Barnsley Biodiversity Action Plan. Post-15 BAP. Updated to 2023




Bluebell, Stichwort and Yellow Archangel plant species

Ancient woodland indicators

One of the most striking features of Ancient Woodlands, distinguishing them from recently established woods and plantations, is their rich and varied ground flora. Certain plants -Ancient Woodland Indicators- are mainly restricted to ancient woodlands. A good range of such plants therefore may indicate an Ancient Woodland.

These plants are found because Ancient Woodland, known to have been in existence since 1600, has developed distinctive soils, fungi, and plant communities over the centuries.

Ancient Woodland Indicator Plants in Barnsley, South Yorkshire

Barren Strawberry



Broad-leaved Helleborine


Bush Vetch

Climbing Corydalis

Common Cow-wheat

Common Figwort

Dog’s Mercury

Early-purple Orchid

Greater Stitchwort

Hairy St John’s Wort

Pale Wood Violet/Early Dod Violet

Opposite-leaved Golden Saxifrage

Perforate St John’s Wort





Slender St John’s Wort

Square-stalked St John’s Wort

Sweet Woodruff

Townhall Clock/Moschatel


Trailing St John’s Wort

Water Avens

Wild Strawberry

Wood Anemone

Wood Forget-Me-Not

Wood Horsetail

Wood Sorrel

Wood Speedwell

Yellow Archangel

Yellow Pimpernell

Grasses, Sedges and Woodrushes

Great Woodrush

Hairy Woodrush

Pale Sedge

Pendulous Sedge

Remote Sedge

Wood Sedge

Wood barley

Wood Meliick

Wood Millet

Trees and Shrubs


Crab Apple

Guelder Rose


Sessile Oak

Small-leaved Lime

Wild Cherry

Based on AWI list compiled by Mel Jones.

Ancient Woodland Indicators

The most often seen Ancient Woodland Indicator plants include Bluebell, Dog’s Mercury, Greater Stitchwort, Wood Sorrel and Yellow Archangel. Wood Anemone, Ransoms (Wild Garlic) and Opposite-leaved Golden Saxifrage are found in damper areas, often alongside streams. Sessile Oak is strongly associated with Ancient Woodland as is Holly.

Although not ancient woodland indicators, Lesser Celandine and Honeysuckle are welcome features of these and other woodlands.

A list of plants characteristic of Ancient Woodlands in South Yorkshire has been produced by Professor Melvyn Jones. The presence of these plants as well as other notable plants is used in Barnsley for the identification of woodland Local Wildlife Sites.

By themselves the presence of a good number of Ancient Woodland Indicators in a woodland - although a welcome indication of biodiversity value - is not conclusive evidence that the woodland is ancient. This requires historical evidence from maps and archival material.

The presence of Ancient Woodland Indicator species in a hedge-bank may be evidence that the hedge was created from ancient woodland and in grassland may be evidence of former woodland habitat.

Bluebell Wood anenome Sessile Oak