Plant communities

North Meadow, Cricklade
The plant communities can be seen to change as the hydrological gradient changes.

The flowers and grasses found in meadows can tell you a lot about the site history, management, type and fertility of soil and levels of water on the site. For example, at North Meadow, Crickdale (photo), the plant communities can be seen to change as the hydrological gradient changes.

Species with similar soil moisture and fertility requirements tend to grow together and form recognisable plant communities. The most typical community of moist, but not waterlogged, soils on floodplains is Sanguisorba officinalis - Alopecurus pratensis (great burnet-meadow foxtail) grassland (MG4 of the National Vegetation Classification (NVC; Rodwell, 1992). Where the water table is kept higher in the summer (for example on groundwater fed systems) the Cynosurus cristatus - Caltha palustris (crested dog’s tail-marsh marigold) grassland (MG8 of the NVC) replaces the MG4 whilst on more freely drained soils, MG5; Cynosurus cristatus - Centaurea nigra (crested dog’s tail-common knapweed) grassland replaces the MG4. Many sites will support a range of plant communities; as the topography and soil nutrient availability vary, so the plant communities will change.

Click on our plant grid to find out more about different plant communities and their water and nutrient requirements.

A new project (2012-2013). Clarifying the crested dog's tail - marsh marigold (MG8) floodplain meadow plant community

Thanks in part to funding from the Environment Agency, The Floodplain Meadows Partnership is currently carrying out a project to more clearly define the wetter plant community known as the Cynosurus cristatus - Caltha palustris (crested dog’s tail-marsh marigold) grassland (MG8 of the NVC). You can find out more information about why this is being done, and what sites we are looking for here. If you would like to contribute, know sites that might be of interest or would like to know more please get in touch. This project is due to be completed by the end of 2013.