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Marsh orchid on Ashtead Common

Southern march orchid

Ashtead Common's diverse habitats support a wide variety of plant and animal species including several hundred species of fungi, lichen and mosses. Some 50 different species of trees and shrubs and more than 300 other species of plants can also be found here, including the greater yellow rattle, bluebell, wood anemone and the southern marsh orchid.

The Common is a mosaic of woodland, grassland, scrub and various wetland habitats - ponds, streams, ditches, springs and a well.

Purple Hairstreak

​Purple hairstreak butterfly

The large area of oak pollards (relic woodland pasture) provides an important habitat for specialised plants such as lichens, mosses and liverworts, as well as attracting bats, woodpeckers, owls and nuthatches, together with butterflies such as the purple emperor and purple hairstreak.​ 




Scrub grassland

​Scrub grassland mosaic

The woodland in spring is scattered with bluebells, anemones and wood sorrel. Wood spurge, butcher's broom and giant fescue are also found here. The lower slopes of the Common towards the Rye and Woodfield were periodically used for crops until 1956. Nowadays, they are dominated by shrubs and bushes such as willow, sallow, blackthorn, hawthorn and oak.

Often described as scrub / grassland, this area provides an intermediate stage between grassland and woodland. It provides cover and nesting sites for birds such as whitethroat, willow warbler, blackcap, chiffchaff and linnet, as well as many more common species including bullfinch, robin and dunnock.​


Roe deer

​Roe deer in the bracken

The Common is renowned for its invertebrates. Over 1,000 species of beetle have been recorded, of which more than 150 are internationally rare species. The list of butterflies and moths is equally impressive. Ashtead is home to a variety of amphibians and reptiles, as well as mammals such as bats, voles, foxes and roe deer.​


13 March 2012
Last Modified:
06 December 2019