Area: 4.8 hectares.
Description and Reasons for Notification:
Staddon Moor is a species-rich remnant of Culm Grassland supporting well-developed and highly representative communities typical of this threatened and declining habitat.
The single field lies on a gently sloping hill-top plateau at around 190m A.O.D. Its fine clayey and loamy soils, derived as drift from the underlying Carboniferous sandstones and shales of the Culm Measures, are slowly permeable and prone to seasonal waterlogging.
The site supports three characteristic Culm Grassland communities, wet heath, fen meadow and rush pasture, in a mosaic complicated by a shallow ridge and furrow system. The first two communities are characterised by purple moor-grass Molinia caerulea, growing with red fescue Festuca rubra, sweet vernal-grass Anthoxanthum odoratum, creeping bent Agrostis stolonifera and mat-grass Nardus stricta. They also have a rich, short sedge component which includes common yellow-sedge Carex demissa, star sedge C. echinata, carnation sedge C. panicea, flea sedge C. pulicaris and tawny sedge C. hostiana.
The main associates of the fen meadow community are meadow thistle Cirsium dissectum, tormentil Potentilla erecta, devil’s-bit scabious Succisa pratensis and greater bird’s-foot-trefoil Lotus pedunculatus. Also typically present are sneezewort Achillea ptarmica, saw-wort Serratula tinctoria and lesser skullcap Scutellaria minor.
The heathland element is presented locally by heather Calluna vulgaris, cross-leaved Heath Erica tetralix, western gorse Ulex gallii and creeping willow Salix repens. Of particular note is the large population of heath spotted-orchid Dactylorhiza maculata subsp. ericetorumand the presence of petty whin Genista anglica, a scarce species in Devon. Mosses are a conspicuous feature throughout these communities.
The lusher and grassier areas of rush pasture typically comprise Yorkshire fog Holcus lanatus with soft rush Juncus effusus and sharp-flowered rush J. acutiflorus. Characteristic wet pasture species also present include ragged robin Lychnis flos-cuculi, cuckooflower Cardamine pratensis and wild angelica Angelica sylvestris.
The fen meadow and wet heath vegetation communities present on Staddon Moor are virtually restricted in Britain to the South West where they are under threat and declining fast.
Snipe Gallinago gallinago use the moor in winter and barn owl Tyto alba hunt over it.