Euphrasia foulaensis

Tracheophyta MagnoliopsidaScrophulariaceaeEuphrasiaEuphrasia foulaensis


An annual occurring in damp, open turf on coastal cliff-tops, and at the upper fringe of saltmarshes. Its cliff-top sites are subject to sea spray, but it avoids the most exposed sites. E. foulaensis seems unable to survive in rank turf, and grazing by sheep or rabbits is essential for its survival. Lowland.



World Distribution

Oceanic Boreal-montane element.

Broad Habitats

Light (Ellenberg): 8

Moisture (Ellenberg): 6

Reaction (Ellenberg): 6

Nitrogen (Ellenberg): 4


Salt Tolerance (Ellenberg): 1

January Mean Temperature (Celsius): 3.6

July Mean Temperature (Celsius): 12.4

Annual Precipitation (mm): 1263

Life form information

Height (cm): 6

Perennation - primary


Life Form - primary

Therophyte (annual land plant)



Clonality - primary

Little or no vegetative spread

Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 143

Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 0

Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 0

Distribution information

JNCC Designations


Scarce Atlas Account

Scarce Atlas Account: 

Euphrasia foulaensis F. Towns. ex Wettst.

Status: scarce



This is the characteristic Euphrasia of damp turf on northern Scottish cliff-tops. It is also frequent at the tops of saltmarshes. Grazing, normally by sheep or rabbits, appears to be essential in these sites. 

E. foulaensis seems unable to survive in ranker turf, though it can also occur in thin, ungrazed turf on coastal rocks. Cliff-top sites are invariably within the range of blown sea-spray. It is typically absent from the Plantago maritima - P. coronopus community that occupies the tips of exposed headlands, but in the slightly more sheltered conditions at the landward edges of such sites E. foulaensis often occurs in considerable abundance. Primula scotica is a notable associate at a few sites, when there is some slight basic flushing, and, in very few localities, authentic E. rotundifolia also occurs. It is confined to the lowlands.

E. foulaensis is a hemiparasitic annual, presumably germinating in spring and attaching to a suitable host when root contact is first made. No information is available on host plants, but it is unlikely to be host specific. Individual plants begin to flower from midsummer onwards and populations set seed over a long period.

While many sites may be lost locally through agricultural improvement or cessation of grazing, the plant is so abundant within its range that it is not subject to any currently foreseeable threat. Lack of post 1970 records from some 10 km squares almost certainly reflects the lack of recent critical recording.

Outside Britain, E. foulaensis occurs only in the Faeroes, where, however, it is local and often taxonomically rather ill-defined. Populations rarely show any substantial degree of hybridisation, though, when they occur, hybrids can form locally uniform and distinctive populations, leading to incipient speciation.



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.

Atlas text references

Atlas Supp (56b)
Meusel H, Jäger E, Rauschert S, Weinert E
1978.  Vergleichende Chorologie der zentraleuropäischen Flora. Volume 2. 2 vols.