F. reuteri is a scrambling annual of freely-draining acidic soils, which has most recently been recorded in spring- and summer-sown crops on allotments, in gardens and in potato fields; also on the eroded soil of hedge banks. Lowland.
First recorded in 1904, this species has been reported from only two areas since 1980, and appears to be in sharp decline at one of these, in Cornwall, as formerly cultivated land reverts to grassland. It can be very difficult to distinguish from F. muralis.
An Oceanic Southern-temperate species.
Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 13
Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 0
Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 1
Atlas Change Index: -0.62
RDB Species Accounts
Fumaria reuteri Boiss. (Fumariaceae)
Fumaria martinii Clavaud
Status in Britain: ENDANGERED. WCA Schedule 8.
Status in Europe: Not threatened. Endemic.
F. reuteri occurs only in Cornwall and the Isle of Wight. In both areas, it grows in cultivated allotments, spreading to nearby open marginal habitats, gardens, and in Cornwall, stone hedges. Associated species (sometimes amongst vegetable crops) include the common weeds Anagallis arvensis, Capsella bursa-pastoris, Chenopodium album, Fallopia convolvulus, Spergula arvensis and Stellaria media.
It is an annual with a long flowering period (May to October), producing copious seed. Seed is long-lived, as shown, for example, by the appearance of plants following the cultivation of fields which have been in permanent pasture for many years.
This species seems always to have been rare in Britain, with historical records from Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Somerset, Surrey, Sussex and the Isle of Wight. But conversion of cultivated land to permanent grassland, and urban development has led to only two sites remaining: at Pulla Cross in Cornwall and at Lake in the Isle of Wight. Populations fluctuate greatly, reflecting cycles in the cultivation regime. It clearly does best in allotment plots which are not kept weed-free and constantly cultivated and, if allowed to do so, may become dominant. Indeed, on the Isle of Wight, one sympathetic allotment holder reported that the F. reuteri occurred so thickly that it kept away more pernicious weeds and acted like a good 'live' mulch to vegetable crops. In good years in the past, thousands of plants could be seen at Pulla Cross, but recently the numbers have dropped very markedly as areas have reverted to grassland, and cultivated plots have been neglected. On the Isle of Wight, large populations still persist.
F. reuteri must be regarded as seriously threatened. Its survival in the two remaining sites depends largely on the tolerance of allotment holders, and a change of ownership or land use could lead to its demise. However, as a safeguard, some populations are maintained in private gardens in the Isle of Wight. The designation of the Lake allotment as an SSSI provides additional protection.
F. reuteri is endemic to western Europe, occurring in Britain, the Channel Islands, western France, Spain and Portugal. Its status is, however, unclear across most of its range. Soler (1983) assigned our plant to ssp. martinii, but it might not be subspecifically distinct from continental plants (Stace 1991).
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.