More Faroese Wildflowers

Here are a few of the showier, prettier, and more interesting wildflowers I saw in the Faroe Islands. Many of these have a worldwide distribution pattern known as arctic-alpine, which means exactly what you would expect: they are found at high latitudes, and at high elevation at lower latitudes.

Armeria maritima (sea thrift, Plumbaginaceae)
a circumpolar species that likes poor, salty soils; thrives on rocky coasts




Dactylorhiza maculata (heath spotted orchid, Orchidaceae)
common in mountainous areas in Europe; can vary greatly in color from dark pink-purple to almost white



Dactylorhiza purpurella (northern marsh orchid; Orchidaceae)
these two Dactylorhiza species are difficult to distinguish and it’s quite possible that I’ve mis-identified them; also Dactylorhiza is one of those “problem” genera; found in the UK and Scandanavia

Geranium sylvaticum (wood cranesbill; Geraniaceae)
found in temperate regions throughout Europe; introduced in Quebec and Greenland



Pinguicula vulgaris (butterwort; Lentibulariaceae)
found in boggy areas in the upper Mid-West, New England, Canada, and northern Europe; the plant’s leaves produce both a sticky substance and enzymes which together trap and digest insects


Polygala serpyllifolia (heath milkwort; Polygalaceae)
I can’t find much on where this species is found, other than the British Isles (and of course the Faroes)



Polygala vulgaris (common milkwort; Polygalaceae) this species has a widespread distribution in Europe and Asia; it’s introduced in Michigan and Oregon



Salix herbacea (dwarf willow, snowbed willow; Salicaceae)
a subshrub growing to only 2 inches tall, with arctic-alpine distribution in North America and Europe



Micranthes stellaris (formerly Saxifraga stellaris; starry saxifrage; Saxifragaceae)
this little charmer is found in arctic-alpine areas of Europe, and in Quebec, Labrador and Greenland in North America


Silene acaulis (moss campion; Caryophyllaceae)
arctic-alpine distribution, including the Rocky Mountains in the United States

Beautiful Little Things

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


Veronica fruticans
rock speedwell
Icelandic: steindepla

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.



Thymus praecox ssp. arcticus
creeping thyme
Icelandic: blóðberg

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!



Pinguicula vulgaris
common butterwort
Icelandic: lyfjagras

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.