Mercurialis perennis

Tracheophyta MagnoliopsidaEuphorbiaceaeMercurialisMercurialis perennis


A rhizomatous, dioecious perennial herb usually growing on damp but free-draining base-rich soils. In the lowlands it is largely restricted to shaded sites, including ancient woodland, older secondary woodland, hedgerows and shaded banks, but in the uplands it occurs on unshaded basic crags, scree, cliff ledges and in ravines, particularly on moist N.-facing slopes, and it also grows in the grikes of limestone pavements. 0-1005 m (Ben Lawers, Mid Perth).



World Distribution

European Temperate element.

Broad Habitats

Broadleaved, mixed and yew woodland

Light (Ellenberg): 3

Moisture (Ellenberg): 6

Reaction (Ellenberg): 7

Nitrogen (Ellenberg): 7


Salt Tolerance (Ellenberg): 0

January Mean Temperature (Celsius): 3.2

July Mean Temperature (Celsius): 14.8

Annual Precipitation (mm): 1045

Life form information

Height (cm): 40

Perennation - primary


Life Form - primary




Clonality - primary

Rhizome far-creeping

Distribution information

Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 2214

Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 4

Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 2

Atlas Change Index: -0.65

Weighted Changed Factor: -15

Weighted Change Factor Confidence (90%)


Distribution information

JNCC Designations


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 (169b)
Curtis TGF
1981.  A further station for Mercurialis perennis L. in the Burren with comments on its status there. Irish Naturalists' Journal. 20:184-185.
Grime JP, Hodgson JG, Hunt R
1988.  Comparative Plant Ecology.
Hultén E, Fries M
1986.  Atlas of north European vascular plants north of the Tropic of Cancer. 3 vols.
Meusel H, Jäger E, Rauschert S, Weinert E
1978.  Vergleichende Chorologie der zentraleuropäischen Flora. Volume 2. 2 vols.
Webb DA, Scannell MJP
1983.  Flora of Connemara and the Burren.