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Moss, Bogland, Ireland

Our Precious Bogland

About Bogs

"From a climate perspective, peatlands are the most essential terrestrial ecosystem." Tim Christophersen, United Nations Environment Programme

Blanket bogs are very valuable wetlands, not wastelands and there are a number of scientific, economic, cultural and moral reasons for conserving blanket bogs;

  • Only a small amount of blanket bog exists in the world. Ireland possesses 8% of the world’s blanket bog and is the most important country in Europe for this type of habitat.

  • Blanket bog landscapes provide a refuge for a rich biodiversity of species including several rare plants, birds and invertebrate species.

  • Blanket bogs preserve prehistoric farming landscapes beneath the peat as well as a diverse range of artefacts within the peat mass.

  • The patterns of pools on the flatter areas of blanket bog is of particular conservation significance. The pools support a specialised range of mosses (especially species of Sphagnum) and plants and they provide essential feeding habitats for wetland birds.

  • Within their peat layers, blanket bogs preserve a record of their own growth and development and, on a larger scale, they provide insights into regional vegetation change, climate change, atmospheric pollution and act as chronometers for other events such as volcanic eruptions.

  • Blanket bogs accumulate and store millions of tonnes of carbon and have a vital function in controlling the green house gases that cause climate change.

  • Blanket bogs contain in excess of 90% water and act as vast water reservoirs. They have a vital role to play in the management of water within river catchments.

  • Blanket bogs and their utilisation for recreation can have positive benefits on the health of people. 
    http://www.ipcc.ie/a-to-z-peatlands/blanket-bogs/

The Unique Plants of the Bog

Mosses, Grasses & Heathers

Carnivorous Plants

Bogs provide a very acidic, waterlogged habitat and a unique set of species are adapated to these conditions. There are a variety of mosses e.g. Sphagnum moss & Common Haircap moss), grasses & sedges, e.g. Purple Moor-grass and Black Bog-rush and fluffy Cottongrass (after which we named one of our yurts) and the beautiful pinks and purples of Ling & Bell Heather and Cross-leaved Heath which mottle the landscape in every direction.

Lichens

The lichens are amazing when you learn about them. Although they look like moss they are not plants at all but microorganisms, part fungus and part algae existing together in a symbiotic relationship. Fascinating to look at, many have been given wonderfully apt names, eg.  Pixie Cup, Bearded, Antler Horn and Devil's Matchstick!

Great Irish Times article on Lichens

For more see www.lichens.ie 

Not just belonging to tropical landscapes, we were amazed to discover carnivorous plants here in South Donegal too. Right outside! Two; Round-leaved Sundew (after which we called another one of our yurts) and Bladderwort.

 

These carnivorous plants get extra nutrients by trapping and digesting insects. Check this video to see a slightly gruesome video of the Sundew plant having its lunch!

Invasive Species

The invasive species Rhodedendron Ponticum is a threat to all the vegetation of the bogland. Beautiful in full bloom in May but otherwise a scourge, once established it spreads quickly and competes with the native bogland flora for space and pollinators. A medium to long term objective of ours is focused on preventing its continued spread and ultimately eliminating it - but across 90 acres this is a near-impossible task.

Check out the Irish Peatland Conservation Council's wonderful

Bogland Wildlife Quirky Facts.

Sundew, Carnivorous Plant, Bogland, Donegal
Greater Butterfly Orchid

Wildflowers

From April to September the landscape here utterly transforms and the browns and beiges turn to green of every shade and colour erupts. It is a joy to behold.


Yellows;  Marsh Marigolds, Bog Asphodel, Tormentil, Yellow Pimpernel, Yellow Rattle, St John's Wort, Birds-foot Trefoil
 

Pinks; Cuckoo-flower (named because it appears at the same time as its avian namesake), Marsh Lousewort, Ragged Robins, Woundwort, Redshank

 

Purples; Dog-violets, Harebells, Selfheal, Devils-bit Scabious, Vetch, Knapweed
 

Blues;
Milkwort, Bugle, Forget-me-nots

Maroon;
Marsh Cinquefoil

 

White;

Meadowsweet, Wild Angelica, Hogweed, Sneezewort, Eyebright, Oxe-eye Daisies

Wild Orchids

There are a number of beautiful wild orchids that appear here from May-July in the adjoining meadows including the Early Marsh, Early Purple, Greater Butterfly and Heath-spotted Orchids.

Many of the Plants at Lough Mardal were used in Traditional Medicine

The word 'wort' was often used in the names of herbs and plants that had medicinal uses, the first part of the word denoting the complaint against which it might be specially efficacious.

 

Sneezewort - the dried leaves were used to make a type of snuff. The dried flowers were used to make a tea which was a remedy for head colds.

Woundwort - due to its antiseptic properties it was regarded as good for dressing cuts and other wounds. 

Lousewort - historically used to rid animals and people of lice and scabies.

Eyebright - traditionally used to treat all manner of eye maladies including; inflammation, conjunctivitis, red-eye, styes, itchy eyes, stinging eyes and weak vision. Many eye drops and tinctures today still contain extract of Eyebright.

Meadowsweet - named for its sweetly fragranced flowers it was known for calming musculoskeletal discomfort and warming wintertime woes! Probably because in the Middle Ages Meadowsweet flowers were used in the making of the first alcoholic beverage, hence the name 'Mead'.  Queen Elizabeth I chose Meadosweet to scatter on the stone floors of her chambers, which was customary both to give warmth underfoot and to overcome smells and infections!

Marsh Cinquefoil 9 june.jpg
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