Size: 18.76 hectares

% of total area of SSSI's: 4.62

Designated features: Orange Birds foot, Dwarf Pansy 

General Description

Nestled between Tresco to the west and St Martin’s to the east Tean is an uninhabited island that is composed of a series of granite tors, the highest, Great Hill rising to over 40m above sea level. The areas of dune grassland are particularly important for the occurrence of the very rare Dwarf Pansy, a plant which only occurs on Scilly and nowhere else in Great Britain. Species such as Four-leaved Allseed and Balm-leaved Figwort can also be found. Within the more established maritime grassland species such as Thrift and Sea Campion are common and the nationally rare Orange Bird’s-foot also grows.

On the summit of Great hill there is a very small area of lowland heath, but the sides of the tors are now dominated by Bracken, particularly on the previously cultivated parts of the island. Also, in these areas which can be located easily by the remnants of the old drystone walls species such as Red Clover, Hop Trefoil, Black Knapweed and rare on Scilly Yellow Oat Grass and Wood Small Reed.  The island also supports three species of seabird, with nationally important numbers of Great Black-backed and internationally important numbers of Lesser Black-backed Gull along with several pairs of Herring Gull.

Practical Management

The abandonment of grazing on Tean in the mid- 1940s has meant that the dune, maritime grassland and the small pockets of heathland have been encroached by Bracken and coarse grasses and scrub. The management in recent years has focused on restoring the dune and maritime grassland areas in an attempt to see if Dwarf Pansy returns to its former sites. This means cutting and raking off the grass during spring and late summer in selected areas to allow other wildflower species such as Thrift, Common Scurvygrass, Lady’s Bedstraw and Changing Forget me-not to flower and seed.

2021 has seen us confirm the return of the Dwarf pansy after a 17 year absence from the Island.  Find out more here  "Return of rare species"

Tean is also important for its growing number of Greater and Lesser Black-backed Gulls. As with many of the uninhabited islands which are accessible to the public there is a need to balance the needs of nature and for people to enjoy the landscape and the biodiversity around them. We work hard to provide well mown, circular paths that permit the public to see the best of what the island has to offer, whilst ensuring that visits do not disturb the breeding seabirds. The result of this path work is that the history of Tean is well managed also, through the clearance of the old Chapel and churchyard to the west of Great Hill, along with several Iron Age entrance graves that grace the summit of Tean.