Eyebright (Euphrasia vigursii)

KingdomPlantae
PhylumAnthophyta
ClassMagnoliopsida
OrderScrophulariales
FamilyScrophulariaceae
GenusEuphrasia (1)
SizeStem height: 20 cm (occasionally up to 25 cm) (1)

Vulnerable in Great Britain (2).

This attractive endemic eyebright produces large (2), lilac-deep purple flowers, which are occasionally white (1). The leaves and bracts are covered in long hairs (3).

Occurs in Devon, where it has always been rare, and in Cornwall (3).

Grows on bristle brent (Argostis curtisii) and western gorse (Ulex galli) heathlands (3). The species requires fairly open conditions and short grass created by grazing or burning to keep the gorse and heather in check (3). It often occurs alongside paths in coastal areas, where regular trampling maintains open conditions (2).

This species seems to have evolved by crossing between two different species of eyebright; Euphrasia anglia and Euphrasia miracantha (2). During the Middle Ages, the related species Euphrasia officinalis was used to brighten the eyes, hence the common name 'eyebright' (4).

Habitat destruction has resulted in the loss of this plant at a number of sites in inland Cornwall (5). Grazing maintains the open conditions favoured by this species, so the widespread decline in grazing poses a threat (5).

There are two sites on Dartmoor where this species occurs. Suitable habitat management is underway at both sites (3).

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact: arkive@wildscreen.org.uk

  1. Stace, C. (1991) New Flora of the British Isles. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  2. Wigginton, M.J. (1999) British Red Data Book 1: Vascular Plants, 3rd Edition. JNCC, Peterborough.
  3. Dartmoor species action plan for Vigur's eyebright (March, 2002)
    http://www.dartmoor-npa.gov.uk/au-bap17.pdf
  4. Grigson, G. (1996) The Englishman's Flora. Helicon Publishing Limited, Oxford.
  5. UK BAP. Grouped Action Plan for eyebrights (March, 2002)
    http://www.ukbap.org.uk