An annual of well-drained, basic, sheep-grazed grassland on mountain slopes. More rarely it grows in wetter, base-enriched flushes where it can occur with E. rivularis. An upland species, reaching 880 m on Cadair Idris (Merioneth).
E. cambrica, a tetraploid species, is easily overlooked because of its small size and inconspicuous flowers. It has been confused in the past with E. ostenfeldii, with which it forms hybrids, as at Cwm Idwal (Caerns.). Its distribution is better known than when mapped by Perring & Sell (1968).
Light (Ellenberg): 8
Moisture (Ellenberg): 5
Reaction (Ellenberg): 5
Nitrogen (Ellenberg): 2
Salt Tolerance (Ellenberg): 0
January Mean Temperature (Celsius): 2.8
July Mean Temperature (Celsius): 13.2
Annual Precipitation (mm): 2458
Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 5
Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 0
Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 0
RDB Species Accounts
Euphrasia cambrica Pugsley (Scrophulariaceae)
Welsh eyebright, Coreffros Cymreig
Status in Britain: VULNERABLE. ENDEMIC.
E. cambrica is an upland species, endemic to Snowdonia, North Wales. It occurs in short, sheep-grazed turf dominated by Agrostis capillaris and Festuca ovina ssp. hirtula, accompanied by such species as Anthoxanthum odoratum, Campanula rotundifolia, Diphasiastrum alpinum, Galium saxatile, Huperzia selago, Thymus polytrichus, Vaccinium myrtillus, Racomitrium lanuginosum and Rhytidiadelphus squarrosus. Sites seem to be typically on slopes and well-drained, but E. cambrica can grow in moderately flushed conditions sometimes with Euphrasia rivularis and Selaginella selaginoides as additional associates. On adjacent cliffs it can be replaced by a local variant of Euphrasia ostenfeldii. E. cambrica is said to take the place of the Scottish and circumpolar E. frigida in Snowdonia, but detailed habitat requirements are not the same. E. cambrica was claimed by Pugsley to have occurred in the Lake District, based on a collection from the Kirkstone Pass in 1881. This seems most likely to have been an error, based on an apparent hybrid derivative of E. ostenfeldii that occurs there.
An account of E. cambrica was given by Pugsley (1930), who regarded it as "widely distributed over the mountains of Caernarvonshire". Under natural conditions, E. cambrica is a minute plant, commonly only 1-2 cm in height, with flowers as small as any British species of the genus. Consequently it is liable to be overlooked except by those specifically searching for it. It has recently been confirmed from sites on Snowdon and Cwm Idwal and there are recent, presumably reliable records from other sites, including its outlier at Cader Idris. There has, however, been a continuing history of confusion with E. ostenfeldii, which resembles E. cambrica closely in floral characters. Examination of herbarium material has shown that records of E. cambrica, even when determined by Pugsley himself, can be wrong. This includes all examined material of E. cambrica f. elatior. Furthermore, at Cwm Idwal, there is a large population of plants intermediate between the two species and presumably of hybrid origin.
Hybrids are known only with E. ostenfeldii and E. scottica. There is no evidence of gene-flow threatening occurrence of the pure species. Limited critical modern recording and the background of taxonomic confusion do not allow a reliable assessment of the plant's current status. However, key populations lie within NNRs and there appears to be no reason to believe that the plant is subject to any significant threat.
A. J. Silverside
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.