A biennial herb, naturalised on dry banks, walls, field margins, rough grassland, pastures and sheltered sea-cliffs in S.W. England; elsewhere a casual of waste ground, rubbish tips, re-seeded road verges, sand-pits, tracks and disturbed coastal dunes. It reproduces by seed, easily colonising open habitats, but does not survive much competition. Lowland.
V. virgatum was first recorded in the wild in Britain in 1787. Its distribution is probably stable in S.W. England, where it has often been considered to be native or probably native.
A Suboceanic Southern-temperate species.
Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 339
Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 13
Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 3
Atlas Change Index: 0.35
Scarce Atlas Account
Verbascum virgatum Stokes
This plant is probably native in some parts of southwest England, In Cornwall and Devon it is recorded from dry banks, old walls and pastures; it has also been reported from sheltered sea-cliffs. On the Lizard Peninsula, it grows on a steep, rocky, roughly grazed field with many small annuals including the nationally rare Polycarpon tetraphyllum. It is now seldom seen in gardens, but when cultivated its abundant production of seeds allows it to escape with ease. It occurs as a casual on waste ground, rubbish tips, re-seeded roadside verges, disused railways, forest tracks, disused sandpits inland and disturbed dunes by the sea. It will grow in most soil types.
V. virgatum is a biennial, reproducing entirely by seed, which is very small and easily wind-dispersed. This plant cannot survive much competition and often disappears from a site when lack of management allows coarse grassland or scrub to colonise.
V. virgatum is endemic to western Europe, from the Azores, Spain and Portugal to Britain. It is doubtfully native in Italy. The species reaches its northern limit in Britain.
The hybrid between V. virgatum and V. thapsus has been recorded as a casual in Warwickshire (State 1991).
V. A. Johnstone
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.