Wild candytuft Iberis amara

Status
Best Time to See
Colour
Habitat Grassland

An charming plant with many branches that burst with white flowers when in bloom.

Each flower has four petals, each of a different size. Its lower leaves are spoon-shaped, whiles the upper leaves are broader near the tip than the base, with blunt teeth.

Habitat

A species of bare, open ground on chalk, found in bare patches and rabbit scrapes on chalk grassland, quarries and occasionally in cultivated arable field margins.

Distribution

Found throughout central and western Europe and a native to Britain. Within Britain it is restricted mainly to the Chilterns from Reading to Cambridgeshire, with outlying sites in Wiltshire and Surrey.

Best time to see

Flowers from May to August.

Status

It is classified as ‘Vulnerable’ and is therefore considered to be facing a high risk of extinction in the wild. There has been decline from arable sites, although little decline in non-arable habitats. Between 1987 and 1999 it was recorded from 24 10-km squares. Listed as a priority species under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.

Key threats

The intensification of arable farming has resulted in decline from arable sites, key factors being the more intensive cultivation of field margins and the grassing down of margins.

Did you know...

The name 'candytuft' is apt considering this plant's attractive white flowers. However, it actually derives from an old name for the island of Crete - 'Candia' - where it was found to grow.