Much of Ireland is comprised of Carboniferous limestone but in many areas it is covered with layers of gravel, clay and peat.
Calcareous grassland is found on the sides of esker ridges in the midlands and in areas with free draining limestone-based soils. On calcareous heaths there can be a combination of acid-loving and calcicole plants growing together as the surface layer of the soil is leached away by rainfall.
Neutral and calcareous soils are rich in nutrients and minerals and support a much wider flora than acidic soils.
One of the few areas where the bare rock is exposed is the Burren in Co.Clare, Irelands most famous limestone plant habitat, with a wide and varied flora growing in the cracks on its limestone pavements. County Fermanagh also has an small area of limestone pavement. Below are some Irish wildflowers that are found on calcareous and base-rich soils. Please hover over images for the Common and Irish name and click image for more photographs, plant details and distribution maps. Lichens found in the Burren can be seen here (link opens in new window).