As a native plant, this annual is recorded from thinly vegetated, stabilised shingle in Britain and from stabilised dunes in Jersey. It is also recorded as an introduction around dockyards, in re-seeded grassland and as a garden weed. Lowland.
The map in the 1962 Atlas combined records of P. nanteuilii and P. prolifera; P. nanteuilii sens. str. was mapped by Perring & Sell (1968). Some P. nanteuilii sites were lost to building development between 1850 and 1930. It was last seen in Kent in 1960 and was thought to have become extinct in Hampshire in 1968, until refound there 30 years later. It is, however, still locally frequent in Jersey.
Suboceanic Southern-temperate element.
RDB Species Accounts
Petrorhagia nanteuilii (Burnat) P. Ball & Heywood (Caryophyllaceae)
Kohlrauschia nanteuilii (Burnat) P. Ball & Heywood, K. prolifera auct., non (L.) Kunth
Childing pink, Penigan Ffrwythlon
Status in Britain: ENDANGERED. WCA Schedule 8.
Status in Europe: Not threatened.
P. nanteuilii has been recorded in a range of coastal habitats, including shingle and sand-dunes, sandy banks and pastures, verges of tracks and roads, and on waste ground. The plant is now mostly confined to more or less stabilised shingle in thinly-vegetated areas. It occurs where there has been temporary disturbance, but not on unstable shingle. A wide variety of associated species includes Arrhenatherum elatius, Beta vulgaris, Crepis vesicaria, Daucus carota, Glaucium flavum, Myosotis ramosissima, Sedum acre, Senecio jacobaea, Trifolium pratense, bryophytes and lichens.
It is an annual with stems to 50 cm high bearing a compact ovoid head of flowers which normally open one at a time. Flowers appear mostly in late June and July, though some may remain until September, and are visited by butterflies and other insects. The seeds when fully developed are relatively heavy and fall not far from the parent plant. Such poor dispersal may significantly limit the plant's ability to extend its range. Morphological, cytological and geographical data strongly suggest that P. nanteuilii is an allopolyploid taxon derived from P. proligera and (the non-native) P. velutina (Akeroyd 1975; Akeroyd & Beckett 1995).
The history of P. nanteuilii is complicated by the fact that until recently it had been widely confused with the closely allied P. prolifera (Ball & Heywood 1962; 1964). P. nanteuilii has been recorded in a number of places between Pagham and Selsey on the Sussex coast, and it was formerly abundant around Hayling Island, South Hampshire. It was once thought to be native in the Isle of Wight, Middlesex, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Norfolk (being casual at several other widespread locations), but these records are of P. prolifera. It is considered to have been native at Hythe in Kent, where it occurred until 1960 in shingle communities similar to those in which the plant is found today. It was last seen in Hampshire in 1968 (Brewis, et al. 1996), and now occurs only at Pagham, West Sussex. A self-maintaining introduced colony in Glamorgan has been known since about 1930.
At Pagham it is restricted to two shingle spits and sandy ground on either side of the harbour mouth (Carver 1990). In recent years there have been some fifteen discrete populations, but they are very limited in extent, and fluctuate considerably in size year by year, and may shift their position. In good years, tens of thousands of plants may occur, but in cold wet years, colonies may be small (even just a few individuals), with some disappearing altogether.
The survival of P. nanteuilii at Pagham seems precarious, with individual populations being threatened by natural erosion and shingle movement. Massive movement of shingle bars has occurred in the past and may do so again. Remedial or preventative coastal defence works may be detrimental, causing physical damage and excessive consolidation of shingle. The largest populations on the southern spit are currently protected by being in a bird breeding area to which human access is limited during the summer months. Encroachment by sea, coastal defence works and other building development were the main causes of loss from former sites.
In the Channel Islands, it is still common in Jersey. Elsewhere in Europe, it is most frequent in Iberia, where it is common both inland and on the coast. In the Mediterranean region, it is scattered along the coasts of France and Italy, and in Corsica, Sardinia and the Balearic Islands. It also occurs in Morocco, Madeira and the Canary Islands, and perhaps in western Asia.
M J Wigginton
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.