Betula nana

Salix herbacea

Lateglacial vegetation

Abernethy Forest provides a key site for the vegetation sequence during this period (Birks and Matthewes 1978). Between 14,000 and 13,500 years ago, vegetation consisted of open pioneer sedge and grass communities, growing on the newly ice-free ground. Between 13,500 and 13,000 years ago the vegetation resembled the modern arctic shrub tundra of northern Sweden (Bennet, 1996). Dwarf birch (Betula nana) and crowberry (Empetrum) were the dominant species. At 13,100 years ago, pollen from juniper (Juniperus communis) increases and wood fragments from tree birch occur, indicating colonisation by taller trees and shrubs. Between 13,000 and 11,000 years ago, during the cold of the Loch Lomond Stadial, the vegetation reverted to a herbaceous cover. Species included the arctic alpine Moss Campion and the northern montane Tufted Saxifrage.

Moss Campion

A site at Morrone Birk Woods, near Braemar, has revealed a rich late-glacial flora that included plants now absent from Britain or very rare (Huntley, 1994). These included the Arctic Poppy (image below) and Cassiope.