Beautiful Little Things

These three plants have nothing in common other than I found them to be delightful.

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Veronica fruticans
rock speedwell
Icelandic: steindepla
Plantaginaceae

Despite being common and distributed through much of Iceland, I only saw these two flowers, on a mountainside south of Akureyri. The species is also found in Greenland and Fennoscandia. The flower is small (about half an inch across), but the blue is so intense that it really stands out.

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Thymus praecox ssp. arcticus
creeping thyme
Icelandic: blóðberg
Lamiaceae

This ground-hugging plant was almost everywhere, as delightful to smell as it is to see. It’s another Fennoscandia native, but its introduced ranged includes Greenland, much of Canada, various parts of the US as far south as Mississippi, and even Venezuela.

belly flower!
–>

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Pinguicula vulgaris
common butterwort
Icelandic: lyfjagras
Lentibulariaceae

Another very common plant, growing almost everywhere in Iceland, and indeed almost everywhere in the higher latitudes of the northern hemisphere. In the US it’s found in the upper Great Lakes areas and New England. Butterworts are insectivorous: sticky hairs on the leaves trap insects, which are then digested by enzymes the leaves excrete. There’s more information at Luonto Portti (Nature Gate) website, a resource I’ve been using quite a bit, since so many Icelandic plants are also found in Finland. None of the 80 or so Pinguicula species are found in Maryland, but there are a dozen of their close relatives, Utriculariaaka bladderworts, here.

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