Area: 22.2 hectares.
Description and Reasons for Notification:
Deptford Farm Pastures contain representative examples of certain traditionally managed heath, mire and fen communities which are collectively known as Culm Grassland. These are botanically rich and virtually restricted to Devon and Cornwall in England. The site is of particular importance for its well-developed wet heathland areas.
The site comprises a large field together with a series of small adjacent fields, situated in gently rolling countryside about 6 km north east of Kilkhampton. It overlies the Carboniferous Culm Measures of north Devon. The soils, which are acidic and poorly drained, are mostly of the Onecote and Neath series.
The vegetation across the main fields consists of wet heath dominated by a short purple moor-grass Molinia caerulea sward, with abundant devil’s-bit scabious Succisa pratensis, tormentil Potentilla erecta and meadow thistle Cirsium dissectum throughout. Bog asphodel Narthecium ossifragum, lousewort Pedicularis sylvatica, creeping willow Salix repens, heather Calluna vulgaris and cross-leaved heath Erica tetralix are frequent associates of these, while petty whin Genista anglica, an uncommon plant in Devon, is unusually abundant. Several boggy areas occur in this main field. They contain plants such as bogbean Menyanthes trifoliata, common cottongrass Eriophorum angustifolium, round-leaved sundew Drosera rotundifolia and various bog mosses Sphagnum auriculatum, S. subnitens and S. capillifolium. Other plants of interest include southern marsh-orchid Dactylorhiza praetermissa, lesser skullcap Scutellaria minor and saw-wort Serratula tinctoria.
The other fields within the site complement the main field, containing communities which are mostly dominated by sharp-flowered rushJuncus acutiflorus and tussocky purple moor-grass.
The site supports an exceptionally large colony of the nationally scarce marsh fritillary butterfly Eurodryas aurinia.