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Special Areas of Conservation

9160 Sub-Atlantic and medio-European oak or oak-hornbeam forests of the Carpinion betuli


Description and ecological characteristics

In south-east England there are woodland stands of oak Quercus spp. with some hornbeam Carpinus betulus that are considered closer to this central European habitat type than its Atlantic counterpart (mainly mixed Atlantic bluebell-oak forests). Bluebell Hyacinthoides non-scripta, which is most abundant in Atlantic parts of Europe including the UK, is unusually rare in this Annex I type. Typical species include great wood-rush Luzula sylvatica, hairy wood-rush L. pilosa and, locally, southern wood-rush L. forsteri, with greater stitchwort Stellaria holostea, ivy Hedera helix and honeysuckle Lonicera periclymenum. Stands fall within NVC type W10 Quercus robur – Pteridium aquilinum – Rubus fruticosus community.

Distribution of SACs/SCIs/cSACs with habitat 9160 Sub-Atlantic and medio-European oak or oak-hornbeam forests of the Carpinion betuli. Click image for enlarged map.

European status and distribution

This type of hornbeam woodland is predominantly a central European habitat type with its core centred on the better quality brown earth soils in the sub-Atlantic region that includes much of Germany, south Scandinavia, the low countries, and western parts of France and Austria.

UK status and distribution

This type of hornbeam woodland (Stellario–Carpinetum) is a rare habitat type in the UK, where it occurs only in the south of England. Hornbeam stands themselves are somewhat more widespread, but as they normally have abundant bluebell Hyacinthoides non-scripta they fall into the separate Endymio–Carpinetum type.

Click here view UK distribution of this species

Site accounts

  • Blean Complex Kent
    At Blean in south-east England, hornbeam Carpinus betulus coppice occurs interspersed with pedunculate oak Quercus robur stands and introduced sweet chestnut Castanea sativa. Great wood-rush Luzula sylvatica is locally dominant in the woodland, and the characteristic greater stitchwort Stellaria holostea is found in more open patches. The stands have traditionally been managed as coppice, and are one of the British strongholds for the heath fritillary butterfly Mellicta athalea.
  • Wormley Hoddesdonpark Woods Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire
    Wormley Hoddesdonpark Woods in south-east England has large stands of almost pure hornbeam Carpinus betulus (former coppice), with sessile oak Quercus petraea standards. Areas dominated by bluebell Hyacinthoides non-scripta do occur, but elsewhere there are stands of great wood-rush Luzula sylvatica with carpets of the mosses Dicranum majus and Leucobryum glaucum. Locally, a bryophyte community more typical of continental Europe occurs, including the mosses Dicranum montanum, D. flagellare and D. tauricum.

Many designated sites are on private land: the listing of a site in these pages does not imply any right of public access.

Please note that the map shows sites where the presence of a feature is classed as ‘grade d’, but these sites are not listed. This is because ‘grade d’ indicates a non-significant presence.