An evergreen shrub of shingle drift-lines and the dry upper zones of saltmarshes, especially where these adjoin shingle banks or sand dunes; also along sea-wall drift-lines and, more rarely, beside brackish creeks and ditches in coastal grazing marshes. Lowland.
There is little evidence of any recent change in distribution. Some populations have probably been lost in the past through agricultural reclamation. It is probably alien in Anglesey; if it were native (Rich & Brown, 2000) it would represent a remarkable extension of its range.
Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 47
Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 0
Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 1
Atlas Change Index: -0.11
Scarce Atlas Account
Suaeda vera Forsskål ex J. Gmelin
This is a conspicuous shrub of shingle drift-lines and the dry upper parts of saltmarshes, especially where these adjoin shingle banks or sand dunes. It also occurs along sea-wall drift-lines and, more rarely, adjoining brackish `creeks' and ditches in coastal grazing marshes. On shingle it can form dense monospecific stands, but in saltmarshes it is usually co-dominant with Atriplex portulacoides and/or Elytrigia atherica. In Norfolk it is also a prominent member of a distinctive community of saltmarsh - sand dune transitions, with such species as Armeria maritima, Atriplex portulacoides, Frankenia laevis, Limonium bellidifolium, L. binervosum and Puccinellia maritima.
S. vera is a small evergreen shrub, flowering from July to September and fruiting from September to November. Water-borne seeds are washed up and accumulate amongst drift-line litter, germinating in the spring. Vegetative fragments detached during winter storms may also be involved in the colonisation of new sites. Lateral vegetative spread is by means of freely rooting subterranean stems.
S. vera has probably always been scarce in Britain, and its distribution has clearly changed very little in recent times. There are relatively few cases of the species having been lost from sites, although at its northern limit in Lincolnshire it has apparently "come and gone and returned several times" (Gibbons 1975). Some stands of S. vera may be at risk from sea defence and other coastal engineering schemes, although most of the larger populations are within SSSIs. Nevertheless, accelerated sea-level rise as a result of climate-change could represent a significant long-term threat.
It is found on the coasts of southern and western Europe and inland in Spain (Jalas & Suominen 1980); also in Madeira, the Canary Islands, St Helena, Angola, Somalia, south-western Asia and inland in southern Russia, Afghanistan and India. It reaches its northern limit in Britain, which correlates with the 16 °C isotherm for August (Chapman 1976).
For an account of the ecology of this species, see Chapman (1947).
S. J. Leach
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.