Flora and Fungi


The botanical diversity of dry Calluna-dominated heathland in Surrey is generally low but the more diverse dry grass heaths support some uncommon plants, including the rare Deptford Pink Dianthus Armeria and smooth cat’s-ear Hypochaeris glabra which is nationally scarce. Wetter heathland can support rich assemblies of plants. One site supports the nationally rare slender cotton-grass Eriophorum gracile. Wetter heathland and mires support important communities of mosses and liverworts.

A range of Sphagnum mosses occur including less common species such as S magellanicum and S molle. Lichens, especially species of the diverse genus Cladonia, are a very important group on heathland. The international importance of Surrey’s heathland and mire habitats has been recognised by designation of a substantial part (Thursley, Ash, Pirbright and Chobham) as a candidate Special Area for Conservation (cSAC) under the European Habitats Directive.


Fungi are abundant on lowland heathland, this habitat providing a range of conditions in which a varied and often specialised array of fungi has arisen. In late summer and autumn, increasing numbers of people visit heathland sites to collect edible fungi such as cep Boletus edulis and the related bay bolete Boletus badius. Over collecting may threaten the long-term future of such species on our heathland. In addition to the larger fungi, many microfungi are intimately associated with the heathland flora.

Specialised habitats within heathland communities often support interesting and uncommon species. For example, bare peat soil supports Mycena megaspora, and burnt areas often have a fleeting but characteristic and restricted range of fungi. The large cup-fungi Anthracobia subatra was recently reported as new to the British Isles based on a collection from an old fire site on Witley Common.

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Mammals and reptiles

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Contact details

Project Manager – Dr Rob McGibbon
Senior Project Officer – Marcus Turley

Surrey Heathland Project, Artington House, Portsmouth Road, Guildford, Surrey GU2 4DZ
Telephone: 01483 579713
Fax: 01483 579740

The Heathland Project is supported by:

Surrey County Council, Guildford Borough Council, Waverley Borough Council, Woking Borough Council, Runnymede Borough Council, Ewhurst Parish Council, Witley Parish Council, Wonersh Parish Council, RSPB, English Nature, MoD and the Herpetological Conservation Trust

Surrey County Council
working in partnership
Surrey Countryside Management