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

    Leicestershire & Rutland Map

    MAP KEY:

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

    UK Map