An annual of well-drained, sandy and gravelly soils in open, disturbed sites such as arable field margins, grassy banks, gravel-pits and quarries, tracks and roadsides. Lowland.
F. gallica, first recorded in Britain in 1696, was known from at least thirty sites in S.E. England. In the late 19th and 20th centuries changing agricultural practices and reduced rabbit disturbance led to its extinction in 1955. It was re-introduced to its last known site in Essex in 1994 using local seed, and has been deliberately planted in Suffolk. It survives on Sark (Channel Islands).
F. gallica is native of the Mediterranean region; it is probably introduced in the northern part of its Submediterranean-Subatlantic range.
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Light (Ellenberg): 9
Moisture (Ellenberg): 2
Reaction (Ellenberg): 5
Nitrogen (Ellenberg): 2
Salt Tolerance (Ellenberg): 0
January Mean Temperature (Celsius): 3.8
July Mean Temperature (Celsius): 16.4
Annual Precipitation (mm): 647
Height (cm): 20
Perennation - primary
Life Form - primary
Clonality - primary
Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 21
Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 0
Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 2
Atlas Change Index: 0.01
Plantatt Conservation Status
RDB Species Accounts
Filago gallica L. (Asteraceae)
Narrow-leaved cudweed, Edafeddog Culddail
Status in Britain: CRITICALLY ENDANGERED.
Status in Europe: Not threatened.
The main habitats of F. gallica are open, disturbed sites such as arable field margins on freely draining, sandy soils. It is a member of the dwarf therophyte community and is usually associated with such species as Aira caryophyllea, A. praecox, Filago lutescens, F. minima, F. pyramidata, F. vulgaris, Potentilla argentea, Rumex acetosella, Spergularia rubra and Vulpia bromoides. Formerly it was also recorded with Galeopsis segetum, Gastridium ventricosum and Silene gallica.
This species is probably mainly a summer annual in Britain. As seeds germinate throughout most of the year it may also behave as a winter annual, though it is prone to damping off. It is self-fertile, and may form a seed-bank, at some sites occurring sporadically whenever conditions are suitable.
F. gallica has been regarded as an introduction in Britain ever since Smith & Sowerby (1812) queried its status solely because it could no longer be found in its original site, and this has been the general view ever since. However, a recent reassessment of its status has shown that it is a likely native with a long historical record, a distinct distribution and ecology, and associations with other rare species (Rich 1994a).
It was first recorded in Britain in 1696 at Castle Hedingham, Essex, and has been recorded from at least 30 sites in nineteen hectads (probably introduced in four of these) in eight vice-counties, mainly in south-east England. Records from Wales and Scotland are probably errors for Gnaphalium uliginosum. It appears always to have been rare, and has declined because of changes in arable farming practice, and the lack of disturbance of heathland after myxomatosis. Jermyn (1974) documented its extinction at its last British site at Berechurch Common, Essex, where the last plant was seen in 1955. It has persisted on Sark in the Channel Islands since at least 1902 and still occurs there in one small quarry.
In 1994, plants originating from presumed native Essex stock were found in cultivation in a private garden. Seeds and plants from this population were re-introduced to three areas of a native site in 1994 (Rich 1995a; Rich, Gibson & Marsden 1995), and it was still persisting in one of these in 1996.
F. gallica is a variable species in Europe. It is most frequent in southern and western Europe and North Africa, with outlying localities in Britain and around the Black Sea, Cyprus and the Near East (Jordan, Israel, Lebanon), and the Canary Islands and Azores. It appears to be under threat in eastern Europe.
T. C. G. Rich