Area: 88.6 hectares, 218.9 acres.
Reasons for Notification:
Lying immediately south of the village of Corfe Castle and flanked to the south and west by a branch of the Corfe River, the common is the only large remaining area of uncultivated land on the Purbeck Wealden Beds. It is of great botanical interest, the flora of the flushes being of particular richness.
There is a central east-west ridge of Wealden Sandstone and the lower land is Wealden Clay bearing a series of flushes particularly along the western margin. The varied hydrology of the site and its long history as common land have contributed to the great variety and richness of its flora.
The sandstone ridge has swards dominated by bent grasses Agrostis spp. and stands of bracken Pteridium. Bristle bent Agrostis curtisii, Bluebell Hyacinthoides non-scriptus and saw-wort Serratula tinctoria are frequent and ling Calluna vulgaris and bell heather Erica cinerea also occur.
Lower ground supports close-grazed swards with purple moor-grass Molinia caerulea and soft rush Juncus effusus locally dominant. The flushes typically occupy short narrow valleys and their upper parts have a vegetation characterised by several species of pleurocarpus mosses, for example Warnstorfia fluitans and Campylium stellatum. Wherever drainage is impeded, communities dominated by a variety of Sphagnum species are found. Amongst the range of higher plants are bog asphodel Narthecium ossifragum, bottle sedge Carex rostrata, bog bean Meneanthes trifoliata, cotton grass Eriophorum angustifolium, marsh arrow grass Triglochin palustris and pale butterwort Pinguicula lusitanica.
The wetter areas support an extremely varied and interesting fauna including a number of local and rare species. Notable among these are several beetles: the very local tortoise beetles Cassida murraea and C. vibax, the water-jewel beetle Plateumaris discolor and some uncommon leaf and ground beetles. Other noteworthy animals include three very scarce damselflies, the spider Araneus redii and the silky snail Ashfordia granulata.