A bulbous perennial herb of moist, base-rich, shady habitats including woods, hedgerows, limestone pavements, pastures, riverbanks and stream banks; sometimes washed down on alluvium in riverine woodland subject to seasonal flooding. Mainly lowland, but to 340 m near Ribblehead (Mid-W. Yorks.).
G. lutea is often shy-flowering, especially in its shadier localities, and many populations are small and widely scattered. These factors undoubtedly led to it being under-recorded in the 1962 Atlas. It is, therefore, difficult to assess trends, but the overall distribution appears to be relatively stable.
European Temperate element, with a continental distribution in W. Europe; also in C. and E. Asia.
Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 212
Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 0
Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 0
Atlas Change Index: 0.16
Scarce Atlas Account
Gagea lutea (L.) Ker Gawler
Status: not scarce
This is a small bulbous perennial, flowering during March and April. It occurs very locally in small, moist, base-rich woodlands, woodland borders, wooded limestone pavements, pastures and shady river banks. In this last situation it is often found in areas of silt deposition in association with Chrysosplenium alternifolium. It is virtually confined to the lowlands, but is recorded from 320 metres near Llanarmon-yr-Ial and 340 metres near Ribblehead.
Although it can occur as scattered individuals, colonies are often quite dense but may be of limited extent, just a few square metres in area. Some of these appear to persist for many years in a vegetative state, others are very free-flowering, and the density of the tree canopy is probably a controlling factor.
Some populations have been lost, mainly through felling of their woodland habitat, but adverse agricultural practices and river bank reinforcements also take their toll. Losses due to erosion are probably less important as displaced plants may re-establish themselves downstream.
The plant is widely distributed throughout western and central Europe, extending eastwards into Russia with outlying populations in northern Scandinavia. It also occurs in eastern Asia and the western Himalayas, Japan and the Kamchatka peninsula, Russia.
Systematic searching for this easily overlooked species has resulted in the discovery of many new colonies in recent years. Non-flowering plants can he easily confused with Hyacinthoides non-scripta, especially when they are immature.
M. J. Y Foley
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 of north European vascular plants north of the Tropic of Cancer. 3 vols,
, Königstein, (1986)
Vergleichende Chorologie der zentraleuropäischen Flora. Volume 1. 2 vols,
, Jena, (1965)
Scarce plants in Britain,
, Peterborough, (1994)