A bulbous perennial herb growing in shallow pockets of soil in crevices, on ledges and in small, grazed patches of turf on S.- and E.-facing slopes overlying dolerite. Between 210 and 330 m at Stanner Rocks (Rads.).
G. bohemica rarely flowers in Britain, reproducing almost exclusively by bulbils. This, coupled with its very early flowering season and a long summer dormancy, led to the species remaining undetected until 1965 (and unrecognised as G. bohemica until 1975). However, the population is large and apparently stable.
European Southern-temperate element, with a continental distribution in W. Europe.
Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 1
Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 0
Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 0
RDB Species Accounts
Gagea bohemica (Zauschner) J.A. & J.H. Schultes (Liliaceae)
Radnor lily, Seren y Creigiau
Status In Britain: VULNERABLE. WCA Schedule 8.
Status in Europe: Not threatened.
This plant of rather cryptic habits grew undiscovered on Stanner Rocks, a much visited site in Radnorshire, until it was inadvertently collected and wrongly identified as Lloydia serotina in 1965. It was finally collected and correctly identified by R.G.Woods a decade later (Rix & Woods 1981). Stanner Rocks remains its only site in Britain. It grows in shallow pockets of soil in cracks and on ledges on the southern face of dolerite slopes where the continental microclimate (Slater 1990) usually ensures dry conditions for its period of aestivation from May until autumn. It is intolerant of shade and is not found in vegetation taller than about 3 cm. Associated species include Festuca ovina, Moenchia erecta, Ornithopus perpusillus, Rumex acetosella, Sedum forsterianum, Teesdalia nudicaulis, Dicranum scoparium, Hedwigia stellata, Hypnum cupressiforme, Dermatocarpon miniatum and several Cladonia species.
Its fine, almost Festuca-like leaves appear from the clumps of bulbs late in the year and flowers may appear as early as January. However, it is an extremely shy flowerer and, from the large population of many thousands of bulbs (perhaps as many as several tens of thousands), few flowers are produced in any one year. For instance, numbers per year between 1989 and 1994 were 3, 18, 37, 21, 23 and 3, this being comparable with the variability noted since 1975 (Slater 1990). Flowering is over by April, and the leaves dead a month later. No pollinating insects are known. Very few seed capsules have been seen and few of them escape grazing. Propagation is, therefore, almost entirely vegetative: by bulbils, sometimes 15-25 per plant, which are dispersed by soil disturbance. The population seems to be stable overall.
Scrub invasion must be, and is, controlled. The vigour of the plant does not seem to be diminished by grazing by sheep or rabbits; indeed the resulting nutrient input may be important. Rabbits not infrequently scratch out bulbils which can lead to both destruction and dispersion. The leaves seem to be grazed casually and at random and are not sought out by herbivores. However, sheep do seem selectively to remove the flower heads, but as G. bohemica reproduces almost entirely by bulbils, this is probably of little biological significance, and the resulting disturbance of the ground by trampling may be a factor in dispersal.
G. bohemica has a mainly Mediterranean distribution, ranging from Syria, Israel and Turkey westwards to Portugal, though it extends northwards to Russia, and to eastern and central Europe. The Welsh locality is at the north-westerly limit of this species in Europe. There is a progressive increase in the sterility of populations towards the northern parts of its range (Uphof 1959).
F. M. Slater
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
1995. The conservation of scarce and declining plant species in lowland Wales: population genetics, demographic ecology and recommendations for future conservation in 32 species of lowland grassland and related habitats. (Science Report No. 110).
1981. Gagea bohemica (Zauschner) J. A. & J. H. Schultes in the British Isles, and a general review of the G. bohemica species complex. Watsonia. 13:265-270.
1990. Biological Flora of the British Isles. No. 168. Gagea bohemica (Zauschner) J. A. & J. H. Schultes (G. saxatilis Koch). Journal of Ecology. 78:535-546.
1999. British Red Data Books. 1. Vascular plants, edn 3.