Habitats of Carlow

Although Carlow is an inland county it has many different plant communities, or habitats ranging from those that have been highly modified by man such as agricultural grassland and conifer plantation to those that have been less heavily influenced such as dry heath and bog woodland. Because so little broadleaved woodland exists in Ireland, where it does it needs to be valued. A number of shade-loving plants can be found in wet willow-alder-ash woodland in Polmounty, in the south of Carlow including ferns, ivy and brambles.

Gorse (Ulex europaeus) shown in the photograph at the right, is beginning to take over the wet meadow. If left unchecked this wet meadow habitat will eventually develop into scrub. In time this will lead to a change in species composition from one that was predominantly grass and herbaceous plants to one that is mainly woody. At least 800 different native species of plants (flowering and non-flowering) can be found in the various habitats in county Carlow. Some of these are found growing in several habitats, the stinging nettle (Urtica dioica), for example can be found almost everywhere that humans have been, taking advantage of the rich soil conditions created by them.

Others such as Marsh St. John's-wort (Hypericum elodes) are confined to particular communities and cannot grow anywhere else. The Marsh St. John's-wort is only found in wet sites such as bogs and bog flushes.

Case Studies

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