Area: 61.8 hectares.

Description and Reasons for Notification:

Retire Common is located some 6km south west of Bodmin in the headwaters of a tributary of the River Camel. The eastern side of the Common lies in a shallow waterlogged valley fed by several north-flowing springs. 

The underlying strata are composed of grits and shales of the Lower Devonian Meadfoot Beds. These are overlain by alluvial gravel deposits, giving rise to peaty acidic soil. 

The wetter, eastern side of Retire Common is covered by wet lowland heath, grading into bog vegetation. This wet heath is an uncommon type, being intermediate between those on granite and those on the north coast of Cornwall. Higher land in the south east corner and in the west of the site supports dry heath. Semi-natural broadleaved woodland fringes the northern boundaries, giving way to Salix carr with areas of marshy vegetation in the extreme north. There are several streams running through the site, often emerging locally from springs and a small pond just south east of Kirriers. 

The site supports a rich flora including several rarities such as the Cornish eyebright Euphrasia vigursii which is confined to mixed heath in Cornwall and Devon, where it is known from about 20 localities. Other notable species include wavy St John’s wort Hypericum undulatum,yellow centaury Cicendia filiformispale dog violetViola lacteawhite beak-sedge Rhynchospora alba, the rather local bramble Rubus plicatuscoral necklace Illecebrum verticillatumearly marsh-orchid Dactylorhiza incarnata ssp. pulchella and common sundewDrosera rotundifolia.

The site supports several noteworthy Lower plant species including the nationally rare marsh clubmossLycopodium inundatum which occurs in 3 discrete colonies. Other species of interest include the mosses Hookeria lucensWarnstorfia sarmentosum and the liverworts Riccardia latifrons and Cladopodiella francisci.