Dry Limestone Ridges

Dry limestone ridges known as éperons provide a habitat that is now of great interest to botanists because of their very particular assemblage of plant species, many of them rare and/or growing nowhere else. Many of the local wild orchids prefer the poor, shallow, calcareous soil of these sites.

A typical dry limestone ridge, at Chaumussay. The top is dominated by Downy Oak Quercus pubescens, the steep upper slope by a variety of bushes, including juniper Juniperus communis, dogwood Cornus sanguinea and buckthorn Rhamnus cathartica. Below that there is a terrace of rough calcareous grassland which is mowed once a year. Orchids grow where the grassland and the scrub merge.
The tops of the ridges are dominated by Downy Oak Quercus pubsescens woodland and the steep upper slopes by grassland once used as sheep pasture now being overtaken by Juniper Juniperus communis scrub. The lower slopes are usually agricultural land these days.

Flower rich vegetation on dry shallow limestone soil on the slope of a ridge near Panzoult. The plants growing here include Crested Cow-wheat Melampyrum cristatum, Red Helleborine Cephalanthera rubra and Common Birdsfoot Trefoil Lotus corniculatus.
The ridges occur along the line of rivers, not running parallel to the rivers, but sweeping in at an angle, divided by small streams which begin on the plateaux and feed the rivers. Many of these ridges have been quarried for their limestone, which is used for constructing buildings or roads, depending on the quality of the stone.

L'Eperon de Murat at Ferrière Larçon is owned and managed by the Conservatoire d'espaces Naturels de la région Centre and can be visited at any time. For an account of an orchid outing to the site see this blog post on Days on the Claise.

To read an account of a botany outing to Les Puys du Chinonais, see this blog post on Days on the Claise.

To read an account of a botany outing to a limestone ridge near Panzoult, see this blog post on Days on the Claise.

To read an account of a botany outing in the Claise Valley, see this blog post on Days on the Claise.

To read an account of an orchid outing around Chaumussay see this blog post on Days on the Claise.

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