Area: 4.46 hectares.
New site. Nature Reserve owned by Cornwall Trust for Nature Conservation.
Description and Reasons for Notification:
Sylvia’s Meadow supports a fine example of species-rich neutral or slightly acid unimproved grassland. Such vegetation is now very rare in Cornwall due to agricultural intensification and in particular to the trend towards improving leys for silage in support of the dairy industry. Only one other comparable unimproved meadow site is known in Cornwall and this is some 75 kilometres away to the west. The site lies close to the A390 road at the western edge of the village of St. Ann’s Chapel in the extreme east of the county. Two old enclosures now comprise a single grazing unit surrounded by hedges which, on the western boundary include some fine standard trees.
Complex small-scale variations in soil chemistry and drainage, with seasonal waterlogging in places, give rise to a mosaic of sub-communities but overall the site corresponds with the crested dog’s-tail Cynosurus cristatus – common knapweed Centaurea nigra MG5 grassland community. Herbaceous plants are dominant within the meadow sward with abundant oxeye daisy Leucanthemum vulgare, lousewort Pedicularis sylvatica, cat’s-ear Hypochoeris radicata, creeping cinquefoil Potentilla reptans and common bird’s-foot-trefoil Lotus corniculatus. Seven species of orchid are recorded: Dactylorhiza maculata subsp. ericetorum, southern marsh-orchid D. praetermissa, common spotted-orchid D. fuchsii, early purple-orchid Orchis mascula, lesser butterfly-orchid Platanthera bifolia, greater butterfly-orchid P. chlorantha and autumn lady’s-tresses Spiranthes spiralis.
Wetter zones, largely in the west of the site, support wild angelica Angelica sylvestris, marsh pennywort Hydrocotyle vulgaris and ivy-leaved bellflower Wahlenbergia hederacea, while at the dryer, more acid extreme the heath-grass Danthonia decumbens sub-community of MG5 occurs with occasional plants of heather Calluna vulgaris.