Area: 149.83 hectares.
A new site. Includes several Scheduled Ancient Monuments.
Description and Reasons for Notification:
Situated in mid Cornwall on the Staddon grit and Meadfoot grit of the lower Devonian period, Trelow Downs supports a large area of dry and wet heath, valley mire communities, stands of scrub and associated wildlife.
On high ground and slopes, areas of heath dominate and are characterised by western gorse Ulex gallii, heather Calluna vulgaris and bell heather Erica cinerea. Co-dominant with the western gorse in places, particularly in the western section of the site, is bristle bent Agrostis curtisii. Other heathland grasses include heath grass Sieglingia decumbens and wavy hair grass Deschampsia flexuosa. Purple moor- grass Molinia caerulea is locally dominant with cross-leaved heath Erica tetralix in damper areas. Herbs characteristic of the heathland include tormentil Potentilla erecta, lousewort Pedicularis sylvatica, eyebright Euphrasia officinalis agg, heath spotted orchid Dactlyorhiza maculata and heath milkwort Polygalla serpyllifoli. The sedges carnation sedge Carex panicea and green-ribbed sedge Carex binervis are also present. Royal fern Osmunda regalis and creeping willow Salix repens both occur occasionally.
The wetter parts of the site, adjacent to streams, support larger areas of tussocky purple moor-grass with black bog rush Schoenus nigricans and bog myrtle Myrica gale. In areas between the tussocks locally frequent species include bog mosses Sphagnum spp., bog asphodel Narthecium ossifragum, devil’s-bit scabious Succisa pratensis, common cotton-grass Eriophorum angustifolium, lesser spearwort Ranunculus flammula, toad rush Juncus bufonius and soft rush Juncus effusus. Of particular interest are common sundew Drosera rotundifolia, white beaked sedge Rhynchospora alba, pale butterwort Pinguicula lusitanica and the nationally scarce pillwort Pilularia globulifera, which all occur locally in scattered patches. Bog pondweed Potamogeton polygonifolius, slender rush Juncus tenuis and sweet floating-grass Glyceria fluitans are all locally abundant where there are pools of standing water.
European gorse Ulex europaeus scrub occurs in places with locally dominant patches of bramble Rubus fruticosus, bracken Pteridium aquilinum, grey willow Salix cinerea, hawthorn Crataegus monogyna, blackthorn Prunus spinosa and silver birch Betula pendula. In some areas of scrub there is an associated neutral grassland flora.