Alchemilla wichurae

Tracheophyta MagnoliopsidaRosaceaeAlchemillaAlchemilla wichurae

Ecology

A perennial herb of tightly-grazed base-rich grassland and herb-rich rock ledges on outcrops and cliffs; sometimes colonising damp scree and bare cracks in limestone and basalt. It seems to prefer moist soils, frequently occurring near waterfalls and seepages. From sea level in N. Scotland to 990 m on Ben Lawers (Mid Perth).

Status

Native

World Distribution

European Boreal-montane element; also in Greenland.

© K.J. Walker, BSBI

Broad Habitats

Calcareous grassland (includes lowland and montane types)

Light (Ellenberg): 7

Moisture (Ellenberg): 5

Reaction (Ellenberg): 5

Nitrogen (Ellenberg): 3

0

Salt Tolerance (Ellenberg): 0

January Mean Temperature (Celsius): 0.9

July Mean Temperature (Celsius): 12

Annual Precipitation (mm): 1992

Life form information

Height (cm): 20

Perennation - primary

Perennial

Life Form - primary

Hemicryptophyte

Woodiness

Herbaceous

Clonality - primary

Little or no vegetative spread

Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 65

Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 0

Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 0

Distribution information

JNCC Designations

NHMSYS0000455738

Scarce Atlas Account

Scarce Atlas Account: 

Alchemilla wichurae (Buser) Stefansson

Status: scarce

This is a montane plant of basic soils. It grows as a component of herb-rich ledges on outcrops and cliffs, recurring in upland grasslands where grazing or mowing keep the vegetation suitably short. In both types of habitat it seems to prefer damper soils, and indeed is common by waterfalls or seepages on cliffs. However, it tolerates immersion or splashing less well than its almost constant companion A. glabra. It may also colonise bare cracks in hard limestones and basalt, and scree where this is well-vegetated and moist. In the Yorkshire Dales, tracksides are a favoured habitat, where it often grows with A. glaucescens. It grows from sea level to at least 990 metres on Ben Lawers. 

A. wichurae is an obligate apomict. It appears to regenerate vigorously both from seed and from portions of rhizomes detached in the frequent falls of accumulated soil from ledges. Many colonies in long-established grassland appear to reproduce vegetatively.

 

Like A. glomerulans, there is a shortage of post-1970 records of this critical species. In its cliff sites A. wichurae is scarcely threatened: with its low stature the species is much less frequent in haymeadows than other grosser lady's-mantles, and its preference for shallower soils renders many of its sites safe from ploughing. However, it is readily overgrown by coarse grasses on road-sides when these become enriched. The tracksides on which it grows are being damaged by walkers and off-road vehicles in Yorkshire. 

A. wichurae is restricted to northern Europe, including the Faeroes and Iceland. It reaches its southern limit in the Sudeten mountains.

This is usually a distinctive plant, but there are populations in Breadalbane and elsewhere which are less easily distinguished from A. glabra and whose taxonomic status is unclear.

 

F. J. Roberts

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 Supp (32b)
Hultén E, Fries M
1986.  Atlas of north European vascular plants north of the Tropic of Cancer. 3 vols.
Stewart A, Pearman DA, Preston CD
1994.  Scarce plants in Britain.