The Native Beds (Irish Flora)

Limestone pavement in the native beds The Irish flora is displayed in a number of ecologically themed displays, showing woodland, heathland and grassland. In addition a number of more specialised habitat types are shown, such as the unique flora of limestone pavement (left).

The Burren in north County Clare contains some of the most extensive limestone karst scenery (limestone hills devoid of a soil covering) in Europe. Other, smaller areas of limestone pavement also occur in Mayo, Sligo, Leitrim, Cavan, Fermanagh and Donegal. The slabs making up this display are composed of Carboniferous limestone, as is the Burren, but they have come from a commercial quarry in Stradbally, County Laois.

Among the extraordinary features of this area, botanically, is the combination of alpine plants (e.g. Dryas octopetala) growing side by side with Mediterranean species (e.g. Neotinea maculata). This is explained by the unique combination of cool, wet summers, which enables the alpines, which cannot tolerate summer drought, to survive; and the mild winters, which allow the frost-sensitive Mediterranean species to survive.

Information about the Irish flora is available on the herbarium pages.