Information on Madder Field

Common Name: Madder Field
Scientific Name: Sherardia arvensis
Irish Name: Dearg faille
Family Group: Rubiaceae
Distribution: View Map (Courtesy of the BSBI)
Flowering Period


Click for list of all flowering by month
Madder Field is not easily confused with other wild plants on this web site.


On bare, on arable and on cultivated ground, this is a hairy annual which creeps along, barely raising itself above 40cm high.  Flowering from May to September, it has small, pale lilac-purple 4-petalled flowers (2-3mm across) which are in small heads of up to 10, each flower cluster surrounded by a whorl of bracts.  The narrow, elliptical leaves have prickly edges, are also in whorls, 6 to each whorl.  This plant is native and it belongs to the family Rubiaceae. .  

My first record of this wildflower is from Castlecove, Co Kerry in 1977 and I photographed it near Sneem, Co Kerry in 2008.

If you are satisfied you have correctly identified this plant, please submit your sighting to the National Biodiversity Data Centre

Madder Field
Madder Field

Due to the changing nature of agricultural practices, this plant is somewhat in decline.  However, it is also easily overlooked due to its small size.