jointed rush

Purple moor-grass and rush pastures

Is a type of BAP habitat in the UK. It occurs on pooorly drained neutral and acidic soils of the lowlands and upland fringe. It is found in the South West of England, especially in Devon.

The vegetation consists of species rich, semi-natural grassland containing abundant Molina caerulea or Purple Moor Grass, rushes (Sharp-flowered rush Juncus acutiflorus, jointed rush Juncus articulatus, blunt flowered rush Juncus subnodulosus).

In Devon and Cornwall it is known as Culm grassland. Only 8% of its year 1900 area remains. The UK estimate is 56000 Ha.

Typical grasses

Creeping bent, Crested Dog's-tail, Glyceria fluitans floating sweet grass, marsh foxtail Alopecurus geniculatus, Purple Moor Grass, Red fescue, Sweet Vernal Grass.

Indicator Species

The Natural England Higher Level Stewardship Farm Environmental Plan handbook considers that the habitat exists if at least 2 of the following indicator species are found frequently, and another 2 are found occasionally.

Key animal species associated with Purple Moor Grassland

  • Marsh fritillary butterfly Eurodryas aurinia, uses scattered scrub and carr in September/October.
  • Brown Hairstreak Theccla betulae
  • Narrow-bordered bee hawkmoth Hermaris tityus - fly during April/May, during the day.
  • Curlew Numenius arquata - lays eggs in April/May in open ground on a mound or tussock, incubates them through to June, and young may not be ready to fly until late July or into August.
  • Snipe Gallinago gallinago
  • Barn Owl Tyto alba
  • Marbled White on the wing in June/July.
  • Reed Bunting uses scattered scrub and carr in September/October.



Natural England Guidance 29-31 advocates an average grass height of 7cm and 8cm for rush during April and May, increasing to 10 and 13 cm in June to October, a quarter of the sward no more than 15 cm for grass and 40cm for rushes - a diverse sward of shorter areas interspersed by taller tussocks.

Areas of dense litter are beneficial to over-wintering insects and small mammals, but should be less than 25% of the total area in October.


In the UK there are a number of initiatives to help prevent deterioration and restore these sites. These include designation as SSSI, National Nature Reserve's, voluntary entry into the Environmental Stewardship Scheme by landowners, or work by voluntary conservation organisations such as the Devon Wildlife Trust.

See Also

Nature On The Map website showing Purple Moor and Rush Pasture locations in the UK


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