A rhizomatous, dioecious perennial herb usually growing on damp but free-draining base-rich soils. In the lowlands it is largely restricted to shaded sites, including ancient woodland, older secondary woodland, hedgerows and shaded banks, but in the uplands it occurs on unshaded basic crags, scree, cliff ledges and in ravines, particularly on moist N.-facing slopes, and it also grows in the grikes of limestone pavements. 0-1005 m (Ben Lawers, Mid Perth).
There has been no appreciable change in the distribution of M. perennis since the 1962 Atlas. In Ireland, it is apparently native only in the Burren (Scannell & Synnott, 1987).
European Temperate element.
Light (Ellenberg): 3
Moisture (Ellenberg): 6
Reaction (Ellenberg): 7
Nitrogen (Ellenberg): 7
Salt Tolerance (Ellenberg): 0
January Mean Temperature (Celsius): 3.2
July Mean Temperature (Celsius): 14.8
Annual Precipitation (mm): 1045
Height (cm): 40
Perennation - primary
Life Form - primary
Clonality - primary
Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 2214
Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 4
Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 2
Atlas Change Index: -0.65
Weighted Changed Factor: -15
Weighted Change Factor Confidence (90%)
Atlas text references
1981. A further station for Mercurialis perennis L. in the Burren with comments on its status there. Irish Naturalists' Journal. 20:184-185.
1988. Comparative Plant Ecology.
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.
1983. Flora of Connemara and the Burren.