Euphrasia pseudokerneri

Tracheophyta MagnoliopsidaScrophulariaceaeEuphrasiaEuphrasia pseudokerneri


An annual of herb-rich downland turf on chalk and soft limestones, rarely found on harder limestones in Ireland or as forma elongata in damp fens, and recently discovered in calcareous flushes, a lead mine and coastal grassland in Cardiganshire. Lowland.



World Distribution

Endemic; it is replaced by E. stricta in Europe.

Broad Habitats

Calcareous grassland (includes lowland and montane types)

Light (Ellenberg): 7

Moisture (Ellenberg): 4

Reaction (Ellenberg): 8

Nitrogen (Ellenberg): 3


Salt Tolerance (Ellenberg): 0

January Mean Temperature (Celsius): 3.7

July Mean Temperature (Celsius): 16.1

Annual Precipitation (mm): 753

Life form information

Height (cm): 20

Perennation - primary


Life Form - primary

Therophyte (annual land plant)



Clonality - primary

Little or no vegetative spread

Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 167

Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 3

Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 0

Distribution information

JNCC Designations


Scarce Atlas Account

Scarce Atlas Account: 

Euphrasia pseudokerneri Pugsley

Status: scarce



This is a lowland plant of grazed, well drained, herb rich turf on chalk and other soft limestones. It is characteristic of floristically rich sites of high conservation value, occurring in the same turf as such species as Gentianella germanica and Pulsatilla vulgaris. On chalk downs, E. pseudokerneri frequently occurs on the higher slopes, with E. nemorosa replacing it on the lower slopes or in rougher grass and scrub. Substantial hybrid zones and swarms are to be expected wherever the two species meet. In Norfolk, tall, slender plants (forma elongata Pugsley) occur in damp fen turf. On a localised area of the Cardiganshire coast, plants matching E. pseudokerneri have recently been recorded from three flush and cliff-top sites, but require further investigation. 

It is a hemiparasitic annual, germinating in spring after an obligatory cold period (Yeo 1961) and attaching to a suitable host when root contact is first made. No information is available on host plants in the wild, but in cultivation experiments Wilkins (1963) showed that it can attach to Festuca ovina, Plantago coronopus and Trifolium repens, or mature without host establishment. It is reasonable to suppose that wild plants are attached to a diversity of species. Although capable of germinating from January onwards, E. pseudokerneri plants do not normally flower until August or September, later flowering plants perhaps having some reproductive isolation from E. nemorosa

Hybridisation with E. nemorosa creates difficulties for recorders, with E. pseudokerneri apparently being over-recorded through confusion with hybrids and yet also locally under-recorded, being a critical and late-flowering species. There has been substantial loss of habitat through ploughing and agricultural improvement, while disturbance or reduction in grazing favours E. nemorosa and consequent hybridisation. It appears that pure E. pseudokerneri is no longer to be found in some areas.

Outside Britain, it occurs only in western Ireland and perhaps in France.



A. J. Silverside

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 Supp (59b)
Stewart A, Pearman DA, Preston CD
1994.  Scarce plants in Britain.