Purple Moor Grass and Rush Pastures

Purple moor grass and rush pastures occur on poorly drained, usually acidic soils in lowland areas of high rainfall. The plant communities characteristic of these pastures often occur in a mosaic with one another, together with patches of wet heath, dry grassland, swamp and scrub.

Purple Moor Grass Pasture

Photo: Laurie Jackson

Why are they important?

  • They are botanically rich with grasses, sedges, rushes and herbs
  • A number of invertebrates use these pastures including rare species such as the Narrow-bordered Bee-hawk Moth
  • They are important for birds such as Curlew, Skylark and Reed Bunting, which feed and nest in these pastures

Purple Moor Grass and Rush Pastures in Sussex

Small areas of these pastures have been identified through survey forming mosaics with other habitat types.

What are the threats?

  • Agricultural intensification including use of fertilisers, reseeding and ploughing.
  • Lack of appropriate management including undergrazing, which allows scrub to dominate at the expense of finer herbs and grasses.
  • Recreation effects including disturbance of wildlife, compaction and erosion of soil, vegetation trampling and increased nutrients in soil.
  • Isolation and fragmentation of sites reduces dispersal opportunities making species more susceptible to extinction.

Some associated species

  • Barn Owl Tyto alba
  • Curlew Numenius arquata
  • Brown Hairstreak Thecla betulae
  • Narrow-bordered Bee Hawk-moth Hemaris tityus
  • Devil’s-bit Scabious Succisa pratensis
  • Purple Moor-grass Molinia caerulea

Brown Hairstreak
p(caption). Photo: Philip Precey

Links to more information

Natural England
Nature After Minerals
The Grasslands Trust
The Grazing Advice Partnership