Silybum marianum

Tracheophyta MagnoliopsidaAsteraceaeSilybumSilybum marianum


An annual or biennial, found in rough pasture, on grassy banks, in hedgerows and on waste ground. It is locally well-established and persistent, especially in coastal habitats in S. England, but is also a widespread casual. Lowland.



World Distribution

Native of the Mediterranean region; naturalised or casual throughout much of Europe and in N. America and Australia.

© G. Toone, IWNHAS

Broad Habitats

Boundary and linear features (eg hedges, roadsides, walls)

Light (Ellenberg): 8

Moisture (Ellenberg): 4

Reaction (Ellenberg): 8

Nitrogen (Ellenberg): 6


Salt Tolerance (Ellenberg): 1

January Mean Temperature (Celsius): 4

July Mean Temperature (Celsius): 15.8

Annual Precipitation (mm): 781

Life form information

Height (cm): 100

Perennation - primary

Biennial, including monocarpic perennials

Perennation - secondary


Life Form - primary


Life Form - secondary

Therophyte (annual land plant)

Comment on Life Form

"CTW say ""annual or biennial""; Butcher (1961) says biennial"



Clonality - primary

Little or no vegetative spread

Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 552

Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 64

Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 6

Atlas Change Index: -0.07

Distribution information

JNCC Designations


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 (290b)
de Bolòs O, Vigo J
1995.  Flora dels Països Catalans, III. Pirolàcies-Compostes.
Doogue D, Nash D, Parnell J, Reynolds S, Wyse Jakson P
1998.  Flora of County Dublin.