Mercurialis annua

Tracheophyta MagnoliopsidaEuphorbiaceaeMercurialisMercurialis annua


A dioecious annual of disturbed waste places, cultivated ground, particularly in allotments and gardens, rubbish tips, walls, and roadsides, thriving on light, nutrient-rich soils. It produces a long-lived seed bank. Lowland.



World Distribution

As an archaeophyte M. annua has a Submediterranean-Subatlantic distribution.

© G. Toone, IWNHAS

Broad Habitats

Light (Ellenberg): 7

Moisture (Ellenberg): 5

Reaction (Ellenberg): 7

Nitrogen (Ellenberg): 7

Salt Tolerance (Ellenberg): 0

January Mean Temperature (Celsius): 4

July Mean Temperature (Celsius): 16

Annual Precipitation (mm): 779

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: 793

Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 55

Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 14

Atlas Change Index: 0.28

Weighted Changed Factor: 34

Weighted Change Factor Confidence (90%)


JNCC Designations


Atlas text references

Atlas (169c)
Hultén E, Fries M
1986.  Atlas of north European vascular plants north of the Tropic of Cancer. 3 vols.
Kenward HK, Hall AR
1995.  Biological evidence from Anglo-Scandinavian deposits at 16-22 Coppergate. The Archaeology of York. 14:435-797+i-xxiii.
Meusel H, Jäger E, Rauschert S, Weinert E
1978.  Vergleichende Chorologie der zentraleuropäischen Flora. Volume 2. 2 vols.