet-loving trees like willow and alder are dominant - otherwise called 'carr' woodland) but also of smaller areas of dryland habitat;
  • Hay Meadow (open habitat dominated by grasses and perennial herbaceous plants);
  • Dry woodland and hedgerows (shaded habitats dominated by tree and shrub species like ash, hazel, rowan and bird cherry).