A bulbous perennial herb on free-draining soils, native or long-naturalised in grasslands, hedgerows, pine plantations and rough ground, and on roadsides on a wide range of nutrient-poor soils. It is also a short-lived garden escape or outcast near habitation, on roadsides, allotments and waste ground. Lowland.
M. neglectum was first recorded in Britain in 1776. It is sometimes considered native in E. England, where its range has contracted in recent years, mainly as a result of development. As an alien this species has been confused with, and over-recorded for, M. armeniacum, which is more common in gardens and as an escape.
Eurosiberian Southern-temperate element.
Height (cm): 30
Perennation - primary
Life Form - primary
Clonality - primary
Clonality - secondary
Comment on Clonality
Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 13
Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 0
Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 0
Atlas Change Index: 1.55
RDB Species Accounts
Muscari neglectum Guss. ex Ten. (Liliaceae)
M. atlanticum Boiss. & Reuter
Grape-hyacinth, Clychau Du-las
Status in Britain: VULNERABLE.
Status in Europe: Not threatened.
M. neglectum grows on a wide variety of soils ranging from acidic, nutrient-poor sands, to fertile, calcareous loams. Though mostly of open habitats, it sometimes occurs in quite dense shade. In West Suffolk and Cambridgeshire (its presumed native range), habitats include grassy roadside verges, hedgebanks, and margins and headlands of cultivated fields, and in the former county there are colonies on wind-blown sand beneath Pinus scotica, and in an old sand-pit. Associates are generally ubiquitous plants of grassland and edges, including Anthriscus sylvestris, Ballota nigra, Chaerophyllum temulentum, Dactylis glomerata, Festuca rubra, Helictotrichon pratense, Holcus lanatus, Pastinaca sativa and Stellaria media, but at a few sites it occurs with the rare Breckland species, Phleum phleoides, Silene otites, Veronica praecox or V. verna. In contrast with populations in West Suffolk, those in East Suffolk and Essex are more or less confined to grassy places near gardens, cottages or former habitation, and are assumed to be relatively late introductions. At Chadlington, Oxfordshire, a large population has been known for many years in allotments, and smaller numbers in rank grassland on oolitic limestone on field verges nearby. In 1996, a small population of about 80 plants remained on a single field verge (C.Lambrick, in litt.).
The leaves appear in autumn and may reach 30 cm by the following June. Flowering is from early April to mid-May, and by July seed is set and the leaves wither. Plants reproduce freely from seed and from offset bulbils, and it can become a pest in cultivated fields and gardens. It competes successfully in grass swards up to about 10 cm tall, but becomes scarce in rank grassland in competition with such species as Arrhenatherum elatius and Elytrigia repens (Watt 1971).
M. neglectum was first recorded in Britain in 1776, at Pakenham and Hengrave in the West Suffolk Breck. Henslow discovered it near Hinton, Cambridgeshire in 1828, and the earliest Oxfordshire records date from 1835. Druce (1927) recorded it as "very abundant over a considerable portion of a large upland pasture near Ditchley Park [Oxfordshire] where it has all the appearance of being native", but local opinion is now that Oxfordshire populations are unlikely to be native. Since 1800, there has been a decline in the number of native sites and a contraction of its range. In 1995, fourteen native sites, including two new ones, were recorded in West Suffolk (mainly around Lakenheath, Tuddenham and Culford), but in south-east Cambridgeshire (Gog Magog Hills, Fulbourn and Babraham), nine believed native sites have been reduced to only three since 1980. Extant native colonies vary in size from just a few plants to 100-200, the largest being in West Suffolk. Introduced populations are widespread, but their range seems to have declined in recent years.
The decline of M. neglectum is attributed to the neglect of grassland habitats, agricultural intensification, and habitat destruction from roadworks and housing development. At the remaining sites, conservation management is best directed towards maintaining a short grassy sward, together with occasional disturbance to provide open soil for germination.
M. neglectum is widespread throughout southern Europe to northern France and the Rhenish vineyards, south-central Russia and North Africa. It has been found in rocky places up to 2,200 metres on Mt. Olympus in Greece.
G. Crompton, A. J. Dunn and Y. Leonard
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.