Rathcoole Woodlands has 36,625.9 m² / 3.66 ha of Maturing Woodland classified as WN6 of Wet willow alder-ash woodland (using Fossitt classification) with a conservative estimate of 9,687 mature trees predominantly of Willow and Birch1. A fullsurvey of the field layer and of the mosses is needed along with animal and insect surveys.
According to Fossitt (2000), this broad category includes woodlands of permanently waterlogged sites that are dominated by willows (Salix spp.), Alder (Alnus glutinosa) or Ash (Fraxinus excelsior), or by various combinations of some or all of these trees. Rathcoole Woodlands is dominated by Willows between 8 and 15 m tall, and over 30 cm in girth with Birch equally as tall and wide. The willows are often multi-stemmed (MacDiarmada, unpublished). The mature woodland of Rathcoole Woodlands is approximately 50% of the total area and is quite varied in character.
Fossitt1 describes the field layer of this woodland type as having a type of grass called Creeping Bent (Agrostis stolonifera), Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria), Common Marsh-bedstraw (Galium palustre), Purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) and Skullcap (Scutellaria galericulata). Mosses such as Climacium dendroides, Calliergon cordifolium and Homalia trichomanoides are characteristic.
The field layer of this section of Rathcoole Woodlands comprises Circium spp. (Thistle), Rubus fruticose (Blackberry), Epilobium spp. (Willowherbs), Hedera Helix (Ivy), and Fern, but many other plants have been noted such as woody night shade, goose grass, and hogweeds. Mac Diarmada suggests that the dominance of Willow indicated that the field layer of the Maturing Woodland component of Rathcoole Woodlands is impoverished. But only a survey of the field layer and ground layer will reveal the full list of species present.