An annual largely restricted to turfy areas in saltmarshes immediately above the high water mark, where it is associated with Plantago spp. More rarely it occurs on grassy banks in the spray zone. Lowland.
Though first described in 1945, this tetraploid species was poorly known until clarified by Yeo (1978). Since it was mapped by Perring & Sell (1968) it has been recorded at more sites, but may still be under-recorded. E. heslop-harrisonii is dependent on the continuation of grazing of its saltmarsh habitat.
Light (Ellenberg): 8
Moisture (Ellenberg): 7
Reaction (Ellenberg): 6
Nitrogen (Ellenberg): 4
Salt Tolerance (Ellenberg): 3
January Mean Temperature (Celsius): 3.7
July Mean Temperature (Celsius): 12.6
Annual Precipitation (mm): 1695
Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 20
Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 0
Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 0
RDB Species Accounts
Euphrasia heslop-harrisonii Pugsley (Scrophulariaceae)
Eyebright, Lus nan Leac
Status in Britain: LOWER RISK - Near Threatened. ENDEMIC.
E. heslop-harrisonii is strictly coastal, occurring in scattered mainland localities from Argyllshire northwards. It is also known from Coll, Skye, Rona and Rum in the Inner Hebrides, in Orkney and on Foula, Shetland. A single, minute colony on Harris, in the Outer Hebrides, is seemingly a recent colonist. Characteristically it occurs at the tops of saltmarshes, often in a narrow zone immediately above the high water mark, accompanied by Plantago coronopus , P. maritima and other herbs such as Leontodon autumnalis. A typical situation would be a sheltered inlet near the head of a sea loch, where there is no direct wave action and a somewhat sandy substratum. It can occur in abundance on turfy islets within saltmarsh complexes. In Orkney, it is also present on turfy banks within reach of coastal spray.
Although first described as a species from Rum in 1945, and soon after recorded from West Ross, this remained a poorly-known species until clarified by Yeo (1978). It is now known to be plentiful at some sites and further survey work is likely to increase the number of localities. In heavily grazed turf it can remain dwarfed and relatively featureless and so be difficult to confirm. Identification commonly relies on the occurrence of better developed plants in protected microhabitats. Mainland plants tend to be more compact and broader-leaved than those of Rum and Skye, and there is suspicion that some of these mainland plants have been confused in the past with E. tetraquetra.
It is small-flowered and usually occurs in the absence of other Euphrasia species. Consequently, hybrids are rare, though recorded with E. arctica, E. confusa and E. nemorosa. In more exposed saltmarshes, E. heslop-harrisonii is replaced by E. foulaensis, the two species hardly ever occurring together. Another, seemingly related but as yet undescribed species can also occur in similar habitats in north-west Scotland (Silverside 1991a; 1991b), but shows a preference for areas with basic flushing.
E. heslop-harrisonii is dependent on the continued existence of grazed margins of saltmarshes and is vulnerable to changes in land use or reclamation. Such losses have so far been of minor impact and the species is not currently threatened.
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.