Sunday, 10 July 2016

Arctic Norway Flora

A northern Norway landscape showing a mix of  tundra with small pools and mires,
a large lake, birch forest and high mountains 

While I was in northern Norway studying birds recently, I took the opportunity to note and familiarise myself with the plants. Below is a small selection of them; they are are all common in the area, some abundant and forming large proportions of the ground flora.  

Arctic Bramble Rubus arcticus

The Arctic Bramble was growing in small clumps, often only tens of centimetres tall and wide, very unlike its sprawling southern relation. I found it growing on hummocks in wet mires and on the forest floor, in sheltered, wet conditions. The flowers are delicate and like so many of northern species, short-lasting. I wondered how the fruit would taste, it is famed for its flavour.

Bog Bilberry Vaccinium uliginosum

Bog, or Northern Bilberry was one of the common ground covering plants on the hummocks in the mires. The drooping pink flowers would soon drop their petals and the dusty blue fruit would form. There are so many fruits on the tundra in autumn, forming a rich food source for the animals before the onset of winter.

Blue Heath Phyllodoce caerulea

Blue Heath is a very rare plant in Britain, confined to a few small locations in the Scottish Highlands. In northern Norway it is abundant, growing thickly on drier ridges and hummocks. It is one pant that seems to have taken advantage of the loss of lichens as mentioned in the previous post.

Alpine Bartsia Bartsia alpina

Alpine Bartsia is one my favourite alpine/arctic plants. The tubular sepals enclose the flowers, and the rich blue colouring flushes through all the uppers parts of the plant, making it difficult to make out where the flowers are in the crown. The downy surface on the leaves and flowers are a feature common on cold-climate species.

Wood Cranesbill Geranium sylvaticum

Wood Cranesbill is found widely in European and British woodland. In the far north, it grows in the birch forest and is commonly found on roadside banks. This is not a northern specialist plant, rather an example of one that has an extensive range. It is just as good to find old friends as to find new ones.

Blue sky and clouds reflected in open water surrounded by floating mire

No comments:

Post a Comment