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Author Topic: 'Western Europe's last wilderness'  (Read 22322 times)

Ragged Robin

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Re: 'Western Europe's last wilderness'
« Reply #15 on: August 17, 2010, 06:50:43 PM »
Great photos of plants thriving together in this environment and the colours seem so clear but natural - lovely studies Ashley.
Valais, Switzerland - 1,200 metres - Continental climate - rocks and moraine

ranunculus

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Re: 'Western Europe's last wilderness'
« Reply #16 on: August 19, 2010, 07:43:15 AM »
A superb introduction to a fascinating area, Ashley ... does Ranunculus glacialis grow in this region?
Cliff Booker
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ashley

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Re: 'Western Europe's last wilderness'
« Reply #17 on: August 19, 2010, 09:20:52 AM »
Panu Finnish Lapland was my first glimpse of the north many years ago, up along the Muonio valley to Kilpisjärvi, and I’ve been smitten since.

Thanks Robin :)  Some plants I found hard to do justice to though.

Indeed R. glacialis & others too Cliff.  More anon ;)   


Ericaceae (continued)
41   Cassiope hypnoides grows quite widely on open slopes in the mid-Alpine band, particularly in areas with late snow cover.  Being resinous, Cassiope was one of several plants Arctic peoples apparently used as a fuel above the treeline.
42, 43   Loiseleuria procumbens is common on dry moraines but sometimes also occurs in wetter areas if competing vegetation is sparse.  This year for the first time I came across a fine white form (43), very clean in colour.  Is this in cultivation already? 
44   Phyllodoce caerulea also grows on drier, open heathland.  In several places it was interesting to see large bumblebees visit it even under cold conditions.
45,46   Pyrola media
47,48   Vaccinium microcarpum grows in small colonies on wet sphagnum bogs north of the Áhkká range.  However I did not notice it in similar habitats in Sarek so local distribution may be limited.  It is distinguished from Vaccinium oxycoccos by its glabrous scape, generally single flowers and smaller size (hence its English name small cranberry).  Although mosquitos tested my appreciation, it’s an elegant little plant.
49,50*   Vaccinium uliginosum ssp. microphyllum  berries are far more palatable uncooked than crowberry Empetrum nigrum (50*, top right), another of the Ericaceae very common in northern Sweden.  Unfortunately bog bilberries were not yet ripe this July to provide welcome fresh food.
Ashley Allshire, Cork, Ireland

ashley

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Re: 'Western Europe's last wilderness'
« Reply #18 on: August 19, 2010, 09:51:33 AM »
Ericaceae (continued)
51   Vaccinium vitis-idea or lingonberry is widespread and common on drier heaths.  The red berries are valued throughout the northern countries for making a delicious tart compote to accompany meat or cheese.

Fabaceae
52   Astragalus alpinus is widespread in valleys and on lower slopes, particularly well-drained areas.  Plants in higher or otherwise exposed sites were noticeably smaller, usually with just a single scape hugging the ground.  However under gentler conditions plants can be very showy.

Gentianaceae
53-55   Gentiana nivalis is widespread too but rarely abundant, mostly as scattered single plants in damp grassland or beside water.  It is one of several northern species that may disperse seeds in flowing water. The extraordinary colour intensity of the flowers easily compensates for their small size (5mm or less).  They literally sparkle in the sunlight but then close in cloudy weather and become harder to spot.

Geraniaceae
56-58   Geranium sylvaticum is widespread in willow thickets, where its soft growth is protected from wind.  The white form (58) predominates in birch woods north-west of Áhkká but I didn’t see it in Sarek.

Juncaceae
59   Juncus trifidus is a neat little rush of damp stony slopes at higher levels, with a rather similar distribution to the sedge Carex bigelowii (34).  
60   Luzula wahlenbergii ? but maybe hard to identify from this picture.  Also grows in damp stone slopes at higher altitude with C. bigelowii and J. trifidus.  
« Last Edit: August 19, 2010, 09:59:11 AM by ashley »
Ashley Allshire, Cork, Ireland

ranunculus

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Re: 'Western Europe's last wilderness'
« Reply #19 on: August 19, 2010, 09:52:59 AM »
Oh, my giddy aunt ... a white loiseleuria!   :P :P :P :P :P :P :P
Cliff Booker
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Maggi Young

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Re: 'Western Europe's last wilderness'
« Reply #20 on: August 19, 2010, 02:58:26 PM »
Oh, my giddy aunt ... a white loiseleuria!   :P :P :P :P :P :P :P

 There are several records of white form in Scotland ..... often thought mistakenly  by the finders to be Diapensia lapponica.
Margaret Young in Aberdeen, North East Scotland Zone 7 -ish!

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ranunculus

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Re: 'Western Europe's last wilderness'
« Reply #21 on: August 19, 2010, 03:13:11 PM »
... But are they in cultivation, Maggi ... pretty please?   :D :P :P :P :P :P
Cliff Booker
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Maggi Young

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Re: 'Western Europe's last wilderness'
« Reply #22 on: August 19, 2010, 03:26:50 PM »
Not that I know of, Cliff........ :'(
Margaret Young in Aberdeen, North East Scotland Zone 7 -ish!

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Paddy Tobin

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Re: 'Western Europe's last wilderness'
« Reply #23 on: August 19, 2010, 03:57:33 PM »
Really enjoying this, Ashley. Great shots. Paddy
Paddy Tobin, Waterford, Ireland

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ashley

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Re: 'Western Europe's last wilderness'
« Reply #24 on: August 19, 2010, 05:46:51 PM »
Thanks Paddy.  At the risk of boring people by being long-winded :P I'll carry on while a few dogged souls remain ;)


For anyone interested there’s a nice review of plant adaptation to conditions in northern and alpine Fennoscandia, here

Lentibulariaceae
61   Pinguicula alpina doesn’t grow as widely as P. vulgaris in Sarek but in a few places I found substantial colonies, and sometimes both species together as well as intermediate forms x hybrida.

Lycopodiaceae
62   Lycopodium alpinum usually favours dry open heath where it is common. I saw LL. annotinum, clavatum and selago less often.   Lycopodium spp were traditionally used in many folk medicine systems for anti-inflammatory effect.  Several also contain the alkaloid huperzine A which is an acetylcholiesterase inhibitor claimed to protect or improve mental function including memory, and is now in clinical trials for treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Myrsinaceae
63,64   Trientalis europaea, despite its beautiful Swedish name skogsstjärna or forest star, grows above the treeline in Sarek mainly in open grassy areas of valleys and lower slopes.

Onagracea
65   Epilobium anagallidifolium is mostly restricted to wet seep areas or beside streams where it is sometimes abundant.

Poaceae
66, 67   Deschampsia alpina ? (D. cespitosa complex), a pseudoviviparous grass growing at higher altitude in rock fields.
68   Festuca vivipara is another species that reproduces asexually.  Pseudovivipary (production of asexual propagules) is relatively common in subarctic and arctic plants, mainly but not only grasses; a strategy that may improve reproductive success in short or unfavourable growing seasons.   Here shown with Bistorta vivipara (left & middle) and Oxyria digyna (middle).

Polygonaceae
69   Bistorta vivipara, is common in damp grassy areas of valleys and slopes.  Flower spikes, usually white or sometimes pink-tinged, produce few seeds but instead starchy bulbils (68).  These can begin to sprout leaves before falling from the parent plant, and are harvested by ptarmigan, reindeer and sometimes people. 
70   Oxyria digyna occurs in damp and enriched areas up to mid-altitudes in Sarek, usually where competition from other plants is less intense.  Plants are sometimes tinged deep red and very attractive.  Like other sorrels it’s rich in vitamin C and was used by northern peoples to avoid scurvy.  In Canada Inuit people report this plant as emerging earlier and growing larger in recent years as the northern growing season gets longer.
Ashley Allshire, Cork, Ireland

ranunculus

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Re: 'Western Europe's last wilderness'
« Reply #25 on: August 19, 2010, 05:51:17 PM »
We're still with you, Ashley ... and enjoying every second.  :D
Cliff Booker
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Maggi Young

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Re: 'Western Europe's last wilderness'
« Reply #26 on: August 19, 2010, 05:52:30 PM »
Ashley, this is a terrific thread...... the scenery is wonderful and your reporting of the plants is excellent.... witness the number of readers so far!

I'm going to move the thread to the "too good to miss section" .... don't worry, I'll post a  note to point folks in the right direction to find it there!
Margaret Young in Aberdeen, North East Scotland Zone 7 -ish!

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ashley

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Re: 'Western Europe's last wilderness'
« Reply #27 on: August 19, 2010, 06:10:20 PM »
Thanks very much Maggi.


Ranunculaceae (I can't keep you waiting any longer Cliff)

71*-73   Aconitum lycoctonum ssp.septentrionale is restricted to valleys, not very widespread but sometimes locally common.  Above the treeline proper it is usually found in the comparative shelter of rocks, willow thickets or stands of the fern Athyrium distentifoliumIf anyone grows this form and ever has spare seed I’d love to try a little.
74-76   Ranunculus glacialis is undoubtedly the alpine queen of Sarek, almost the only flowering plant in high stone fields and snow bed areas as well as higher slopes.  Under good conditions plants carry up to three flowers per scape, but a single flower per scape or indeed per plant tends to be the norm here.  Petals tinge burgundy red from the edges as they age or perhaps after pollination? (76).
77   Ranunculus nivalis is much more restricted in distribution, favouring damp sites at mid-altitude where snow lies later, but a little beauty. 
78   Ranunculus pygmaeus is common along stream edges and seeps, including higher areas.
79,80   Trollius europaeus is a plant of the valleys and low slopes, widely but often fairly sparsely distributed in damp grassy areas.  However on the eastern slopes of Áhkká there are several spectacular concentrations (79), mixed with but outnumbering Ranunculus acris :o
 
Thalictrum alpinum also grows widely in Sarek, especially in open grassy areas or near streams, as does R. acris at lower altitude.  RR. hyperboreus and lapponicus are generally restricted to damp areas around streams, the former being much more common.
Ashley Allshire, Cork, Ireland

ranunculus

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Re: 'Western Europe's last wilderness'
« Reply #28 on: August 19, 2010, 07:13:54 PM »
Super ... many thanks, Ashley.
Cliff Booker
Behind a camera in Whitworth. Lancashire. England.

Luc Gilgemyn

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Re: 'Western Europe's last wilderness'
« Reply #29 on: August 19, 2010, 07:19:25 PM »
Great job Ashley !  :o
Terrific thread, well worth to be found amongst the threads not to be missed !!  :D :D
Don't let this stop you though...  ;D
Luc Gilgemyn
Harelbeke - Belgium

 


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