A long-lived perennial herb, native in damp, rocky woodlands and on shaded cliff ledges. It is also grown in gardens and has become naturalised on hedge banks, walls, roadsides and waste ground. Native plants range from the lowlands to 640 m (Cwm Idwal, Caerns.).
Native populations rarely spread into apparently suitable habitat and are probably in slow decline. In contrast, garden plants can spread rapidly and the species is increasing as an established alien. Within its core native areas, it can be difficult to separate native from alien occurrences, particularly in Ireland.
Oceanic Boreo-temperate element; confined as a native to W. Europe but widely naturalised outside its native range.
Scarce Atlas Account
Meconopsis cambrica (L.) Viguier
This species shows a marked preference for moist shady, rocky places, often under trees and usually on base-rich soils. It also forms part of the arctic-alpine community in Wales, where associated species typically include Arabis hirsuta, Crepis paludosa, Festuca vivipara, Hymenophyllum wilsonii, Luzula sylvatica, Oxyria digyna, Saxifraga hypnoides, S. oppositifolia, S. stellaris, Sedum rosea and Selaginella selaginoides (Price Evans 1932; Price Evans 1944). Introduced populations occur along roadsides, hedges, walls and waste ground often some distance from habitation. It is confined, as a native, to land between 100 and 610 metres in Snowdonia, but introduced populations descend almost to sea-level in some areas.
M. cambrica is a long-lived perennial, flowering from June to September. Reproduction is entirely by seed.
This species is slowly decreasing as a native plant but is much grown in gardens and is now widespread and increasing as an established alien. Garden populations increase rapidly from self-sown seed but, paradoxically, native and some established populations seem reluctant to spread into apparently ideal habitats nearby.
M. cambrica is endemic to western Europe from western Ireland southwards to western France and northern Spain (Jalas & Suominen 1991). It is recorded as an introduction elsewhere in Europe. It is the only European representative of an otherwise Asiatic genus.
Native plants have predominantly yellow flowers, whilst those of established aliens may be yellow, orange or even scarlet, and are sometimes double (Huxley 1992).
R. G. Ellis
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.