A perennial herb found in the Breckland in short open grassland, grass-heath, on forest rides and tracks, in abandoned arable fields, and on roadsides. It does not persist in tall, closed turf but sometimes reappears following disturbance. Lowland.
Many sites of A. campestris have been lost to agriculture, forestry or building development. It is extant at only three native sites, but alien populations have been established using native seed. It is vulnerable to grazing, and native populations survive only in rabbit exclosures. The naturalised population on sand dunes in Glamorgan appears to be in decline.
Eurosiberian Temperate element, with a continental distribution in W. Europe.
Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 9
Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 0
Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 0
Atlas Change Index: -0.42
RDB Species Accounts
Artemisia campestris L. (Asteraceae)
Field wormwood, Llysiau'r Corff
Status in Britain: ENDANGERED. WCA Schedule 8.
Status in Europe: Not threatened.
Native sites of A. campestris are restricted to Breckland where, like other special plants of this area, it grows in short grassy swards with some ground disturbance. Its habitats include roadside verges, tracks, abandoned arable fields, forest rides and the barer areas in Breckland pine belts. It is found on drought-prone calcareous to slightly acidic sands. Associates include Achillea millefolium, Arenaria serpyllifolia, Crepis capillaris, Erophila verna, Festuca rubra, Filago minima, Galium verum, Koeleria macrantha, Ornithopus perpusillus, Plantago lanceolata and Sedum acre, together with some of the rarer Breckland species, Medicago falcata, M. minima and Silene conica. It does not survive for long in rank tussocky grassland, the plants becoming smothered, particularly when overwintering buds and shoots lie close to the ground.
A. campestris is a deep-rooting perennial with ascending stems to 60 cm, woody at the base. Flowering panicles can be seen from May to September. The flowers lack nectaries and are likely to be wind-pollinated (Birkinshaw 1990d). Once established, mature plants are long-lived, but plants in early stages of development are intolerant of competition. It is sensitive to grazing (Watt 1971) and no longer appears on rabbit-grazed heaths, except within rabbit exclosures, but will survive as rosettes in closely mown grass as, for instance, around factory units at Brandon.
Records of A. campestris date back to 1670, since which time it has been recorded in about twenty locations in eleven hectads (Crompton 1974-1986), principally in the area bounded by Mildenhall, Brandon and Thetford. Many sites have been lost to agriculture, forestry, and building, and the plant is now found at only three native sites. By far the largest numbers - some 350 plants - occur on an industrial estate in Brandon where a small undeveloped area containing 150 plants is specially managed for it. The other two native sites held 97 and about 40 plants in 1994. Because the plant is potentially threatened on sites lacking statutory protection, populations derived from planned translocations have been established on other Breckland SSSIs. It sometimes occurs as a casual outside Breckland but, with the exception of a small and declining population at Crymlyn Burrows near Swansea, rarely persists for long.
A. campestris is widespread in Europe, extending from Spain eastwards to Greece and eastern Europe, and north to Fennoscandia, even to Novaya Zemyla at 75°N. Outside Europe it is found from Turkey to central Asia, in North Africa and North America.
PLANTATT - Attributes of British and Irish plants. (.zip 1455KB) This dataset was compiled and published in 2004, and last updated in November 2008. Download includes an Excel spreadsheet of the attributes, and a PDF explaining the background and nomenclature. Note that the PDF version is the booklet as published, whereas the Excel spreadsheet incorporates subsequent corrections. A hardcopy can be purchased from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.
Atlas text references
Atlas of north European vascular plants north of the Tropic of Cancer. 3 vols,
, Königstein, (1986)
Vergleichende Chorologie der zentraleuropäischen Flora. Volume 3. 2 vols,
, Jena, (1992)
British Red Data Books. 1. Vascular plants, edn 3,
, Peterborough, (1999)