A perennial herb of ungrazed or lightly grazed muddy estuarine saltmarshes, often growing in close proximity to its commoner relative, L. vulgare, but replacing it in some areas. It rarely occurs on rocky cliffs. Lowland.
There has been very little change in distribution since the 1962 Atlas, though a few local losses have been noted as a result of land-use changes or invasion by Spartina. Intermediates between L. humile and L. vulgare are frequent (including the hybrid L. x neumanii), and some populations are difficult to assign to either species.
Oceanic Temperate element.
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Light (Ellenberg): 9
Moisture (Ellenberg): 8
Reaction (Ellenberg): 7
Nitrogen (Ellenberg): 5
Salt Tolerance (Ellenberg): 6
January Mean Temperature (Celsius): 4.7
July Mean Temperature (Celsius): 15.2
Annual Precipitation (mm): 1012
Height (cm): 40
Perennation - primary
Life Form - primary
Clonality - primary
Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 82
Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 118
Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 0
Atlas Change Index: 0.05
Scarce Atlas Account
Limonium humile Miller
A species of muddy estuarine saltmarshes, where it generally grows close to mean high water. It has a preference for bare mud without other vegetation. It often grows in close proximity to L. vulgare, and on some marshes (e.g. in north-west England) it may largely replace its commoner relative. L. humile can occasionally be the dominant species along saltmarsh drift-lines.
L. humile is a perennial species. It is monomorphic and self compatible. Plants colonise initially by seed, subsequent spread and infilling being largely vegetative. The flowers are insect-pollinated, visited by various species of bee, fly and beetle, and there is one seed per fruit. The seeds can survive and germinate in sea-water, and a pre-treatment in saltwater stimulates germination (Boorman 1967).
There is little evidence that L. humile has decreased, and there are still strong populations in many areas. John Ray (Ray 1704) records L. humile as ‘Limonium Anglicum minus’ "by the Tide-Mill at Walton in Essex...Mr. Dale. Found also by Mr. Sherard and Mr. Rand, at the Mouth of the River that runs from Chichester". It still survives in both these localities.
This is a species of north-western Europe, from Britain to Norway, Sweden and the western Baltic.
British populations of L. humile show some variation in chromosome number (Dawson 1990). Fertile intermediates between L. humile and L. vulgare occur, and are thought to be hybrids. However, Dawson (1990) suggests that at least some of the intermediates are simply forms of the variable L. vulgare. The variability of L. vulgare and the presence of intermediates may have resulted in some erroneous records of L. humile.
Atlas text references
1967. Biological Flora of the British Isles. No. 106. Limonium vulgare Mill., Limonium humile Mill. Journal of Ecology. 55:221-229,229-232.
1995. A biometric survey of Limonium vulgare Miller and L. humile Miller in the British Isles. Watsonia. 20:239-254.
1962. La flore atlantique européenne. Documents pour les cartes des productions végétales serie Europe-Atlantique, vol. 1.
1986. Atlas of north European vascular plants north of the Tropic of Cancer. 3 vols.
1978. Vergleichende Chorologie der zentraleuropäischen Flora. Volume 2. 2 vols.
1994. Scarce plants in Britain.