Annual Mercury - Mercurialis annua


Short to medium hairless, or slightly hairy plant. Stems branched from the base. Leaves oval to lanceolate, toothed and short stalked. Female flowers few, 3 to 4 mm in small axillary clusters. Fruit 2 to 3 mm, bristly. 

Similar Species

Mercurialis perennis

Identification difficulty
ID guidance

Annual plant (no rhizomes); stems often branched; stems and leaves glabrous or nearly so; different habitat to perennial dog's mercury, which is a shade-lover.

Recording advice

Photograph of plant in its habitat with details of leaves and stems


Disturbed and waste places, cultivated ground, particularly in allotments and gardens, rubbish tips, walls, and roadsides, thriving on light, nutrient-rich soils.

When to see it

Flowering July to October.

Life History

Annual. Male and female flowers on separate plants.

UK Status

Previously mainly recorded from southern and eastern England but believed to be spreading to other areas of Britain.

VC55 Status

Infrequent but possibly increasing in Leicestershire and Rutland. In the 1979 Flora survey of Leicestershire it was found in 14 of the 617 tetrads.

In the current checklist (Jeeves, 2011) it is listed as Alien (archaeophyte); scarce

It is on the VC55 Rare Plant Register

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Leicestershire & Rutland Map


Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

UK Map