A rhizomatous perennial herb of sandy habitats, where it can be a dominant plant of fixed dunes, dune-slacks, sandy flats and on tracksides or other ruderal habitats. Though predominantly coastal, it can be locally common on dunes and heaths inland, particularly on the Lincolnshire coversands and in Breckland. It can be a rapid coloniser, spreading by far-creeping rhizomes. It is occasionally found as an alien on railway clinker. Lowland.
There has been little change in the overall distribution of this species since the 1962 Atlas.
European Temperate element.
Light (Ellenberg): 8
Moisture (Ellenberg): 3
Reaction (Ellenberg): 5
Nitrogen (Ellenberg): 2
Salt Tolerance (Ellenberg): 1
January Mean Temperature (Celsius): 4.3
July Mean Temperature (Celsius): 14.7
Annual Precipitation (mm): 1063
Height (cm): 40
Perennation - primary
Life Form - primary
Clonality - primary
Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 700
Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 186
Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 13
Atlas Change Index: -0.27
Weighted Changed Factor: 8
Weighted Change Factor Confidence (90%)
Atlas text references
1986. Atlas of north European vascular plants north of the Tropic of Cancer. 3 vols.
1982. Sedges of the British Isles. Botanical Society of the British Isles Handbook no. 1, edn 2.
1965. Vergleichende Chorologie der zentraleuropäischen Flora. Volume 1. 2 vols.
1982. Biological Flora of the British Isles. No. 152. Carex arenaria L. Journal of Ecology. 70:867-886.