Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Heather !

It's that time of year again, when for about a month the moor tops are a splendid sight with immense areas of purple.

People are often surprised how late the main show starts, and sometimes assume the patches of Bell heather in June are what it looks like.

Heather is also known as Ling, the Latin name is Calluna Vulgaris.
As usual, Wikipedia has surprising information.
Did you know Heather is a member of Ericacea family and so related to Rhododendrons, Bilberry and Juniper?

Westerdale has some of the best heather in the North York Moors - which in turn have some of the best displays in the UK - and heather moorland is a rarity outside the British Isles.
The moors are not truly natural and need regular maintenance to favour heather and bilberry.
The mainstay of this is rotational burning of small areas in sequence through the Winter, this stops scrub encroaching in the lower areas and the patchwork of plants of different ages gives ideal conditions for moorland birds as there will be short young growth a short distance from tall old heather which gives shelter on the wildest days.
Without controlled burning large amounts of old dead material would build up, creating extreme risk of devastating hot fires in dry summer spells. At this time of year the peat is dry enough to catch fire also and would burn for months once alight.
The Winter burning is a 'cool' fire which cannot ignite underlying peat.

Westerdale is also notable for the lack of bracken beds.
This is mainly due to Jonathan Morley, a previous estate owner who made a tremendous difference by extensive aerial spraying with Asulox.
Only now more than a decade later is the full benefit evident with heather and bilberry well established on the slopes which were once dominated almost entirely by toxic bracken.

Esklets road

1 comment:

  1. O there is nowt like Yorkshire heather - I've not been up on t'moors for ages worse luck.


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