Woodland Plants

Ancient Woodland Vascular Plant

Ancient Woodland Vascular Plant (AWVP) is a term given to plants that are used as an indicator of a woods age. The more AWVPs present the older the woodland. AWVPs are plants which either colonise a wood slowly, come in from other wooded areas slowly, or in some cases may even have been in the wood since woodland returned after the last ice age. Any woodland with 20 species is regarded as being a good score, and an important habitat. Bluebell Wood has about 40!

To quote and eminent ecologist, when asked at a talk about how such a list of AWVP Species could be achieved, the reply was “just plant your woodland and wait 500 years”. This gives some indication of the importance of such areas of woodland. for more information about the Protection Status of Bluebell Wood and other ancient woodland in Hampshire, look here

Bluebell Wood does not contain two species which are thought to occur only in Primary Woodland; Herb Paris and small leaved lime. This indicates that the wood was cut down at some point in history, but as there are a large number of other AWVPs, the wood may still be many centuries, possibly even up to 2000 years old. It certainly fulfills the requirement for Semi Natural Ancient Woodland in that it was almost certainly woodland in 1600.

Some of the AWVP Species are well known such as the bluebell (Hycanthoides non-scripta) and wood anemone (Anemone nemorosa). Others such as the Toothwort (Lanthraea squamaria), a saprophytic plant found on the roots of trees, are less well known and often overlooked.

Certain tree species that are also regarded as AWVPs, such as field maple (Acer campestre), holly (Ilex aquafolium) and Crab apple (Malus sylvestris). They are only counted if there is certainty that they have not been planted e.g. they are within the woodland and in a natural position.

Of the list of 100 or so AWVP Species that are found in the South of England, not all will be found in any wood with the conditions of Bluebell Wood, as some are wet or acid loving species. Within Bluebell Wood 40 have been found. For more information and a list of Species click on the tab to the left of the screen.