Teesdalia nudicaulis

Tracheophyta MagnoliopsidaBrassicaceaeTeesdaliaTeesdalia nudicaulis


A winter-annual of acidic, well-drained sandy soils on heathlands, sand dunes, shingle and gravels, on sandy lake shores in Ireland, by railways and on coal and cinder tips. It prefers bare or disturbed ground. Generally lowland, but reaching 455 m on Ben More (Mid Ebudes) and Wasdale Screes (Cumberland).



World Distribution

European Temperate element.

© P. Shannon

Broad Habitats

Acid grassland (includes non-calcareous sandy grassland)

Light (Ellenberg): 8

Moisture (Ellenberg): 3

Reaction (Ellenberg): 2

Nitrogen (Ellenberg): 2


Salt Tolerance (Ellenberg): 0

January Mean Temperature (Celsius): 3.4

July Mean Temperature (Celsius): 15

Annual Precipitation (mm): 949

Life form information

Height (cm): 15

Perennation - primary


Life Form - primary

Therophyte (annual land plant)



Clonality - primary

Little or no vegetative spread

Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 509

Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 11

Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 12

Atlas Change Index: -0.81

Distribution information

JNCC Designations


Scarce Atlas Account

Scarce Atlas Account: 

Teesdalia nudicaulis (L.) R. Br.

Shepherd's cress

Status: not scarce


This species occurs on sand and gravel, always in open patches, and often on ground disturbed either by rabbits, other animals, natural erosion or trampling. It is often associated with Aira caryophyllea, A. praecox, Hypochaeris glabra, Ornithopus perpusillus, Rumex acetosella and Trifolium arvense on slightly acid soils. It is found in a range of habitats including heathy grassland, sand dunes, scree and boulders, river shingle, track sides and disused railways. It ranges from sea-level to 450 metres on Ben More, Mull. 

It is an annual and populations can fluctuate from year to year. About 90% of the seeds germinate in the autumn and performance in the following spring is dependent on weather conditions. For detailed accounts of the reproductive biology of this species, see Newman (1963, 1964, 1965).

This small plant is often overlooked when in flower in spring, and is more conspicuous when in fruit. An increase in records from Scotland, the Welsh Borders and south-western England may be the result of more intensive fieldwork in these areas. This species has decreased in south-eastern England as a result of urban development, the reversion of commons to scrub following cessation of grazing, the ploughing of heathland and (in East Anglia) commercial afforestation.

T. nudicaulis is a characteristic member of grass heath communities on sandy soils in western and central Europe (Matthews 1955), and its range extends to Sweden, Russia and Yugoslavia (Tutin et al. 1993). It has been introduced to North America (Rich 1991).


L. Farrell

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 (40b)
Curtis TGF, McGough HN
1988.  The Irish Red Data Book. 1. Vascular Plants.
Hultén E, Fries M
1986.  Atlas of north European vascular plants north of the Tropic of Cancer. 3 vols.
Jalas & Suominen (1996)
Meusel H, Jäger E, Weinert E
1965.  Vergleichende Chorologie der zentraleuropäischen Flora. Volume 1. 2 vols.
Rich TCG
1991.  Crucifers of Great Britain and Ireland. Botanical Society of the British Isles Handbook no. 6.
Stewart A, Pearman DA, Preston CD
1994.  Scarce plants in Britain.