An annual of infertile sandy soils, occurring in short grassland and uncultivated, sometimes stony, places including rabbit warrens. V. verna does not occur on cultivated land, but depends on intensive grazing by sheep or rabbits to keep its habitat open. Lowland.
Unlike V. praecox and V. triphyllos, V. verna is a plant of semi-natural habitats in Breckland and is therefore considered native. It has declined considerably, and is now found in only twelve sites in two 10-km squares. It has been introduced to two reserves, where it is flourishing.
Eurosiberian Temperate element, with a continental distribution in W. Europe.
Light (Ellenberg): 8
Moisture (Ellenberg): 2
Reaction (Ellenberg): 5
Nitrogen (Ellenberg): 1
Salt Tolerance (Ellenberg): 0
January Mean Temperature (Celsius): 3.3
July Mean Temperature (Celsius): 16.2
Annual Precipitation (mm): 618
Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 7
Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 0
Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 0
Atlas Change Index: -0.64
RDB Species Accounts
Veronica verna L. (Scrophulariaceae)
Status in Britain: VULNERABLE.
Status in Europe: Not threatened.
Like the other two rare annual Breckland speedwells, V. praecox and V. triphyllos, this species grows on infertile sandy soil in sparsely vegetated habitats or open ground. However, unlike those two species, it is mainly a plant of short grassland in stony areas, where there is no regular cultivation, but relatively intense grazing by sheep or rabbits which keep the habitat open. Associated species include Aphanes arvensis, Carex arenaria, Festuca ovina, Myosotis ramosissima, Ornithopus perpusillus, Scleranthus annuus, Senecio sylvaticus and Teesdalia nudicaulis.
It is an annual plant, usually germinating in spring, though some autumn germination may occur in a wet season. Flowering is in late March and April (sometimes continuing into June), the flowers opening only in bright sun. There is a good seed-bank.
It is now confined to the vicinity of Icklingham, West Suffolk where it occurs at about twelve sites, all but one of which lie within a single hectad. It has been introduced to two County Trust reserves, where it is flourishing. Populations are small, ranging from about 50 plants down to a singleton. It formerly occurred in Norfolk, and there are old records from Devon, where it was introduced.
In Europe it grows in cultivated fields and other dry places, and is scattered widely but absent from the extreme north and west, and from the Mediterranean region. Elsewhere, it is recorded in western Asia and Morocco.
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 (231b) Atlas of north European vascular plants north of the Tropic of Cancer. 3 vols,
Hultén, E., and Fries M.
, Königstein, (1986)
Vergleichende Chorologie der zentraleuropäischen Flora. Volume 2. 2 vols,
Meusel, H., Jäger E., Rauschert S., and Weinert E.
, Jena, (1978)
British Red Data Books. 1. Vascular plants, edn 3,
Wigginton, M. J.
, Peterborough, (1999)