Isle of Man cabbage

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Caayl Vannin
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Coincya monensis monensis
Coincya monensis monensis
Plant Info
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Kingdom: Plantae
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Division: Magnoliophyta
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Class: Magnoliopsida
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Order: Brassicales
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Family: Brassicaceae
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Genus: Coincya
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Species: C. monensis
Subspecies: C. m. monensis
Binomial name
Trinomial name
Coincya monensis monensis
Type Species

The Isle of Man cabbage (Coincya monensis monensis) is a species of Brassicaceae or cabbage plant that is found in coastal habitats on the west of the island of Great Britain (from north Devon to Kintyre) and around the coasts of the Isle of Man.


Conservation Status

The species is thought to naturally occure in only 22 localities and is endemic to the British Isles. It is listed as a nationally scarce British species and is in serious risk of extinction. The species was once abundant on the Isle of Man, hence its name, however, for an unknown reason its population has collapsed to only a few individual and isolated plants. On the Isle of Man the Manx Wildlife Trust began propogating the species in their greenhouses in 2006. It is hoped that this will halt the decline of the species and prevent its extinction, however climate change and sea level rise pose a real threat and may be behind the current population decline.


The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, which must be well-drained yet moist. The plant can grow in acidic, neutral and alkaline soils, in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. C. m. monensis needs mobile sand dunes where wind or other erosion prevents thick vegetation cover and allows areas free from vegetation cover for C. m. monensis to colonise. Trampling by walkers can help achieve this habitat, hence C. m. monensis can often be found growing along footpaths through coastal dunes.


The Isle of Man cabbage, a dicot plant is biennial and grows to a heigt of 0.3 metres. It forms rosettes than can be up to a metre in diamter. The flowers have four leaves, are hermaphrodite and are pollinated by insects. C. m. monensis flowers April-August.


The only other (sub)species in the Genus Coincya are the Lundy cabbage Coincya wrighti and the Star mustard Coincya monensis spp. recurvata. The star mustard, a plant introduced to eight U.S. states, is the same species as the Isle of Man cabbage but a different subspecies. It may have been introduced to the U.S. as the Isle of Man cabbage and subsequently evolved through the founder effect and geographic isolation into a new subspecies.

The Manx name for the species is caayl Vannin, literally 'Manx cabbage'. Outside the British Isles the Isle of Man cabbage is also known as the star mustard, wallflower cabbage, tall wallflower cabbage and coincya.

In its scientific name the specific descriptor Monensis is Latin for Manx. In Latin the Isle of Man is called Monapia.


  • Clapham, Tootin and Warburg. Flora of the British Isles. Cambridge University Press (1962).
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