Like the range of landscapes that support it, the plant life in Lochaber is especially diverse.
In the mountains you’ll find rare Arctic-Alpines such as drooping saxifrage, diapensia, arctic sandwort, and many scarce lichens, while in boggy land important plants include Rannoch rush, dwarf birch, brown-beaked sedge and scarce bog mosses.
Lochaber is renowned for its woodlands, particularly the oak and birchwoods, which are home to some of the best species-rich ‘Atlantic’ communities of mosses, liverworts, ferns and lichens in Europe. Key areas to find these are around Loch Sunart, Loch Moidart, Loch nan Uamha and Loch Shiel.
Woodlands that grow on limestone and basalt are dominated by ash, hazel and alder. In the central glens you’ll see remnants of the towering Scots pine woodland.
Coastal grasslands, heaths and scrub on the more basic rock types, such as on the isle of Eigg, are of particular interest for their plant life. In areas where the land is maintained in traditional crofting way, there is a colourful plant life, with notable species like the greater butterfly-orchid, whorled caraway and globeflower.
Several notable plant species such as slender naiad, pipewort, club sedge and pygmyweed also occur in certain lochs or in the wetlands surrounding them.
Coastal & marine plants
Lochaber has an exceptionally rich marine flora, particularly in its many sea lochs, notably Lochs Sunart, Ailort, Linnhe, Leven, Moidart and Nevis. Important habitats include rocky reefs, deep-water muds, maerl beds, tidal rapids and beds of unattached knotted-wrack.
To find out more about Lochaber’s biodiversity have a look at the local Biodiversity Action Plan.