The island of Ireland has often been refered to as The Emerald Isle because of all year-round greenness that comes from our mild winters and damp summers.

Plants are easily spotted in the open spaces of the country, despite small areas of woodland. Habitats play a major role in Irish Flora and the main three groups are grassland, heath and bog.

Grassland and Forests: After an area develops into scrub, forests begin to grow over time, with the types of trees present depending on the biodiversity of the area. On limestone rock or soils, hazel scrub will grow but they will - eventually - be replaced by ash forest. Oak, on the other hand, will set roots in acidic soil, with English oak liking deeper soil. Also in forests you can find some of the 3,500 different species of fungi and 1,000 different types of lichens.

Our three native conifers all have interesting roles in the biodiversity of the country. The Yew is traditionally found around graveyards as its poisonous qualities keep the cattle away from trampling on graves. The Juniper is mostly a low growing bushy shrub. The Scots Pine has a characteristic flat top and reddish upper branches. The timber it produces is known as red deal.

Heaths: Shallow, peaty soil means an array of different species make up different patches of a heath. Some of Ireland's 2,000 vascular plant species can be found here such as ferns, bell heather, rushes and grasses.

Bogs: Heathers, moss (sphagnum and bog) and grasses dominate a bog's vegetation. Small flowering plants, heathers, sedges and grasses also grow through towards the sun. Bog flora are different in fens, raised and blanket bogs.

Lakes, rivers and coast: Around Irish lakes, rivers and coasts you will see a selection of the 1,600 types of algae found in the country. Seaweed and green algae are most common.


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