Tall herbs

Aim

The aim of this guide is to describe methods of assessing Tall Herbs habitat relevant to deer managers.*

Habitat description

Tall Herb habitats consist of lush mixtures of flowering plants associated with areas protected from grazing (e.g. cliff ledges). The main indicator species are meadowsweet, water avens and globe flower. Where soils are acidic lush mixtures of dwarf-shrubs, ferns (other than bracken) and greater woodrush are typically present.

Key indicators

The main impact that deer have on tall herbs is grazing 1. The presence and frequency of flowering of indicator species will give an indication of the level of impact.

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Tall Herbs species:
Greater woodrush/ Luzula sylvatica
Meadow sweet/ Filipendula ulmaria
Water avens/ Geum rivale
Globe flower/ Trollius europaeus
Angelica/ Angelica sylvestris
Roseroot/ Sedum rosea
Wood crane’s bill/ Geranium sylvaticum
Holly fern/ Polystichum lonchitis

#(Greater woodrush) Leaves 10-30cm x 6-12mm. Leaf has white hairs that distinguish a woodrush (Luzula) from a rush (Juncus)

Other impacts

Other herbivores such as sheep, goats and hares may cause impacts*.

 

What to measure What to analyse
Record presence or absence of tall herb species in each quadrat. For each plot, summarise the frequency** of quadrats with presence or absence of tall herbs (for example: 6/16 quadrats, tall herbs PRESENT; 10/16 quadrats, tall herbs ABSENT).
For each site, summarise the frequency of quadrats with tall herbs present or absent (for example, in a site with 10 plots (a total of 10 x 16 quadrats): 50/160 quadrats, tall herbs PRESENT; 110/160 quadrats, tall herbs ABSENT).
Record whether tall herb species are flowering or not in each of the 16 quadrats. For each plot, summarise the frequency* of quadrats with presence or absence of flowering tall herbs (for example: 2/16 quadrats, flowering tall herbs PRESENT; 14/16 quadrats, flowering tall herbs ABSENT).
For each site, summarise the frequency of quadrats with flowering tall herbs present or absent (for example, in a site with 10 plos (a total of 10 x 16 quadrats): 20/160 quadrats, flowering tall herbs PRESENT; 140/160 quadrats, flowering tall herbs ABSENT).
Record presence of deer or hare dung in each plot. For each site, summarise the frequency of quadrats with deer dung present or absent, (for example, in a site with 10 plots: 80/160 quadrats deer, dung PRESENT; 80/160 quadrats, deer dung ABSENT). Repeat exercise for hare dung.
Take digital photo of whole plot from fixed point (see illustration above). Will enable detection of changes in tall herb distribution over time.