Chamaemelum nobile

Tracheophyta MagnoliopsidaAsteraceaeChamaemelumChamaemelum nobile


A perennial herb found in moderately acidic, seasonally wet grassland, especially on sandy commons and pastures where mowing, trampling or grazing discourages competitors; also in coastal grassland and on cliffs, where exposure and trampling maintain a short sward. 0-465 m (near Priestleap, S. Kerry).



World Distribution

Suboceanic Southern-temperate element.

Broad Habitats

Acid grassland (includes non-calcareous sandy grassland)

Light (Ellenberg): 8

Moisture (Ellenberg): 7

Reaction (Ellenberg): 5

Nitrogen (Ellenberg): 5


Salt Tolerance (Ellenberg): 0

January Mean Temperature (Celsius): 4.6

July Mean Temperature (Celsius): 15.7

Annual Precipitation (mm): 990

Life form information

Height (cm): 30

Perennation - primary


Life Form - primary




Clonality - primary

Extensively creeping and rooting at nodes

Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 308

Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 115

Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 13

Atlas Change Index: -0.92

Distribution information

JNCC Designations


Scarce Atlas Account

Scarce Atlas Account: 

Chamaemelum nobile (L.) All.


Status: scarce



C. nobile is most frequently found in herb-rich, closely grazed, moderately acidic, lowland grassland which has not been fertilised or sprayed. It flourishes in relatively high nutrient situations providing that sufficient grazing, mowing or trampling occurs to prevent grasses and taller plants from dominating the sward. Although a plant of dry, sandy or gleyed soils, a common requirement is to be seasonally wet, usually in winter. The sun also often bakes sandy soil hard in the summer, rendering it slowly permeable thus leading to temporary waterlogging in winter. Its common associates are Agrostis capillaris, Lotus corniculatus, Plantago coronopus, P. lanceolata and Potentilla erecta but rarer species such as Cicendia filiformis, Corrigiola litoralis, Galium constrictum, Illecebrum verticillatum, Mentha pulegium, Persicaria minor, Pilularia globulifera and Pulicaria vulgaris have been recorded at particular sites. C. nobile also occurs in maritime grassland, where salt spray and exposure keep the sward short. Here the flora is less rich, but typically includes Carex panicea, Festuca rubra, Pulicaria dysenterica and Sagina procumbens. A further habitat is on cricket and football pitches where regular cutting and rolling mimic grazing pressure, but here again the flora is less diverse. 

A perennial, producing shoots in the first year of growth which normally form a rosette of leaves, which do not flower until the second year. It is long-lived, reproducing both by clonal spread, and in some populations, by seed. Under heavy grazing pressures it adopts a semi-prostrate, often non-flowering form where the stems creep out parallel to the ground and thus avoid being nibbled (Westerhoff & Clark 1992).

C. nobile has declined dramatically in recent years, principally because of cessation of grazing. It cannot compete with taller herbs or scrub, and quickly disappears together with its rich associated flora. It is often eliminated by drainage, and it has vanished from its roadside sites as they are fenced, and as the vegetation becomes coarse and tall. It survives in the New Forest and Dartmoor because of grazing by ponies and cattle and on the cliffs of the south-west because of climatic conditions. The map is believed to be an accurate summary of the current position with the exception of Dartmoor, where the plant has not been surveyed since 1970. 

It is widespread in western Europe from Belgium, where it may be adventive, southwards to Algeria and the Azores.



H. Winship & C. Chatters

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.