Mouse-ears

Sticky Mouse-ear Field Mouse-ear Sticky Mouse-ear Little Mouse-ear

What are they?

Members of the campion family, mouse-ears are a group of small to very small, mostly annual (but some perennial) plants with five-petalled, white flowers. In most species, the petals are deeply notched or cleft at the tip and all have very obviously hairy leaves - a feature that gives them their English name.

Where are they found?

Most species are plants of open ground, growing either as annuals on bare or disturbed ground, or as perennials in grassy places.

Identification

In the annual species, identification can be difficult as the plants are often very small, regularly consisting of just three or four leaves and a single flower! Critical for identification is the appearance of tiny, leaf-like bracts, that can be found at the base of the flowers In particular, the presence or absence of a thin, membrane-like section at the edge/tip of these bracts is important.



Sticky Mouse-ear      Cerastium glomeratum

Native. A common and often locally abundant species of disturbed and waste ground, especially as a weed of cultivation and in urban areas. Flowers mostly April to September but occasionally also other times, especially in urban areas. A small species, but typically larger and with broader leaves than the other annual species. Flower bracts all green, with no membranous margin; flowerheads rather dense.

Sticky Mouse-ear Sticky Mouse-ear Sticky Mouse-ear Sticky Mouse-ear
Habit
Flowers
Leaves
Flower bracts


Little Mouse-ear      Cerastium semidecandrum

Native. Widespread on sandy, calcareous soils, being most common in Breckland and sandy coastal areas. Flowers late March to June. A small to very small, annual species. Flower bracts with very broad and obvious, membranous margin; flowerheads at first dense, becoming more open with age; flowers with only five stamens (other mouse-ears have 10). Petals narrow and noticeably shorter than sepals.

Little Mouse-ear Little Mouse-ear Little Mouse-ear Little Mouse-ear
Habit of younger plants
Flowers
Flower
Flower bracts


Sea Mouse-ear      Cerastium diffusum

Native. Widespread on sandy soils or established coastal shingle habitats but nowhere common and almost always hard to find among larger numbers of Little Mouse-ear. Flowers April to June. A small to very small, annual species. Flower bracts all green, with no membranous margin; petals broader and longer than those of Little Mouse-ear.

Sea Mouse-ear Sea Mouse-ear Sea Mouse-ear Sea Mouse-ear
Habit
Flower
Flower
Flower bracts


Dwarf Mouse-ear      Cerastium pumilum

Native in the western half of the UK but has only occurred recently in East Anglia as a rare casual, mostly in Cambridgeshire. Flowers April to June. A small to very small, annual species. Flower bracts with a relatively narrow membranous margin, intermediate between Little and Sea Mouse-ears. Petals at least as long as sepals.

Dwarf Mouse-ear Dwarf Mouse-ear Dwarf Mouse-ear Dwarf Mouse-ear
Habit of older plants
Flower
Flower
Flower bracts


Common Mouse-ear      Cerastium fontanum

Native and common throughout the region in a wide range of habitats but especially grassy places and on old walls. Flowers mostly April to June. A low growing perennial species that forms spreading mats of dark green foliage, that helps to distinguish it from the annual species that only form simple rosettes of leaves, terminating in a flowering stem. Leaves a little longer and more pointed at the tip than those of the annual species. Most plants are of the subspecies vulgare but subspecies holosteoides also occurs and differs by being more or less hairless.

Common Mouse-ear Common Mouse-ear Common Mouse-ear Common Mouse-ear
Habit
Habit
Leaves
Flower bract


Field Mouse-ear      Cerastium arvense

Native. Widespread but only common in grassland on light, sandy soil over chalk and perhaps more common in East Anglia's Breckland than anywhere else in Britain. Flowers mostly April to June with a few into late summer. A low growing perennial species with flowers that are much larger and more showy than other mouse-ears. Leaves lanceolate, thickly hairy.

Field Mouse-ear Field Mouse-ear Field Mouse-ear Field Mouse-ear
Habit
Flower
Flower
Leaves


Snow-in-summer      Cerastium tomentosum

Introduced from southern Italy and now widespread as an escape from cultivation. Most often found in urban environments along roadsides, grassy banks, walls, cemeteries and similar places. Flowers mostly April to June with a few into late summer. A perennial species that forms low mounds of silver-grey, densely hairy leaves.

Snow-in-summer Snow-in-summer Snow-in-summer Snow-in-summer
Habit
Flower
Flower
Leaves


Hybrid Mouse-ear      Cerastium x maueri

Has occurred spontaneously in a handful of places as a hybrid between the native Field Mouse-ear and the introduced Snow-in-summer. In appareance it is intermediate between the two parents.

Hybrid Mouse-ear Hybrid Mouse-ear Hybrid Mouse-ear Hybrid Mouse-ear
Habit
Flowering stems
Top down: Field Mouse-ear,
Hybrid Mouse-ear,
Snow-in-summer
From left: Field Mouse-ear,
Hybrid Mouse-ear,
Snow-in-summer