Wistman's Wood, Dartmoor National Park, Devon, England
© Richard Garvey-Williams/Alam
Wistman's Wood, Devon, England
We’re on Dartmoor in Devon, where the twisted oak branches of Wistman’s Wood shelter some of the rarest plant life found in the United Kingdom. This ancient site is one of Britain’s highest oakwoods and is an example of a temperate rainforest, a rare habitat found along the Atlantic coastline. The mild and damp conditions here make it ideal for a number of scarce lichen, mosses and fungi. The wood is home to Horsehair lichen (Bryoria smithii) found at only two sites in Britain.
Wistman’s Wood sits at an altitude of between 380 metres and 435 metres above sea level. The most common type of trees, as seen in our homepage image, are moss and lichen-covered dwarf oaks, which twist between rocks and along the forest floor in places. It is thought that Wistman’s Wood is the ancestor of an ancient forest that covered much of Dartmoor around 7000 BCE. The oldest oaks here are thought to be between 400 and 500 years old.