A small, rather woody perennial, restricted to calcareous substrates and occurring on dry open slopes and rock ledges on crags, in sites which are usually S.-facing and inaccessible to grazing animals. Montane, from 540 m (Meal an Fhiodhain, Mid Perth) to 1100 m (Ben Lawers, Mid Perth).
It is uncertain whether the distribution of V. fruticans is stable. Some populations are known to have been lost, for reasons which are uncertain, and the numbers of plants at extant sites are small. The additional 10-km square records since the 1962 Atlas can probably be ascribed to better recent recording.
European Arctic-montane element; also in Greenland.
Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 26
Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 0
Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 0
Atlas Change Index: 0.11
RDB Species Accounts
Veronica fruticans Jacquin (Scrophulariaceae)
V. saxatilis Scop.
Rock speedwell, Lus-crè na Creige
Status in Britain: LOWER RISK - Near Threatened.
Status in Europe: Not threatened.
In Britain, V. fruticans has a restricted and localised distribution in the Scottish Highlands where it occurs on base-rich alpine rocks at altitudes from 500 to 1,000 metres. It most typically occurs on dry, open calcareous slopes and rock ledges on crags, usually in south-facing sites, and almost invariably inaccessible to grazing. It is an early coloniser of freshly exposed soil and thrives best on rather bare substrates, in ungrazed sites where there is minimal competition from other species. Associated species include Agrostis capillaris, Alchemilla alpina, Erigeron borealis, Euphrasia nemorosa, Festuca vivipara, Gentiana nivalis, Persicaria vivipara, Saxifraga oppositifolia, Silene acaulis, Thymus polytrichus and mosses such as Ctenidium molluscum and Tortella tortuosa. Where it spreads (rarely) into the grassy areas along the base of crags, associates may include Anthoxanthum odoratum and Nardus stricta.
It is a spreading, rather woody perennial with numerous ascending, often branching shoots. Flowering normally occurs from the end of June to the end of July, but may occasionally extend into August. Flowers are visited by insects, but are apparently often self-pollinated (Clapham, et al. 1987). Flowers may last only a short time, sometimes as little as one day, and seem especially vulnerable to rain and wind. When vegetative, plants can be difficult to see and are likely to be overlooked unless searched for deliberately.
V. fruticans is seldom abundant in any locality. Most of the strongest colonies are found in the mountains of Perthshire, the main cluster of sites being on the Ben Lawers and Meall nan Tarmachan ranges, and the largest concentrations occurring on the crags of Cam Chreag and An Stuc. Away from the main area, there are scattered sites ranging from Beinn an Dothaidh in the west, to the Cairngorms and Clova in the east. Of the 47 populations recorded prior to 1990, 26 have been confirmed since 1990, and eight new ones found. Ten populations have been lost, and eleven have not been verified in the 1990s, though they may be extant. Most populations are small, with fewer than ten plants; one or two populations have more than 100, and one holds more than 1,000 plants. The national total appears to be only a little over 2,000 plants.
V. fruticans has an arctic-alpine distribution and occurs in most of the mountain ranges of western Europe. Its range extends northwards to the Arctic Circle, and locally eastwards to north-west Russia, Croatia and Albania, and it also occurs in Greenland, Iceland and the Faeroe Islands. In Europe, its strongholds are in the Alps, Pyrenees and the uplands of Norway and Sweden. A wider range of habitats in Europe include rough, stony pastures, meadows, and south-facing scree slopes up to 3,000 metres in altitude.
B. G. Hogarth
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 2. 2 vols,
, Jena, (1978)
British Red Data Books. 1. Vascular plants, edn 3,
, Peterborough, (1999)