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Trees, plants and wildlife in Bovey Valley Woods

Trees and plants

Pullabrook Wood

This 19.2ha (47.5 acre) semi-natural ancient woodland contains oak, beech, birch, sweet chestnut, sycamore, ash, cherry and mixed shrubs. The sweet chestnut and sycamore were planted in 1880 on the high ground along its southern edge. During the 1960s, two-thirds of the wood was planted with conifers.

Hisley Wood

Some areas contain mainly native trees such as ash and oak, while other areas are dominated by conifers including Douglas fir and larch. Other species include elm, sycamore, beech, holly and hazel.

Part of the 40.3ha (99.5 acre) Hisley Wood has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) due to its rare and unusual collection of lichens – 36 notable species were recorded in a 2011 survey. Species include the string of sausages, pixie cup, jam tart, dog lichen and beard lichen. 

Houndtor Wood

Most of this 26.4ha (65.3 acre) wood was planted with conifers in the 1960s. Since its purchase in 2001, the Trust has been gradually thinning the conifers to allow more light into the wood, which will encourage natural regeneration of native trees. As a result ground flora and wildlife will thrive.

Wildflowers throughout Bovey Valley Woods include primrose, celandine, bluebell, sorrel, foxglove, wall pennywort, pink purslane and Duke of Argyll’s teaplant.

Fungal species include scrambled egg slime, stinkhorn, grand spring pin, yellow stag’s horn, dryad’s saddle and fly agaric.


The Bovey Valley is a well-known haunt for bird watchers. The wood is famous for its pied flycatchers, which arrive from Africa each spring to breed. Other bird species include spotted flycatcher, lesser spotted woodpecker, wood warbler, grey wagtail, dipper, kingfisher, goshawk, buzzard, cuckoo, redstart, stonechat and the rare Dartford warbler.

The river contains otter, salmon, brown and sea trout, and the rare bullhead fish.

Mammals include dormouse and bat. Ten bat species have been found in the area, including a breeding colony of rare barbastelle bats, one of only 16 colonies known in the UK. Other bat species found on the site include soprano pipistrelle, lesser horseshoe, greater horseshoe, Daubenton’s and serotine.

Notable invertebrate species include the blue ground beetle, which is a UK Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) priority species. This large beetle with a blue or purple metallic sheen is mainly seen at night in Houndtor Wood, one of only 10 sites in Devon and Cornwall where it is found. The oil beetle is another priority species found in the area.

Bovey Valley and East Dartmoor National Nature Reserve are home to many types of butterfly, including a number of (BAP) priority species: the high brown fritillary, small pearl-bordered fritillary, dingy skipper, wall, white admiral, grizzled skipper, white-letter hairstreak, and brown hairstreak. Other species include the small skipper, brimstone, small white, green-veined white, marbled white, green hairstreak, small copper, common blue, holly blue, painted lady, red admiral, peacock, comma, pearl-bordered fritillary, dark green fritillary, silver-washed fritillary, speckled wood, grayling, gatekeeper, meadow brown, ringlet, small heath and purple emperor.

A wide variety of moths have also been recorded, including the satin beauty, antler moth, clouded border and riband wave. Other invertebrates include dragonfly, damselfly, mayfly, caddisfly, bee fly, wood ant and slow worm.

Entry into our woods is free but please donate now to help us care for them.