Mousetail - Myosurus minimus

    Alternative names
    Tiny Mousetail

    An annual plant in the Buttercup family, forming a small tuft up to about 12 cm tall. The leaves are linear and narrow, sometimes threadlike, and up to 6 cm in length. The inflorescence produces a single flower which has an elongated, cylindrical or cone-shaped receptacle up to 4 cm long. At the base of the receptacle are curving, spurred sepals, five petals up to 3 mm long, and 10 stamens.

    Identification difficulty
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    Associated with seasonally flooded, nutrient-rich soils in areas disturbed by machinery or animals, such as hollows on ploughed land, rutted tracks and gateways in pastures.

    When to see it

    Flowering mid-April to June.

    Life History

    Annual. The small flower’s almost tubular petals are visited by flies, but Mousetail often has to pollinate itself. As the seeds ripen the gynoecium and receptacle extend, becoming tens of times larger than before, and at this stage there is no doubt about where the plant got its name: its similarity to a mouse’s scaly tail is obvious. The plant has a marvellous seed production and can reproduce quickly in a favourable environment.

    UK Status

    Status is uncertain as numbers of plants may vary from year to year and it is easily overlooked.  However, in common with many annuals of arable land, it is thought to be in decline and may be vulnerable. Records indicate that it is most frequent in the southern half of Britain.

    VC55 Status

    Rare, or rarely recorded in Leicestershire and Rutland. In the 1979 Flora survey of Leicestershire it was found in only 1 of the 617 tetrads.

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    Leicestershire & Rutland Map

    MAP KEY:

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

    UK Map