This plant is an Austrian “endemite”, the only natural occurrence of which is limited to rear Ötztal. As a relict species it likely survived the last major ice age on the unglaciated summit areas (the „Nunataks“). You’ll find it distributed very locally on dry, rocky knolls covered with nutrient-poor grassland with biotite-gneiss in the subsurface.
The annual to biennial hemiparasitic plant is mostly branchless and has small, white-violet flowers. It only grows a few centimetres tall and is easily mistaken for the dwarf eyebright. Genetic analyses allow a distinction: The unexpected eyebright has a diploid (dual) chromosome set, the similar species is triploid (triple chromosome set).
First found completely unexpectedly in the year 1979 in the Moserboden area in Salzburg. There it was probably introduced unintentionally as part of research activities.
The unexpected eyebright is rated as “endangered” on the Austrian red list of endangered plants.
VITEK, E. (2000): Euphrasia inopinata Ehrendorfer & Vitek in Salzburg; Wulfenia 7:83-86.