June 24, 2010

Schilthorn Scree and Talus plants

Geum reptans
There are many environments in which alpine plants grow, and each has specialized species or species with distinct characteristics unique to each environment. Those plants at the highest elevations, often above the clouds form buns, and mats, whereas those that choose to grow in the scree and talus fields, those accumulations or deposits of broken rock fragments at the base of crags, cliffs or ridges, tend to form low mounds, more loose than those in crevices, but still tight enough to keep a low profile, and to take advantage of the added heat and protection from the rocks in the scree. One often needs to look carefully, for many scree plants at higher elevations are still dense and short, whereas the same species at a few thousand meters lower, will have a completely different profile, often growing looser and larger.

Linaria alpina, much more dense at higher elevations as seen here. It's a color that stands out in the snowy talus fields of rock and ice.

Ranunculus glacialis, with hints of pink from the cold weather.
The scree or talus field, just below the Schilthorn summit, held many alpine botanic treasures, and since the snow is just melting (late this year) we have been able to see things that would have bloomed a month or two ago.
Any idea what this is? Please share.
Thlaspi rotundifolia, early for this cabbage family relative, we did find some small specimens in bloom. 

Sometimes, even thistles can be beautiful when in an elegant environment.  

Gentiana sp. ( I need to look these up, and the vivid blue is too intense - new Nikon lens. OK, I know, not a scree plant, but I will try to post a gentian-specific post, after my primrose-specific one. Wait until you see what we saw today in the world of primroses.

Joe photographing some saxifrages.

A common farinose type of primula, one of the bird's eye primroses, growing near 6000 feet in an alpine meadow, which is more well known for its winter use as the location of the famous Inferno Ski Race, a ten mile 7100  foot plunge into the village of Lauterbrunnen below. Behind the primroses, you can see the great trio of mountains, the Eiger, Monch and the Jungfrau. More on some of the primroses seen on this trip, tomorrow.

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