The uplands are home to a range of Artic Alpines – examples include alpine club-moss, silvery moss and dwarf willow. Arctic-alpines are adapted to a short cool summer. Many lie prostrate or hug the ground to avoid damage and many need several growing seasons before they can flower or bear fruit.
Ireland has some of the most significant areas of blanket bog in the world, and has international obligations to protect this habitat and its species. These areas are a key part of Ireland’s natural history and heritage and are rich in wildlife.
The dry patches of peatland in Glenveagh are favoured by ling heather, bell heather, crowberry and blaeberry. The latter shrub, which has edible blue berries, is also known as bilberry or frochan.
The wetter areas of bog support wet grassland containing fescue, deer grass, rushes and purple moor grass or molinia. Purple moor grass is avoided by deer who seek out the sweeter grasses and sedges. This favours the growth of molinia, which is particularly abundant in Glenveagh.
Other plants have become specially adapted to life in the nutrient poor bog. These include the sundew and butterwort, which trap insects on their sticky leaves. The remains of the insect are digested by the plant extracting much-needed nutrients.
The lower slopes of the bog takes on a different character as it reaches the lower ground of the sheltered valley floor. Bog cotton, whose snow-white cotton tufts are often identified with Irish bogs, makes a bold statement on the wetter patches. Bog asphodel is probably the most visible flower as having flowered its stems turn a dark saffron colour which catches the eye; it was once exploited for a yellow dye.