Background Information on the Flora of Iceland

Characteristic features, ecology and natural history:

4) Regional characteristic elements

Introduction -- Eastern Iceland -- Northern Iceland -- Southern Iceland -- South-western Iceland top



Introduction

Theoretically and very blunt one could describe Iceland as a circle with lowlands on the fringe of the circle and highlands in the central part. Of coarse reality is very different with the fjords in the north-west, peninsula's in the west and relative high mountains near the north coast. Nevertheless there is some truth about this description on coastal lowlands and interior highlands. It is therefore striking that many plants occur mostly in some region(s) and are rare or absent in other regions. One has to be aware though that the climate of the south and the north are different: the south is very much influenced by the (warm) Atlantic ocean-current leading to very mild summers and winters. In the north winters are generally colder (more snow) and summers warmer (drier). But the main differences concerning natural plant species is between eastern and western Iceland. Eastern Iceland has many species typical for the region. Other regions also have characteristic species but less so than Eastern Iceland.


Introduction -- Eastern Iceland -- Northern Iceland -- Southern Iceland -- South-western Iceland top

Characteristic species of Eastern Iceland

One of the most common and conspicuous Eastern-Icelandic species is the Harebell (Campanula rotundifolia - Bláklukka) . Harebell (Campanula rotundifolia - Bláklukka) . It does grow elsewhere on Iceland too but rare. In the east it is very common. Thee species with pretty flowers that one can only find in the east are the are Arctic wintergreen (Pyrola grandiflora - Bjöllulilja) Arctic wintergreen (Pyrola grandiflora - Bjöllulilja) Chickweed wintergreen (Trientalis europaea - Sjöstjarna) Chickweed wintergreen (Trientalis europaea - Sjöstjarna) Yellow saxifrage (Saxifraga aizoides - Gullsteinbrjótur) . Yellow saxifrage (Saxifraga aizoides - Gullsteinbrjótur) . Also one can find the Faroer Lady's-mantle (Alchemilla faroerensis - Maríuvöttur) Faroer Lady's-mantle (Alchemilla faroerensis - Maríuvöttur) only in the east.


Introduction -- Eastern Iceland -- Northern Iceland -- Southern Iceland -- South-western Iceland top

Characteristic species of Northern Iceland

A beautifull heather species growing in the north is the Blue heath (Phyllodoce coerulea - Bláklukkulyng) . Blue heath (Phyllodoce coerulea - Bláklukkulyng) . It is only found in the central northern part of Iceland (the Akureyri region) and strangely enough also in one fjord valley in the far east (Loðmundarfjörður). An early flowering species restricted to the north is the Common Whitlowgrass (Erophila verna - Vorperla) . Common Whitlowgrass (Erophila verna - Vorperla) . This species - a common European early spring flower - probably owns its northern distribution by certainly having a snow-cover in winter. A very characteristic species of the Mývatn region is the Hawkweed-leaved Treaclemustard (Erysimum hieracifolium - Aronsvöndur) . Hawkweed-leaved Treaclemustard (Erysimum hieracifolium - Aronsvöndur) . .


Introduction -- Eastern Iceland -- Northern Iceland -- Southern Iceland -- South-western Iceland top

Characteristic species of Southern Iceland

There are not many species that grow mainly in the southern part of Iceland. Two species should be mentioned though. This is foremost the Devil's-bit Scabious (Succisa pratensis - Stúfa) . Devil's-bit Scabious (Succisa pratensis - Stúfa) . Another species more or less restricted to the south is the Ribwort Plantain (Plantago lanceolata - Selgresi) . Ribwort Plantain (Plantago lanceolata - Selgresi) . The latter is (very rarely) also found on some thermal soils in the north.Two other species that are found mainly in the south of Iceland are the Ragged Robin (Lychnis flos-cuculi - Munkahetta) Ragged Robin (Lychnis flos-cuculi - Munkahetta) and the Hill Valerian (Valeriana sambucifolia - Hagabrúða) . Hill Valerian (Valeriana sambucifolia - Hagabrúða) .


Introduction -- Eastern Iceland -- Northern Iceland -- Southern Iceland -- South-western Iceland top

Characteristic species of South-western Iceland

Reykjavik and other towns near Reykjavik make up the (relatively speaking) the most dense populated region of Iceland. There are harbours serving imports and there is the international airport. Thus it is no wonder that in this region most non-deliberate introductions of species from outside Iceland enter the country here. One of those species is the American Willowherb (Epilobium ciliatum - Vætudúnurt) . American Willowherb (Epilobium ciliatum - Vætudúnurt) . . However it is beyond the scope of these pages to ponder on introduced species around settlements. There are few more or less indigenous species that are characteristic of the south-west. One though is quite striking, being the Kidney Vetch (Anthyllis vulneraria - Gullkollur) . Kidney Vetch (Anthyllis vulneraria - Gullkollur) .


Continue with:
1)  introduction
2)  Is the flora American or European?
3)  The main vegetation types
4) Regional differences in the flora (this page)
5)  Influences of the glacial era's and the revegetation after the last glacial period

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