Pulpit Woods

The woods of the higher slopes consist of relatively pure stands of mature beech, with a sparse shrub layer mainly of holly and elder, and scattered herbs and grasses including wood sorrel Oxalis acetosella, woodruff Galium odoratum, broad helleborine Epipactis helleborine and tufted hairgrass Deschampsia cespitosa. Mixed woodland known to be of recent origin occurs further downslope, in which yew, ash, whitebeam and wild cherry occur among the beeches, and are accompanied by a greater variety of shrubs including blackthorn, hawthorn and purging buckthorn Rhamnus catharticus. The ground flora retains elements of its earlier grassland phase, for example ground ivy Glechoma hederacea, hairy rock-cress Arabis hirsuta, harebell Campanula rotundifolia, spring sedge Carex caryophyllea and hard poa Desmazeria rigida, though other species have apparently spread from adjacent older woodland, notably enchanter’s nightshade Circaea lutetiana, wall lettuce Mycelis muralis, white and narrow-lipped helleborines Cephalanthera damasonium and Epipactis leptochila, yellow bird’s-nest Monotropa hypopitys and bird’s-nest orchid Neottia nidus-avis.