Abel Heath is a registered common (CL103) and County Wildlife Site (CWS 1380) owned by the National Trust, lying between the parishes of Blickling and Aylsham. The site consists of unimproved acidic grassland, scrub and young oak woodland. It is intersected by four roads, and surrounded by arable land. A disused railway line passes along the south-east edge.
The grassland contains fine-leaved grasses, plentiful sheep's sorrel, with occasional harebell and heather. Together with areas of gorse and hawthorn, this forms an acid scrub/grassland mosaic.
Please note this site is not a Norfolk Wildlife Trust reserve.
Habitat description from the Wildlife in Common Survey
This site is an unimproved acidic grassland with young oak Quercus robur
woodland. It is intersected by four roads and surrounded by arable land. A disused railway line passes along the south-east edge. Part of this has been ploughed in, part of it has been filled in as it used to be a rubbish tip.
There is a good diversity of fine-leaved acidic grasses and mosses in the centre. This area is mown regularly but grades into more overgrown grassland. Here the grasses contain much sheep's sorrel Rumex acetosella
and occasional gorse Ulex europaeus
and hawthorn Crataegus monogyna
scrub, forming an acid scrub/grassland mosaic.
Areas of acid grassland support hairy tare Vicia hirsuta
, dovesfoot cranesbill Geranium molle
, common vetch Vicia sativa
, common cat’s ear Hypochaeris radicata
, germander speedwell Veronica chamaedrys
, ribwort plantain Plantago lanceolata
, heath bedstraw Galium saxatile
and scattered gorse and abundant bracken Pteridium aquilinum
. Heather Calluna vulgaris
occurs in occasional patches, with rarer bell heather Erica cinerea
. Harebell Campanula rotundifolia
is rare. Other grassland species include agrimony Agrimonia eupatorium
, common bent Agrostis capillaris
, creeping bent Agrostis caninna
, field woodrush Luzula campestris
, lesser stitchwort Stellaria graminea
, red fescue Festuca rubra
, pignut Conopodium majus
, sand spurrey Spergularia rubra
, sweet vernal grass Anthoxanthemum odoratum
, yarrow Achillea millefolium
and Yorkshire fog Holcus lanatus
The east and western edges are characterised by young oak woodland with bracken Pteridium aquilinum
as the dominant ground flora. Herbs found in these areas include primrose Primula vulgaris
, daffodil Narcissus spp.
, red campion Silene dioica
, ground-ivy Glechoma hederacea
, woodsage Teucrium scorodonia
, honeysuckle Lonicera periclymenum
and lords-and-ladies Arum maculatum
Tree species recorded occasionally across the site include oak, ash Fraxinus excelsior
, hawthorn, silver birch Betula pendula
, field maple Acer campestre
and hazel Corylus avellana
. Goat’s beard Tragopogon pratensis
, perforate St John’s wort Hypericum perforatum
and greater stitchwort Stellaria holostea
are occasional. Other forbs found, often associated with hedges and scrub, include lesser celandine Ficaria verna
, barren strawberry Potentilla sterilis
, garlic mustard Alliaria petiolata
and dog violet Viola riviniana
. Two bee orchid Orphrys apifera
spikes were recorded in the north east of the site. Native bluebell Hyacinthoides non-scripta
and hybrid bluebell Hyacinthoides x massartiana
occur in the north of the common.