Parentucellia viscosa

Tracheophyta MagnoliopsidaScrophulariaceaeParentucelliaParentucellia viscosa


A hemiparasitic annual of damp, open grassy places on sandy soils, often by tracks. It normally occurs in drier dune-slacks and in reclaimed heath-pasture, but is also found on pathsides, rough and scrubby grassland and field-borders, and increasingly in re-seeded amenity grasslands and waste places. It thrives on disturbance. Lowland.



World Distribution

Mediterranean-Atlantic element; widely naturalised outside its native range.

© K.J. Walker, BSBI

Broad Habitats

Light (Ellenberg): 7

Moisture (Ellenberg): 7

Reaction (Ellenberg): 7

Nitrogen (Ellenberg): 5

Salt Tolerance (Ellenberg): 0

January Mean Temperature (Celsius): 5.1

July Mean Temperature (Celsius): 15.4

Annual Precipitation (mm): 1129

Height (cm): 50

Perennation - primary


Life Form - primary

Therophyte (annual land plant)



Clonality - primary

Little or no vegetative spread

Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 165

Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 101

Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 11

Atlas Change Index: 0.64

JNCC Designations


Scarce Atlas Account

Scarce Atlas Account: 

Parentucellia viscosa (L.) Caruel

Yellow bartsia

Status: not scarce


A hemiparasitic annual of damp grassy places, this plant usually grows on sandy soils, often along tracksides or in ground which is patchily grazed. Fixed dune grassland in dryish dune slacks is one characteristic habitat; poor pasture reclaimed from dampish heath is another. It sometimes occurs in abundance after disturbance, such as the felling of coniferous forests planted on sand dunes. Associated species include Aira caryophyllea, Carex flacca, Centaurium erythraea, Leontodon saxatilis, Lotus corniculatus, Plantago coronopus, Rhinanthus minor, Vulpia bromoides and Salix repens. It is confined to the lowlands.

It is an annual, reproducing entirely by seed. The British distribution, bounded roughly by the 5°C mean January isotherm, suggests that this species requires a mild winter growing season. 

P. viscosa appears to colonise new sites readily, and over much of its British range it is probably more widespread and frequent than formerly. The records suggest some decline in the south-west, particularly inland, perhaps due to re-seeding of old pastures.

It is widespread around the Mediterranean basin, and occurs in the Iberian Peninsula and western France; it reaches its northern limit in Scotland. It is also found in Macaronesia.


M. C. F. Proctor

Atlas text references

Atlas (235d)
de Bolòs O, Vigo J
1995.  Flora dels Països Catalans, III. Pirolàcies-Compostes.
Stewart A, Pearman DA, Preston CD
1994.  Scarce plants in Britain.